“Regardless of reality, we focus on a fantasy future where everything is fine.”

Born 1981, Miaoli, Taiwan

Tu Pei-Shih makes her animated videos by cutting and pasting, but not with a couple of clicks on the keyboard. She does it the old-fashioned way, with scissors and paste, clipping images from magazines, websites and children’s books, then arranging them in jerkily moving collage-tableaux that she calls “narrative experiments”. Her method is part of her theme: that our view of the world is a fiction assembled not only by Big Brothers but by our own desire to escape reality. At first glance, Tu Pei-Shih’s scenarios look like a child’s idea of paradise, but closer inspection reveals something closer to hell. Who Cares About the Real (2008) depicts G8 leaders at a summit on world hunger gorging themselves while bystanders beg. The Adventures in Mt Yu Part 1 (2010) depicts a totalitarian state where people are kept happy with food, sex and drugs until a nuclear plant blows up. Then everything falls apart: tigers feast on corpses, a man is hanged, and peasants stage a futile protest against the seizure of their land. In The Adventures in Mt Yu 5 (2010), happy children read about Taiwan’s history as a passing parade of invaders: the Dutch and Spanish, Chinese general Zheng Chenggong, the Japanese, and the Kuomintang. The bucolic scene turns savage with a depiction of the long-suppressed 228 incident of 1947, when the Kuomintang crushed an uprising by native Taiwanese. Despite her anticolonialist and anticapitalist themes, Tu Pei-Shih insists she is no social activist. Instead, she sees herself as a creative commentator: “My focus is on presenting a shallow, trivial and artificial fantasy that reflects our attempts to avoid facing harsh realities.”

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