吃風 | Eating Wind | Makan Angin @ VT Artsalon (Taipei)
June 21st 2014 – July 19th 2014
The exhibition title Eating Wind is a calque or loan-translation from Malay Makan Angin which connotes the idea of going on holiday or vacation. Eating Wind in a more literal sense can be understood as the idea of hanging heads out to feel the breeze caressing our skin, brushing our hair against the shifting sceneries during road trips. This sentience is especially appreciated in a country where its climate is hot and humid all year round; we are conditioned and developed hyper-sensitivity towards moving air, whether it is a gust of wind, sea breeze or current of air generated from a ceiling fan or an air-con.
This exhibition aims to look at holiday as a social and cultural phenomenon. Since the 17th century, upper-class European artists, scholars or cultural connoisseurs alike had devised a form of traveling which is known as `grand tour’ to serve as an educational rite of passage. This has then been adjusted to meet the shifting demands of generations of travelers. Since the 1960s, people from all walks of life started their own version of the grand tour. Some relied on hitchhiking or used cheap buses to tour around the globe. Terms such as backpacking, couch surfing, and bed and breakfast had become a trending topic among the younger generation. Recently, there is a proliferation of artist residency programs around the globe, where most of the times the artists are expected to fabricate work based on their experience or required to have community engagement, which is slightly different to the idea of conventional traveling. This could be a popularizing form of traveling among artists, curators or researchers.
Being aware that tourism is one of the driving forces of Malaysia’s economy, this exhibition also attempts to reexamine the state’s decision in merging the ministry of tourism and culture, followed by their series of programs vouching for the idea of art tourism – 1MCAT (1 Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism) since 2010. Last year, the three-month-long event consisted of pop-up art spaces, shuttle bus services to bring visitors to different major shopping centers where exhibitions were held, and art tours where visitors could visit pastoral sites while making artwork. This consumerist approach, albeit not unheard of, can still be seen as a coerced and lackluster attempt in formulating art into tourist itineraries apart from the standard culinary, sight-seeing and shopping experiences.
Our holiday destinations are gradually changing partly due to the shift in our modes of transportation. Some of us may have less road trips and more use of budget airlines. Flying is no longer an exclusive activity among the affluent group in the society. Air Asia’s slogan – “Now everyone can fly” – is not necessarily as inclusive as it is intended to be; not only does it creates a social impact on the way we choose our holiday destination and the way we travel, but it also helps to mobilize foreign workforce regionally. Instead of discovering places locally, we go farther; we experience distance and speed in a different way. Going on road trips to discover local scenic sites such as waterfall, lake, beach or even theme park has become démodé and a less appealing form of traveling than going to popular destinations like Bangkok and Hanoi. We colloquialize ourselves with foreign city names and develope a better perception of regional geography, yet names of lesser known places closer to us are becoming fuzzier.
A group of 13 artists from various disciplines and backgrounds are invited to respond to these stimuli as their point of departure to either share their personal notion of `holiday’ or reflect on holiday as a society’s/consumer’s lifestyle, or to consider the repercussions of state’s enterprise in advocating the idea of `cultural’ holiday. This exhibition was originally shown at Run Amok Gallery in December 2013 and has been selected in VT OpenCall to be toured in VT ArtSalon, Taipei. (Texts by Hoo Fan Chon. Read Chinese text here.)
這個展覽試圖從社會和文化現象的角度去理解「假期」的概念。從17世紀開始，上層階級的歐洲藝術家、學者或是文化鑒賞者發展出了一套稱之為「壯遊」的旅遊模式，憑藉著優渥的經濟與生活水平，旅行世界成了富有教育意義的儀式與傳統，而這樣的旅遊概念逐漸依著不同世代旅行者的需求而產生移轉；六十年代以後，來自不同階層的人們都各自發展出了屬於自己的壯遊，其中有些人倚賴搭便車、便宜的公路巴士行遍江湖與世界，背包客、沙發客、B&B (bed & breakfast）這類詞匯儼然成了年輕世代間共享與交換的流行概念；而近年來，藝術家到世界各地去駐村這類的相關活動正方興未艾，藝術家們藉著駐村的機會拜訪一個其它的城市或鄉鎮，有時與當地社群進行交流，並發展作品，把旅行的概念又更明確地往某個層面推進了一步，對藝術家、策展人、學者來說，這樣的機會也可能會是更熱門的旅遊方式。
就馬來西亞的經濟發展而言，旅遊業扮演著重要的角色，<吃風>展也藉著這個機會，試圖重新檢視這個國家對旅遊業的決策：馬來西亞旅遊文化促進局透過1MCAT（1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism / 一個馬來西亞當代藝術）這個政策的制定與推動，從2010年開始，將藝術和旅遊結合在一起。去年舉辦了長達三個月的嘉年華會，在商場內設置臨時性藝術空間，並安排接駁巴士讓旅客可以穿梭於不同的購物商場，旅客甚至能夠藉著參加藝術旅遊團的機會，在不同的藝術據點制作藝術作品，這類型商業與消費導向的操作模式 ，僅管並不是前所未聞，卻仍然可以看出政府的企圖，強制性的將「藝術活動」置入尋常的美食、景點遊歷、血拼等旅遊模式里。
再從另一方面來看，當今人們旅遊的地點也因為交通方式的改變而產生了顯著的變化，有些人開始舍棄傳統的公路旅行，改以搭乘廉價航空的方式前往旅行的目的地，飛行再也不是中上階級人們的旅行專利，正如亞洲航空公司（AirAsia）的標語「Now everyone can fly / 現在每個人都可以飛了」所述，搭機出國旅遊成了普羅大眾也能夠接受、並納入考量的旅行方式，這也為跨國工作者帶來了更多便利，他們可以更自主地往返各地。我們不再只能夠於當地發現新地點，我們還有能力去到更遠的地方，度量距離和速度的方式也因此改變了。可以這麼說，過去藉著公路旅行而尋幽探勝的情調似乎已經顯得過時，比起發現秘境里的瀑布、湖泊、主題公園，前往熱門的旅遊國家如曼谷或河內更顯得吸引人。我們熟悉於異國城市的名字，也更容易對一個地方的地理環境有了比較具體的概念，但我們卻對那些不是那麼熱門、但事實上離我們更近的地點卻失去了興趣，甚至它們的名字聽起來比外文還陌生。
來自不同背景的13位藝術家分別針對以上所述，進行創作回應，不管是他們個人對於「假期」概念的闡釋、或是從「生活風格」的角度來理解假期在一個社會或一位消費者眼中的定位、亦或是在政府所提倡的「文化旅遊」政策底下提出反響與回饋，這個由冉阿末畫廊所推出的<吃風>展覽首先於2013年12月實現，並獲選非常廟藝文空間VT OPEN CALL徵選，於畫廊實地展出。 (文字：符芳俊， 翻譯：陳依秋）