Here are some questions that one artist emailed to me, and I thought it might be helpful to share these with everyone who is thinking about sending in a proposal for the 2014 Cheng Long art project. Remember the deadline for sending me your proposal by email is January 18, 2014.
Some questions from an artist:
– Do the fishermen use nets in their fishing practice?
– Is there bamboo growing in that area that could be harvested to use in sculpture?
– Is bamboo considered invasive like it is here?
– What are the invasive plants there?
– Can artists use power tools like a drill or a chopsaw or bandsaw to prepare materials for sculpture?
– If so, are there chopsaws or bandsaws that artists can use?
Answers to these questions from the curator:
1.About fishing nets used in Cheng Long area :
Yes, nets are used in the fishing practice in Taiwan, but usually now it is some kind of plastic or nylon netting and not so beautiful as the natural nets of cotton or sisal twine, although you might find a few old ones somewhere. Many old bits of the plastic or nylon netting may be found around in scrap piles or at the recycling center that we visit with the artists every year. For the installation with the leaves crocheted from recycled plastic bags on the old house by Isabelle Garbani, she used scraps of recycled heavy black plastic net material to tie the leaves on and then the netting could be attached to the house easily for the installation.
2.About bamboo used in Taiwan:
Most bamboo grows in the mountain areas of Taiwan, and it is about 1.5 hours away from the coastal area of Cheng Long. Last year we took a trip to the mountains in Yunlin County and saw a wonderful bamboo forest. Bamboo is very plentiful and cheap in Taiwan, and the expense is in getting a truck to bring it to Cheng Long. In past years all the artists have made their orders and we hire one truck to bring it to Cheng Long.
There is a little bamboo in the village but usually it is not so long and not good quality. There is also recycled bamboo available as driftwood on nearby beaches that we gather to use for art projects. This recycled bamboo is about 5 inches in diameter and varies in length to about 5 or 6 feet long, and it may be more brittle but it is a nice grayed color. Many artists have used it for their works and then use some new bamboo poles for longer parts and those that need strength for security. For example, Roy Staab in 2010 used all recycled bamboo for his work “Invasive Species” but Shilpa Joglekar of India used mostly new bamboo for her jungle gym type of play structure in 2010 because it needed to be strong and secure for children to play on….she did use some recycled bamboo in it too. Here is a photo of Roy’s work with all recycled bamboo and a photo of Shilpa’s work with mostly new bamboo.
Bamboo is not invasive in Taiwan, and it is grown in forests for building everything there…even scaffolding is made from bamboo commonly. It is a great material that is sustainable because it grows so quickly….in 2 years you can get a 12 foot long pole from a shoot, I was told.
3. About invasive plants in Taiwan that might be useful to make artworks:
The invasive plants there are sometimes the ones that have come from the West, such as the sisal rope plant (Agave sisalana) that came over from Central America for fishing ropes in the early 20th century and is now growing wild on the beaches in south Taiwan. Now all the fishing ropes in Taiwan are usually nylon. Common reed (phragmites) is a common plant in the Cheng Long area, but it is not invasive there like it is on the East Coast of the US in all the inland waterways. It is a plant material that artists have used before….see the giant bird sculptures made by Myriam du Manoir in 2010.
入侵種植物有時候是源自於西方，像是製作麻繩的植物（瓊麻）就是在二十世紀初期從中美洲引進，作為製作漁網的材料，現在南台灣的海邊隨處可見。現在台灣所有的漁繩幾乎都是尼龍製了。蘆葦（phragmites）是成龍地區很普遍的植物，但是並非跟美國東岸內陸河道的狀況一樣被視為入侵種。之前的藝術家就利用它作為一種植物素材，請參考2010年藝術家Ｍyriam du Manoir在所創作的大鳥。
4. About power tools:
Artists can use power tools and power drills for their works and we do have a chopsaw (circular saw), and there are also chain saws and other power saws available in the village that we can borrow. We also have some electric drills to use. When artists are selected we ask specifically what tools they might need and try to locate them. All the tools are borrowed from villagers ( it’s a way of community participation！) and usually they are not the best quality. All the artists share the tools so you have to plan and reserve the saw or drill for the times you would need it. I usually recommend that if you need a specific tool to make your work, it is a good idea to bring it in your suitcase if you can. For example if you need a good drill for your proposed work, you could bring your own in the suitcase, or ask specifically about a drill bit and tool for the size and depth of holes you need to make. We do also have ordinary tools like hammers, cutters, hand saws, clippers, etc. but if you need some specific tool, do ask about it, and maybe bringing it in your checked luggage will make your work go much easier if you can do that. Bamboo can be cut easily with the circular saw, and usually the power saw is left in the main work area for artists to bring the poles they need to cut there and use. Here is artist Rumen Dmitrov using a chain saw to cut the driftwood he collected on the beach for his artwork created in Cheng Long in 2011.
Tools are usually a problem to work out for the artists, and the tools in Taiwan may be different from what you are used to using in your country. In Taiwan they use different hand tools for cutting bamboo, and usually it is a bamboo knife like a machete and they can do everything with that. We take the artists in the beginning days of the project to visit a traditional bamboo master craftsman, and they can learn how to work with bamboo and maybe get some help from bamboo craftsmen there. Here is a photo of Indonesian artist Firman Djamil using the traditional (Indonesian) bamboo knife making his work titled “Cheng Long Spiral” in 2011.
Remember proposals are due on January 18, 2014. Just let me know if you have any other questions. You can ask in comments here on the Blog or send email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy New Year to everyone and hope your year is happy, healthy and successful.
Jane Ingram Allen, Curator
艾婕音 / 策展人