[Commoning 1: A Sea of Island] Island d | Could Banana Coin Be the Currency Among Islands? Art ExperienceEventKindPerformanceEventKind

Island d: Could Banana Coin Be the Currency Among Islands?

Li Kuei-Pi + Angie Chia-Lin Lee


Bananas are not only a common economic crop in tropical areas, but are also highly relevant to the colonial agriculture and technologies of governmentality in the last century. It has witnessed the imperial desire for expansion and it is also a demonstration of extractivism and subsequent disintegration in the name of trade. As the relationship between value and price has decoupled, and the forms of trade continue to evolve, can the trust mechanisms of the current economic and financial system be redesigned to create a utopia for humans? If it is already destined to disintegrate, how can we find a path to escape from it? Li Kuei-Pi’s work Banana Coin Series takes as its starting point the Banana Bills, a kind of banknote issued by the Japanese Empire in Southeast Asia towards the end of World War II, and evolves into a video, an NFT game, and a physical auction.


In the panel discussion on May 11th, Angie Chia-Lin Lee and artist Li Kuibi will engage in a conversation after a screening of a short film Isoamyl Acetate. The film follows a young Japanese girl from the future who winds up at a banana plantation in today's Taiwan, from which 99% of the world's banana varieties are exported. She notices plants that might only exist in archives with curiosity. She proceeds to travel along the banana plantations where bananas were historically produced, through the laboratories, and to the market and the port where they were exported. During the talk, the audience will be able to experience the NFT game Banana Coin and engage in a discussion about the mechanisms of the game.


The Banana Plantation Weather Forecast, which will be broadcast in real time in the exhibition hall from May 4th through May 19th, attempts to link together banana plantations scattered all over the world that have disappeared from history or those that are still trying to supply the world with bananas. Through the symbols of banana stamps issued by the Japanese Empire in Southeast Asia before the Second World War, the weather in these banana plantations is reflected in real time as a reminder of both this forgotten history as well as the global economic landscape that people are facing in current times.


During the Sea of Islands exhibition, visual diagrams of the artist's conception of the Banana Coin series, a QR code to the NFT game, and banana peel recipes developed during the Japanese colonial period are continuously displayed on the tabletop in an attempt to shed light on the historical context and mechanisms behind the artworks. The display invites viewers to participate through the use of alternative currency Banana Coin and revisit historical situations in which the Banana Coin was heavily inflated and the crypto currencies that arrived later. The exhibition makes us rethink how commoning - the practice of commons - is possible in the current state of the world. (The project Banana Coin was commissioned in 2023 by the Hong Foundation under the framework of the Question Project.)



Introduction to the work Isoamyl Acetate:

The title Isoamyl Acetate derives from the main chemical material used to synthesize the flavor of bananas. In order to maintain expansive and rapid production of bananas, banana plantations have been growing a single variety of the banana plant since it became an important crop in the colonies, which at the same time reduces the banana's resistance to disease. Scientists anticipate that the bananas we eat today will disappear in the not too distant future.The short film follows a young Japanese girl from the future who winds up at a banana plantation in today's Taiwan, from which 99% of the world's banana varieties are exported. She notices plants that might only exist in archives with curiosity. She proceeds to travel along the banana plantations where bananas were historically produced, through the laboratories, and to the market and the port where they were exported.



LI Kuei-Pi

LI Kuei-Pi (b.1991) born in Tainan, Taiwan. She received her M.F.A degree from Taipei National University of the Arts in 2017 and currently lives and works in Taipei. For several years, her work has focused on the neglected landscapes and exchange networks under conditions of globalization. Using fieldwork methods borrowed from different disciplines, archival readings and historical reenactments, images, objects, and writing are her main forms of artistic expression. LI Kuei-Pi believes art projects are able to create a platform for exchanging ideas and inspiring discussion.


