Phantasmapolis – 2021 Asian Art Biennial Catalogue

10.25″ x 8.5″ x 1″, 319 Pages
Chief Editor: Wang Chia Cheng
Publisher: National Museum of Fine Arts

Published: October, 2021
ISBN: 978-986-532-433-9
Price: NTD 1,300


The 8 edition of Asian Art Biennial hosted by the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (NTMoFA), Titled “Phantasmapolis”. The Taiwanese independent curator Nobuo Takamori serves as the chief curator of the 2021 Asian Art Biennial. Adopting a multi-curator system, he invites Taiwanese curator Ho Yu-Kuan, Filipino curator Tessa Maria Guazon, Indian curator Anushka Rajedran, and Thai curator and art historian Thanavi Chotpradit to form a multinational curatorial team. With “Asian Futurism” and “Asian sci-fi culture” as the main themes, the Biennial re-evaluates Asia’s past and present through sci-fi perspectives by inviting thirty-eight artists/art groups from fifteen countries to re-examine topics about Asian cities, technologies, conflicts, gender and fantasies of the future, co-creating the unknown Phantasmapolis that is closest to the future.

Curators’ Statement

Phantasmopolis is a newly coined Greek word comprising “phantasma” (phantom) and “polis” (city-state). This word owes its inspiration to Phantasmagoria, a sci-fi novel written in English by architect Wang Da-Hong. While “phantasmagoria” refers to the “phantom-haunted house” constructed with light projection technology before the 19th century, Wang’s novel is about a prince cast adrift in outer space in 3069 AD.

Treating “Asian futurism” and “Asian sci-fi culture” as its main themes, the 2021 Asia Art Biennial “Phantasmapolis” seeks to review Asia’s past and present from the perspective of science fiction. All the exhibits are intended to break the stereotypes about Asia in Hollywood sci-fi movies, and meanwhile reexamine the metropolises, technologies, conflicts, gender, and imagined future of Asia from Asian artists’ viewpoints.

This biennial invites five emerging curators from different Asian countries under its multi-curator system. The transnational curatorial team adds extra programs to the biennial per se, including video section, archives, special screening, forums, and publication of readers, expecting to envisage Asian futurism in diverse ways.

The biennials tend to feature contemporary artists’ works. Apart from following the Asian Art Biennial’s convention of gathering significant contemporary artists from Asia, the curatorial team also tries to contextualize art history, which affords the visitors a tantalizing glimpse of pre-war Japanese sci-fi animations, the records of Japanese avant-garde groups in the 1960s, and the documents in the R.O.C. Pavilion at the “Expo ’70” in Osaka, Japan.

This biennial attempts to establish the sci-fi context in the art history of Taiwan by virtue of Liu Kuo-Sung’s painting of outer space, Wang Da-Hong’s moon-landing monument, Yuyu Yang’s laser photography, as well as the works by Shu Lea Cheang, Wang Jun-Jieh and Hung Tung-Lu. In addition, this biennial invites Filipino curator Tessa Maria Guazon and Taiwanese researcher I-Chun (Nicole) Wang to research and curate documents respectively concerning the Philippines and Asian sci-fi queer. Moreover, India curator Anushka Rajendran organizes a video section that represents the works by iconic video creators from several Asian countries, which allows the visitors to enjoy video works that address Asia-related issues.

The 2021 Asian Art Biennial is scheduled to be on view as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps the world, and considerable challenges and impacts consequently ensue. Foreign artists have to exhibit their works without personal presence. Many artists also developed their specific projects according to their own observation of the pandemic. For example, Taiwanese artist Joyce Ho decided to redesign the facilities for body temperature measurement and personal information registration in the reception hall, making them similar to the entry gate in a quarantine hall.

In addition to carrying the artists’ imagination of future, many works in this biennial focus closely on the present realities and the general malaise about the overdevelopment of Asian cities. The sheer scope of these works ranges from the microscopic world of insects to the cosmic nebulae, which not only creates special visual experiences for the visitors, but also treats futurism as an analytical tool for social issues.

We cordially invite you to “Phantasmapolis” and hope that you’ll find aesthetic delight in the exhibits here. We also expect the visitors to rethink the future and futurity of contemporary Asia in the complex and diversified future world. We would like to suggest the visitors to consult the guide to our side events. You will definitely gain a deeper understanding of Asian art that belongs to the future world by attending different events and utilizing our online resources.

Full list of the 38 participating artists/artist groups from fifteen countries:

Catalina Africa (Philippines), Bakudapan Food Study Group (Indonesia), Bang & Lee (South Korea), Shu Lea Cheang (Taiwan), CHEN Chen Yu (Taiwan), CHEN Chun Yu ((Taiwan), Genevieve CHUA (Singapore), Sharbendu De (India), Mattie Do (Laos), GAN Siong King (Malaysia), HE Kunlin (China), HIRATA Minoru (Japan), Joyce HO (Taiwan), HUNG Tung Lu (Taiwan), ISOMURA Dan + UNNO Rintaro (Japan), KIM Ayoung (South Korea), KIMURA Tsunehisa (Japan), LÊ Giang (Vietnam), LEE Yung Chih (Taiwan), LI Yi Fan (Taiwan), LIN Shu Kai (Taiwan), LIU Kuo Sung (Taiwan), LIU Yu + WU Sih Chin (Taiwan), Yuko MOHRI (Japan), Hootikor (Lama-Motis & Cheku-Chelagu, Taiwan), UuDam Tran NGUYEN (Vietnam), office aaa (Taiwan), OGINO Shigeji (Japan), (CAMP & 0x2620) (India, Germany), Monira Al Qadiri (Kuwait), Mark Salvatus (Philippines), Chulayarnnon Siriphol (Thailand), Lim Sokchanlina (Cambodia), TAN Zi Hao (Malaysia), WANG Jun-Jieh (Taiwan), Yuyu YANG (Taiwan), Tuguldur Yondonjamts (Mongolia), Alvin Zafra (Philippines)

Details of the Extended Projects

Prospecting: Archival documents from the Philippines
Curator: Tessa Maria Guazon

Video Project “Phantasmapolis: Looking back to the future”
Curator: Anushka Rajendran
Video Project Artists |
Abdul Halik Azeez (Sri Lanka), Vibha Galhotra (India), Ayham Jabr (Syria), LI Kuei Pi (Taiwan), Mariah Lookman (Pakistan), Umber Majeed (USA), Tuan Andrew Nguyen (Vietnam), Afrah Shafiq (India), Karan Shrestha (Nepal), Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn (Thailand), Angela SU (Hong Kong), Hanae Utamura (Japan), Paul WONG (Canada), ZHANG XU Zhan (Taiwan), Natasha Tontéy (Indonesia)

Forum and Reader Projects
Curator: Thanavi Chotpradit
Songs from the Moon Rabbit-Forum of 2021 Asian Art Biennial
Midnight Sun and the Owl—Reader of 2021 Asian Art Biennial

Beyond Time and Sex: An Opsis of Queer Sci-Fi in Asia
Researcher: I Chun (Nicole) WANG
Participating artists:
Shu Lea Cheang, KU Kuang Yi, LIN An Chi (Ciwas Tahos), Thunska Pansittivorakul, Very Theatre & ActNow Theatre, WU Tzu Ning
This project is co-organized by the Cultural Taiwan Foundation and in partnership with SEA plateaus.