“Sorry, today I don’t have day off”

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

Article by Roxana Florina Popa

Showcasing a diverse range of works from 15 shortlisted artists for the 2016 Prudential Eye Awards, the works in the Prudential Eye Awards Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore explore unique themes of Asian history, culture and environment.

Huang Po Chih from Taiwan won in the category of Best Emerging Artist Using Installation.

Interview with the artist HUANG Po-Chih

on the occasion of 2016 Prudential Eye Exhibition with ArtScience Museum in Singapore

Roxana-Florina Popa: How were you inspired to do the “Flower” project?

HUANG Po-Chih: This project I realised when I was studying at the new media art department. I tried to find a relation between my classical painting, new technology and my new life experience.

RFP: The images of moving flowers are poetical and give the impression of paintings. How did you create them?

5_Flovver 2009

Flower Project

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

HPC: It happened naturally. I found a scanner and by using it, I realised one can apply a similar movement to painting. I looked at the flower in my hand and I saw a brush. I kept moving the flower as if I were painting on the scanner glass. In doing this, I thought what about making my painting move?

This flower contains lots of feelings about me, my emotions. I went through a life phase when I had lots of questions about myself, space, time and art.  I put all this variety of feelings in a video with shivering flowers.

RFP: What about the relation between poetry and technology?

HPC: In my opinion, it comes down to what happens when you focus on one thing. You finish by finding out there is poetry inside that thing. You can discover poetry in anything in the world. At a certain moment, that object will give you feed-back about something in a very natural way. This is where poetry is found.

Flovver-2 2006

Flower Project

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

RFP: Switching to your exhibition “Production Line” with Prudential at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, how can economic conditions and your mother’s working life can be transformed into art?

HPC: It comes from Asia currently still having lots of social problems. It is about everyday life. This is why artists in Asia focus more on this kind of topic. As far as my art is concerned, I would not say it is related to social issues. My art is about my life. I believe that there should be no borders between our everyday life and art. To the same extent, I see no borders between my work and my life. I am a farmer, an artist and a writer.

Regarding the installation “Production Line”, I have to say I knew nothing about my mother’s working life. She worked in the clothing industry for 50 years, which is almost her whole life. She started as a tailor of denim shirts very young when she was 15 -16 years old. This is why denim shirts are part of my installation. I am looking at my mother’s life to understand her feelings and to know my mother. She shared with me a lot of her stories.

PL_TB14_work for shirt_courtesy the artist_06

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

(Photo: Lim Yaohui)


Foto credit Lim Yaohui / Courtesy of Hunag Po-Chih

This is how the “Production Line” started. I am also writing a book about my mother’s work life. The project connects two cities. Shenzen in China and Taipei in Taiwan. My project continues. I am going to travel to Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia where the factory moved in order to find more stories.

PL_SSB14_Panorama_installation shot_courtesy the artist

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

RFP: While luxury brands like to infuse art into their creations, you transformed denim shirts into components of an art installation. Have you thought of creating a clothing label “Made in China” and “Made in Taiwan”? What would be the identity of this label?

HPC: I am really thinking about doing this. The label could be named “Production Line”. The products are blue, so I could call also it “Blue”. Behind blue, one can find a lot of identity. It could be that after my travelling to the countries where the textile factory moved, another product will be born.

RFP: What were your findings while following the production route?

HPC: It is a way from one country to another. It is a migration route. 50 years ago in Taiwan, there were lots of clothing factories to which the US and other Western countries outsourced production. Due to salaries getting higher in Taiwan, factories moved to Shenzen in China. The production line was organised between these two towns. So, what I did was to go to Shenzen with the intention of finding another tailor who had a very similar background to my mother’s. These tailors have different ages, but they all come from farming families. I have finally found this tailor. This woman is like a mirror of my mother’s working life, but in another country. I have engaged her in my installation. She spent 3 months in the museum making denim shirts which were only half finished. Then, we shipped the shirts to the Taipei Biennale where my mother took over the 500 pieces to transform them into a final product.

Production Line_HUGO BOSS Asia Art_2015_courtesy of Rockbund Art Museum_01

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

This year I will go back to Shenzen to write this woman’s story and publish a book about it. The most important thing for me is the story and I am interested in finding out the story of workers in the textile industry. This motivates me to do this project. I like investing time getting to know the people who make this product.

When my mother and the woman from Shenzen go to the museum, they get a different perspective about their work. In the past, they felt like machines, not thinking that what they were doing was meaningful. In my project, they can find a different meaning, an art meaning.

500 lemon trees_Manila Research_03

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

RFP: You combine art projects with agricultural projects, you cultivate lemon trees and want to produce calamansi-based drinks, you study eating habits and work as a volunteer teacher in the Philippines. Could this be the natural life of many human beings in the future?

HPC: I hope that in the future the farmer can be an artist and the artist can be a farmer or factory worker. Various activities can be combined together and no natural or technological border should be in their way. Everything should become one. I believe that when all becomes one, you can see who you are.

500 Lemon Trees_2014-05-03_Hsinpu_002

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

RFP: How is “The 500 Lemon Trees” project developing currently?

HPC: I have just returned this afternoon from the lemon field. Currently, there will be another fundraising round in Taiwan for 500 USD. We intend to build a factory to produce the lemon wine, actually a drink similar to limoncello.

500 Lemon Trees-Xinpu Research aka The Tree Slaughter_P2_CFCCA_2015_010

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

In October, I will have a solo exhibition in Taiwan where the donors who helped us plant the trees will receive a bottle of limoncello.

500 lemon trees_Manila Research_01

© Huang Po-Chih / Courtesy of the artist

The warm clime of Taiwan allows having lemons in all seasons. The limoncello recipe was adapted based on local ingredients and Taiwanese people’s taste. The drink is very strong reaching 56˚. You can use it for cooking chicken or for barbeque as we do here in Taiwan or for drinking from morning to night!

Special Thanks go to the artist and W Communications in Singapore

About the Prudential Eye Programme

 Established in 2008 by David and Serenella Ciclitira and sponsored by the region’s leading life insurer and asset manager Prudential, the Prudential Eye Programme is an initiative that nurtures artistic talent. The programme aims to develop arts infrastructure in territories where this is lacking, in order to provide artists with the platforms, support and recognition they need to develop their careers. It works to build networks and opportunities for artists and galleries through strategic partnerships and a variety of platforms.

 Previous projects from the Prudential Eye Programme include Korean Eye (2009 to 2012), Indonesian Eye (2011), Hong Kong Eye (2013), Prudential Malaysian Eye (2014), Prudential Singapore Eye (2015): a series of international touring exhibitions and publications providing emerging Asian artists with opportunities to showcase their work. To date, the programme has held 23 exhibitions worldwide, which have been viewed by over two million people.

 In January 2014, the Prudential Eye Programme launched the Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore, honouring the accomplishments of emerging artists throughout greater Asia and launching a creative education programme with the British Council.

 The latest exhibition in the Prudential Eye Programme is Thailand Eye presented by Prudential which was held at Saatchi Gallery, London from 25 November 2015 to 2 January 2016. The exhibition will also be on display at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre from 17 March to 26 June 2016. More information on the exhibition at www.prudentialthailandeye.com


Roxana Florina Popa is the author and self-publisher of the book “Beauty Elegance Creativity – 12 Interviews on the Act of Creation

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