From January 17 to February 28, the artist duo from Taiwan, “Working Hard” (Wen-Ying She and Po-Yu Kuo), worked creatively as part of the Winter Residency Programme titled “Winter Landscape” of Pedvāle International Artists’ Residency. Their participation in this artist residency programme was financially supported by the Ministry of Culture of Taiwan. During the residency, a site-specific installation “Feeder” (in Latvian – “Barotava”) was created. At the start of the programme, the artists said: “We intend to use the opportunity to participate in the Pedvāle International Residency Programme “Winter Landscape” to examine our creative direction in art – the mutual relations between social/man-made and natural landscapes – in the context of a specific environment. Doing so is exciting in the winter residency programme, especially for us, artists coming from the tropical island country of Taiwan. This very different environment allows us to create a new layer in our art concept and explore new focuses and issues.
Observing people, their history, relationships and social conditions, in which they live is an important narrative in our artwork. This stems from our origins in Taiwan, where people have a variety of complex national identities, which led to our interest in migration and the pursuit of learning about disappearing histories during modernisation. Thus, our main goal, which might also be our biggest challenge, is “how to translate” the social environment in which we will work creatively during the residency.
During the residency, we will apply the field research method to create and present a site-specific installation at the end of the programme. It will illustrate orientation in the local community and in this environment, which is exotic for us, from our perspective.
The concept of “absence” is very important in our work in progress. A special role in this case is played by the viewer, who, watching the finished work, must answer the question: “Who is absent here and who is an outsider?” Thus, our aim is to create a cultural landscape of outsiders, located in an environment very familiar to local people and encouraging them to reflect on the different narratives in the landscape we create.”
During the residency, artists Wen-Ying She and Po-Yu Kuo initially explored the territory of Pedvāle Art Park, where their attention was drawn to the paths walked by wild animals and the visible marks left by them – footprints and excrement. While continuing to explore the territory of Pedvāle Art Park, the artists came across the dams made by a “wild sculptor” – beaver on the Rambulīte River and the bones of a dead baby deer. The forests of Kurzeme were also visited and the feeders made by hunters for forest animals were seen. The artists were inspired by two parallel worlds – those of animals and humans. Those moments when they intersect are rare. Mostly one of them is “absent”. The moment these two worlds meet is a hunt that results in death.
The site-specific installation “Feeder” consists of several components. Experimenting with the mutual compatibility of materials such as plaster, snow and wet earth resulted in one of the components of the installation – casts of animal feet and excrement. The central object of the installation was created from the trees obtained from the beaver dam – the Feeder, in the center of which a white bone is placed – an exact copy of a deer bone made of aerated concrete. An element of smell was also added to the installation – the essential oil of the spruce forest – as well as a video – a video obtained from hunters of the observation of a red deer during the hunt. It was possible to watch the video in a specially designed box, thus feeling a little in the hunter’s skin.
With this site-specific installation “Feeder” artists invite us to think about the mutual relations between two worlds – of forest animals and people. A person enters the area inhabited by animals – the forest – and creates a feeder there to help them survive the harsh winter conditions, but when the hunting season comes, the same person hunts these forest animals. The copy of the white bone created by the artists in the center of the feeder is a bright accent for the dual contact of the two worlds.
Wen-Ying She and Po-Yu Kuo graduated from the National Taiwan University of Art in 2015 with a master’s degree in sculpture and have so far participated in International Artist Residency programmes in Germany, Hungary, Mexico, New Zealand and Indonesia.