How Did I Become a Plastic Injection Molding Machine！
Honorable art audience and readers, Indebted to your ardent reception, I should, under a kind of already formal convention, leave an artist statement or what we call a preface at the beginning of the catalogue, which is deemed as an additional condition (which sometimes can be an extra value) of a responsible artist. But at the moment, I just want to shout out: fuck art！
In 1998, I just graduated from the department of fine arts from a marginal art school. For me, to become an artist as imagined was something actually unimaginable : forcing oneself to find a chance of exhibition and a possible stage, doing what ‘one thinks to be’ the things an artist does… Fortunately, the next year, I won the (now suspended) 東華扶輪美術獎 and it seemed to affirm my orientation of being an ‘artist’ and the value of my existence as a man. It was not so much that I wanted to ‘become’ and artist as that I ‘imitated’ to become one. I imitated because I did not know how to become what we say to be an artist. I imitated to have social critical spirit, to be concerned with global tendencies, to know as much as possible all the art theories, to see many shows, to social, to create connections and to think !
Then I began the military service, before teaching in a junior high school to students who would pass entrance exams of colleges. Ironically, I was even elected as excellent teacher. Along with other trivia in life, I forgot to continue imitating the life of an artist. The naivety of the school days proved to be pure. Even though, I still, within the courses, did things that were very likely to be done only by an artist : spending money to make lots of trash. So, on a day that I cannot remember well, maybe during a course of fine arts in a hot afternoon, or after school and work, in the basket court where I just beat up students and gained some confidence : actually I do not remember and it seems insignificant！But I am sure there has been a moment when I did not imitate an artist, but I was a real artist！Right！How could I be a fucking art teacher.
In 2002, I fortunately won the coveted Taipei Art Award(臺北美術獎). I thought that I approached art even more, but after one and half year, nobody invited me to show. Not even once. The same year, I failed the entrance exams to master class of two major art schools. I knew the problem should be about me : it seemed I was not qualified to become an artist ! Whether I imitated or ‘claimed it myself’！
In 2003, I was invited to do a solo show in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Taipei. I thought I was not really abandoned by art. The old flame burned again, I let myself be burned, just like in school days. Again, I ‘thought myself’ to propose some critical issues, to ‘inject’ some art works based on Taiwan’s culture. Wang Fei’w song, "Last Blossom" was like a fire hydrant that hit directly unto my head, so I picked it up as the title of the show. During the period, I still cloistered myself in junior high schools and led an awful life.
In 2004, to avoid teaching, I, with my profession as a teacher, obtained a loan and went to study in London’s Goldsmiths College. It is one of the top art schools in the world that train artists. I got in touch with contemporary artists from various countries. Yet I found that they did not possess such a magic power so as to summon wind and rain. In 2005, I terminated my study and returned to Taiwan, only to continue my job in junior high schools.
In 2006, I entered a doctorate class. It was also when Taiwan’s contemporary art market boomed. All the works of the "KAI DAO TU MI" series were sold. Unexpectedly, works based on a ‘critic’ of Taiwan’s aesthetic taste had a market just for their sweet look. I certainly took it as something ironical. But I was not qualified to blame others for ignoring the point of departure of my own creation, because when I look at others’ works, I also stopped at the works and not the artist discourse. Then I finally gave up my profession as a junior high school teacher.
Now, in 2008, I compose the brief personal chronology, as stated above, that is somehow plain and dull. Part of it is that I could not adapt myself to the passage from naivety to worldliness ; part of it is grumbling. After all, art is a game for the minority, and you who can read the text are even more the rare among the rare ! In an era when artist statement is taken to be a text on a package, however rational or agitating our statements are, they cannot escape the fate of being assimilated into a certain type of package, which is at least a kind of wording. Therefore, can we still take art as a truth ? Certainly not ! Not today’s art, no ! Arguably, an artist in today’s complicated academic-economic market is never and can never be naïve. The so-called artist always chooses willingly or is forced to compromise between all kinds of institutions in order to find a stage for his/her existence, exit of life as well as a technique of being an artist. Similarly, I feel that being an artist is actually to run a kind of mechanic reflexive operation among strata of institutions and mechanisms, just like a plastic injection molding machine. It is only in the process of injection and formation, art can be seen through. Like people of all walks of life, we artists also have to compete for a stage and to enter all kinds of mechanic operations. Then the so-called ‘artist’ can be qualified and established.
In Franz Kafka’s A Little Fable, it is written : "Alas," said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into." "You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.
Whether you are the mouse or the cat, if you can read until this point, you must be one of the rare among the rare art audience, even if you just leaf through the pages mindlessly or out of a kind of professional necessity！
Sam Su Meng-Hung Neihu, Taipei Fall, 2008