Award 2013 - Longlisted

Antiquity-Like Rubbish Research & Development Syndicate
– Yeh Wei-li

About the project

The Antiquity-Like Rubbish Research & Development Syndicate is a project that fuses collaborative and individual works involving photography, text, documentary video, sculpture, and alternative archiving practice. It was founded by Wei-Li Yeh in 2010. On-site architectural renovations and artwork creation utilize materials salvaged from the existing building, as well as natural and artificial resources gathered from within the greater county area. Beaches, riverbeds, illegal roadside dumping grounds, and neighborhood construction sites were scoured as sources of inspiration and resources for practical needs. Through variegated practical renovation, creative ingenuity, and spatial reconstruction, this project contemplates a specific locality while weaving together the collective history, memory, aesthetics, cultural narratives, and transformations of a contemporary rural and urban experience.

When the utilitarian function of an object disappears and factual data is gathered, on its material make-up and methods of production, and aesthetic judgments are adhered to it by specialists and institutions, this object may be elevated into the realm of antiquity. Though art, on the other hand, begins its life without utilitarian function, similarly rises in monetary value – through parallel research and judgments by specialists. The shift and transference between time, monetary value and functionality seem to bind and hold antiquity, art, and trash within a precarious balance. Without factual and institutional aesthetic pronouncements, art and antiquity could simply be deemed trash. In an idealistic and counter-intuitive reversal, we collectively attempt to revive, gather, and transform discarded urban debris into functional objects and aesthetically challenging art, or trash, discovering a futile attempt to elevate it into Antiquity while simultaneously leveling the hierarchy between Trash trash and art. Once this debris acquires utilitarian function, does it still retain the status of trash? Or is it art, craft, or design? Or is the process of this transformation through art, like alchemy? If art, antiquity, and trash are juxtaposed and fused together, what narratives could this generate? The oscillation and triangular relationships between these three mysterious elements thus began a long line of questions.

About the artist

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1971, Wei-Li Yeh emigrated to the United States at the age of eleven and returned to reside in Taiwan in 2002. He obtained an MFA Degree in the Department of Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, USA, in 1997 and has exhibited internationally since 1990’s. Yeh’s various photographic and textual based projects for the past decade explore the dynamics of the individual within collective practices that centralize on the personal and socio-political relationships between oneself and the city in which he resides. He currently lives and works in Dayuan and Yangmei, Taiwan.