SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Ethno-Spatiality as Sovereignty: Performative Encounters of Taiwanese Indigenous Contemporary Art

IMG - Biung
Biung Ismahasan

Date: 2 May 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 2 May 2018Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 116

Type of Event: Seminar


This presentation explores the ethno-aesthetic nature of Taiwanese Indigenous performative arts and the works of Truku performance artist and activist Don Don Houmwn, Rukai sculptor Eleng Luluan and Bunun curator Biung Ismahasan (Truku, Rukai and Bunun are three of Taiwan’s sixteen Indigenous groups). They are examined as a contribution to the discourse of Indigenous and cultural sovereignty. The site-specific performance is examined as an alternative space for Indigenous intervention and curatorial activism. This presentation examines their performative approaches, practices and curatorial strategies relevant to Indigenous artistic practices, particularly those pertinent to cultural loss, recovery and activation. It firstly questions how Houmwn performs Indigeneity, sorrow and solitude, exposing hybrid identities; then demonstrates how Luluan uses her Indigenous minimalist installation to explore multiple social discrepancies between intrinsic and extrinsic performativity amid material objects and soft sculptures; it finally showcases how Ismahasan himself structures a performative encounter of Taiwanese Indigenous contemporary art by curating an off-site and culturally resonant space.

Key words: Taiwanese Indigenous Contemporary Art, Indigenous Curating, Indigenous Sovereignty, Performative art and Alternative Space

Speaker Bio

Biung Ismahasan is a freelance curator, artist and researcher, currently working on his PhD project in Curating (Centre for Curatorial Studies, School of Philosophy and Art History) at the University of Essex. He is an alumni of MA in Cultural Policy, Relations and Diplomacy from Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, Univeristy of London in 2014. Belonging to the Bunun Nation of Taiwanese Indigenous Groups, he is awarded PULIMA Art Award which is the first national art award dedicated to indigenous contemporary art and exhibited at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts in Southern Taiwan. His research involves issues of contemporary indigenous curatorial practice and aesthetics, focusing on the curation of Taiwanese indigenous contemporary art, including the discursive discourses of progressive and immersive participation, performativity and the historiography of indigenous curation and exhibition design. Curatorial project includes Dispossessions: Indigenous Encounter(s) of Taiwanese Indigenous Contemporary Art 2014-2019 which is an international performance art exchange of indigenous artists from Taiwan.

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* All these events are free to attend and open to members of the public without prior registration.

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Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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Sponsor: Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines