A Room of Michelle Chen Document Exhibition

TheCube Project Space, in collaboration with curator Miss Bench, is pleased to present A Room of Michelle Chen curatorial research document exhibition. This marks the fourth exhibition of TheCube 7F’s experimental curatorial project, Twisting TheCube Series. This exhibition focused on Taiwanese women aged 60 to 70. Through field research, it collects the life experiences of eight women, and in conjunction, invites novelist Brian Po-lun Kao to compose flash fiction pieces. While the exhibition appeared to revolve around the fictional character “Michelle Chen”, it actually presented a composite portrait constructed from the experiences of multiple women. It seeks to understand how the socio-economic developments of Taiwan from the 1960s to the 1990s shaped the characteristics of the middle-aged females today. The document exhibition consisted of a series of newspapers, TV shows, popular songs, books, magazines, and oral recordings, aiming to reconstruct the room of Michelle Chen, bringing the archives back to the scene. The exhibition was  from October 6th 2023 to November 4th, with a reading workshop held on October 10th.

About the Exhibition

Written by Curator, Miss Bench

“Michelle Chen” is a fictional character co-created by myself and the author Brian Po-lun Kao. Her name is picked from the rank of popular female names from the 1950s to 1960s on Wikipedia.

I met Brian Po-lun Kao (I fondly call him Brian) in the theater scenario in Taichung. Back then, I would often visit him with a bottle of wine and a cat in tow. Later, both of us moved away from Taichung around the same time, prompting a motorcycle farewell journey. During this journey, we delved into conversations about our mothers, carrying a foreshadowing of this collaboration.

We began searching for “Michelle Chen” in our ways: I interviewed eight women aged 60 to 70, all from varying family backgrounds, educational levels, and marital statuses. Using the technique of “montage”, I assembled their experiences into a seemingly singular life narrative. On the other hand, Brian utilized his imagination, penning the story of the prematurely departed “Michelle Chen”. The remarkable resonance between his fiction and the interview records turned this work into a semi-fictional novel. It’s difficult to distinguish whether Michelle is the women sharing their story with me or the consciousness in Brian’s text. However, we’re confident she exists within this exhibition.

If one sees the “exhibition” as a body, this document exhibition serves as the brain, displaying the curatorial research documents and re-contextualizing them in their original scene, with the form of an individual intimate room, showing the curatorial thinking. The novel of Michelle Chen will soon act as a curatorial statement, developing into a contemporary art exhibition.

As you step into Michelle Chen’s room, she is a young woman who has just graduated, has a stable job, and is not yet married. The TV airs her cherished cartoons, dramas, and news. The radio broadcasts her favorite programs and campus folk songs. Her bookshelf houses texts she has read. Which all forms her world. As part of the documentary exhibition, only the items mentioned during the interviews are included in this room. We found that most of the interviewed women never had a room of their own, making this room perhaps a semi-fictional space.

At the end of this book, you’ll encounter an unconventional “author chronicle”. It neither belongs to the author Briannor the protagonist Michelle Chen, but is composed of societal news mentioned during the interviews, detailing major events in Taiwanese society that Michelle Chen lived through. History, an unseen hand, directs everything. We are forced to flow following the wave, making the choices without a choice.

Starting from “listening”, blending factual narratives with cross-generational imaginations, we hope to find a communicative language that bridges generational gaps.

Lastly, heartfelt gratitude goes to the following eight confident, generous, fearless, tough, and powerful women:
Judy Huang, Jenny Jou Ko, Michelle Ko, Kuo Mei-Shu, Lin A-You, Lady Tree, Wu Mali, Wang Xiu-Hui

Written at TheCube
September 8th, 2023.

About the Curator

Miss Bench. On the end of the bench sits the duchess, with the homeless tramp at the other end, thereby a conversation is about to begin. This is the existence of the “Art Exhibition”, facing upwards to the millionaires who purchase art, and downwards to the general public who are interested in art. At this very moment, it transforms a linear two-dimensional relationship into a platform that exists in three-dimensional space. No matter who you are, welcome to the conversation. This may be the most peaceful way to shift the world.

Curated exhibitions include:
2018, Abnomal, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL, London
2018, //, Chelsea Space, London
2019, A Ceremonial Animal, Liu Museum, Taichung
2019, O//O, Liu Museum / YAO Space, Taichung
2021-2022, Home Land Is LandRetrospective Tour of the Failure Artist, Various location of Taiwan

About the Novelist

Brian Po-lun Kao was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1992. He embarked on his artistic journey at Tunghai University in Taichung, where he earned both his B.A. and M.A. degrees. He is the author of Cracked Stories and currently resides in Tainan, working as both a writer and teacher.

About Twisting TheCube Series

Twisting TheCube Series is an experimental project launched by TheCube in 2020. The guiding philosophy behind this project is to present studies on specific topics in the form of mini-exhibition, so as to reveal the dynamic thinking behind the curatorial or creative practice and explore the context constructed by broadly defined “documents” and “archives”. The visitors can enjoy and read the exhibits in a cozy, relaxing environment at TheCube 7F.

Visual Design|Jiang Shan
Editor|Jeph Lo, Elsie Lam
Space Design|Pino Zhang
Newspaper Archives Collect|Chen Yi Che, William Lien
Video and Audio Archives Collect|Ileana Tu
Furniture Sponsor|Jui Hung Ni, Chen Yi Che, Pino Zhang, Michelle Ko, Chen Mei Yan, Wang Xiao Pin
Special Thanks|Eric Ko, Howard Yang, Liu Hsing Yu, Chu Yen Chen, Lydia Li


Date|2023.10.6 – 11.4  (Wed-Sat 14:00-19:00)
Opening Event| 2023.10.14 (Sat 15:00-18:00)
Venue|TheCube 7F (7F., No. 241, Sec. 3, Roosevelt Rd., Taipei, Taiwan)

Exhibition Organizer|Miss Bench,TheCube Project Space
Online Exhibition Collaboration|ARTOGO

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