The COVID-19 pandemic, like a serious warning from nature, swept the globe in 2020. As an island state, Taiwan is protected by the natural barrier of the surrounding sea and has stayed relatively safe from the severe pandemic scene. For this reason, with the blessings from the earth, we hope to discover a new position in the post-pandemic era and reconstruct the new coexistence between humanity and everything in the cosmos.
Since its organization reform into a public agency, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) has proposed the concept of “South Plus” and expanded its collections based on the policy of “essential collections.” In 2019, the collection gallery built around the KMFA collection – South Plus: Constructing historical pluralism from the KMFA collection was launched. Its first exhibition, South as a Place of Gathering, which was combined with the museum’s space reconfiguration, was a contemporary curatorial project that took three years of diligent efforts and was developed from two research projects. “South Plus,” serving as a symbol of historical pluralism, explores the underlying changeability of the South. By constructing diversified artistic criteria and re-interpreting the museum’s collections, “South Plus” aims to break free from Western modernist historical interpretation based on single-perspective narrative to further establish the meaning of the “iconic artworks” emblematic of Kaohsiung.
After surveying its collections acquired in the past two years, the museum begins with the idea of “coexistence between humanity and the land” and curates two exhibitions that respectively investigate into the diverse cultural context of the South. The exhibition featuring the works donated to the museum, entitled Blessings from the Earth – Gifts to KMFA 2019-2020, is inspired by Lin Hsin Yueh’s Mountains Blessed by the Earth, which has served as the key image of the Taiwan Pavilion at the general conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 2019 in Kyoto, Japan. With a prismatic rainbow arching across Taiwan’s mountains to symbolize the pluralistic and inclusive culture in Taiwan, the painting demonstrates good wishes for the earth and is the largest one among the works donated to KMFA in 2019. The exhibition also includes the works by Liu Chi-hsiang and Lee Jiun-shyan that depict the landscape of mountains and sea, the works by Yeh Chu-sheng and Hsu Yung-hsu that interpret natural materials through the creation of their chosen mediums, the photographs of Chen Po-i that captures the empty houses after the relocation of villages and unveils the others in modern nations, as well as the images of Asian brides by Lulu Shur-tzy Hou that portray people’s evolving state of mind during transnational movement. The exhibition invites the audience to experience and appreciate the land and its people to evoke a spiritual perception of the place through understanding, reflecting on and imagining ecology, migration and nation. Meanwhile, the other exhibition focusing on the KMFA collection in Gallery 104 also continues this curatorial context to explore diversified issues related to the land.
Throughout the process of seeking the essential collections, KMFA is deeply grateful for the support from all the artists, their families and the collectors, who have actively donated the artworks to help bring the KMFA collection closer to completion after seeing the result of the collection gallery. Their kindness has generated a synergistic effect together with the museum’s current policy of “essential collections.” In the future, KMFA hopes to continue accumulating the city’s cultural memory through the collection, foster nodes of diverse dialogues with the globe, and ripple outward the cultural coordinates of the “South Plus.”
Supported by Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Kaohsiung City Government
Organized by Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts