“We seem to measure ourselves according to our level of success and spending power.  So we wear ourselves out in pursuing these things.”

Born 1972, Taipei, Taiwan

Liao Chien-Chung is fascinated by appearances and by modern society’s obsession with them. His artful fakes are amusing reminders not to base judgments on first impressions. The White Shark (2013) is toothless, but although the video playing in its bright eye shows the artist hugging it and surfing with it, it seems unlikely to catch on as a toy. Apart from its pristine cleanness, Garbage Truck (2011) is almost indistinguishable from the rear end of one of the trucks that collect Taiwan’s rubbish, yet it is made almost entirely of wood. Transformer Box (2011) also looks identical to those seen on many streets, right down to the mountain scene painted on it: municipal authorities in Taiwan see to it that all transformer boxes are decorated.  Are replicas of such mundane objects worthy of the label art? Liao Chien-Chung seems to ask.  If so, what makes them so?  Their plausible surfaces, or what lies beneath?  A similar question animates Goddamn Life (2008), a home-made Harley-Davidson with pedals where the foot pegs should be. “Can you say you own a Harley if you have to pedal it?” he wonders. (The Mandarin word for motorbike sounds like a swear word in the Taiwanese dialect. Among the young, “motorbike” is widely used as a less-offensive substitute: “motorbike life” is the equivalent of “&#$@* life”.)

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