I submitted a rough exhibition proposal to TKG+ (and Tina Keng Gallery) sometime between last July and August to reserve this year's time slot in August. Yet while determining the list of participating artists, I could not find a theme or method to work with all of them.
Since my urge to work with "these people" came before the desire of holding an exhibition, I became a curator who frequently proposed to artists before exhibitions even materialized, and even more frustratingly I would be the first to give up every time. Perhaps due to my understanding of each individual artist, I could not find a statement that was applicable to everyone, or any suggestion that would be of mutual interest to all the artists.
On April 17, in a Facebook group that I have titled "Art for Oneself," I once again laid out the possibilities and my vision for this exhibition - one that, once was proposed, I fear would become an obstacle for their work, but I realized afterwards in revisiting this statement again and again, the words started to hold a different meaning for myself.
In my limited curatorial practice, which includes Double-Blind Trail (2010), An Exception to Reality: Liao Chien-Chung, Lee Ji-Hong and Lai Chih-Sheng (2011), Curators Serve Artists: Lee Ji-hong : Anachronism / Dong Fu-qi: Un-words (2013), and Me at Liu's Home (2013), and this current exhibition which I was developing at that time, my utmost concern in all these exhibitions - whether conscientious or not - was to enable artists to produce new works independently.
The truth is, my own engagement in curating and ongoing curatorial practice, started surprisingly with writing, coordinating exhibitions, or simply meeting artists and becoming their friends. In this process, there have been moments when I was either moved or confused by their ideas or work. In the selection of artists for this exhibition, every individual has played these roles one time or another. Compared to writing as a documentation or reinterpretation of the past, curatorial practice implies a rediscovery or imagining of the future. And so, when I proposed the statement or suggestion of "Art for Oneself" to these artists, this exhibition was also a capsule that I would like to accomplish - establishing a platform for yet-to-be-made creations by these artists.
I must admit that even though "Art for Oneself" as an exhibition title proposed by a curator, might not be self-cancelling, the statement somehow still appears to be a strategy for me to shed my responsibility. Yet this is the only scheme I could devise within the deadline that does not limit the thinking, actions, and expressions of these artists. After all, the works that have had an impact on me are indeed "art for oneself," and this seemingly least restrictive demonstration of free will, is what we call the communal feat of art creators.
In writing this curatorial statement, I reviewed and edited the last letter that I wrote to the artists, and was reminded of an exchange with Kao Chung-Li, the only artist in the group that doesn't use Facebook, who casually inquired the English translation of the exhibition title when I told him the Chinese title. Kao's sensitivity to language pointed out something I realized when I decided on the exhibition title: the fact that "Art for Oneself" is semantically vague. But my reason to keep this ambiguous statement lies exactly in that: when the individual ideas of these artists materialize at the exhibition venue, the exhibition title will seem like a question that they are answering with their "art for oneself."