Stray Dogs at the Museum by Malaysia-born, Taiwan-based film maker Tsai Ming-Liang was a stand out show I encountered during my recent trip to Taipei, supported by the Ian Potter Foundation. Tsai’s feature film Stray Dogs won the Grand Jury Prize at the 70th Venice Film Festival in September last year and his exhibition at university space MoNTUE featured vignettes from the film installed in galleries overrun by shrubby off-cuts of foliage, providing not only a dramatic backdrop but a distinctly earthy odour.
Each screen in the exhibition was modified by the artist; crushed, rubbed with charcoal, recalling the traditions of scroll painting. The footage featured a solitary figure enacting simple, everyday rituals – sucking on chicken bones, squatting and smoking, staring into the distance – imagery that is at once exotic and resoundingly familiar. This was a beautiful, simple, poetic foil to the earnest, documentary style traditions that seem to proliferate in Taiwanese video art.