from nowhere to now here

from nowhere to now here––About the multi-progression of roads.

The Inner-Mountain Highway – Route 3 (officially known as the Provincial Highway 3), crosses the peripheral regions of several cities and counties in Taiwan. The hilly and mountainous regions in northwestern Taiwan traversed by the highway were traditionally inhabited by various indigenous peoples, including the Taokas, the Pazeh (both are plain indigenous peoples), the SaiSiyat and the Atayal. Since the migration and settlement of the Han people, the consistent increase of the number of migrants resulted in conflicts in relation to geographical areas and everyday lifestyle. Consequently, boundaries were gradually formed, and separated different ethnic communities as time passed. On the other hand, following the changing ways of how people move, “roads” have evolved continuously as well—from the early indigenous hunting trails, the narrow passageways used by the Hakka people for reclamation in inner mountains, the essential routes of commerce and transportation, the trade network of the global forest economy, the military roads during the period of Japanese rule, the nostalgic paths connecting villages, marriages and families, to the escape routes into mountains for farmers and workers involved in resistance incidents and movements, people from different times have traveled through these overlapping and paralleling roads and manifested their will characteristic of their times in dissimilar styles.

The “low-elevation mountains” refers to the environment of low-elevation hills and valleys adjacent to plains—generally speaking, low-elevation mountains are areas easily reached by people and below 800 meters above sea level. Because such areas are commonly a mixture of natural, semi-natural and artificial habitats, they possess a distinctive ecological environment enriched by irreplaceable biodiversity. Therefore, “low-elevation mountains” does not simply indicate a geographical space, nor is it defined by elevation alone. Conceptualizing “low-elevation mountains,” the exhibition emphasizes on the agency of its fluid boundaries, highlights its “diversity” and “internal heterogeneity,” and focuses on others and the surrounding nature so as to foster a practice that brings humanity and nature together as a community of shared life and carry out multi-lateral care in the peripheral regions where different ethnic groups have become intermixed.

Themed on “Travelers in Low-elevation Mountains,” the exhibition not only showcases the geographic characteristics of the inner mountains and scenes of the everyday Hakka life, but also points to the unique fluidity emerging from the diverse and intermixing ethnic groups and their migratory culture along the Route 3. Thus, the exhibition responds to people’s multi-progressing actions and rates in the low-elevation mountain regions that have shaped the complex and abundant history of life involving the Route 3. With various subtopics, namely “Low-elevation Mountain Ecology,” “Intermixing Ethnic Groups,” “Fluid Memories,” and “Pathways of the World,” the exhibition unfurls multi-narrative threads that are unfamiliar to people, addresses deep-seated differences sociologically, and explores the plural histories of the Route 3, the unseen Hakka-ness in the contemporary era, the past and present cultural stories, and the codependent ecosystems in nature, co-constructing a more palpable epistemology of the Route 3 collectively with local inhabitants, artists, experts from different fields, and all other participants.

The ethnic groups inhabiting the low-elevation mountains introduce multiple yet invisible pathways through their experiences of continuous migration and diaspora before their eventual merging and taking roots. They have learned to reconcile with the distress caused by historical conflicts, coexist with nature, and find themselves in others so that a “we” that could progress with history could finally take form. On the Romantic Route 3, no matter where you are from, we are all on the same road.

Keywords: characteristics of low-elevation mountains, plural histories, cultural diversity, coexistence with nature, diaspora and merging, fluid landscape.

PLANNING TEAM Organizing Team

  • Artist Director Eva LIN

    IHwa Eva Lin is an independent curator known for curating at unconventional venues to engage in experiments that constitute her interdisciplinary studies. Her recent curatorial projects include Parallax: Damage Control (2017), The Hidden South (2018 Southlink Art Project), The Upcoming Past (2019 Romantic route 3) , Ryoji Ikeda Solo Exhibition (2019 Taipei Fine Art Museum) co-curator, the 7th Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition – ANIMA (2020 Honggah Museum) co-curator and Taipei Biennial 2020 – You and I live on the different planets public programs curator (2020) and Matsu Biennial – Underground Matters (2022) . She is now the art director of mt.project.

  • Internaitonal-curator Chihiro MINATO

    Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1960, Chihiro Minato is a photographer and visual anthropologist. While studying at Waseda University, he travelled in South America, keeping a photographic record of his travels. Then, after graduating from college, he based himself for some time in Paris, where he was active as a photographer. He has taught at Tama Art University since 1995, and is currently Professor of Information Design. In 2006 he won the Ina Nobuo prize with his work, Shimin no Iro (The Color of the Citizens). He has published numerous books, including Memory: Imagination and the Power of Recall (Kodansha, Suntory Prize for the Social Sciences), Into the Cave: Image and Archaeology (Serika Shobo). In 2016 he was the artistic director for the Aichi Triennial.

  • co-curator Hsin FENG

    Her research interests focus on sound art, new media and the development of contemporary exhibitions and performances in Taiwan. Her curatorial projects include An Uncharted World (2021, MoCA Taipei), Offline Reality (2022, FreeS Art Space), Plugged in the Ruins (2022, New Taipei City Art Museum) and Recapturing the Past: An Exhibition of the Film and Audiovisual History of Taiwan (2022, TFAI). Her writings can also be found in Taipei Fine Arts Museum Quarterly Modern Art, Artco Monthly & Investment Magazine, online platform ARTouch and CLABO.

  • co-curator Ting TSOU

    Ting Tsou is a curator, researcher and free-lance writer who lives and works in Berlin and Taipei. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany. Her recent curatorial and research activities include the National Culture and Arts Foundation funded exhibition “Housing Things” (Yo-Chang Art Museum, New Taipei City, Taiwan, Curator’s Incubator Program, 2021), ""Jinshan No. 14""(Chiayi Art Museum,2022)ㄝ, ""How to Sing Our Songs on Their Land""(TKG+ Projects,2022), ""The Whole Life: An Archive Project」""(HKW, Berln, 2019-2022) and ""Floating System for Snails: Project Invasion"" (documenta fifteen, Kassel, 2022)