Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles is proud to present En Man Chang's "As Heavy As a Feather", an unique exhibit that reflects upon indigenous identity, cultural sustainability and the intricacies surrounding land use and urbanization. The opening reception on July 7th will feature an evening of indigenous music performance, followed by a dialogue between the artist herself and PhD Candidate at Stanford University for Anthropology, Tomo Sugimoto. The exhibition will be on view between July 7th and August 12th.
"As Heavy as a Feather" is the result of over three years of Chang engaging with the Fudafudak indigenous community (meaning “a glittering place” in the Amis language) in Shanyuan Bay on the east coast of Taiwan. Like countless other indigenous communities, the Fudafudak struggles to sustain social and cultural continuity as it interfaces simultaneously with capitalist and outsider activist interests. In the quest for economic revitalization and thereby wider community empowerment, the area is struck by the dilemma of whether or not to accept large-scale project-based investments that may be harmful to the environment and adversely affect their traditional ways of life. The resulting tension attracts participation from indigenous and non-indigenous activists alike. A prominent example is the widely known Meiliwan Resort development plan, a project that has been the subject of ongoing protests since its announcement in 2004.
In this portion of the exhibit, anchored by a folk song and a traditional Taiwanese indigenous kite – symbolic of mutual aid and long distance travel – the viewer is invited into the Fudafudak landscape and encounters layered narratives with the juxtaposition of two video works. One video features the Fudafudak elders who sang the Ngayaw song and tapped childhood memory and shared traditional stories as they tried to help Chang learn how to make the kite. The second video is an interview with her friend, a young non-indigenous female social worker engaged in indigenous rights activism. Through these parallel narratives the artist reveals a grey zone asking how individuals can reflectively locate themselves within the complex processes of developing healthy relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
En Man Chang’s practice is characterized by a dynamic interplay between story, tradition, and the struggles of indigenous peoples in the face of ongoing experiences of colonization. Chang employs a critical approach to representations of traditional indigenous practices. Through video, performance and social practices, she unearths the complex interconnections between indigenous peoples and cultures and land, creating a space for the assertion of contemporary expressions of indigenous identity. Therein, she takes a look at the convoluted results of colonization, that over time, have result in complicated interactions between settler and indigenous communities, and multi-layered experiences of identity.
This exhibition also features two guest documentaries, to establish a bond and a conversation with the local indigenous communities, as well as current topics surrounding land use and cultural sustainability here in the United States. The first is a short documentary titled “We are in Crisis,” produced by the Winter Count Collective and currently on view at the Autry Museum of the American West in their “Standing Rock: Art and Solidarity” exhibit. It is a short film that focuses on the struggles and protest of indigenous artists against the Dakota Pipeline development project. The other, titled “A Seat at the Drum,” produced by Mark Anthony Rolo, is a documentary focusing on indigenous families that had migrated from the reservations to Los Angeles, and the challenges they face in the city.
Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles would like to acknowledge and expresses our thanks to Centre A, Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, the Autry Museum of the American West, and Vision Maker Media.
Artist: En Man Chang
Venue: Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles(1137 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90024)
Event Prices: Free Admission
Tel: (213) 403-0168
Opening Date: July 7th, 6pm - 9pm
Press Contact: Ashley Sun, Senior Cultural Officer