The Broadcast Project: A Many Splendored Thing of the Coconut, a Belle from Penang and the Secret Agent

2018 (commissioned by Taipei Biennial 2018)
椰林、檳城艷與情報員的生死戀情:一次放送計畫

In the early twentieth century, the imperial Japanese government attempted to transform northern South Taiwan into a ‘paradise’, simply in order to provide a test case for further expansion into Southeast Asia in the future. Enormous quantities of tropical plants were transported to Taiwan, including coconut trees, which were seen as a strategic object in the expansion of borders—enacting a systemization of nature as such.

In 1935, the Japanese government commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the colonization of Taiwan with an extravagant display of cultural and political power, ‘The Taiwan Exposition: In Commemoration of the First Forty Years of Colonial Rule’. This fifty-day event celebrated Japanese and Taiwanese products and craftsmanship, construction and modernization, and occupied over thirty new buildings in Taipei and across the island. The Exposition’s South Pavilion featured a reproduction of rubber plantation—though the rubber tree itself is not native to Southeast Asia, it now grows here in abundance having been imported from South America by the British. This Pavilion was also flanked by sculptures of horses, an animal usually accustomed to temperate climates and unable to withstand extreme heat, but which was trained in humid southern Taiwan in order to prepare for upcoming battles. In this sense, the Taiwanese Exposition revealed the way in which the geographies of flora and fauna have been manipulated by humans to sustain colonization.

This artwork extends from The Nanyang Intelligence Bureau, a collaborative performance presented by Au Sow-Yee and the Oz Theatre Company in October of 2018. Designed as a film set which humorously mimics the Southern Pavilion from the Taiwan Exposition in 1935, and integrates radio broadcasts, video works, and archival objects, A Love Story of Life and Death charts Taiwan’s colonial history through an unlikely romance between a vanished intelligence agent and the ‘Belle of Penang’ (Bin Cheng Yan). A theatrical murder mystery of sorts, this performative installation invites viewers to reimagine the relationships between Japan, Taiwan, and Malaysia, exposed through their political and botanical connections.

Documentation of Installation

二十世紀初期,日本帝國以實驗室名義,將臺灣建造成南方之最北端的樂園,同時也作為征戰南洋的預備地,大量將熱帶植物(如椰子樹)移植到此。而1935年舉辦的「始政四十周年記念臺灣博覽會」中,位於大稻埕第二會場的南方館,就以仿真橡膠林展示當時馬來亞的面貌。橡膠作為一種熱帶植物並不是馬來亞的原生物種,而是英國人從南美洲移植過來的經濟作物。而佇立在南方館附近的馬雕像,預示了馬這種無法耐熱的溫帶動物,如何在這處北端的最南方進行某種征戰的身體預備訓練。於是,熱帶植物與馬的展示,承載了多重指涉。它/牠們的移動變成邊界測量的技術物,也揭示了自然如何被系統化的權力關係。

這件作品是藝術家與柳春春劇社於2018年10月合作發表的劇場演出《南洋情報交換所》的後續篇章。集結放送(廣播)、錄像、物件等元素,以消失的情報員和檳城艷的「生死戀情」為敘事核心,模仿1935年臺灣博覽會南方館的部署方式,建構一間看起來謎一般、並具劇場特質的電影場景,讓觀者在一個精簡視覺與聽覺語彙的空間裡,於意識中主動構成一幅看似鏈接的精神圖景,重新想像日本-臺灣-馬來西亞間,以行進的自然為名,所交織出的複調關係。

tb2018_01
photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu
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photo by Chen Yow-Ruu

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工作人員

裝置
作品製作、布展協力:陳侑汝
部分木作:林育全
部分日文-中文翻譯:黃大旺

錄像製作
製片:胡心怡
演員:鄭志忠、Ayam Fared
音樂設計:黃楚原
動作設計/梳化:陳侑汝
攝影:陳冠宇
第二攝影(植物園):陳侑汝
燈光:鄭得壽
收音:李小鬼
攝影助理:楊哲奇
燈光助理:吳亭靜、楊鈺銘、李慶泰
收音助理:歐千綺
司機:彭珮瑄
馬場教練:陳方璞
馬場工作人員:洪子又、楊子璇、林珮芸、蘇丸如

特別感謝
柳春春劇社
格林馬術中心
羅婉瑜
陳致帆
和田薰

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