Media: 1000 brand new 1-dollow coin & Hot Melt Adhesive
Location: Tao-Hsiang Underground Passage in Taipei
It is a site-specific work. Space thus becomes the main subject. These questions derived from the specific space allow the work to explore the social issues from various perspectives.
The work is installed at Tao-Hsiang Underground Passage in Taipei. Let us begin with thelocation, structure, and texture of the space. It is very deep, almost as deep as an underground air-raid shelter. It is very narrow (about 150 cm) but very long (about 70m), like a tunnel. What amazes me the most is how clean it is! It has no graffiti on the walls, no odor, no trash, and no pond of water. It is not like a messy underground passage in our knowledge. I will even describe it as the most elegant passage.
When I walked along the underground passage to and fro, I realized that it was an infrastructure to “cross the border.” It was more mysterious than an overpass. An overpass is an open structure allowing you to see the scenes/events between the two ends. On the contrary, an underground passage is enclosed. When you go underground, you can only walk toward the exit at the end of the passage, hoping that nothing should happen during the whole passage. You want to finish the trip as soon as possible, because you are blocked from the external world. Time seems to be still when we are underground. We try to get back to the world as fast as we can. Therefore, I decided to offer something for people to “look at” throughout the whole passage. I attached a one-dollar coin on the wall every 10 cm to create a “gold mine” hidden in the cement walls. My purpose was to make people stay in the underground passage a little bit longer by showing them a surprising scene while I was also wondering what might happen to the coins in this elegant passage – Were these passerby so elegant that they wouldn’t even take the money away? The use of hot melt adhesive showed my third purpose – I hoped someone take away the money so that the work might become different or even disappear.
Changing the appearance of the work by inviting (although inexplicitly) passerby to take away the money is an extended idea of “sharing food.” Since the artist is absent, the interaction is relatively invisible. Once you take one coin away, you become part of the work. Viewers are the active ones, while the artist (who stays anonymous) is the passive one. As the work intrudes in a public space, it also shatters the pre-existing relationship among art, exhibition spaces, and viewers. I walked away from the work, left it there to the people. They took the coins, kept the coins (which were also parts of the work) with them, and the work disappeared.
In the end, I want to describe how I felt when I was making the work. When I was a kid, I was afraid of any underground passage or overpass. The fear came from the moment that my body was removed from earth – the world I was familiar with. Soon, my fear was replaced by “excitement.” It was an instinctive reaction to the unknown. I feared what I loved, and I loved what I feared. When I was making the work, the original idea was more like a secret graffiti mission or a flash mob’s secret fighting. But it took me much more time than I’d expected. I spent five hours with the coins. The unexpected five hours transcended the sense of excitement until I was lost in my “mimesis.” Finally, I feared no more and I loved no more.