Closer by Lai Chih-Sheng

Space C is an open area on the highest level of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, encircled by parapet walls overlooking the grand lobby three stories below. Uniquely configured by architect Kao Erh-Pan, Space C stands apart from the other typical white boxes for its open and fluid qualities that convey a distinctive architectural statement. Here, audiences can enjoy a panoramic view of the Museum’s grand lobby as well. TFAM repurposed Space C in 2018, and began inviting contemporary artists to make site-specific works based on these structural properties. The goal is to bring together art, architecture, space, and people for a different kind of dialogue, as well as to provide a place for audiences to rest their minds, interact, and engage with one another.

 

“Closer” is the new annual project produced by Lai Chih-Sheng. By introducing the idea of “being closer to light and wind,” Lai turns the first-floor lobby into a pond, the parapet its shore and Space C its surrounding environment. He constructed platforms, high and low, that extend out of the parapet and lead to a spot suspended above the vast openness, looking over the “pond” that is the grand lobby of the Museum. The project is inspired by bird nests built on high ground for safety reasons, or platforms assembled between columns or high walls in cathedrals for prayers in search of solace. From Space C, audiences can reach a zone they could previously only look at yet never reach.

 

This is not an artwork per se, but rather a passageway. Lai Chih-Sheng invites his audiences to tip toe or step over the barrier to experience the Museum from a different vantage point or perspective, thereby awakening a fresh new feeling towards the otherwise familiar scenery. The viewer standing on the suspended platform simultaneously becomes a spectator and a spectacle. Alternatively, the viewer can touch the actual ceiling and parapet, peer into the void of the “pond,” or indulge in the conversation between the flowing air and light illuminating from the first to third floors. Lai’s work is the summation of all these possibilities.

 

In “Closer,” Lai Chih-Sheng employs his signature practice—spatial intervention in a subtle manner—to guide audiences to transcend borders visually and physically. By loosening up our relationship with Space C, he revives our perception to explore the surroundings while heightening a physical awareness, for an encounter with art and ourselves.

 

 

 

Researcher: Anthony Yung

Designer: Tzu-Jui Huang

Structural Engineer: Kevin Chang

Construction: LIFEO Interior Design