Taipei Biennial 2012

Curated by Berlin-based curator and critic Anselm Franke, this eighth edition of Taipei Biennial runs from September 29, 2012 to January 13, 2013, and is going to take place at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and further locations in the City of Taipei.

The narrative-imaginary vacuum of the present bears the imprint of the systemic monstrosity of modern history. The re-visioning of modernity and the rewriting of its master narratives constitute a trans-disciplinary project of global proportions. The Taipei Biennial 2012 departs from the crisis of the imagination that plagues global capitalist culture. It explores the need for collective horizons that withstand both the clichés of modernist development and the logic of division that haunts nationalistic politics in the long shadow of colonialism and imperialism.

Chung-Li Kao, Slideshow Cinema 1 The Taste of Human Flesh (still), 2010. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy Taipei Biennale

Chung-Li Kao, Slideshow Cinema 1 The Taste of Human Flesh (still), 2010. Courtesy of the artist. Courtesy Taipei Biennale

Entitled Modern Monsters / Death and Life of Fiction, the Taipei Biennial 2012 addresses the relationship between historiography and the imaginary. Fiction occupies the blind spot of historiography and documentary work, as it speaks of the fundamental underside of modernity, its dialectics and paradoxes, as well as the systemic terror that lurks behind modernity’s emancipation promises. Drawing upon a recent study entitled “The Monster That is History” by Taiwanese literature historian David Der Wei Wang, the Biennial engages with the aesthetics of monstrosity. The figure of the monster is treated as a fictional, luminal figure, a symptomatic mirror of actual and imaginary relations. Wang suggests that the ancient Chinese monster Taowu served as an “objective correlative” of the human account of past experience. Taowu is furthermore identified with history as such, particularly through its vicious ability to foresee and undermine human intentions.

Featuring some 40 artistic projects, many of them conceived specifically for the exhibition, the Taipei Biennial 2012 is structured as a series of “mini-museums”—distinct spaces within the exhibition that function as autonomous propositions organized by various co-curators. While the mini-museums are self-contained spaces, they influence the registers and contextual readings of the works in the exhibition surrounding them. In each mini-museum, the relationship between works of art and documents serves as the backdrop for an interrogation of ambiguities in writing history. They are conceived as models of possible histories and narratives hidden in the interstices of official accounts. Their primary goal is to question the relationship between the systemic conditions of the present and our situation in the historical imaginary.

Anselm Franke. Courtesy Taipei Biennial

Anselm Franke is an independent curator and freelance writer. He worked as a curator for KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2001-2006), was Director of Extra City Kunsthal Antwerp (2006-2010), and co-curated Manifesta 7 and the 1st Brussels Biennial. He is the editor of several publications and artist books, and a contributor to e-flux journal. He has been co-curator of the Forum Expanded of the International Film Festival Berlin since 2005.

About the biennial

Dates: September 29, 2012 -January 13, 2013

Opening: September 28, 2012

Organizer: Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Curator: Anselm Franke

Address: Taipei Fine Arts Museum

181, Zhong Shan N. Road, Sec. 3, Taipei 10461, Taiwan

Tel: +886-2-2595-7656

Fax: +886-2-2585-1886

Courtesy of Taipei Biennial, for further information please contact or visit

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