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Chia-Wei Hsu’s solo exhibition Black and White – Malayan Tapir focuses on a specific non-human animal—the Malayan tapir. The artist’s intention is to use an encyclopedic narrative style to deal with issues of equality between people and non-humans, man and nature, and to explore changes in the way modern people view images.
Black and White – Malayan Tapir is composed of a synchronized four-channel LED-screen installation. The scenes in the video switch between the National Gallery Singapore, the National History Museum, and the Singapore Zoo, to search engines and multiple computer screen windows. Across the screens, a zoo tour guide recounts the initial recording of the black and white Malayan tapir by a Chinese painter in the early nineteenth century at the request of William Farquhar, a commander of the British East India Company. This was likely the first documentation of the species, an endeavor that was ultimately contested. Due to the rapid development of the natural sciences during the colonial era, the naming and documentation of animals and plants became a competitive field, and accordingly, conflict is entwined with the history and legend of the Malayan tapir, now an endangered species.
Chia-Wei Hsu (born 1983, lives and works in Taipei) is interested in the untold histories of different periods in time, and frequently focuses on the Cold War in Asia. Hsu’s work has been presented in many museums, including the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid.
Black and White – Malayan Tapir is on view at ISCP in Brooklyn October 30–January 25, 2019. An opening reception will be held on October 30, 6–8 pm. Opening hours are Tuesday–Friday, 12–6 pm, and by appointment.