Wu Mali is one of the leading artists of the feminist avant-garde in Taiwan. As a prolific artist in Taiwan's vibrant art scene, Wu's works often reflect her commentary on politics, society, and culture, presenting the contemporary history of Taiwan's democratic transition. Wu's role in broadening the view of contemporary art made her the first woman in Taiwan to receive the National Award for Arts in the fine arts category.
Wu is a graduate of the Department of German at Tamkang University, and a sculpture graduate of one of Europe's foremost arts schools, Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Living in Germany enriched Wu's knowledge of society and politics, which left a great impact on the development of her art.
Wu's style of creation changed significantly when she returned to Taiwan in 1985, a time when Taiwan experienced a political upheave against the Kuomintang. Having previously experienced Germany's political movements, Wu started to think about the connection between arts and reality.
In that year, Wu held a solo exhibition featuring a "newspaper jungle” by gluing rubbed newspapers over the whole room with street noise playing in the venue. It presented Wu's first expression when she returned to Taiwan, where street sounds and the "noise” of media were heard everywhere.
The exhibition was viewed as a work criticizing the media at that time and was distrusted due to its single perspective. The interpretation of the viewers stimulated Wu to focus on developing wider content in her future works.
During the 1990s, Wu explored gender issues to examine women's role in the past from a historical perspective. In 1997, she created the work "Epitaph” to commemorate the women who suffered during the February 28 Incident, expressing women's situation through the sound of sea waves as a metaphor for anger.
In 2000, Wu initiated the community art project "Awakening from Your Skin” by collaborating with the Awakening Foundation (婦女新知協會) and its Playing Textile Workshop. Using textiles as a metaphor for skin, the project encouraged women to explore their lives through the process of turning textiles into their own works.
In recent years, Wu has turned her focus to the environment in response to the impact of globalization. Believing that social practice is a way to strengthen society, Wu promoted socially engaged art by organizing Arts in Action activities to raise public awareness of the environment and art in local communities.
Her projects have helped empower local communities, inspired the government's cultural policy, and prompted NGOs to hold conferences and dialogues for improving the society through arts.