The Beginning of Life/Art: Cloth Weaves Our Times, from Aomori

May 7 (Thu)- August 30 (Sun), 2020

LIN Gieh-Wen/Labay Eyong

Open the Rope, 2020 Photo: Delphine Parodi

I had untied the knot in my life
Knots that restrained me resulted in wasting my time and energy
Stains and dirt falling off of me
At this very moment I am moving towards the way of reconciliation
Until I met you

My great-grandfather is Japanese. His presence was like a spirit that is hardly ever felt in our family. History has left a hidden scar through my blood but had also gave me life.

I created the way of reconciliation through art and labor although hatred had narrowed my vision. The work of Open the Rope shows the cycle of destroying and rearranging. Mixing and twisting different spaces with different timelines creating a knot in the end. As it is like an ancient knot memoir with family members’ pasts recorded in it. Also it feels like a ceremony to inform ancestors that we know about your existence.
―LIN Gieh-Wen/Labay Eyong

As a member of the Truku, one of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, LIN Gieh-Wen/Labay Eyong creates sculptural installations, using the traditional weaving techniques. While occasionally collaborating with weavers in the Truku community she belongs to, she poses questions on the physicality and identities of women through her work. Japan ruled Taiwan in the past (from 1895 to 1945) and many Japanese people migrated there. As a colony, Japan modernized Taiwan, put things in order, and at the same time, we took away their lands, languages, and cultures.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the artist has not been able to come to Japan and install her work yet, unfortunately. However, upon visiting Aomori in February this year for her research, she came to know about Aomori Sakiori and Sashiko, which share similarities with textiles and knitted goods made by the Taiwanese indigenous people in their forms and roles they play in their cultures. She learned how they were made, and took different materials, such as plastic tarpaulin, used clothes, and fishing nets, which are commonly used but their designs vary in each country, back to Taiwan. The relationship between Taiwan and Japan is also inscribed in her family history. A mirror that had been reflecting her family members and a clock that had been marking the passage of time with them. Things, which are created by people's comings and goings, get tossed around by large currents of history, and the ways in which people perceive and interpret them also change. Through her contemporary art practice, Labay seems to confront the essence of things and deep feelings within her.

The approach she is planning to take in Gallery B is to use the objects selected from the collection of important cultural properties, which are connected to people’s births and memories, such as old clocks, chests, and Entsuko (cradles), put them together as a large sculpture, and cover it with large pieces of cloth, which the Truku women traditionally weave. Cloth continuously wraps people from their birth until their death. By covering the sculpture with the large pieces of cloth, which hold many people’s feelings and wishes, the artist is perhaps trying to tell us the mystery of life existing here and now and its preciousness.

Text: KEINO Yuka, Translation: NAGASAKA Aki

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COVID-19, 2020 Photo: Delphine Parodi