To raise the international visibility of Taiwanese photographic art and promote the items in NTMoFA’s photographic art collection, the museum has staged several exchange exhibitions on this subject. “Behind the Mask: Rose of Modernity” is the latest exhibition organized for this purpose. Employing a two-pronged strategy, the three guest curators—Andrey Martynov, Yunnia Yang, and Sergey Kovalevsky—on the one hand channel the museum’s photographic art collection to chart Taiwan’s social transformation since the 1960s, and on the other hand draw on psychologist Erving Goffman’s dramaturgical theory to investigate interpersonal relationships, social intercourse, and the interplay between everyday practice and theatrical gesture. The question as to how photographers become “mediators” in Goffman’s analysis is also addressed in this exhibition. In terms of the entries selected by the three curators, this exhibition is tantamount to a mirror of Taiwan’s modernization since the second half of the 20th century that the pursuit of economic growth and material well-being gradually urges people to deviate from their homespun philosophy of life. Apart from faithfully documenting realities through in-depth field surveys, photographers also ingeniously uncover the abnormalities, contradictions, and absurdities around the real world with artistic or theatrical techniques. By way of comparison, budding photographers do not simply criticize or fire a warning shot across the bows, but also apply innovative methods to the commemoration of our halcyon days. Photographers are quoad hoc mediators between our culture and society, our past and future, Heaven and Earth, nature and civilization, as well as between individuals and the multitude. To put it another way, they represent the society in all its manifestations on the photographic stage, and meanwhile unveil the vicissitudes of life behind the scenes.
The exhibition “Behind the Mask: Rose of Modernity” features a fine selection of 48 sets of brilliant works (a total of 95 pieces) by 35 Taiwanese artists to be displayed at the Krasnoyarsk Museum in Russia, which coincides the 13th Krasnoyarsk Museum Biennale whose theme serendipitously echoes that of “Behind the Mask,” both highlighting the roles of contemporary art as a mediator and a negotiator in the two societies.