MOCA Taipei: Leigh Wen, Ronald Ventura, Ruan Weng-Mong

Although this is my third visit to Taipei I had never been to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Like several of Taipei’s arts spaces, MOCA is located in a historic, colonial-style building: it was originally a school built by the Japanese in 1912. In 1996 the Second Taipei Fine Arts Museum moved in and in 2000, the museum was renamed Museum of Contemporary Art.

MOCA is centrally located in Datong district and I was actually on my way to somewhere else when I walked past the site. The two exhibition posters for Leigh Wen and Ronald Ventura immediately caught my eye so I went in. And I am very glad I did: MOCA is a nice, compact museum which is much larger than it looks like from the outside.

Tickets are priced at a reasonable NT50 (1.50 Euro), lockers are free and there is a museum shop and a café. Not to mention some fabulous contemporary art exhibitions! Click on the link below for more pics and info.

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“Project: Finding Home”, Ronald Ventura (15th September to 20th November 2016)

Let’s start with Filipino artist Ronald Ventura whose large-scale installation “Carousel” dominated the entrance area of the museum. Ventura was born in Manila in 1973; he is a well-known contemporary artist and his MOCA exhibition is dedicated to the lives of the Filipino migrant workers who supply many Asian and South-East Asian countries (not to mention quite a few European countries, too) with cheap labour – as houseworkers (cleaners, nannies, cooks or drivers), in factories, on fishing boats, in market and restaurants. These workers earn very little, send most of their wages back home to the Philippines to support their families, and subsist on whatever is left.

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In a series of rather surrealist installations, paintings and sculptures Ventura explores what the concept of “home” means to these workers. One of the reasons why the artist decided to put on his exhibition at MOCA is that many of Taipei’s Filipino migrant community are living in the neighbourhood of the museum; in Datong area close to (and around) Taipei Main Station.

I particularly liked the “Aeroman/Finding Home” series of 12 light box montages in the shape of open suitcases. Inside the suitcases you can see fragments of photos, paintings, images – praying hands in front of a carousel, a woman sitting on a bunk bed, black and white photos of landscapes, food carts, cheap clothes folded together, a dilapidated house front, a man in a track-suit typing on a smartphone: deeply moving and disturbing imagery.

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“Post. Vision.Form”, Ruan Weng-Mong (29th October to 4th December 2016)

Ruan Weng-Mong was born in Taipei in 1953. After studying sculpture at the National Art Academy in Taipei and a stint in Swasiland as awood carving and drawing teacher, Ruan moved to Germany in1979. There he began an apprenticeship as a goldsmith and jewellery maker. He’s a master goldsmith and certified gemmologist (he became the first Taiwanese member of the German Association of Gemmologists). After moving back to Taipei in the mid-1990s Ruan began working as an artist.

Ruan is a metal art sculptor, working with jewellery, metals, wood and stone. The artworks on show at the exhibition included large-scale sculptures and wall installations and exquisite jewellery design (brooches, rings, necklaces) – really beautiful.

Check out the pics below!

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Transit. Transformation (15th September to 20th November 2016)

Taiwanese artist Leigh Wen was born in 1959 in Taipei and now lives in the US. The solo exhibition at MOCA showcases some of her latest installations and artworks, several of which were arranged to suit the MOCA spaces – and indeed, the exhibition architecture for this exhibition was great: coming up from the Ronald Ventura exhibition, you climb up a short flight of stairs and immediately step into the audio-visual “Odyssey I” installation. So to speak. After walking past “Odyssey” you are confronted with “Peony 2”, a giant red peony flower.

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I love her large-scale paintings which looks like they have been created with threads – but although Wen has incorporated fabrics into some of the MOCA exhibits, the thread patterns are actually scratched/traced into the paint. In this exhibition Wen is focusing on natural themes: mountains and water, flowers.

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My favourite was “The Longest Night” which occupied an entire room: 12 porcelain pots decorated with Wen’s trademark thread patterns in glaze, an audio-visual installation on a background screen; the pots are filled with water and you hear the sounds of water drops slowly falling into the pots. Mesmerising.

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Filed under Asia, Design, Exhibitions

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