KAO Jun-Honn was born in Shulin, Taipei, Taiwan in 1973. He enrolled in the Department of Fine Arts, National Institute of the Arts in 1993, and practiced performance art from 1995 to 2004 in response to the manipulations of art and the miscellaneous cultural phenomena of the time. The Nonsense of Socialization I series, which he worked on from 1996 to 1998, turns the human body into a mobile interface through seemingly nonsensical acts of rebellion, and questions the “production of meaning” in art through such repetitive acts.
In 2004, the artist combed through his works since 1995 till then, and published a book entitled Bubble Love: Artistic Records of Kao Jun-Honn, 1995-2004. In search of the balance of body and soul, he ventured into some wild mountains in Taiwan in 2007 to study the deserted places there, and tried to discover their past. This project, entitled The Ruin Image Crystal Project, actually aims to analyze the development of free economy in modern and contemporary Taiwan, as well as the many social and political subjects that come along, such as bio-politics, neo-liberalism, multitude, community and gentrification, through field research on related places, people and events. Starting with mountain adventures, Kao visited the selected ruins time and again during the course, and finally conducted an “archeological research” on the aforementioned issues. This is hence not just the artist’s own performance, but a kind of social practice and historical writing about multitude. In the meantime this project demonstrates Kao’s deep care for society and resonating aesthetic views. In continuation of themes like ruins and history, KAO Jun-Honn expanded his work to Southeast Asia in 2014 to discuss the remains of life, imperialism, and art as activism, in addition to previous topics like multitude and neoliberalism. Now he actively tries to mingle with the local communities there, and holds a new project called The East Asia Post-Occupy （art/activism） Study.
Artist KAO Jun-Honn started to review the artistic projects he completed over the last few years through writing. It is also through writing that he hopes to unveil the history of Taiwan and East Asia in contemporary times. Novel—Chang Cheng-Kuang derives from The Ruin Image Crystal Project which he conducted in 2013. Protagonist CHANG Cheng-Kuang is a Taiwanese man that the artist got to interview as he visited certain ruins. Chang was a member of the Japanese “Kamikaze” suicide attacks corps during World War II. He was put to a shelter in Okinawa after being captured by the American army in a failed suicide mission. After the war, he became a merchant in Hong Kong and was wanted by the KMT government during the White Terror period. Longing to go home, Chang secretly went back to Taiwan via the seas and started a Kuruma shrimp farm in Wujie Township, Yilan County. He has lived in Taiwan since then. Chang’s story echoes that of the colonized Taiwan, and it invites people to look at issues related to contemporary East Asian politics. In the novel, the artist also gives accounts of his recent artistic studies in Japan, Okinawa, Hong Kong and Taiwan. A combination of historical facts, interviews, novel writing and artistic reports, this is considered an important work of the artist on the history of Taiwan and East Asia, especially from the viewpoint of the vicissitudes of life.
Taiwan came under the impact of the free market trend in the 1990s as capitalism and neo-liberalism became more influential around the globe. With Taiwan’s joining the World Trade Organization in 2002, a great number of companies in the labor-intense sectors, such as manufacturing, further moved their factories to China and neighboring south-east Asian countries hoping to survive the free economy. Many other companies which stayed on in Taiwan were forced to lay off a majority of staff or faced with bankruptcy. Numerous workers got stranded in long-term unemployment as industrial ruins appeared one after another throughout the country.
Under such circumstances, social problems caused by neo-liberalism and the global economic trends caught the artist’s attention. His mother a traditional market vendor, the artist witnessed the fall of traditional businesses and felt deeply for the helpless and frustrated laborers. According to the artist, the project of the ruins, which he has studied and worked on, is in effect the story of the free economy in Taiwan.
|English title：||Novel-Chang Cheng Kuang|
|Medium / Classification：||Mixed Media|
|Collection Unit：||Courtesy of the artist|
|Contact method for authorization：||
|Related Exhibition：||"The Pioneers" of Taiwanese Artists, 1971-1980|