Manimals and fake fossils 

"Taiwan: From within the Mist
University of Indianapolis
ThroughDec. 7

The University of Indianapolis is off the beaten path as far as art is concerned — at least geographically: The campus is roughly a 10-minute drive south of downtown, so a special trip is usually required for those outside the student body. The art department there, which has grown in recent years and is becoming known for certain disciplines — ceramics, non-toxic printmaking and Asian art among them — has also taken great pains to bring art to its students and the community that not only elucidates cutting edge expressions in these areas but also suggests a greater sensibility on the part of the university in general. Within this context, Taiwan: From within the Mist, an international traveling exhibition making its third stop in Indianapolis, is worth the drive, and worth the hike around campus once you get there.

Dispersed in three galleries — the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery, the Ransburg Gallery in Good Hall and the Au Ho-nien Museum in Schwitzer Student Center (its permanent collection of Asian art temporarily removed for the occasion) — the exhibition includes 26 works by 21 Taiwanese artists, recent works reflecting Taiwan’s most avant-garde in visual art. Media include photography, video, painting, sculpture, printmaking and digital imagery and installation. The themes are equally varied, including concerns about urbanization, sexual and gender identity, the onslaught of Westernization and the tensions of capitalism, and the ongoing conflicts between cultural traditions and globalization.

Expressions, too, are as varied: from Li-Shan Chang’s scrawlings on notebook paper, taken down while making deliveries in New York City by van, to Meng-Chuan Ho’s photographic narrative of self-annihilation, the artist dressed as Snow White, assassin of her numerous personae (student, professional, homemaker, femme fatal, etc.). Among the most provocative works is Wei-Cheng Tu’s “Bu Num Historical Remains,” taken from a full-scale exhibition depicting a completely fabricated historical excavation of a lost culture, easily mistaken for the real thing — except for the cell phone fossils embedded in the faux remains. Shin-Yu Chang’s series “An Ode to Skin” is made up of strikingly beautiful images of painted posteriors, glowing in the dark. Among similar eye-challenging delights, Daniel LEE’s “Manimals” are just that: photographic manipulations of humans morphed into the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, fantastical and haunting for their realism.

A must-see, Taiwan: From within the Mist is on view at the University of Indianapolis, 1400 E. Hanna Ave., through Dec. 7. Campus maps are provided in all three exhibition locations. Call 317-788-3253 or visit http://arts.uindy.edu for more information. The exhibition is presented by UIndy in conjunction with the Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts and the Culture Division of the Taipei Economic and Culture Office.

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