I was assigned to Hsinchu Station (a hundred-year old Japanese colonial building) during an art festival in 2013 co-organized by the Hsinchu City Government and a local developing company. They wanted me to propose a paper-cut installation artwork for the inside of the station. My initial proposal was to create a paper-cut piece installed on the ceiling of the station. However, after I inspected the location in person, I discovered that the space inside the station is actually quite crowded and chaotic. There is a 7-11 inside and also a sushi shop, and on weekends, many foreign workers would gather on both the inside and outside of the station. My customary approach was to use the material fees that I receive to create artworks intended for public viewing, and such installations designed for seeing would usually be wrapped up and stored away after the end of the exhibitions, with some even taken apart and recycled or discarded. I began thinking about the different marginalized people gathered inside that station, with some displaced, unemployed, or homeless. If the material fee can be turned into mobile wages, the meaning of the fee could then be slightly altered. I began thinking about transforming the “art fee” into “mobile wages” and to provide temporary work to those without jobs lingering in the public station, turning them into living artworks by holding up silhouette portraits of themselves. Like “mobile sculptures”, they would engage in conversations with other people to talk about why they are a piece of artwork. They could also engage in those people with a questionnaire on art and society, prompting the spectators to think about the possibilities of incorporating art into art and the definition of art. I had to try to first convince the government officials, the unit at the station, and the team responsible for executing the exhibition. After which, ads were run in newspapers and online, and we even worked with an employment service to look for and interview suitable temporary workers. All of them had lots of stories and personal histories to share, and I stayed in close contact with them throughout the process, encouraging them to contemplate about this unique temporary work and to talk with others in public. The project ultimately led them to come into contact with various people, with the experience casting impacts on their future lives… The project was conducted for 3 months, resulting in 437 questionnaires filled out by the public. This project was invited to showcase in Art as Social Interaction Hong Kong / Taiwan Exchange in 2014, prompting me to think about how to bring the files from the project back to an exhibition space to be displayed and reexamined.
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