Taiwan’s Austronesian Art Triennial Traces Indigenous Roots
The event's inaugural edition showcases works by indigenous contemporary artists across the region, including New Zealand's Lisa Reihana and Taiwan's Yuma Taru.
Milay Mavaliw, Dalan (Road) (2023). Huge hemp rope, knitting device, dimensions variable. Courtesy of Taiwan International Austronesian Art Triennial. Photo: Jing Dean Commercial Photography.
The first Taiwan International Austronesian Art Triennial 2023 held its grand opening on 28 October at the Taiwan Indigenous Culture Park in Pingtung. It continues through 18 February 2024.
The Triennial's inaugural theme is RamiS: Tracing Origins. RamiS means 'root' in the Proto-Austronesian language, encapsulating the cultural and ecological practices that relate the indigenous people of Taiwan to those of the Australaisa and the Pacific.
Nakaw Putun, the Indigenous Taiwanese Pangcah co-curator of the Triennial, along with Etan Pavavalung, described the title as a 'reflection of the idea that we perhaps need to actively become spiritual to collaboratively think about the sustainability of humanity.'
Her multi-channel video installation Nomads of the Sea (2018) weaves a narrative that explores colonialism while re-examining traditional Maori culture and gender roles. It's displayed under the Triennial's sub-section, Becoming Spiritual, which was curated by Putun and delves into how Austronesian people's animistic beliefs exemplify a sustainable relationship with nature.
Indigenous Taiwanese artists exhibiting under this theme include Truku-Atayal artist Idas Losin, who will feature in the 24th Biennale of Sydney next year, and Makotaay artist Iyo Kacaw, whose wood sculpture Between You and Me (2023) deals with the degradation of the ocean.
In the Triennial's other sub-section, Why We Are Us, co-curator Etan Pavavalung curates an impression of 'the Austronesian "us",' as he describes it, shaped by colonialism, trauma, common challenges, and shared solutions.
Atayal artist Yuma Taru's installations Sea·Rise and River·Flow (2023), for instance, are part of a 50-year creative plan that involves weaving and chanting based on observations of shared issues among Austronesian communities.
'The exhibition shares experiences of existence and attempts to guide viewers into contemplating our affinity with the Austronesian realm' and 'our communal trajectory towards a sustainable future,' Pavavalung said. —[O]