Presented by Taipei Fine Arts Museum (TFAM), the 12th edition of the Taipei Biennial will open to the public on November 21, 2020, and run through March 14, 2021. Showcasing a strong lineup of works by 57 participants and groups from 27 countries and territories worldwide, the biennial is co-curated by French philosopher Bruno Latour and French independent curator Martin Guinard along with Taiwanese independent curator Eva Lin, who was specially invited to curate the public programs. Entitled You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet, the biennial aims to question our current ongoing geopolitical tensions and worsening ecological crisis by examining our differences and influences from a planetary perspective. 

Standout works include Indigenous Mexican artist Fernando Palma’s robotic chimera creatures, which will serve as the prelude and move in several directions in the entrance hall, prompting viewers to confront these ambiguous Nahua figures that are composed of electrical and construction materials. “Planet Globalization” is shaped by the dreams of modernization, which has continued to attract people despite climate change and increasing inequalities. There, French artist Franck Leibovici and legal analyst Julien Seroussi tackle issues around international justice with “muzungu.” Basing their research on a case arbitrated by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, they have developed experimental methodologies for court practitioners in an installation of archival display. 

Those who feel betrayed by the current economic system prefer to hide behind the walls of their nation-state to protect themselves in “Planet Security,” which emerged because of figures like Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who manipulated people’s fears in numerous documentary films and imposed a deep division on those who want to build a common world. Jonas Staal presents a retrospective of Bannon’s work by methodically dissecting the mechanisms of the ultra-right propaganda in the US. 

“Planet Escape” explores the urge of a small number of privileged people who want to leave Earth and colonize Mars or build a bunker deep in the ground that will not be affected by climate change. With her work “Corrupted Air–Act VI,” Dutch artist Femke Herregraven invites us into a survivalist bunker, an imaginary “panic room” in case of catastrophe. The artist has produced data visualizations, landscape reliefs, sound, and visual images, offering a prophecy of the “Last Man.”

“Planet Terrestrial” restlessly looks for ways to achieve prosperity while staying within the limits of planetary boundaries. Yung-Ta Chang transformed his residency experience at Taroko Gorge in central Taiwan, where geographic dynamics are particularly active, into an installation exploring the Critical Zone (the thin film at the surface of the Earth where rock, air, fauna, and flora interact to create the conditions of life). In “Arts of Coming Down to Earth,” Stéphane Verlet-Bottéro with Margaret Shiu and Ming-Jiun Tsai will map the ecological causality of Taipei Biennial 2020, seeking to understand the exhibition’s material existence in terms of CO2 emissions. 

The “Planet with Alternative Gravity” suggests the strange form of geopolitics which we need to attune ourselves to, given that we hypothetically live on different planets. Through their new video installation piece “Mass,” June Balthazard and Pierre Pauze explore a debate in contemporary physics around the materiality of the world. As an ending note, “Moving earths,” a video of co-curator Bruno Latour’s lecture-performance, explores the parallels between two perspectives on the moving Earth: the perspective as understood by Galileo Galilei circa 1610, and the perspective from which we view the Earth today.

Throughout the biennial, Shoreline Movements, a film program curated by Grégory Castéra and Erika Balsom, will screen a selection of 18 films. The program approaches the threshold between land and water as a material environment, serving as a provocative metaphor for the uncertainties and conflicts of worldly existence.

On opening day, there will be a half-day symposium featuring renowned international and local curators, artists, and scholars expressing their perspectives on this year’s theme. In December, TFAM’s Children’s Art Education Center will present its eleventh project, “Satellite 11: Planet BioTa,” which resembles a satellite circling “Taipei Biennial 2020.”

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