Last week, ART TAIPEI, Asia’s longest running art fair, returned to Xinyi District’s Taipei World Trade Center for its 24th iteration, featuring a major international exhibition titled GLOBAL PUBLICS. From Oct. 19 to Oct. 23, guests, both local and international, marveled at more than 3,000 works of art. With 123 galleries, the art fair brought together works from both emerging artists and industry veterans spread across more than 15 countries in Asia including Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

Standing at the creative helm of this year’s public art show is International Curator, Annie Ivanova. As a veteran of the art fair, Ivanova joined back in 2010 as a guest curator and has attended since. Additionally, her serving as Senior Curator at MOCA Taipei and the success of her critical acclaimed book, “Taiwan by Design,” have contributed to her influence in Taiwan’s art and design circles. When tasked with creating an exhibition that captured the essence of contemporary public art, the Australian curator came up with the concept of “global publics,” which later became the name of the exhibition.

In other words, GLOBAL PUBLICS strives to capture and present what the word  “public” means to today’s digitalized society. While the concept’s name may sound like a description of a location or a destination, Ivanova says it defines people. More specifically, it is a reinterpretation of ourselves and our proactive spirits in context of today’s increasingly digitized societies.

“Most of us are now citizens of the largest country on the planet, Facebook: 2 billion of us live there. For the first time in human history, we can positively impact local communities: anywhere, anytime. We have become ‘global publics,’” Ivanova wrote Ketagalan in an email.

One way Ivanova conveyed these intangible themes of digital connectedness was through the showcase of her favorite piece, “Wayfinder,” a participatory project by Melbourne-based artist, Troy Innocent.

“Innocent supports the idea that, to be more enjoyable, cities need to be more playful,” she wrote. “One way to do this is through exploration and discovery.”

Through a series of scannable, QR-code pieces scattered throughout the exhibit, “Wayfinder” facilitated the movement of guests and encouraged them to view their physical space as a creative playground, Ivanova explained. By downloading the free app and using a map, visitors can move through rest of the show, all the while completing the “Wayfinder” game.

Like “Wayfinder,” Taiwan may be the facilitator between large art markets in Asia because it doesn’t have any bad blood with its neighbors.

“Interestingly, given the strained relationships between China and, Korea /Japan, dealers and buyers can meet in Taiwan as a neutral ground,” Ivanova wrote.

By leveraging that neutrality, ART TAIPEI, and therefore Taiwan, have been able to gain influence in Asia.

ART TAIPEI is more than just an exhibition; it encourages the outside world to look at Taiwan differently, whether that be as an available, independent creative playground for the world’s art markets or as an important cultural catalyst for Asia.

It’s a testament to how a country traditionally thought to be limited by opportunity can thrive as a leader, and it’s an example of what a “global public” can accomplish when it’s spurred into action.

(Feature photo by Victoria Chen)


Victoria Chen

Victoria Chen graduated from the Olin Business School and Sam Fox Art School at Washington University in St. Louis. When she’s not studying Chinese at National Taiwan University, she’s either hogging book samples in an Eslite Bookstore or looking for $2 lunchboxes to eat. She is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.