Bik Van der Pol
Fernando Sa'nchez Castillo
Da Lun Wei Art Squad
Ryota Kimura S.U.I.
Eleonore de Montesquiou
Clemens von Wedemeyer
The group show focuses on a specific mode of existence in the age of globalization. As a legal concept, naked life refers to the living condition in which a person is stripped by the sovereign power of any political and civil rights. The works in exhibit will range from the extreme conditions of life stripped of its legal and political protections such as those suffering from civil war, political suppression, terrorism, and imprisonment, to the everyday conditions of life under micro-politics of bio-power, as carried through border control, surveillance, policing.
curated by Manray Hsu, Maren Richter
Naked life" explores a specific mode of existence in the age of globalization: thanks to anti-terrorism, border control, homeland security and the prevention of social anomaly, a clandestine, permanent, world-wide state of exception has prevailed in our everyday life. Human being, at the constant threat of being stripped off political rights and legal protection, has become bare life.
Naked life is a concept popularized for its current usage by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. It refers to the status of those who are exiled, imprisoned or “camped" by the state sovereignty in the name of “the state of exception" or “the state of emergency". While maintaining a biological existence, a naked life is a life stripped of all political rights and legal protection and thus has lost its social and political significance.
In modernity, however, the state of exception has become a political normality under various legal and social mechanisms. Agamben warns against a tendency of modern states to generalize the state of exception, a trend since totalitarian regimes such as Nazi till the Patriotic Act and the detention camps in Guantanamo Bay erected by the post-911 US government in which the sovereign power authorized indefinite suspension of law to detain citizens and non-citizens suspected of terrorist activities and thus excluded them from the protection of US Constitution and the Geneva Conventions about war. Temporary proclamation of the state of emergency that occurred frequently in the so-called model democratic countries in Western Europe testifies how governments take advantages of social anomaly to abuse law and turn politics into rule by decree. With the permanent state of exception, the basic existence of modern citizens is not exemplified by the autonomous individuals in liberalism, but by the Jews in concentration camps or the Muslims in the anti-terrorist detention centres, i.e., naked life.
Furthermore, the special power of sovereignty has been internalized into the collective consciousness of the population. From childhood, through education and socialization, to the usage of ID cards, passports and other credentials, to various technological and social surveillance, “nakedness" creeps in as the norm of everyday experience. For instance, the CCTV’s widely installed in public space to ensure social order; strict inspection and interrogation on the passengers crossing the border; workers who are excluded from the global labor movement and thus fall prey to the capitalists; cities disappeared from the map and people deprived of their identities during the Cold War; or new migrant laborers who are forced into severe surveillance, while being marginalized and excluded from proper legal protection. Hence “naked life" is emerging as an important category in culture and social psychology, and, as a complex mode of human existence, very difficult to speak about, has attracted the attention of many contemporary artists.
The concept of naked life has a special meaning for Taiwan. The country had a forty-year history of martial law. Even though it sustains its sovereignty internally, the country lacks external sovereignty as it is not recognized by most states in the international community. Under this condition, Taiwan is in a peculiar permanent state of exception and its people suffer from a lack of security and identity confusions which constantly generate political turmoil and social conflict.
The exhibition invites 22 artists and artist group from 16 countries, including Austria, Canada, Germany, Finland, France, Holland, Iraq, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Turkey, USA and Taiwan. Using various mediums, and with irony, humor, serious gesture, or straightforward presentation, the 27 works in exhibit portray the images of naked life in developed, developing, and under-developed countries, projecting a bio-political spectrum under the operation and effects of state sovereignty and global capital. Together they offer an array of analyses on different aspects of our everyday life, ranging from cold war, anti-terror war, post-colonial conditions, post-authoritarianism, aspirations for revolution, social movement, racism, surveillance, and the situations of tourism, labor, immigration and informal economy in the face of border control, to the impacts of these phenomena on the formation of identity, language, the culture of fear and personal history.
Opening december, 2 2006
39, Chang-An West Road - Taipei