«Visualising culture and gender: postcolonial feminist analyses of women's exhibitions in Taiwan, 1996-2003 This item was submitted to Loughborough ...»
M. Turner, © 2008 studies to indicate the most extreme forms of paired opposites: sun/moon, white/black, day/night, civilised/primitive, colonisers/the colonised. The term ‘binarism’, in the context of this exhibition, refers to the division between the people who were labouring in these factory buildings (the Taiwanese) and
oppositional relationship in the production of sugar and wine has changed, so that it no longer benefits the colonisers.
Further consideration must be given to the terms ‘binarism’ and ‘dualism’ before the implications of this show and its locations can be discussed.
According to Richard A Watson, the term ‘dualism’ may be defined as follows:
Dualism is related to binary thinking, i.e., to systems of thought that are two-valued, such as logic in which theorems are valid or invalid, epistemology in which knowledge claims are true or false, and ethics in which individuals are good or bad and their actions are right or wrong.4 Watson further points out that ‘western philosophy continues to be predominantly dualistic, as witnessed by the indispensable use of two-valued matrices in logic and ethics’.5 According to Watson’s arguments, Western ideology divides the world into paired logical opposites, including right and wrong, up and down, male and female and mind and body. Hilary Robinson also argues that Western ideology is based on binary relationships and asserts that ‘it is widely understood that western (Euro-centric) culture is predicated Watson, Richard A. ‘Dualism’ in Robert Audi (ed). The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, p 245.
M. Turner, © 2008 upon a value system of binary oppositions’.6 Under dualism, the superior position, or subject, is emphasised whilst the marginal part, or object, is subaltern. It is believed that the colonised, being those who are relegated to the margins, are the object and the colonisers, who are in the position of control, are the subject. It is postcolonial theories that challenge the division of relationships into subject and object and propose instead the existence of a state of hybridity in the space between both ends. In the case of the exhibition, those two ends comprise the Taiwanese people (or the object) and the buildings (or subject).
The term ‘postcolonial’, in the definition used by Ashcroft et al, refers to ‘all of the culture affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonisation to the present day’. 7 One of the elements that characterises postcoloniality, from the start of colonisation to the present, is hybridity. Hybridity is the response to the hegemony of the colonisers, and through hybridity, the binary orders are dislocated. Some examples which demonstrate the presence of hybridity include new forms of language (a mixture of Taiwanese with the imperial language, Japanese), living habits and culture. Homi Bhabha’s foreword to Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1967) describes an
image of a colonised man:
The representative figure of such a perversion, I want to suggest, is the image of post-Enlightenment man tethered to, not confronted by, this dark reflection, the shadow of colonised man, that splits his presence, distorts his outline, breaches his boundaries, repeats his action at a distance, Robinson, Hilary. ‘Reframing Women’ in Hilary Robinson (ed). Feminism-Art-Theory: An Anthology 1968-2000. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001, p 535.
Ashcroft et al (1989), op cit, p 2.
M. Turner, © 2008 disturbs and divides the very time of his being.8 For Bhabha, the colonised man is the one who lives in the in-betweenness amidst different boundaries and the one who is experiencing hybridity, which is a mixture of his own cultural traditions and the colonial influence. I propose that the colonised man can be used to describe the Taiwanese and this show is a physical example to prove this argument. Today, these sugar and wine factories no longer exist to make profits for the colonisers; rather I argue that they have become the interface through which Taiwan may address its own identity. Thus, for the Taiwanese, using these buildings has become a strategic means of re-considering and re-naming the legacy of Japanese colonisation and of acknowledging the existence of mimicry in the hybridised Taiwanese culture.
In this chapter, I consider the history of these buildings and how the re-use of theses specific colonial buildings for a different function became the method to address the topics of postcoloniality and identity. Additionally, the ways in which women artists have responded to the issues of identity are also discussed.
Colonial Buildings and Identity Discourses The Hua-Shan Arts District, formerly known as the Taipei Winery [fig 30 and fig 31], is located at the centre of Taipei city. It was built in 1916 during the Japanese colonial period and in 1945 the Chinese Nationalist government took Bhabha, Homi. ‘Foreword’ in Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Translated from the French by Charles Lam Markmann. Foreword by Homi Bhabha. London: Pluto Press, 1986 (first published in 1967), p xiv.
M. Turner, © 2008 over control of the buildings and renamed them the Taipei Winery. The factory ceased production in 1987 because of the awakening consciousness of the need for environmental protection and the expansion of the urban space, which forced the pollutant-producing factory to be moved to a rural area. As a result, this space became the most capacious derelict site in the centre of Taipei. In 1997, a few artists discovered it and realised that it would be perfectly suited to house a multi-purpose arts and performance space. Soon afterwards, Tang Huang-Chen, who was the first chairperson of the Association for Cultural Environmental Reform, Taiwan,9 gathered artists from all fields and inaugurated the site under the designation of ‘Hua-Shan Arts District’.10 The Kia-A-Thau Art Village is located at the Kia-A-Thau Sugar Factory [fig 32 and fig 33], which was finally shut down in 1999.11 The Sugar Factory was established in 1901, also during the era of Japanese colonisation, and it was The Association of Cultural Environment Reform, Taiwan, was originally established in 1998 to safeguard the future of the Hua-Shan Arts District as a centre dedicated to visual art, performance art, films, architecture and art education. From 1999 to 2004, the Association was appointed to run the District by the Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan, and now it continues to serve its aim of protecting the artistic and cultural environment in Taiwan. For more information, see the Association’s website: http://www.art-district.org.tw/.
