TING Chaong-Wen



  • 〈Virgin Land〉, Tempered glass floor, ultraviolet light tube, neon lamp, raw material of cinchona tree, tonic water, multi-channel video. Dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist

  • 〈Virgin Land〉, Tempered glass floor, ultraviolet light tube, neon lamp, raw material of cinchona tree, tonic water, multi-channel video. Dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist

Virgin Land

 

 Taiwan’s colonial period under Japanese rule witnessed its largest scaled introduction of, and experimentation on, tropical plants. Taiwan’s geographic location, climate and ecological environment made the island an ideal habitat for the Anopheles mosquitoes known for spreading malaria. In the course of their colonial conquest, European colonizers discovered that certain groups of indigenous South American people used cinchona tree barks to treat malaria. Before the emergence of technology for the production of artificial vaccines, quinine extracted from cinchona trees was the only form of treatment and preventive measure against malaria. Quinine thus provided colonizers with protection for them to venture further into new territories of primal forests and tropical islands. All of a sudden, islands with the threat of dangerous diseases became treasure vaults for the pharmaceutical industry, as cinchona trees and botany were turned into an alternative imperial weaponry, with which the process of colonization could be extended, and transformed more thoroughly into profit-making territories. Virgin Land is conceived of as a stage in the form of a pop-up bar. Scattered on the floor and emitting fluorescent light are glass tubes filled with a concoction of gin and quinine. As cure, the meaning of quinine is multivalent. In a way, coloniality is like a virus sieving through our veins and bones, permeating through our consciousness.

 



About the Artist


 Ting Chaong-Wen was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1979. He graduated from the Tainan National University of the Arts in 2006, and currently lives and works in Tainan. Ting specializes in mixed media installation incorporated with images and objects. Drawing inspiration from his personal experience, his works often reveal specific historical narratives created by embedding readymades in specific exhibition contexts. With surprising and innovative attempts, the artist deconstructs, extends and re-interprets the collective history while examining material culture, historic conflicts, collective memory and transnational phenomena and problems. His works have been extensively exhibited in numerous art museums and biennials, among which are High Tide 17—Fremantle Biennale (Artsource, Fremantle; 2017); Nakanojo Biennale 2017 (Former Hirozakari Brewery, Gunma, Japan; 2017); Citation from Craft (The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; 2017); Taipei Biennial 2016: Gestures and Archives of the Present, Genealogies of the Future (Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei; 2016); Koganecho Bazaar 2016 (Koganecho Area Management Center, Yokohama; 2016); Urban Synesthesia (Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung; 2015); Speculative Dust (Corner Art Space, Seoul; 2015); Image/Sound: Concept and Position (Le Centquatre 104, Paris; 2014); No One River Flows (Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei; 2013).