Susan Kendzulak “The West Is the Best” says Taipei Biennial 2008

ostrichI recently watched Japanese TV news and saw footage from Vietnam and Burma. I then realized to my surprise in all my 13 years living in Taiwan that I never saw footage from Southeast Asia broadcast on the local news.

Taiwan is really like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, with no interest in other nations or ethnicities except its own. This solipsism carries through from the public to the private domain; I don’t know if this stems from arrogance or ignorance though.

Taiwan has tons of TV channels with around-the-clock news broadcasts which mainly focus on Taiwan. Occasionally there will be mention of the US, Europe, China and Japan, but rarely mention about the Philippines or Thailand.

This solipsism or lack of curiosity for its regional neighbors can be seen in the Taipei Biennial 2008 that opens this weekend. Out of the 47 participating artists 70 percent are western, mainly European, while less than 20 percent are Asian from China, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.