Invited by TheCube Project Space, Chinese artist Zheng Bo has spent multiple periods in Taipei working as an artist in residence since the summer of 2015. On September 3, 2016, Zheng will present Weed Party II + Toad Commons at TheCube Project Space and the nearby Toad Mountain.
Zheng has been investigating the connection between weeds and politics since 2013, creating site-specific projects with drawings, videos, digital media, and plant installations. Weed Party II, to be shown at TheCube Project Space, features works produced previously in Shanghai and new pieces created during his residency in Taipei. This exhibition revolves around the tension between political parties—a haunting form of modern politics that refuses to disappear—and weeds—an ineradicable ecological power that troubles modern societies. While continuing his search for traces of weeds in 20th-century political documents, Zheng also imagines the roles that plants will play in future politics. In Taipei he has been drawn to ferns. Taiwan has the highest density of fern species in the world, but ferns were rarely seen in Taiwanese politics during the 20th century. Zheng wonders: can ferns re-enchant us, infusing qi into ideas like equality, queer, and internationalism?
While in Taipei, Zheng also initiated the Toad Commons project, in collaboration with multiple parties at Toad Mountain, an historical village not far from TheCube Project Space. This socially engaged project compliments the exhibition at TheCube, connecting critical reflection with community practice. For almost a year Zheng has been working with activist group Good Toad Studio, local residents, and several other cultural practitioners to create a landscape that is organic, complex, and spirited, like the scene depicted by Taiwanese painter Kuo Hsueh-Hu in his 1931 masterpiece, After a Rain. Toad Commons currently consists of a farming area on which university students work in collaboration with community residents, an undisturbed weed area named “Avenue for Mountain Spirit,” and the slogan “ECOEQUAL” composed of plants. This long-term project will continue to evolve, with the convergence and interplay of forces of nature, community, history, aesthetics, and theory.
During the opening on September 3, we will depart from TheCube Project Space at 4pm to visit Toad Commons.
About the Artist
Committed to socially and ecologically engaged art through practice and research, Zheng Bo (born in 1974 in Beijing; currently living in Hong Kong) investigates the past and the present from the perspective of marginalized communities and marginalized plants. He has worked with a range of communities, including the Queer Cultural Center in Beijing and Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong. His recent projects include Sing for Her (2013-15, a large-scale interactive installation created with seven minority groups in Hong Kong), Plants Living in Shanghai (2013, an open online course created with scholars in ecology, literary studies, and Chinese medicine), Weed Party (2015, a multimedia inquiry into the role of plants in the history of the Chinese Communist Party), and Socialism Good (2016, planting the Chinese slogan “Socialism Good” at Cass Sculpture Foundation in UK and leaving it to be intervened by weeds). He holds a PhD in Visual & Cultural Studies from University of Rochester, and teaches at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. His website is zhengbo.org