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Cover-The 2018 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale: Humanistic Return

The 2018 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale: Humanistic Return

Introduction:
Curator: Shao Ting-ju

The inherent link between humanity and soil is what gives people the ability to manipulate and sculpt clay. The oldest known ceramic article is a statuette, the Venus of Dolni Vestonice, which dates back to 29,000 – 25,000 BCE and was discovered in Moravia, a region of Czechia.[Source 1] Ceramic utensils were not invented until millennia after the birth of ceramic art. Despite their harsh living conditions, early humans did not just use clay for mere survival; they engaged in imaginative endeavors such as cave painting and sculpting. When they picked up clay, a primeval substance from the earth, and put it through fire, water and air to make figurines, they were responding and connecting to their rituals and cultures. They were exploring their spirituality and their links to the rest of the universe. In our journeys toward the unknown, humanity has always remained innovative and curious. At the same time, life’s exploration is bundled with uncertainties that have driven humans toward philosophy, religion or art.

After WWII, artists in defeated and victorious nations all found themselves in radically altered environments. Through their works, artists reflected on the changing era as they sought to broaden and elevate their spiritual horizons. Contemporary ceramic art was born in these circumstances, so it should be no surprise that the US and Japan were the epicenters of contemporary ceramic art. Since the 1950s, there have been breakthroughs in forms and techniques that gradually led to a greater emphasis on inner voices and a greater concern for society. Ceramic artists have woven their emotions and introspection into their works. They have also documented social issues in their art, sometimes incorporating international influences.

As for the development of contemporary ceramics in Taiwan, Hsieh Tung-shan’s book recounted how post-war Taiwan had difficulties nurturing contemporary ceramic artists due to discouraging political and economic challenges at that time. Contemporary ceramics therefore did not blossom on the island until the 1980s.

Building on American and Japanese ceramic pioneers’ work, the world arrived at the age of the global village in the 20th and 21st centuries. At an ever-increasing rate, technology accelerates globalization. The exchange of information is no longer confined by national borders, especially given the rise of cyberspace. However, global citizens are not spared from terrorism, pollution-induced climate changes and rapidly changing ecosystems. There is a price for technology’s convenience. Simplicity has lost to turbulent excitement; subtlety lost to materialism and the constant stimulation. Internal dialogs have become irrelevant, as self-reliance has dwindled. Life may seem to be filled with social events and material wealth, but it has also uprooted many people’s sense of belonging. In a time agitated with unprecedented changes, many artists have returned to the simple medium of their ancestors, clay, to depict the experience shared by humankind. They look within for insights into their unexplored spirituality, and they reach out to their communities and the world. They reflect on how modern life could be cold and lonesome at times, and it could be warm and bustling.
  • Editor:Wu Nien-fan, Huang Rou-yan, Kuo Che-yin
  • Publication date︰2018/12
  • Publisher︰Yingge Ceramics Museum
  • ISBN:978-986-05-6851-6
  • GPN:1010701512
  • Hardback
  • Price:NT$1200