IT Park Isn't a Park
Text by Tang Huang-Chen 1992
The day I went to IT Park, Chen Hui-Chiao was busy with this and that. I took advantage of a moment when she wasn't so busy to ask her about the joint exhibition to be held in the Taipei County Cultural Center. She suddenly faced me and said, "I want you to write an article about IT Park." I instinctively replied that I would, because I have always responded in this way to IT Park's requests. This is just like the time when I was forced into writing an article on postal art in the space of twelve hours (deducting six hours for sleep). Feeling duty-bound, I usually discovered the seriousness of the matter only after having given a nod of acquiescence. I didn't know whether to sing the praises of IT Park or write a short history of it's vicissitudes. Not quite certain, I went and asked Chen Hui-Chiao: "What do you expect from this article?" to which she simply replied "I don't have any expectations." I saw her desperately working with needles and thread on one of her pieces, but after walking around a little I went back to ask her again. This time, without even raising her head, she said, "I don't have any expectations. Just write about the IT Park you know."
I think that nine months of knowing a place formed over three years is of only minuscule importance. When I had just returned from abroad, even though I was physically in Taipei, I was actually still in Paris. I couldn't help continually comparing Taipei with Paris, thinking of the one hundred and forty private galleries, large and small concerts throughout the year, and the unending stream of foreign, domestic, old and new films everywhere one went. Standing on one of the impassable Taipei brick pavements, I was at a loss as to how to start sewing together the four years away. Following the good-hearted advice of a friend, I called up IT Park, hoping to see about the possibility of holding an exhibition. Chen Hui-Chiao just said, "This is not a gallery." Now when I think back, I think she really is someone who always has something astonishing to say.
The desire to just go and do something
As far as I'm concerned, the conception and formation of IT Park was an idea of going ahead and doing something, and the person who carried it out was that woman who says what she thinks. "In the beginning, we rented this place in order to avoid running around looking for a place where we could talk." Of course, this involved a group of people who originally always loved getting together to talk, people who subsequently frequented IT, such as Chuang Pu, Lu Ming-Te, Huang Wen-Hau, Chen Kai-Huang, Liu Ching-Tang.... There was an avant-garde artist back from Spain, someone just back from studying in France as well as others who were born and grew up in Taiwan. On observing this group I saw that it could be regarded as either large or small, all in all, it was quite difficult to be clearly defined. Some were in charge of running the place, clocking in all year round (such as Liu Ching-Tang and Chen Hui-Chiao), some were frequent visitors, some periodically made an appearance, while others occasionally popped in. However, there has always been some sort of magnetism at IT Park, some people just couldn't help but congregating there.
From the small-scale meetings and the exhibitions of a few individuals during its early stages, IT Park moved on to opening up a space for experimental exhibitions, accepting free applications and then forming the three different functions and aspirations it has at present - the regular collection of works of art, individual exhibitions, and the continuation of its experimental exhibitions space. At the same time, IT has started taking the initiative in inviting international exhibitions and shows on particular themes. For example, at the end of last year it successfully brought together the "Art in everyday life postal exhibition" and , in the spring "Starting from objects" and "The artist's white paper." These themes often sprang out amidst normal conversations, subsequently, after a battle of words, great deliberation, everybody would go his or her own way, producing some "good stuff" at the time of the exhibition. I find this type of process absolutely wonderful.
Creation comes before any conclusion
IT Park group came together as the result of a thirst for creative work and gradually took form due to a desire for communication, allowing itself to maintain a broad path along this narrow road. Of course, this wasn't done in one day, and we mustn't ignore the great expenses and responsibilities involved. Chen Hui-Chiao still wipes the windows, feeds the birds, waters the plants, paints the walls, and arranges the works in the various exhibitions, as well as doing her own pieces, resolutely living life as art, and at the same time, generously providing another space for artists. As a result of this framework to not follow the set pattern of an art gallery, and as a result of the two owners and their group of friends' novel creative style and sincerity, IT Park has left a lively image in the eyes of the public, and has successively been well regarded by art critics. I personally feel that in Taipei at the end of the 20th Century, the form manifested by IT Park reminds us of the strong awareness we should have in regard to artistic creation and the cultural environment in general. Creation comes before any conclusion. These influences are possibly something they didn't get around to prediction in the beginning.
Every time, I slip into the staircase tightly sandwiched between "Jin Yuan Spareribs" and "Hometown Meat and Rice" and go upstairs, there are fragrant smells floating down from the outside cafe, and an exhibition above, and I think to myself: "I wonder who's here today?"