In a collaboration between the Cultural Division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney and the Biennale of Sydney, Paiwan artist Aluaiy Kaumakan (阿儒瓦苡．篙瑪竿) will participate in the 2022 Sydney Biennale from March 12 to June 13. She is the first Taiwanese indigenous artist to be invited since the establishment of the festival.
Titled "rivus," meaning "stream" in Latin, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney features rivers, wetlands, and other salt and freshwater ecosystems. According to the Biennale's website, "Rīvus invites several aqueous beings into a dialogue with artists, architects, designers, scientists, and communities. Indigenous knowledge has long understood non-human entities as living ancestral beings with a right to life that must be protected. However, only recently have animals, plants, mountains, and bodies of water been granted legal personhood."
Aluaiy Kaumakan's project for the art event is co-curated by Taiwanese indigenous curator Biung Ismahasan (Bunun Nation) and the curatorium of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney. Titled "Semasipu – Remembering Our Intimacies (觸摸：記得我們的關係感)," the artwork was inspired by the Paridrayan community which was hit by a typhoon in 2009, and the inhabitants were forced to relocate. It is a work made with wool, cotton, and silk to echo nature and water-based ecologies, the theme of this year’s Biennale.
As for why Kaumakan chose to apply the "rubbing" technique in her latest artwork, she explains, "rubbing" represents the Paiwan word "Semasipu," which means "touch" and "feel." Since 2014, she has been trying to carry something from her memory of the tribe into her work. Through the form of art, she hopes to connect the cultural heritage, the community and her life memories.
Anne Flanagan, a board member of the Biennale, noted that Kaumakan’s art, which connotes the efforts of tribal women and elders who worked together to record the community that was devastated by the typhoon, is filled with sentiments and memories, and this also echoes the recent floods that swamped Australia’s east coast.
Born in 1971, Aluaiy Kaumakan belongs to a leading noble family of the Paiwan Nation in Pingtung County. With the "Lemikalik" weaving technique of the Paiwan people as the main axis in her artworks, she won the first prize of the 4th Pulima Art Award in 2018. Her art pieces were selected for Japan’s Yokohama Triennale and the Taipei Biennial in 2020. Inspired by the tribal culture in her hometown, Aluaiy Kaumakan creates a large-scale art installation in response to the issues such as water resources and the environment to echo the theme of 2022 Sydney Biennale.
Aluaiy Kaumakan's work "Semasipu – Remembering Our Intimacies"
Taiwanese indigenous curator Biung Ismahasan Biung Ismahasan, Director of TECO in Sydney Fan Huei-Chun, Paiwan artist Aluaiy Kaumakan, Artistic Director José Roca, Curatorium member Hannah Donnelly (from left to right)
Anne Flanagan(left), Aluaiy Kaumakan (3rd from left)