2017 has been nothing but a fruitful year for the LGBTQ community in Taiwan, as the constitutional court’s ruling in May made Taiwan the first country in Asia that pledged legalizing marriage equality in the coming future.

Co-organized by Sunpride Foundation from Hong Kong, the exhibition features 51 pieces of artworks by 22 artists from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, and the United States. Inspired by the spectrum of light, the exhibition aims to highlight the LGBTQ community’s rich history and its appeals for peace, love and diversity, which are symbolized by the rainbow.

“The exhibition is as diverse and inclusive as the spectrum of light in terms of its artistic expression and exploration of LGBTQ issues,” said Sean Hu, the curator of the exhibition. “The whole effort of the exhibition is based on the expectation of human equality with love as the point of departure.”

The whole idea of organizing an exhibition that features contemporary artwork related to LGBTQ issues was initiated by Patrick Sun, the founder of Sunpride Foundation. After inviting Hu to be the curator of the exhibition, they both agreed that the diversity of LGBTQ related contemporary artworks can be an efficient and effective way to promote LGBTQ rights and related issues.

“The current exhibition is dedicated to addressing the historical, cultural and political development of ethnic-Chinese LGBTQ community,” said Hu. “As well as the dilemma they face in the modern world.”

While Hu originally wanted to focus on Asian LGBTQ related topics, he later realized that it would be hard to include artists from all parts of Asia. The curatorial team then decided to select artists from similar languages, ethnicities, geographic locations,  as well as cultural and historical backgrounds. They eventually invited 22 artists of Chinese-speaking descent to showcase their artwork.

Among all the works, The Master Painting series by Taiwanese artist Tseng Yi-Hsin and Man Hole series by Taiwanese artist Hou Chun-Ming reflect the unique development of Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement and community. Tseng appropriated images from classical paintings, including Liberty Leading People and Olympia, to reflect the challenging journey of Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement. She invited members from the leading marriage equality rights group, Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), to reenact the scene from Liberty Leading People, and illustrate how these individuals are dedicated to the goal of marriage equality and diverse family formation in Taiwan.

Additionally, Hou’s Man Hole series offers a glimpse into LGBTQ individual’s desire, deficiency and sexual quest through 13 LGBTQ individuals’ memories and secrets. He uses the drawings to showcase how is it like to be queer in the Taiwanese society.

Another highlight of the exhibition are the six pieces of interactive installation placed at MOCA Taipei’s outdoor plaza. The Taiwanese artist, Chuang Chih-Wei, hopes to initiate a conversation with the public by inviting viewers to leave messages or images by scratching or drawing on the dark surface of the installation. At night, these marks on the surface will be illuminated by the colorful LED lights placed inside the installation, making each message shine with the rainbow colors.

Chuang hopes this interactive installation can become a symbol of LGBTQ people’s courage and solidarity when they face oppressions in mainstream society. By placing the installation in the public plaza, it encourages viewers to reflect upon LGBTQ community’s predicament and suffering, and uses the rainbow lights to represent a future of equality for the community.

“Through the exhibition, we hope people would start respecting others of different sexual orientations,” said Hu. “Everyone can be comfortable with being who he/she is, and there is no more discrimination as well as hatred.”

Hu believes that by hosting the exhibition at a government-run museum like MOCA Taipei, it represents the government’s attitude towards LGBTQ issues. This also further strengthens the influence of this exhibition on Taiwanese society’s view on LGBTQ issues.

“In our mind, we hope to push the Taiwanese government to protect equal rights for the LGBTQ community through this show,” said Hu.

With the goal to tour the exhibition to other museums in Asia, the organizers hope to liberate people’s thoughts and value systems from the bias against LGBTQ individuals through offering a space for mutual understanding between both sides.

“We hope the exhibition would create a rippling effect across Asia,” said Hu. “And ultimately, we hope to generate more influence and understanding in the region.”

As the LGBTQ community seeks to regain momentum for the marriage equality movement after a four month hiatus, the exhibition offers a channel for the community to directly engage with the general public through art, a form of expression that has not been widely adopted during LGBTQ related pubic demonstrations in the past. Without the explicit emotions from the political public demonstrations, this new approach allows the LGBTQ community to introduce themselves in a more subtle form. Maybe the power of art is what can help the LGBTQ community create another wave of public interest at the end of 2017.

Spectrosynthesis runs until November 5th.

 

William Yang

William is a freelance writer and photographer based in Taiwan, with a passion for human rights and storytelling. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, and has extensive experiences interning at global NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Mercy Corps.