To Martian Anthropologists | Curatorial Statement

As always, the fish doesn’t know it’s in the water.
--Thierry de Duve

Dear Martians,

Welcome to the earth!

If you have started exploring around the earth, I would like to introduce some earthlings’ artworks to you by the exhibition entitled, To Martian Anthropologists. We have prepared for such a long time for your coming, prophesied already by the Belgian art critic, Thierry de Duve, in his book In the Name of Art. For an Archeology of the Modernity (1989): “You descend from Mars to the earth and know nothing about it. Therefore, you have no prejudice (except for that of seeing everything with the eyes of a Martian)....” ¹He describes that you start, without any inkling of the earth’s civilizations, observing human beings, their customs, rituals and myths, from which you hope to draw a constant, in order to render intelligible the earthlings’ way of thinking and the arguments that underpin their social order. Meanwhile, you explore step by step what human beings call “art.” (It’s also an indirect gesture to invite readers to re-examine the art world, from a temporary perspective beyond that of the earthlings as well as the deep-rooted, unconscious “prejudices” against art.)

This is an exhibition planned in particular for you. (Of course, we keep thinking about what on earth is the condition for an exhibition to take shape and why it is able to cover everything that the proper noun “art” signifies.) Now, via the “internet,” a sort of space invented by the earthlings, you can launch a field research of the human art practices. (“Safe social distancing,” an anti-epidemic slogan occurs in human society in 2020. As an alternative to physical exhibitions, many “online exhibitions” emerge spontaneously on the earth, as an online browsing interface for those who are not able to attend personally the site.²) In the official website, ³ the artists choose “web pages” as the specific site where their works take place, i.e. where the exhibition is substantially and actually inaugurated. (However, especially in the past half century, “attending personally the site” has been generally and ideally taken for granted as the way of seeing an exhibition.) In addition, the artists will extend the online works to the physical exhibition venue, leaving a variety of clues for you coming from far away.

Indeed, words, images, materials, objects and so on: all you see right over there refer in distance to the online works, thus constituting together an “index interface” which allows you to browse all the works and to elaborate the creative conceptions. Here are the 15 participating artists from all corners of the earth: Wan-Jen CHEN, Chien CHI, Claude CLOSKY, Yannick DAUBY, Dorian GAUDIN, Joyce HO, Yu-Cheng HSIEH, Jui-Chien HSU, James Ming-Hsueh LEE, Chih-Sheng LAI, Jun-Qiang NIU, Craig QUINTERO × Riverbed Theatre, Yung-Chun SHIH, Ya-Hui WANG and Eric WATIER. Inventorying the artworks, you will observe the rich aspects of human behaviors in creation. I believe it will be helpful to your exploration of the civilizations on the earth. I am expecting that, by shuttling between online and physical interfaces, you will be approaching what human beings call “art.”

Sincerely yours,


Taipei, August 4th, 2020


¹ Thierry de Duve, Au nom de l’art. Pour une archéologie de la modernité, Paris, Minuit, 1989, p.9-65. The author borrows Martian anthropologists as a metaphor, in order to introduce a perspective beyond the earthlings’ prejudices and to explore what human beings call “art.” The exhibition conceived and developed from the author’s imagination tries to ask the question: what the artists hope to offer as clues to “Martian anthropologists” for their field research of the human art practices. At the same time, it serves as a response in 2020 to the words written by the author in 1985 (published in 1989).

² From the reflection of this phenomenon, this exhibition invites the artists to begin with the online works which deploy as an index echoing distantly the physical works in the exhibition venue as an extended interface. By the corresponding relationship, the exhibition encourages visitors to rethink the accustomed seeing experiences between exhibition and artwork: “physical works as primary, online works as secondary.”

³ Official


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