Opening : 09/21/2017 5-7pm
Venue : Furlong Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Stout
The intruder introduces himself forcefully, by surprise or by ruse, not, in any case, by right or by being admitted beforehand. Something of the stranger has to intrude, or else he loses his strangeness. If he already has the right to enter and stay, if he is awaited and received, no part of him being unexpected or unwelcome, then he is not an intruder any more, but then neither is he any longer a stranger. To exclude all intrusiveness from the stranger’s coming is therefore neither logically acceptable nor ethically admissible. *1
From its inception, FOGSTAND was never invited into the tiny rural village of Jia-Li. Instead, we came without warning or welcome. Operating out of an abandoned two room house, the aim is to provide the public (both local and national) with events, exhibitions and workshops that “we” think will be of benefit to the community. The parenthetical “we” is due to the fact that the two people who act in service of benefiting the village of Jia-Li include a foreigner (USA) unable to speak Mandarin Chinese or Taiwanese Hokkien and a local who left as an adult, moving to Taipei, UK and eventually the USA in order to achieve a higher education and career. These programatic choices are not based on approximating and/or augmenting their current cultural realities, but our belief of what they are perceived to be “missing” or, more importantly, being compromised into becoming. The result is a strangeness, a form of intrusion on a community that never admitted us in the first place.
The possibility of rejection resides in a double strangeness: the strangeness, on the one hand, of this grafted heart, which the organism identifies and attacks as being a stranger, and, on the other hand, the strangeness of the state in which medication renders the graftee in order to protect him. It lowers the graftee’s immunity, so that he can tolerate the stranger. It thereby makes him a stranger to himself, to this immunitary identity, which is akin to his physiological signature. *2
In addition, and more importantly, we organize and develop much of our exhibition program around the concept of exacting locality. How is it then that an outsider, an intruder can obtain/maintain the qualifications to instill the idea of locality within an indecisive community, rarely acknowledging our very existence? The answer is precisely in the resistance the community has toward us, which can only be initiated by our intrusion, namely the artists, workshops, foreign visitors and events that interrupt and enter into the normality of Jia-Li village. Rejection, itself, becomes the method to discern any and all edges of locality and, in so doing, estranges the search image for each and every singular bound in any plural. In the process, we too, the intruder, continue to form and perform as and by the interruptions, each continuing to pose onto the other.
While FOGSTAND’s exhibition program intentionally avoids meeting our local audience “where they are”, our education program attempts to do just that, and by so doing, gives the exhibition program its needed entry point. The ongoing series of workshops entitled “Guerrilla Language” work with local indigenous children to reconsider the importance languaging has on cultural identity and agency. The goal is then to re-engage the identity of indigenous language (without directly teaching it) through the ideologies and methods of avant-garde artistic practices (such as cut-ups, readymades, sound art and performance). Although difficult and atypical, it is rewarding to see how art’s struggle with self-definition can inspire the re-definition of indigenous identity, by and for indigenous people.
*1 : Jean-Luc Nancy. Corpus. New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2008. pg. 161
*2 : Jean-Luc Nancy. Corpus. New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2008. pg. 167