With the dawning of the new age, contradictions in life and values that result from the advancement of the West have led to a new possibility for East Taiwan.
The development of East Taiwan started 200 years later than West Taiwan. Most people have the impression that East Taiwan is an undeveloped place with indigenous tribes, confronted with ruthless typhoons brought by the wild Pacific Ocean and earthquakes created by the energetic Philippine Sea Plate. Just like seasonal flowers and plants, the habitants of East Taiwan live passively under the impact of nature. If colonialism brings a sense of inferiority, authoritarian leads to banality. The margins of this island, forgotten by others, have become even more insignificant and represent a life of anti-intellectualism. The edges of this island and remote locations are indeed destined to be isolated and forgotten; however, there are exceptions. Some manage to avoid the chaos of the outside world and preserve authenticity, hiding and nurturing the inner scenery, creating art in solitude. These people are unable to live in the city nor in the country for long, constantly traveling back and forth. As time goes by, East Taiwan, previously known by many as “Back Mountain,” has now become “the last pure land of Taiwan.” This phenomenon does not contain any logic and is merely a paradox of existence.
With the dawning of the new age, contradictions in life and values that result from the advancement of the West have led to a new possibility for East Taiwan. The spacious land, ruthless nature, and simple culture, all have their unique value. In “The Critique of Judgment,” Immanuel Kant mentioned “the sublime,” a sensation that arises in the heart when one encounters overwhelming size or force in nature. The sensation induces reason to grasp and conquer the phenomenon, which results in the pain of fear or recoil. This pain further transforms into a pleasing sensation of dignity and courage towards the self (human). This unique quality of aesthetic judgment does not arise from harmony or beauty, but from an intertwined and mixed sensation of pleasure and pain.
For artists of East Taiwan, this contradiction is the first paradox and an inspiration for creativity, the ambition and judgment of grasping the enormous emptiness of boredom and ancient forces of nature. In addition, artists who have returned and are moving back and forth between secluding quietly and creating boldly, form a second type of paradox, a life force that sways between the two extreme poles of different values with physical and mental energy. The third paradox lies between the indigenous world of the mountains and the dusty Han Chinese world, a vigilance of exploring origin and existence. Each paradox involves social issues and contradicting forces. In order to identify this world, alone and without forebears and followers, the artist must continue to preserve the liveliness of the mind and the joy of creating while also enable the return to serenity and seclusion. These artists have no right to enquire about the incidents of this world but are blessed with a clear mind, living in our capitalist world while maintaining social conscience. The ongoing connection with nature and the metaphysical is the temperament of living in seclusion on this island. Hiding in the Island is an exhibition that aims to explore this unique aesthetic and authenticity of existence through these three paradoxes. Artists who live deep in East Taiwan and young artists who arrive during the travels in their studies come together to share their mindset and work, hoping to highlight the idea that “any location is a place for nature and the world, freedom and culture.”