Disco in the Museum-Beitou Palimpsest

“When you consistently ponder on the subject of ‘place’, this focal point becomes more nebulous, then subsequently disappears, because the element of time, events, and people come into play…and as ‘time’ itself is a ‘place.’”—W
Hong Gah Museum is proud to present the second installment of the “Disco in the Museum Project” by inviting artist Yeh Wei-Li as the host of this edition. Utilizing contemporary literary sources as a reference and starting point to explore locality and engage with the public and local community of Beitou, this project takes the autobiographical work Hot Springs Wash Away Our Sorrows (2011) and the prose collection Notes on City North (2023) by Hao Yu-Hsiang, both of which focus on her experiences and memories of growing up in Beitou, to map locality through her writings. Throughout the reading process, Yeh continuously reflects on the interpretation of place, unfolding as a mental journey through Beitou.
Following the writer’s textual descriptions, Yeh Wei-Li endeavors to piece together his understanding of Beitou as depicted in the writer’s works as well as his own time spent as a professor of art in and nearby Beitou during a two year period between 2013 and 2014. As the study progresses, however, the artist discovers that the experiences portrayed by Hao Yu-Hsiang extend far beyond Beitou and are interconnected with different cities, other countries, thus transforming “place” into a certain point in life—a moment in “time.” In a deeper reading of the text, this literary journey through Beitou gradually transcends the boundaries of the books, shifting and overflowing onto multiple experiences of historical figures, immediate family members and various local and transient characters each contributing their own fragments of time that coalesce and form the collective memory of a “place.”
Through serendipitous encounters and coincidental occurrences experienced during the reading process and physical excursions within and beyond Beitou, the artist intricately entwines the writer’s life and work with his own current and past work, gradually reshaping the memories of Beitou within the current project. The exhibition is therefore titled “Beitou Palimpsest,” conceptualizing the exhibition itself as a reworking of the text. Through photography, installation and the reinterpretation of Hao Yu-Hsiang’s texts on Beitou, the exhibition and artworks progressively detach from the original text, evolving into a reimagined and restructured “palimpsest.”
In the distant past, paper was a scarce commodity that was often reused by the erasure of its original marks. However, when these marks are erased, faint traces underneath would emerge, creating a condition where different marks would overlay and intersect, resulting in what is known as a “palimpsest.” Therefore, this term can also be used to describe anything with multiple layers. Through the process of reading and physical excursions, interpretation and reimagined projections, this exhibition seeks to delve into the layered and intertwined nature of collective memory and stories past and present constructed by people who have spent time on this plot of land, as well as to ruminate on the new memories constructed each and everyday.
Through the act of rewriting and creating a palimpsest of both place and text, the interpretation and reimagined cartographic projections in Yeh’s process and time-based tableaus construct a layered dialogue with Hao’s texts that elucidates corresponding lives and practices, while simultaneously illuminating and broadening the understanding and imagination of how one constructs his/her own sense of “place.”
About Yeh Wei Li
Yeh Wei-Li was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1971, and emigrated to the United States with his mother and sister at the age of eleven. In 1994, he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Photography at the University of South Florida, Tampa, and in 1997, his Master of Fine Arts Degree in Photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. Since returning to live permanently in Taiwan in 2002, Yeh has been active as an artist, curator, teacher and instigator. His large-scale and long-termed collective and collaborative-based practice and projects are seen in major projects such as Treasure Hill Tea + Photo Project (THTP) (2003-2008) and the ongoing Antiquity-Like Rubbish Research & Development Syndicate (2010 to Present).
From 2015 to the present, Yeh Wei-Li has focused on reassessing and reactivating the life and work of Yeh Shih-Chiang (1926-2012) by archiving and restoring printed matters, artworks, and inanimate objects, curating and designing exhibitions and architectural structures. His work has been shown and collected internationally since the mid-1990’s, including in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States.
Yeh Wei-Li photographic and text-based projects continue to explore the dynamics of the individual within collective practices, centering on both the personal and sociopolitical relationships between oneself and the city in which one resides. He currently lives and works in Ruifang, New Taipei City, with his wife Wu Yu-Hsin, and son, Yeh Laebu Booker.
About Disco in the Museum
The Hong-Gah Museum launches its community art engagement program every spring. After the three-year project “Arts Together in Beitou” and the five-year “Beitou Local Collecting Project,” the museum has accumulated eight years of experience in community art participation, and established a social network within the local community. Since last year, the museum introduced brand-new content for community engagement titled the “Disco in the Museum Project.” The word “disco” is taken from the word “Discover,” and aims to invite people to explore and discover the diverse possibilities within the museum. Taking inspiration from the lively atmosphere conveyed with the word “disco”, we hope to foster the spirit of sharing and exchanging within the museum.
In the second year of the Disco in the Museum Project, the museum invited project host Yeh Wei-Li to embark on a literary exploration of Beitou with the theme “Beitou Palimpsest”. During the exhibition period, several book clubs, workshops, and other activities will be held, allowing the audience to interpret Beitou from their own perspectives and personal experiences. Through the process of rewriting and creating their own palimpsest, the project aims to spark reflections and imaginations on the concept of “place.”
Advisor|Ministry of Culture Organizers|Chew’s Culture Foundation, Hong-Gah Museum Sponsor|Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government
Artist|Yeh Wei-Li
Opening Reception|2024.02.24 (Sat.) 17:00