Angie Chia-Lin Lee

Angie Chia-Lin Lee is an independent curator based in Taipei. She graduated from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University and the Institute of Contemporary Art & Social Thoughts at the China Academy of Art. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Fine Arts at Taipei National University of the Arts. Her research focuses on the culture, media, and art developed and created in the digital era. Lee is the founder of ZIMU CULTURE, a studio dedicated to producing contemporary art exhibitions and publishing artist books. Her recent curatorial projects include the Digital Art Festival Taipei (2023), Sensation (Remix) (2023), Request for Comments (2022), BONK (2022), Hsu Ching Yuan Model House Project (2021), Allegories of the Ocean (2020), and From/To: The Frontier of Chinese Art Education (2018).




[Commoning 1] 

A Sea of Islands: Networked Art Communities in Our Time


Launched in 2017, Nusantara Archive was originally conceived as a framework and methodology for regional decolonization. The word "Nusantara" is a combination of the Sanskrit words "nusa" (island) and "antara" (outer), referring to the vision of the Malay Archipelago (including Southern Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, Borneo, the Indonesian Archipelago, and the Southern Philippines), where Malay is the lingua franca. Given the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global art ecosystem in 2020, our initial plans for art residency exchanges between Taiwan and Southeast Asia have also undergone changes. We have begun to shift our attention towards local communities as well as to think through the agency of technological media in the practice of art community, further internalizing the metaphor of the "island" into the reterritorialization of regional networks.


During the post-pandemic community activities on-site, we will invoke Epeli Hau'ofa's theory of the Pacific islands by replacing the notion of "islands in a far sea" with "a sea of islands", and experiment with a mode of decentralized collaboration specific to art communities. With this conceptual shift, the exhibition reflects on its own post/re-colonial situation from the perspective of the sea. Simultaneously, it connects the genealogy of actual islands such as Malaysian islands, Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and Austronesia along with historical “Nanyang” (South Sea), with individual islands serving as metaphorical landmarks. This aims to expand the Nusantara Archive residency project both before and after the outbreak of the pandemic. The five consecutive weekends consist of a lecture performance, screenings, discussions, workshops and a music party carried out by five groups of artists and curators. It is an attempt to invoke the spatial and temporal dynamics and multi-scalar perspectives of the "Sea of Islands" that are not confined by the linear time of progress.


Through the spatial metaphor of the "ocean" as a technology of the sensible that connects the "non-homogeneous" islands, we invite you to reflect with us on the practice of networked commons that art communities have not been able to carry out due to language barriers, technological limitations, and other factors. Finally, by curating a special features on the online Modern Art+ and special screenings, we will create memory landmarks for each week's activities.



l   “Our Sea of Islands,” The Contemporary Pacific 6 (1): 148-161, 1994.

l   “The Ocean in Us,” The Contemporary Pacific 10 (2): 392-410, 1998

l   ISSUE 52: Archipelago Futurism?「群島未來主義?」Jun 2022



Concept Development

Rikey Tenn/Curator

Rikey Tenn is the founder of the Nusantara Archive Project (since 2017), which is based on the shared history of Taiwan and Southeast Asia and its decolonization process. He initiated and co-organized the workshop Nusantara in Future Tense with Singaporean artist collective soft/WALL/studs in 2020. As a researcher, he was involved in The Secret South (curator: Nobuo Takamori) in 2020, as part of which he presented the Nusantara Archive (archive f) His most recent collaborative project, A Field Guide to Getting Lost in the Southern Universe, (the first year) is a CREATORS creative/Support Program initiated by C-LAB in 2022.


Spatial Design

Wu Chi-Yu/Co-curator

Based in Taipei, Wu Chi-Yu (b. 1986) is a multimedia artist whose works include film, video installation, and photography. He delves into the lost and unestablished links among species, environment, and the technology that constructs human civilization, exploring the complex historical geography of Asia and the interdependence of various beings through multiple narratives. His works have been exhibited and screened at Times Art Museum, Guangzhou (2021); MoCA, Taipei (2020); 2018 Shanghai Biennale; 2016 Taipei Biennial; Beijing International Short Film Festival (2017) and was a resident artist at Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten (2014-2015).



Contact:02-25957656 ext.122