Yao Jui-Chung + Lost Society Document + Sandy Hsiu-Chih Lo
When: Friday 7 July - Sunday 17 September
Where: Paul Ramsay Galleries, MAMA.
The role of artists and their collaborators as agents of social change is made paramount with Mirage, an exhibition of video, photography, and participation.
The main body of work, Mirage: Disused Public Property in Taiwan, draws upon the work of artist Yao Jui-Chung, an artist and university educator who led a nationwide photographic project in Taiwan, challenging his government's expenditure on public infrastructure.
Taiwan has seen an unprecedented wave of 'nation building' projects following the lifting of martial law in 1987. Successive governments have invested in public buildings such as laboratories, visitor centres, museums, residential developments, and commercial precincts that are either unfinished, never inhabited, or abandoned after only a few years of use.
With the assistance of Lost Society Document, a group of photographers recruited primarily from the University photography art course he taught, and film-maker Sandy Hsiu-Chih Lo, Yao and his collaborators compiled an extensive folio of images, documenting over 500 facilities from across every province in Taiwan, together with the costs of their construction.
The Mirage project began as an educational tool. As Yao explains:
"In 2010, I was set to teach courses on contemporary photography and performance art at two major Taiwanese universities. I posed a question to my students: Would they prefer that I follow a conventional curriculum and use textbooks? Or would they prefer to turn their class into a field survey of “Mosquito Halls” - abandoned public construction projects that were now, as their colloquial name suggests, only good for breeding mosquitoes?"
Yao’s challenge was taken up by his students and a survey of Taiwan’s Mosquito Halls began.
Seven years later, a selection of photographs and videos were brought together in Mirage: Disused Public Property in Taiwan. The work has been presented as part of the 9th Shanghai Biennale, the 20th Biennale of Sydney, and continues to evolve.
The work has attracted much attention, including that of the President of Taiwan and his infrastructure department. Despite the meetings and correspondence with the President, new buildings continue to be raised, and failed projects continue to be deleted. Yao vows to continue the project, focusing attention on the publication of his 6th book of photographs, due in 2018.
The first copy, as always, will be mailed to the President of Taiwan.
In Albury, Mirage continues.
Photographers and artists are given the opportunity to reflect on government investment in Australia.
Where are the issues in regional Australia with government spending?
What is the role of regional artists as agents of social change?
Where is the Mirage in government rhetoric vs action?
All photographers, artists and community members are encouraged to submit images to the Mirage Albury online catalogue.
The role of artists as agents of social change continues.