The Ever First

The Ever First is a blend of the most unfamiliar and the most familiar. Nine artists born in the 80s are invited to explore to the first firsts and archetypes that have evolved in the new media era of contemporary art in Taiwan. Their works narrate the real evolution of artistic life, evoking the sense of existence kindled by the “first time”, “just right”, “no more”, “ultimate” feelings that we can’t explain but are infinitely drawn to.

  • Exhibition Period:25 December 2021 – 22 January 2022
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY ∣ B1, No. 88, Yanchang Rd., Xinyi Dist., Taipei City 110055, Taiwan

In the story of life, there are always plot points that unexpectedly change the course of how we look at life. Some firsts have a deep impact on us well into the future.

Why do we want the one and only? Why do we pursue what others don’t have? Why do we seek something even when it means a sacrifice? Because they are the precious firsts! I have always liked 500 Days of Summer (2009). The protagonist’s struggles for love transcend into the motivation for love only after he faces it with true honesty—only when he gives his sincere blessings does he realize that it’s the first time he’s dabbled in the game of love. Kikujiro, a 1999 Japanese film starring, written, and directed by Takeshi Kitano, is a re-discovery of himself after he finally understood his father. When you think about it, he was only able to get a complete reflection when he returned to the simplest moment. Kitano once said, “We become truly mature when we realize that being parents are not so easy.” Only when things have changed that we realize how precious they are. That’s why we are all still pursuing and looking forward to those ever firsts again and again.

We’ll never know the reason why we fall in love with someone or something. It’s as mysterious as how we can’t stare straight into the sun, yet it offers us such warmth. How long do we have to think and how much proof do we have to look for, and how many memories do we have to stir up before we can interpret that palpitating excitement of being at the moment? As Ivan Turgenev put it, “…felt all through my being a sort of intense blissfulness that verged on imbecility”, it’s the sense of being thoroughly powerless and not being able to do anything when you can only head in one single direction and everything arises in that direction. Once this organic life situation happens, it is as precious as first love. Marina Abramović recalled her epic break-up with Ulay in her memoir Walk Through Walls. In 1988, in what was supposed to be a performance The Lovers: The Great Wall, they walked from opposite sides of the Great Wall, met in the middle, but continued to walk on in opposite directions. Then 22 years later, the two would finally meet again as they gazed at each other at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In that one minute, they picked up the residual Rest Energy of 1980 when they gazed at each other with a drawn bow and arrow. One long line perfectly interpreted her authenticity. Life goes on. All sorts of first experiences—the overwhelming physical and spiritual engagement incapable of pulling out, the kind of uncontrollable extreme, radical reactions, the powerful neutralizing shock—can only quietly explode after things settle down and we have something to compared to.

The Ever First is a blend of the most unfamiliar and the most familiar. Nine artists born in the 80s are invited to explore to the first firsts and archetypes that have evolved in the new media era of contemporary art in Taiwan. Their works narrate the real evolution of artistic life, evoking the sense of existence kindled by the “first time”, “just right”, “no more”, “ultimate” feelings that we can’t explain but are infinitely drawn to.

KUO I-Chen, in love with his own memories, creates works inspired by the intense dialogues with life. The story of Promise 2061: When the year 1986 coincided with the Halley fever, his father excitedly took the whole family on a trip, but at a young age, he was suffering from a toothache the entire time. His father promised that they will see it together next time. Comet Halley is coming again in 2061, but the weight of his father is already as faint as his memory of the toothache. He collects proofs of Comet Halley and places them on an antique dental chair, as if keeping this promise for the future.

LU Chih-Yun is always talking about the fragility of the most beautiful—making the eternal fragile and making the precious disappear. She has been studying the perception of materials to respond to the sense of security that needs to be protected everywhere in life. You Are My depicts a pair of Chinese quotation marks made of cemented flowers enclosed in a wooden box. The Dividing Line of Time 2 also sees cemented flowers framed by window gratings protecting the perishable flowers underneath. But the flowers are the symbol of the strength of life, and the necessity of attentive care comes from there.

Agi CHEN’s Being impersonal_Sumikko Gurashi and Sumikko Gurashi series hark back at her dorm filled with plushies back in graduate school. She stuffs hundreds of Sumikko characters into vacuum bags, draining the air to reveal abstract colors. Colorful circles have taken her around the world. Now, these fascinating characters are becoming her signature circles. Like an explorer collecting memories along life’s journey, these modern Sumikko characters summon her conviction all along—the purity of simplification.

As HUANG Hai-Hsin looks at the society and people, her vague, liberating and critical brushstrokes commemorate her life-changing period in New York, and at the same time, discover the starting point of her philosophy and method of expression. Now, she becomes a phenomenal narrator with the most positive melancholy and the saddest humor. When four pieces—Another Important Moment #1, Another Important Moment #2, Small Events and Family Time—from different creative periods are juxtaposed, they string together the association of endless and boring missed appointments.

CHIA Chien-Ju has ritually collected scrap objects for a long time, since she believes that objects represent daily behaviors. From hair, lipstick, soap, cigarette butts, plastic bags, clothes, then evolving to spatial behaviors, laundromats, parking lots, and living rooms, her works are mostly an amalgamation of objects presenting the “repetitive everyday”. Day-Dream_Mother’s Dream marks a turning point in her creative format. It uses chiffon and TV footage to present the state of macro behaviors in the daily afternoon of housewives, evoking the smallest relatable commonness in life.

HsienYu CHENG enters the art scene with a background in information technology. He specializes in translating multiple knowledge systems and is concerned about the humanistic reality in the midst of technological evolution—where it comes from and where it is going. He has become a contemporary storyteller with dry humor. Afterlife Ver. 2.0 plays to the death of mosquitoes as a virtual life game. This immediate prophecy about rebirth is his debut work. Sandbox intercepts the signal of viewers’ mobile phones in real time and delivers a message to them. Now is the beginning, from which life starts to change.

CHANG Huei-Ming initially opened up his creative mind with the minute vibrations in life. Everything he sees has a dependent resonance. After a dozen of years have passed, it becomes his view of the cosmos. The cycles of people, things, and nature have become one with the vibrating images he once saw through the rearview mirror of his motorcycle. Three types of nature of life are interpreted in the videos—growth process, holographic perspective, and environmental resonance—becoming the most important works in looking at his creations.

For I-Hsuen CHEN, singing, photographing, and roaming the streets are reflections of his life. He is concerned with the relational aesthetics in the established reality. He once collected a large number of real-estate advertisements and reworked them into a poetry collection. He has also choreographed dances using the postures photographers take when they are hired to work. He is always using “himself” to trigger objectivity. In Triple Takes, he creates a script and invites a dialogue with himself from the past and the future. He invites the viewers to read the script and read the play, entering an immersive role exchange to have a magical conversation with themselves, and also to respond to the creator’s own life reflections.

 

In the beginning, YU Cheng-Ta, before anything happened, got his hands on a camera for the first time and explored the media from the first time. In Moving Lines, spray paint black lines are visible in the double screens, but only the head and tail. Only sound is left in the middle to perceive the distance, alluding to the existential elephant in the room in consumable news media. He later created Color Wall, a screen trick that turns the green screen into colored papers. Before evolving into a creator of multiple identities, multiple media, and multiple genders, he first exercised raw practice and thinking. That’s how everyone starts.