From elaborate paper cut-outs to video installations and participatory performance projects, Taipei-based artist Jam Wu investigates the diverse aspects of contemporary life.Read More
Jam Wu began creating paper cut-outs while studying at Shih-Chien University in Taiwan, experimenting with large-scale paper cuts that attempted to capture light falling through windows. The artist's interest then extended to the folk art of paper cutting, found across the world. Upon graduating in 2006, Wu travelled to northern China on a Cloud Gate Wanderer Project Fellowship, and then on to villages in the Arctic region and Switzerland.
Traditional and contemporary, as well as simplified and elaborate, forms converge in Jam Wu's cut-outs. In Visiting her with a basket of fruit, the first in a trilogy of solo exhibitions at Taipei's Eslite Dunnan Bookstore Art Space in 2010, the artist covered an entire wall with paper cut-outs of symmetrical human figures in various sizes. Similarly, Wu renders the non-traditional motifs of exotic flora and stars in red, a traditionally auspicious colour in Chinese culture, in a work displayed at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in 2011.
Jam Wu's paper cut-outs have developed into projects such as One Thousand and One Nights (2015–), an ongoing participatory project, in which the artist invites participants to contribute a short text based on his paper works. Deriving its title from the Arabic classic of retelling tales, One Thousand and One Nights explores the possibilities of adapting and re-presenting narratives.
One Thousand and One Nights is also the title of Jam Wu's 2015 solo exhibition at Liang Gallery, Taipei, which presented the paper cut-outs and texts collated during the project. The exhibition also included installations, such as An Evening – Dictionary of Traditional Chinese (2015). Taking pages from an old Chinese dictionary, the artist overlaid them onto gilded panels to commemorate the books and traditional Chinese characters that have declined in use since his childhood.
Much like his projects, Jam Wu's performances are often participatory in nature, examining the diverse facets of contemporary life. For On The Way To Hometown About One Urban Youth (2012), he invited youths that had migrated to Beijing to share a meal together and reflect on the phenomenon of young migrants returning back home; Papercut Field – Soulangh Project (2016) involved women from his hometown of Tainan creating paper cut-outs that were inspired by the local salt fields.
In 2013, Jam Wu collaborated with the dance company, Meimage Dance, to create My Dear, a performance presented at the National Theatre, Taipei, which was subsequently awarded the Taishin Arts Award. He has also worked with fashion brands, such as Hermès (2014) and Chanel (2011).
Selected solo exhibitions include Through the Walls, TKG+, Taipei (2021); Whispers of Animism, Chishang Art Center, Taiwan (2021); Cutouts and Alive, Could Gate Theater, Taipei (2016); One Thousand And One Nights / Nine Sea / An Evening, Liang Gallery, Taipei (2015); If You See a Young Shepherd, Louis Vuitton Cultural Space, Taipei (2010).
Jam Wu has also shown his works in international art fairs such as Art Taipei, Art Düsseldorf, and Art Stage Singapore, and group exhibitions, including Spectrosynthesis II – Exposure of Tolerance, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2020); I Want to Dream, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan (2015); Mona Lisa Made in Creation, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Art, Taiwan (2013); Innovation & Re-creation, National Taiwan Museum of Art, Taichung (2013); and Super [email protected], Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2008).
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021