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Martial law was declared in China on 20 May 1989. On 21 May, CHEANG flew from New York to Beijing with a tourist visa and a video camera endorsed by Chinese film director CHEN Kai-ge. This is a collection of videos made during her two weeks in China, reviewing the media frenzy that led to the inevitable military action on 4 June.
Channel 1-4: 30 min, Channel 5: 3 min
For a long time the KMT government has held a monopoly over Taiwan’s TV channels, using the lack of channel bandwidth as an excuse for its stranglehold. During the build-up to the elections at the end of 1989, Green Team set up a satellite transmission channel on its own, poking a hole in the KMT’s argument.
Three commentators sit in a news studio in front of a TV discussing the Tiananmen Square massacre as reported by local and foreign media. This film aims to examine the politics of image and the image of politics through commenting on the topics of democracy, media control, consumption and commercialism.
After the martial law was lifted in the nascent democratised Taiwan, WANG, without any source of reference, created five video artworks including FACE/TV, addressing criticism against mass media and political hegemony. Using a satirical approach, he questioned if the images we saw on TV are identical to the objects being captured.
YUAN is highly adept at combining symbolic metaphors with technological media. His works vividly illustrate contemporary human conditions. Despite its original emphasis on the dialectical dialogue between moving image and sculpture, Out of Position will be re-represented as a single-channel video work in this exhibition.
East/West is a video with two channels of sound, based on the artist’s citizenship interview. It shows a mouth split in half, with one half speaking English and one half speaking Chinese. Occasionally, the two halves come together to create a whole. The half-mouths reflect the artist’s struggle and conflict in reconciling two cultures.
After the first bank robbery in Taiwan happened in 1982, the three oligopolistic TV stations repeatedly screened the surveillance video of the robber LEE Shih-ke carrying a gun and crossing the bank counter. To the director, LEE’s action symbolised the transgression of law and the reclamation of his right of name.
YUNG superimposes 4-letter idioms on the bright and colourful image of a parade at the Tiananmen Square. The idioms dissolve one after another and become more and more irrelevant and even vulgar. YUNG appropriates the aesthetics and rhetoric of the Communist Party of China and puts them into a hilarious play.
A woman picks up and starts reading the book The Hero in History: A Study in Limitation and Possibility by Sidney HOOK. Her image juxtaposes with found footage of the 1967 riots showing thousands demonstrating on the streets as if it was a carnival. Truthfulness and limitations of recorded images are brought into discussion.
Six years after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, FUNG uses a ping-pong to symbolise the fact that Hong Kong is merely being pushed from one side to another, leaving one coloniser only to find herself in the arms of another. Decidedly blank and expressionless, men in the video are nothing but transporters of the ping-pong.
(Not) Just a Historical Document: Hong Kong-Taiwan Video Art 1980-1990s
Video art emerged simultaneously in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the early 1980s, with artists utilising this immediate and instantaneous medium to proactively engage with social issues.
Hong Kong has now been handed over to China for more than two decades, and martial law has been lifted in Taiwan for more than 30 years; they have both experienced the major historical moments: the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984, the end of martial law in Taiwan in 1987, the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997. Looking back upon the video art of Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s, we find an opportunity to reflect on history, as we see the distinct sentiments and insights through the lens of our present, in which tensions with China have become increasingly apparent.
The films in this programme will be exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei.
Co-curator: SING Song-Yong
Co-organiser: Videotage, VMAC
CHENG Chi-hung,Mak Chi-hang
Green TV's Inaugural Film
Here's Looking at You, Kid!
Ellen PAU,YAU Ching,WONG Chi-fai
WANG Jun-jieh,CHEANG Shu-lea
Danny Ning-tsun YUNG,May FUNG
Making News Making History - Live from Tiananmen Square
Danny Ning-tsun YUNG,Jim Sing-tak SHUM