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Regular version of the site

Article

Curating climate change: The Taipei Biennial as an environmental problem solver

Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art . 2020. Vol. 7. No. 1. P. 7-26.
Chao J.

This article analyses the curatorial practices behind the 2018 Taipei Biennial by considering its ethos of public engagement that fostered a merging of artistic means and civic aims. Entitled ‘Post-Nature: A Museum as an Ecosystem’, the biennial confronted the timely theme of environmental precarity and positioned itself as a substantive stakeholder in the public debate on climate change. It mobilized the biennial platform to marshal artists, community groups, conservationists and others to spur on new thinking and, perhaps more importantly, to create solutions. By adopting this new role as an environmental problem solver, the biennial expanded itself from the ensconced space of aesthetic inquiry and sought to generate new forms of institutional relations and to nurture in its audience an ecological consciousness. These exhibition strategies underscore many international biennials’ self-assigned mandates to claim a socially relevant role and to adopt an interventionist posture. But while the biennial showcased multifaceted ecological visions of the present, it also delimited its range of critique and the possible modes of collective action. In this way, the exhibition becomes a valuable searchlight into the social and political relevance of global biennials, as well as their contention for legitimacy and significance as agents of social transformation.