Su Yu Hsien

No. 15 Ln. 548 Ruiguang Rd. Neihu Dist., B1
July 8, 2017–September 10, 2017

Su Yu Hsien, Prophet, 2016, two-channel color video, 24 minutes 16 seconds.

Two large video projections occupy opposite ends of the main space of this venue, together making up the two-channel work Prophet, (all works 2016). One projection shows layers of red curtains towed by pulleys, never revealing the stage, while the lights slowly dim. In the other, an elderly couple, basking in the red glow reflected by the curtains across the room, argues about the man’s failed ambitions as a modern intellectual. Staged in theaters in 1965, the play Prophet was originally meant to be staged with the couple performing while seated in the audience, but was rejected by the director, who felt that the absence of actors onstage and the curtain mechanism would not be understood by the conservative, Peking-opera-going crowds of martial-law-era Taiwan, when the art form took on a political symbolism for a nationalist government keen on stressing its unbroken ties to China.

The era of Prophet was perhaps epitomized by a single object from the event: a plaster gong. Created to announce the opening of the play as a parody of the man with a gong in the opening credits films produced by Rank Organisation, the object shattered upon first strike. Su, reenacting Prophet and revisiting the circumstances and history of the gong, displays new works in the adjacent room, Plaster Gong #1-5 (all shattered plaster gongs either from making #1 or from performances documented off-site, #2-5, with videos Documentary and Percussion Performance), which focus on the form and musical quality of the object, honoring noise, defiance, and an urgency to disrupt existing order, despite the instrument’s tendency to shatter into a million pieces.

— Daphne Chu