Mind Set Art Center is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Robert Zhao Renhui, New Forest, in Taipei from 7 September to 12 October 2019. Expanding on the When World Collides, 2017–2018 series included in Taipei Biennale 2018: Post-Nature —A Museum as an Ecosystem, the exhibition explores the collisions between ‘invasive’ and ‘native’ species and rethinks the assumption that human beings are the gatekeeper of ecological borders.
Since the 1950s, global changes such as deforestation and urbanisation have affected animals and plants in different ways. Sometimes they suffer through human development, and sometimes humans produce situations that allow novel organisms to thrive. Due to a dramatic increase in travel and trade, animals and plants have also crossed into new territories, creating new ecological categories of ‘invasive’ and ‘native’ species. Most conservation efforts are aimed at destroying the former and protecting the latter, though increasingly, more ecologists are conceding that these categories are fluid and unstable. New Forest exposes a variety of collisions; between nature and the city, invasives and natives. Sometimes these result in violent encounters: competition, predation and extinctions. Other times these interactions result in a new, precarious balance, and a destabilising of categories of foreign and local, noxious and useful.
The artist has spent the last year documenting a small wasteland forest in Singapore. Using infrared cameras placed around an abandoned base camp, he captured vagabond species that have come to drink from pails, creating strange, otherworldly tableaux. Other images are related to the animal projects he took part in Taiwan, including a frog survey in Taipei where he captured invasive spotted tree frogs with volunteers, a failed eradication plan of lizards in Chiayi, and the reports of hybrids between Chinese blue magpie and the Formosan blue magpie. These works expose the contradictions of human interventions in complex and unpredictable ecosystems.
Images courtesy of MSAC Taiwan.