The Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
May 23 – August 09, 2020
Approximately one year ago, MOCA Taipei invited me to curate an exhibition themed on space. I immediately thought of the four- or five-story apartment buildings that are rather outmoded and have no elevators, which bring the dynamic relations among time, space, architecture and people into an integrated whole.
At first, the concept starts from the communal villages of walkup apartments, but the spectrum soon grows to include first old-street villages with one- and two-story buildings, then modern walkup apartments that are four to five stories, and eventually villages in contemporary apartments that are taller and larger. The traffic infrastructure in these villages also expand from small alleys and fire lanes to two-lane streets or even wider roads. Lower height of the architecture signals a closer distance between people as well as higher penetrability and intercommunicability.
Four- and five-story walkup apartments, especially those with hallways on floors above the ground floor, mark the limit below which the aforesaid qualities can still be maintained. The villages of more advanced apartment buildings with elevators, on the other hand, see a dramatic decrease of penetrability and intercommunicability. When there are wider, larger roads and more, faster traffic going through the villages, these qualities are also affected.
As the floor area and height of a building grow, the village grows even more enclosed and isolated, and it becomes more unlikely for the residents to interact with each other directly, let alone establish close relationships. In addition, following the inevitable life cycle of architecture as well as the marginalization and consequent decline of an area, the living networks and relationships in these buildings have often withered prematurely in an invisible state long before they could flourish and before these concrete villages really turn into disserted ruins.
This is the first aspect of “perforation” that is most easily detected in its nearly deteriorated state. Secondly, the idea of “perforation” conveys a more active intention to see through or control-that is, the wide range of relations among all the basically isolated, invisible individuals and families in the large, transparent apartment buildings and the external environment.
The third aspect is the thinking about the infiltrating, affecting factors: the solid layers of concrete walls can naturally form separation, but they are not able to keep various problems away – such as aging, disabilities, solitude, diseases, epidemics, true or fake messages, progressive development, fashion, collectively emotions, beneficial or inaccurate ideas and policies, vital interest in relation to the neighbors, remote or global industries and their development, disasters or crises – and stop them from penetrating the walls and exert their influences.
The fourth aspect is about the myriad of forms that can generate interdependence and interconnectability as well as the possibility of mapping out these relations three-dimensionally within the separation enforced by layers of walls, massive information and the disturbances of various influences.