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Artist|Chen Yin-Hui, Tsui Kuang-Yu, Lin Yen-Ju, Peng Yi-Hsuan, Chang Po-Chieh, Shiy De-Jinn

Duration| 2021.08.14 – 2021.09.24

​Opening Hours|TUE - FRI   12:30 pm - 6:30 pm. / SAT   12:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Venue|PTT Space

 

Groundless

Text by Hsu Fang Tzu

 

Every aspect of our lives is a dynamic result of the interaction between our perceptions, emotions, ideas, and thoughts and our surroundings. All space, including architectural space, is an imagery reflection of reality and the spiritual world. It is also the most effective apparatus to embody the traditional culture and emotional connections and further represent reality and emotional ideals. Those visible symbols function as our emotional projections, and the trajectory behind the signs marks the close relationships between emotion and space. Each of the backtracking points goes to different contexts of time and space, and these points will eventually come to the core of culture. Also, tangible objects symbolize a group of people, a generation, and a period of history that demonstrates a shared emotional attachment and the root of belonging.

 

The swallowtail roof commonly found in early private houses and antique houses is a distinctive feature of Minnan culture. Auspicious motifs within these cultural features are taken from our daily life, mythology, and popular stories, which have a close hold on people who live on this land. Therefore, they are naturally integrated into our daily life and kept for generations. Such objects not only document the past but also meet people’s aesthetic needs in many respects. Also, they play a subtle yet influential role in human minds, repeating the same stories in different eras. 

 

Back in the nineteenth century, since Taiwan was a Japanese colony then, Taiwan’s businesspeople have frequently been trading with foreign merchants. Local compradors gradually formed an emerging class that possessed power who had the advantage of being familiar with the Western mindset and mentality. They ambitiously appropriated foreign styles to adorn their private houses to show off their wealthy status and to demonstrate their vision of the world. Although they largely applied Western formal elements and adornments to their splendid houses, the floor plans of these residences still principally followed the concept of traditional “Heyuan,” a courtyard surrounded by buildings on the three or four sides. These early bourgeois residences spoke with a particular voice different from the surrounding houses, marking a form of freedom. However, they still adhered to the architectural principles of the traditional courtyard. The most iconic examples of Western-styled houses include Chenjinji Teahouse, Koo Hsien-Jung's Salt House, Li Chun-sheng’s private residence on Ganzhou Street, Koo’s residence in Lukang, and Chen Chung-he’s residence in Kaohsiung. 

 

After World War II, the government of the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan. In the face of massive immigration waves and rapid urbanization, wealthy Taiwanese corporations started to compete for putting up high-rise buildings. Before the turn of the century, Taiwan's cityscape gradually got rid of past ideologies of colonialism and nationalism. However, there was still a long way from developing its style. Today, we can see transplanted “exotic beauty” worldwide on streets and corners across Taiwan. In the process of customizing to the changing environment, we seem to be delighted to embrace such “exoticism”.

 

However, under Western influence, those groundless symbols are seen to be copied and pasted on every street corner in Taiwan. These transplanted objects conform to the principle of “beauty,” undoubtedly representing the extraordinariness of a certain nation and a certain period. Nonetheless, the thoughts and emotions they adhere to cannot be transplanted. When facing such a lack of consensus, how, then, should these spiritually hollow figures be interpreted? Are they the product of the modern definition of beauty? Are they the projection of our craving for other foreign places? Are those objects considered “beautiful” following a socially motivated standard or personal taste? And how should we tell the story about the growth of Taiwan’s urban cities with these exotic architectural symbols?

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