Culture experiments with the city’s multiplex,
stains, and circulation
by LAI Hsiang-Ling
The 1920s was a critical period in Taiwan’s progress of modernization, a time that publications such as Taiwan Youth and Taiwan Minpo began to reflect on the nature of modernity, set their minds on the new cultural movements, as well as to discuss the implications brought about by the waves of modernization. Meanwhile, city, as the sum of desires and gathering of symbols, it not only serves as a witness to the bumpy journey of cultural reformation and social transformation, but also accommodates changes and turbulences created by political competition, urban and rural transformation, economic imbalance, refugee crises, and social movements. Upon entering year 2020, we look forward to the future with our own past, and wonder: How does culture to be experimented within a city? How does it trigger shockwaves?
In this annual exhibition “City Flip-Flop”, the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-LAB) carries out a series of observations and actions related to history, current social practices, and future development through the multiple viewsheds of researchers, witnesses, and activists. Sociologist Anthony Giddens once proposed using perceptions of history, insights into anthropology, and critical observation, as an important path to understanding the social world. Perceptions of history refer to a real comprehension of history, as well as renewed identification of individuals, communities, and nations. Insight into anthropology examines the dialectical relationship between cultural development and social evolution, exploring the key mechanism that dictates the development of society and the environment. Critical observation is the investigation of existing social norms and the exploration of the creative imagination of future society.
Thus, “City Flip-Flop” focuses on “multiplex,” “stained,” and “circulation” as three dimensions of observation and exploration. “Multiplex” re-examines the multidimensional influences on cultural development of progressivism and developmentalism advocated by the modern industrial system and global capitalism, and explores the great impact on society and life by technology, as well as how development and applications of new technologies have changed the possibilities of human behaviors, cultural production, and social operations. “Stained” reenact marginal narratives hidden under social norms and rules to explore the control on body and consciousness by modern thinking on governance and system of order, focusing on the rational hegemony that constructs social order and modern systems. “Cycle” observes the evolution and transformation of a city through multidimensional exploration of social development, concern for the environment, and sustainable life, imagining a lifestyle of sustainability and common good to present current practices and future development of circular cities.
In “City Flip-Flop,” we simulate C-LAB as a micro city, presenting shockwaves, dissolution, and regeneration through the giant wheel of time. In addition to inviting local and international contemporary artists, this exhibition gathers urban research/action teams from Taiwan’s architecture institutes and international cities. These are industrial and academic communities that have long delved into social innovation and experimentation. Some of the current resident creators at C-LAB also participated. This exhibition incorporates cross-disciplinary collaborations with institutions such as the National Museum of Taiwan History. By combing through history and through cultural excavation, local field studies, technical research, physical architecture, and life design, “City Flip-Flop” proposes concrete strategies for cultural experimentation and practice. We hope that audiences will see how cities are shaped through daily life and how this exhibition reflects the contemporary society we live in.