In 2004, the Taiwanese Government planned to remove the old buildings from the Hua-Shan Arts District and made arrangements for the site to be redeveloped for a new museum. This has aroused a serious debate between artists and the government. The artists would like to keep the old winery in the belief that it is what makes the alternative space special and gives it so many possibilities. Furthermore, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) had already been built in 2000 to serve as the exhibition space for contemporary art.
It seems, however, that the government would rather spend a huge amount of money on a brand new, but unnecessary, art museum than support artists, private galleries and artistic events. The final decision of the Taiwanese government about the future of the space has not yet been made and the artists will keep on fighting to save it.
The area of the Kia-A-Thau Art Village was sold to the Kaohsiung Mass Rapid Transportation Company (MRT) by the Kaohsiung County Government. Some of the spaces have been removed and are now being replaced by the construction of the MRT. From 2007 when the MRT is expected to begin operating, the area will be occupied by modern railways and parking lots for the use of the numerous passengers. Today, there are still several artistic events happening in the Kia-A-Thau Art Village although the natural environment has already been damaged by the ongoing construction.
M. Turner, © 2008 built in order to increase the benefits accruing to the Japanese economy from sugar production in the service of Japan’s pursuit of economic imperialism.
According to Huaeh Hua-Yuan’s History of Taiwan’s Development (1999), Japan intended to develop sugar cultivation for the following reason: ‘[a]fter occupying Taiwan, Japan emphasised the sugar industry as important for economic development, in order to increase Japanese capital investment in Taiwan and to decrease expenses of purchasing sugar from abroad’.12 As to how Japan controlled the sugar market and production in Taiwan, Huaeh
further argues that:
In 1905, the Governor-General in Taiwan announced Regulations of Banning Sugar Factories which included rules about capital assistance, materials protection, market control and new factory protection, and they excluded Taiwanese-owned factories from these official benefits and protection. […] In 1912, the Governor-General in Taiwan declared a law to prevent the Taiwanese from organising their own sugar businesses and capital; in addition, their businesses (not only sugar businesses) had to be established under Japan’s control in order to survive.13 During the period of Japanese colonisation between 1895 and 1945, the office of the Governor-General was established in order to control Taiwan and to make Taiwan a part of the empire of Japan. The Taiwanese were used as low-paid labourers and suffered the status of second-class citizens whilst Japan’s development of the island was done merely in pursuit of its own benefit.
The sugar factory came to represent and symbolise this un-balanced relationship and the history of colonisation. As Taiwan moved towards modernity, the old warehouse for storing goods and the accommodation for the Huaeh, Hua-Yuan. History of Taiwan’s Development. Taipei: Sanmin Publisher, 1999, p 141.
M. Turner, © 2008 factory’s employees were replaced with up-to-date buildings.14 In 1996, the Kia-A-Thau Cultural Society was founded in order to preserve the historical buildings, which were used as the Association’s administrative offices and to house its documentary archive.
Many people who lived in the vicinity worked in this factory for most of their lives and under the suppression of the various colonisers, the people were influenced by a number of different cultures and languages in succession.
When different forces occupied the area, these people needed to unlearn what had been engendered in their minds during the previous colonisation and needed to embrace the ideology of the new colonial power. However, the buildings, as symbols of the coloniser’s violence and oppression, survive as expressions of the characteristics of political and cultural transference.
In Signs Taken for Wonders (1994), Homi Bhabha addresses colonial subjectivity and hybridisation by relating it to the discovery of a Bible translated into Hindi, which describes the influence exerted in India by the British by means of Christianity. In addressing the influence of British colonialism, Bhabha quotes from some conversations that took place during the journey of
an Indian catechist and were recorded in The Missionary Register (1818):
‘Pray who are all these people? And whence come they?’ ‘We are poor and lowly, and we read and love this book’. - ‘What is that book?’ ‘The book of God!’ – ‘Let me look at it, if you please’. Anund, on opening the book, perceived it to be the Gospel of our Lord, translated into the Furthermore, when the KMT arrived in Taiwan, they intended to establish architecture with the purpose of worshiping the ‘gloriousness’ of Chiang Kai-Shek and Sun Yat-Sen. Therefore, in order to set up other colonial symbols in Taiwan, the KMT tore down Japanese colonial architecture and designed its own, representing the new political power.
M. Turner, © 2008 Hindoostanee Tongue, many copies of which seemed to be in the possession of the party: some were PRINTED, others WRITTEN by themselves from the printed ones.15 The discovery of the translated Bible, for Bhabha, is at once ‘a moment of originality and authority’. 16 The discovery of this book resembles the discovery of colonial power and the book is representative of the colonial desire to implant the colonisers’ religion and ideology. The discovery of the two factory buildings brings to mind Bhabha’s arguments about the discovery of this book, since they both symbolise the coloniser’s authority. In order to underline this point, Bhabha’s perspective needs to be taken into account. He observed that ‘the immediate vision of the book figures those ideological correlatives of the Western sign – empiricism, idealism, mimeticism, monoculturalism […] – that sustain a tradition of English ‘cultural’ authority’.17 The establishment of these factory buildings implied not only the Japanese invasion of Taiwan’s economy but also the embodiment in these two locations of Japan’s cultural involvement. The themes that Bhabha has addressed concerning British colonial rule in India and the perspective that he takes on hybridity from India’s experience of colonisation provide the Taiwanese with an angle from which to consider their own particular position in colonial history.
In the forms of the factory buildings and the translated Bible, colonial experience is made visible. According to Bhabha, when addressing the See The Missionary Register. London: Church Missionary Society, January 1818, pp 18-19, cited in Bhabha (1994), op cit, p 146.
Ibid., p 145.
Ibid., p 150.
M. Turner, © 2008
manifestations of colonisation, there is ‘the more ambivalent, third choice: