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Leaves Without Routes: 根も葉も無い

lwr_postcard_frontWAGON is delighted to announce Leaves Without Routes: 根も葉も無い, an art exhibition featuring work by four Japanese contemporary artists – Yasunori Kawamatsu, Yuki Okumura, Nobuyuki Yamamoto and Kaori Yamashita – at Nan-Men Ting 323 (南門町三二三), a Japanese style house originally built in 1930s during the Japanese colonial period within Taipei Botanical Garden in Taiwan.

lwr_postcardAs well as the unique setting and history of Nan-Men Ting 323 and the botanical quality of the Garden, this exhibition takes as its point of departure An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa (1704, also known as ‘福爾摩啥’ or ‘台湾誌’), one of the earliest – and entirely fictitious – accounts of seventeenth Century Taiwan by George Psalmanazar (c.1679-1763). Psalmanazar nonetheless convinced Europeans for twenty-five years that he, actually French with blond hair, was the first native of Formosa to visit Europe. Psalmanazar wrote of Taiwan’s plants that:

“There are two roots of which they make bread, whereof one is called Chitok and the other Magnok: both these roots are sown like rapeseed, and when they are grown ripe they are as big as a man’s thigh. These roots grow twice, and sometimes thrice in a year, when it is a good season;… ”

Coincidentally, the Japanese idiom for something that is neither a truth or a fact like this is ne mo ha mo nai, or without roots nor leaves by direct translation. This seems rather appropriate in the context of how Japan, among other countries, has been a significant part of shaping the Taiwan that we know today – not least through the establishment of the Taipei Botanical Garden, which is home to over two thousand species, important documented collections for research and education, and also a Japanese-style house.

This exhibition therefore focuses upon the long-term relationship between Taiwan and Japan, as exemplified through the Taipei Botanical Garden and the Japanese house within it, to consider how other places have shaped Taiwan, and also how Taiwan is imagined – fictitiously or otherwise – by those from other places or people. Playing with the idea of without roots or leaves, we explore not only what the roots are that have given rise to the leaves of modern Taiwan, but also whether at a time of change and reflection on national identity there are routes through which the ‘real’ Taiwan – not veiled by the imagination of Psalmanazar or someone like him – may leave the island.

The participating artists will create site-specific visual installations as their direct responses to Nan-Men Ting 323 and the botanical cues within the garden – ghostly relics of the historical relationship between Taiwan and Japan which are also imbued with fascinations towards others, adaptations, translations, and the gaps that emerge as a result.

To broaden understanding and open wider discussion, a public talk will be held as an opening event. The artists and curators will be joined by Professor Kenji Horigome fromLEF (Laboratory for Environment & Form), an expert of the Japanese-style buildings built during the colonial period across Taiwan, who also significantly helped with his expertise to reconstruct the Nan-Men Ting 323 during the period of 2010-2014.

Since this exhibition continues the narrative from Taipei dabada, an exhibition curated by Kawamatsu held at Nan-Men Ting 323 in 2015, with this exhibition we aim not only to promote contemporary art in both locations, but also to help to develop the ongoing cultural exchange between Taiwan and Japan and to flourish it even more vibrantly for the future.


Exhibition Title: Leaves Without Routes: 根も葉も無い
Artists: Yasunori Kawamatsu | Yuki Okumura | Nobuyuki Yamamoto | Kaori Yamashita
Date: 3 December 2016 – 15 January 2017
Venue: Nan-Men Ting 323 (南門町三二三) in Taipei Botanical Garden (No.53, Nan-Hai Road, Taipei 10066 Taiwan)
Opening House: Tue-Sun 9.30am-4.30am (only 20 people allowed to enter every half an hour on weekends)

Speaker: Prof Kenji Horigome (architectural historian), participating artists and curator
Date: Saturday 3 December 2016, 2:00-4:30pm
Venue: Nanmoncho 323, Taipei Botanical Garden (No.53, Nan-Hai Road, Taipei 10066 Taiwan)
Language: Japanese and Chinese
Free but booking is essential via Email (info@wagonart.org) or Facebook Event Page.

This exhibition is co-curated by Naoko Mabon and Yasunori Kawamatsu in cooperation with Taipei Botanical GardenTaiwan Forestry Research Institute and Laboratory of Handmade Papers and Paper Heritage Preservation.
Our special and warmest thanks go to: I-Chern Lai, Yu Hua Chen, Keting Kurt Chen, among others.

Interchange Association, Japan


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