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Dive in 'Ginger Glacier'

While we make a plan for the next holiday or a business forecast for the next five years, Adam Avikainen is thinking about what will happen to the world in 5 billion years. The American artist bases his work “Ginger Glacier” on scientific predictions that say the Earth will be completely obliterated by the Sun in the aforementioned time frame, and creates a monstrous, quasi-mythic non-being that the human species should transform into, in order to survive until then.

“Ginger Glacier” features a 7-by-18-meter organic linen canvas hand-dyed by Avikainen over the past three months in New Taipei City's Zhuwei (竹圍). His recipe is a mix of ginger juice, beet juice, curry powder, betel nut residue, plants he found near his studio in Zhuwei and more. He leaves the canvas outdoors so the rain drops, thunderstorms and typhoons that have occurred over the past months could leave their marks on it.

“It's basically taking the skin of the Earth and stretching it,” Avikainen said in a recent interview with The China Post. Last year, the artist also spent some time in Japan teaching junior high school students. He lived about an hour south of Fukushima.

“Every day there were scientists and radiologists coming, testing the soil, testing the water. And there were questions posed by myself being their teacher, about what mutations are occurring in their bodies, how fragile we are, and the amount of toxins that we can ingest as humans,” he recalled.

Avikainen adds that as artists, what we can do to become something else is to take all the energy that's been sprayed or wasted and make something of ourselves, rather than let evolution or natural selection run its own course.

The name “Ginger Glacier” comes from Avikainen's food experiences in Japan. “There was a chef who moved from Tokyo to where I stayed. He made a dessert simply by shaving ice, and mixing with ginger juice that his mother grew in the garden. It was a nice summertime dessert,” he explained.

Another part of “Ginger Glacier” is an installation composed of an empty aquarium, a wheel chair and celluloid films. The empty aquarium is a metaphor of evaporated oceans. Poems written by Avikainen will be read in both English and Chinese, and mixed with ambient sounds from Zhuwei.

The Taipei Biennial 2012 opens tomorrow and will feature works from 47 participating artists and six mini museums. The lobby of Taipei Fine Arts Museum will be turn into a backstage-like space, decorated in black and with a huge screen. While visitors take the long and straight aisle to enter the exhibition, their silhouettes are projected to the screen. Welcome to Hannah Hurtzig's work “The Waiting Hal — Scenes of Modernity.” ■

'Taipei Biennial 2012' (2012台北雙年展) ► From Sept.29 (Sat.) until Jan.13 (Sun.), 2013 / Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北美術館) / No.181, Sec.3, Zhong Shan North Road,Taipei (臺北市中山北路三段181號) / NT$30 / www.taipeibiennial.org

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En route to Shangri-La ...
Adam Avikainen mixes ginger juice, curry powder and various plant juices to create 'Ginger Glacier,' the future form of human beings in his imagination. (Wang Chien-yu, The China Post)

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