Critics’ Picks

Kuo Yu-Ping, ls Waking Up, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Kuo Yu-Ping, ls Waking Up, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.


Kuo Yu-Ping

No. 15 Ln. 548 Ruiguang Rd. Neihu Dist. B1
July 20–September 8, 2019

Kuo Yu-Ping’s solo exhibition “How Real is Yesterday” is an unsettling effort at grappling with Taiwan’s authoritarian displacements as refracted through the artist’s experience of home. Is Waking Up, 2019, the exhibition’s centerpiece, consists of an architectural model, placed in a space delineated by a beige, semitransparent curtain, of the Zhongxing Auditorium in Kuo’s native Zhongxing New Village, Taiwan—one of a large number of structures based on Chinese architectural precedents built by the Kuomintang party-state in the wake of their defeat in the Chinese Civil War. Water pours out of its foundation into a pool at the model’s base. The work complements Double Reading, 2019, a video installation made up of two stacked televisions looping footage, shot in the gallery space, of military honor guards executing drill and ceremony around the miniature from Is Waking Up. Taken together, the pieces show Kuo reflecting on the Kuomintang’s fixation on a lost, decaying ideal of the Middle Kingdom, with Zhongxing New Village standing in for displaced projections of China.

The creeping authoritarianism of domestic spaces is also visible in Delay and Pit, 2013, a single-channel video of a model of Kuo’s former home in Zhongxing New Village, with aesthetics reminiscent of a horror film: long shadows, a sepia tint, and an unsteady camera. The installation, Sleep, Dream, in a Feverish Land, 2018, features a spindly tree branch coated in pink wax—another fragile replica—erupting from a tattered carpet, perhaps a visual metaphor for the transfiguration of tangled personal experience into art. That the works in the exhibition add to each other so strongly is indicative of Kuo’s consistent concerns with belonging, statehood, and their uneasy relation.