Jump to the content zone at the center

The Secret South: from Cold War Perspective to Global South in Museum Collection

The “Global South” roughly refers to a set of developing countries, former colonies and non-Western cultural regions, most of which are in Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific Islands. Taiwan finds itself in a rather paradoxical position in this regard: although Taiwan is undeniably a developing country in Asia, it has been prevented from participating in a series of cultural and political movements since the Asian-African Conference of 1955 due to the postwar political context. As a result, psychologically, the “Global South” is viewed as a remote issue for the people of the island.

From serving as a springboard for the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia during the period of Japanese rule, to providing logistics facilities during the Cold War, and then looking for allies despite its difficult diplomatic situation, the role as a go-between seems to be a recurrent theme in the history of Taiwan. The exhibition includes war paintings produced during the Japanese rule in the 1940s, Nihonga paintings by Kuo Hsueh Hu after his visit to Thailand in the 1950s, Liu Max C. W.’s sketches during his participation in the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Shiy De Jinn’s portrayals of the Philippines in the 1970s, paintings by leading Southeast Asian artists such as Ang Kiukok (the Philippines) and Cheong Soo Pieng (Singapore), installation works by important Central American artists in the 1990s, and 21st-century works by artists from Taiwan and other countries addressing historical or contemporary situations. Punctuated by numerous archives and documents from Taiwan and Singapore, the exhibition provides an index for researchers who are interested in this subject.

Most of the works on exhibit are from museum collections, with half coming from the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the remainder from different museums and foundations in Taiwan. Many works have sat in museum storage for the past decades, never going on display due to an absence of relevant exhibition topics. In a way, this exhibition not only features the history of post-war artistic exchanges between Taiwan and the Global South, but also offers a glimpse into art from the South in museum collections in Taiwan.

Chief Curator: Ping Lin

Guest Curator: Takamori Nobuo