Video documentation | Space as Response: Taiwan Perspectives after the 1980s

Revolving around “response,” this talk introduces the independent art space research project by Asia Art Archive (AAA) in Taiwan, and invites four speakers—John Tain, Wu Ma-li, Cheng Mei-ya, and Amy Cheng—to discuss several key phenomena relating to independent art spaces in Taiwan, and how they’ve responded to the evolution of cultural policies, technology, and the curatorial ecology since the 1980s. 

John Tain will contextualise the “Independent Art Spaces of Taiwan” project by sketching out some elements in the development of independent spaces across different parts of Asia. Wu Ma-li will talk about the historical context of the late 1980s, describing how Taiwanese artists organised themselves, and how their self-organisation was linked up with physical art spaces via cultural subsidy schemes in the 1990s. Cheng Mei-ya will discuss how artists’ assemblages and artistic explorations extended from physical to digital spaces as internet culture emerged in the 1990s. Amy Cheng will unravel the context within which independent art spaces, such as TheCube Project Space established in 2010, gradually become sites for praxes of curating, creative experimentation, and knowledge production. 

The first public event of the “Independent Art Spaces of Taiwan” series, this talk is collaboratively held by C-LAB and AAA. In addition to promoting art archive research, the series highlights the latent publicness in the research process, stimulates discussions on the history of art spaces, and strengthens connections between artistic communities in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

This event is held on-site in Taiwan only. Please visit our website for the video recording after the event has finished. 

Image: <i>Space as Response: Taiwan Perspectives after the 1980s</i>, 2022. Courtesy of C-LAB.
Image: Space as Response: Taiwan Perspectives after the 1980s, 2022. Courtesy of C-LAB.

John Tain is Head of Research at Asia Art Archive. His recent projects include Translations, Expansions at documenta fifteen (2022); Art Schools of Asia (2021–22); the exhibition Crafting Communities (2020); and MAHASSA (Modern Art Histories in and across Africa, and South and Southeast Asia, 2019–20), a collaboration with the Dhaka Art Summit and the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University. He is an editor for the Exhibition Histories series with Afterall and others. He also serves as an advisor for Asia Forum, an ongoing discursive programme. He was previously a curator for modern and contemporary collections at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. 

Wu Ma-li graduated from Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany. She currently teaches in the Graduate Institute of Interdisciplinary Art at the National Kaohsiung Normal University. Wu’s avant-garde artistic practice and research focus on the interventions of art in the public sphere. She has engaged in social and political critique from a feminist perspective through her works since the 1990s. She has also run a series of community-based projects on new public art since 2000. She won the National Award for Arts, Taiwan, in 2016. In recent years, Wu has been working with ecological issues, bridging culture and nature through art. 

Cheng Mei-ya is a freelance curator interested in looking at power structures and systems behind artistic institutions. She was involved in the first internet media experiment of art in Taiwan: the ET@T Web TV Site (1999), as well as in the initiation, establishment, and operation of the Taipei Contemporary Art Center (TCAC) (2009–22). She also organised Curating Now and the Institutions (TCAC, 2013) and Going Public–Common Tasks (Museum of National Taipei University of Education, 2016). Her curatorial works include The 6th Queens International (in collaboration with Hitomi Iwasaki, Queens Museum, New York City, 2013) and Public Spirits (Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdów Castle, Warsaw, 2016). 

Amy Cheng is co-founder of TheCube Project Space. Working within the praxis of “outreach curating,” Cheng has devoted herself to cooperation with artists, cultural activists, and researchers, and developed long-term research and curatorial plans. Her curatorial work primarily focuses on Asia’s history and geopolitics as well as its relation to the world. Since 2010, she has promoted research on modern sound culture in Taiwan, and expanded TheCube Project Space into a platform of exhibition, publishing, online database, and internet radio. 

Moderator: Nicole Wang, Researcher, Asia Art Archive


Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab

Joint Organiser 
Asia Art Archive 

Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center 



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