Charwei Tsai: Bulaubulau
Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester, UK
12 October 2018 ~ 20 January 2019
‘Bulaubulau’ takes its name from an aboriginal village in Yilan, Taiwan. For the past decade, this community has united modern practices of self-sustainability with the preservation of aboriginal tradition. A subject of Tsai’s most recent film work, this gets to the heart of her practice, to explore environmental issues and the constant tension between man, nature, progression and tradition.
Tsai’s newly commissioned film, Bulaubulau (2018) highlights the injustices inflicted on indigenous communities in Taiwan, caused by the neglect of policymakers. She celebrates their resilience on implementing sustainable systems that are integrated through traditional knowledge and custom. This is further explored through Tsai’s three-channel video Lanyu: Three Stories (2012), which investigates the relationship between nature, spirituality, and ritual through the traditional dance of the Lanyu Island Tao Tribe. Through these films, Tsai highlights the progressiveness of grassroot environmental movements, bringing a hopeful and alternative voice to the debates on climate change.
Tsai often applies Buddhist traditions and concepts into her work as a metaphor to inform environmental concerns. Driftwood sees wood found in the aftermath of a typhoon in Taiwan, inscribed with the Buddhist text Heart Sutra, describing a move towards the ‘shores of wisdom’. We Came Whirling Out of Nothingness uses a similar approach including a dispersed swirl of Buddhist text to evoke a contemplation of emptiness.