Veejay Villafranca, Cultural show in an elementary school in Larena town, 2007. Digital archival print on Fuji Color Crystal Archive Paper, 20 x 29 inches.
Project Island Hopping—Reversing Imperialism—Philippines
March 18–April 15,2017
B1F., No.17, Ln. 56, Sec. 3, Xinsheng N. Rd.
Taipei City 104
Curator: Patrick D. Flores
Artists: Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Mark Justiniani, Henrielle Pagkaliwangan, Diokno Pasilan, Veejay Villafranca, Teng Chao-Ming
Sponsor: Ministry of Culture (Taiwan), Department of Cultural Affairs (Taipei City Government)
Over the past decade, Very Temple Artsalon (VT) has tried to identify the role and significance of Taiwan as a member of this “wide world,” and, by treating the arts as a method, it has also strived to weave new cultural and political contexts within which Taiwan is not only able to be a contributor and beneficiary in the international society but also capable of forming meaningful connections with neighboring and faraway countries. Since 2008, VT has engaged in numerous activities of international exchange in the forms of joint exhibition, residency program, art forum and publication. As VT heads into its 11th year, it is time to write the next chapter of its story, transforming itself from an artist-run space into an institution for collective art/project art. Treating the opening of The First Episode of Reversing Imperialism—The Philippines as the point of departure, VT grandly launched its major art ventures Island Hopping—Reversing Imperialism after elaborate preparations, through which creative thoughts of all stripes about Taiwan’s relations to other countries and systems will come into view.
Initiated by consensus after lengthy debates on its roadmap, this venture advocates an art-based re-demarcation of the geopolitics of the Pacific islands. Distinct from the Sinocentric system or the trendy southbound thinking, this project shifts the focus back onto the “island chains,” a geopolitical legacy of the Cold War. The island chain strategy mapped out by the United States owed its origin to the island hopping strategy employed by the Allies in the Pacific War. Within the framework of the island chain strategy, the United States formed a dead ringer for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with the Western Pacific islands, placing them on the front of the total confrontation between the capitalist and communist blocs. Based on the original version of this strategy, that is, the Allies’ counterattacks from Hawaii and Australia to the main islands of Japan, this venture aims to revisit each island on the two main routes, including Okinawa, Saipan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Brunei, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Guam and Taiwan, the island spared from devastating land warfare. In the name of “reversing imperialism,” this venture cordially invites artists from these regions to create artworks and stage exchange exhibitions as a way to engage in refreshing historical and geopolitical dialogues. This venture is about to set out on its maiden voyage on March 18, with the exhibition VESSEL curated by internationally renowned Philippine curator Patrick D. Flores as its prelude.
This venture is dedicated not so much to define the essence of Asia as to interpret the connections among concepts such as island civilization, the Western Pacific Region, the United States and the world. Bringing island chains back into spotlight and tracing the Allies’ counterattack routes in the Pacific War, this venture attempts to rewrite the history and re-demarcate the geography of this region, and thereby constructs an alternative topography and identity. By virtue of this five-year venture, VT expects to prompt the people on these islands to cast their eyes eastward to the ocean instead of invariably gazing westward, and encourage them to put island-based interpretations on their relations to the people in neighboring countries. In sum, this venture aspires to construct new self-identities within the framework of island chains by discarding or shelving the concept of “Asia” imposed by the Occident.