“People keep throwing away so many things therefore I keep picking things up. Perhaps what I pick up are nothing like what was thrown away, but perhaps in the fragments some traces can still be discovered,, the pure soul you used to possess can still be found. Maybe a complete picture of what they were can no longer be pieced together, but I can still sense “the past” and have been trying to piece together what we are now.”
The Space of Fifty Steps: Episode One
Born in a tribe in Hualian County’s Fengbin Harbor, artist Rahic . Talif returned home after feeling the call from of his ancestral land. Since then, he has continu many to conducted field researches as a way to revisit the land and the people of his birthplace. It has also become his life’s mission to preserve and continue his root tribal culture. Before dedicating fulltime to creating art, Rahic‧Talif worked as an interior designer and taught woodcarving in a special craft class at Hualian’s Hengbin Junior High School. Now an artist, musician and writer, he seeks to find an artistic language that stresses his individuality as well as a collective identity for the indigenous culture. All of Rahic’s works are by inspired by his native Amis tribal culture and take forms in art, music and literature. His works explore and reflect upon his culture roots, the surroundings and the ecologic environments. Through conversations with his birthland, he contemplates the relationship between humans and nature. Rahic‧Talif has been invited abroad as an artist in residency while his works have been exhibited broadly in Taiwan and overseas.
For the exhibition at MOCA Taipei, Rahic‧Talif has created four site-specific installations, collectively titled The Space of Fifty Steps: Episode One. “The space of fifty steps” refers to the intertidal zone of the seashore, as described by Rahic’s father. His father once said with worry that “We only have fifty steps left.” For a harbor tribe such as the one Rahic belongs to, this area of roughly fifty steps in depth, before where the ocean begins, is where most tribal activities take place. Life happens in this area; hence it becomes a watch zone where impacts of environmental and social changes can be observed. In the past when human and nature co-existed in harmony, this was been peaceful. However, as urbanization expanded rapidly in recent years, this territory has also been threatened. The consequences of human negligence towards their living environment and cultural traditions evidently show in the intertidal zone. This reflection has motivated Rahic to pursue The Space of Fifty Steps, a large-scale project that the artist plans to undertake for several years. Four inaugural works from the project are on view in the exhibit. They are Caretakers (displayed on the plaza), Travel, Cord and Shadow. Jointly, they provide a viewing experience where the audience travels back and forth between traditional and modern societies only to realize what it gazes at is not just the ocean, but current conditions in which we humans are situated.
For Travel, Rahic‧Talif spent a year walking and collecting discarded items along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. He then painted and wrote down, in his native Amis language, observations and reflections he gained during the process on a bolt of old fabric he found in Dulan Sugar Factory. In Caretakers, Rahic draws on the tribal legendary of the same title and weaved shawls for the protagonists, the caretakers, faintly presented in the work, using bottle caps and plastic sheets he gathered from the beach. The shawls represent the ocean jammed by multifariousness of wastes and discarded items. Even though these manmade wastes have polluted the water, the Pacific Ocean still kindly takes all of them in and Rahic turns them into shawls for the brother and sister caretakers. To create Shadow, Rahic uses glass found on the beach as the main material. In the Amis tribal language, broken glass means both mirror and shadow. For the artist, the shift of material culture from using precious stones to glass beads and other glass items to plastic products speaks of an obvious decline in craftsmanship. It also represents the loss of cultural root for the tribal community—a source of their inner anxiety. Shadow is an artwork in dialogue with fading indigenous traditions. Gathering objects from the beach is symbolic of the artist’s hope to find the lost past while questioning the actual possibility of piecing the past together as it was.
At the core of Rahic’s works is his awareness for sustainability—the balance and cycle of and between all living things. Rahic’s works send the audience on a journey where traditional and modern societies constantly and swiftly rotate. By viewing them, the audience gazes not only at nature, but in effect, the current conditions we human together face.
2014第二屆Pulima藝術獎 2014 The 2nd Pulima Art Award
台北當代藝術館 MOCA Taipei