The Right of Crawling,” Taiwan Prepares for the 2022 Venice Biennale

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Taipei Fine Arts Museum, along with artist Sakuliu and curator Patrick Flores, are pleased to announce Kinerapan: Right of Crawling, the new project representing Taiwan at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. Sakuliu will create a spiritual site comprising several new works that range from sculpture to installation to animation. Collectively, the art will tell a contemporary story through a traditional indigenous narrative.

Sakuliu (b. 1960) was born to an artisan family of the Paiwan, an Austronesian-speaking people indigenous to southern Taiwan. Concerned that his traditional culture was being eroded or even gradually disappearing, Sakuliu decided to actively sustain and revive it by documenting tribal wisdom in drawings and manuscripts, rebuilding stone slab houses, creating sculptures, and leading ethnic awareness movements. His creative practice is rooted in engagement with everyday society and in 2018, his status as a well-rounded artist won him the National Culture and Arts Award in the fine arts category.

“Kinerapan,” the title of the exhibition, is a Paiwan word that carries a wide range of meanings, from how plants crawl to references of scope, distance, and depth, such as the area covered by a vast forest, the distance traveled by a river, or the space inhabited by a species. Broadly speaking, the word implies both abstract distance and temporal span, including the farthest that one’s imagination can reach. Additionally, as human beings develop, the crawling stage is important to our struggle with gravity and how we begin to explore the world.

The concept of “right” is centered on the quest for fairness and dignity. The exhibition is built upon two main ethical systems: the “Semiljeva” (Paiwan for the joy of sharing and giving) and “Lingulj” (Paiwan for circle, emblematic of concentric, iterative giving), which introduce a network of symbiosis and coexistence fostered by interspecies reciprocity and interdependence.

For the exhibition, Sakuliu will use an artistic language informed by storytelling and imagination to guide the audience into a spiritual world that evokes contemporary reality. In constructing a space symbolic of a family home that embodies the Paiwan worldview, the artist projects his own imagination onto viewers, asking, “What would it be like if the Earth were a stone-slab house and the planet’s entire population were my family?”

Throughout his practice, Sakuliu has translated the profound legacies of local wisdom and technology into meditations on cross-cultural issues in contemporary society, redistributing an indigenous lineage across various historical contexts. “I use my personal understandings of space, land, and ecology as my script and try to find a suitable way based on Paiwan cosmic view to convey, allowing knowledge to be transmitted across cultural differences as well as through time and space,” states Sakuliu.

According to curator Patrick Flores, “The exhibition surveys the many lively forms of Sakuliu’s practice, offering both an inspiring indigenous cosmology and an urgent everyday life. Sakuliu’s knowledge of the Paiwan lifeworld as a doer and a thinker intertwines with his sense of responsibility as a citizen-artist. This knowledge produces a contemporary expression rooted in a vast Austronesian ecology and speaking to common interests within Taiwan and across the world.”

To view Taiwan’s pavilions at previous editions of the Venice Biennale, visit tfam.museum.

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