Chia-Wei Hsu
Marshal Tie Jia (Turtle Island)

Marshal Tie Jia (Turtle Island) explores the history of a tiny island off of the coast of Matsu in the Taiwan Strait that has been instrumental in the geopolitical relationships between China, Taiwan, and Japan. The Chinese frog deity, Marshal Tie Jia, is now exiled to the island where he is still revered by the Taiwanese people. The installation includes documentation of the artist’s correspondence with the frog deity placed upon an altar, while the video explores both Marshal’s birthplace in China and his current home on Turtle Island. The video slowly zooms out from a fabricated version of Marshal’s former temple, which was dismantled then rebuilt on another island by dictator Chiang Kai-Shek when he retreated to Taiwan. As the video zooms out, it reveals the edges of the green screen, calling attention to the nation state’s production of the mythological narratives that play a persistent role in forming cultural identities. Image, text, and installation obscure the lines between truth and myth to establish a new mythology of representation.

Embarking from myriad audio-visual narratives, Chia-Wei Hsu pursues imaginative interrogations of cultural contact and colonization in Asia, oftentimes amalgamating his primary narratives with non-human actors including technologies, animals, gods, environments, traditions, and material objects. Bringing these diverse subjects together results in a bumpy ontological bleed between them, forming the topography of a historical geography without a straightforward objective position. By reinterrogating what histories and relations coexist within a given locale, Hsu’s work manifests new imaginative potentialities for their revitalization, an uncertain, profound terrain throughout his films and installations.

While his work has consistently probed regulatory systems including religion, science, architecture, and military action, Hsu’s work has increasingly explored digital ontologies and the Internet of Things, in which previously luddite household objects have become connected to the internet. The digital, as a territorializing field produced by components largely manufactured in Asia, allows Hsu to attempt the detournement of western knowledge-bases to formulate new, imaginative archipelagos.