Taiwanese artist Isa Ho opened her first photo exhibition “Girls Falling” at Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles from May 18th to June 30th. This photo exhibit goes beyond the usual perspectives and into a fantastical introspection of the self, with the discussion uniquely immersed in contemporary Taiwanese sensibility. The “Girls” series is referred to by many as the “Falling Down” series. The girls in the photographs along with the girls whom have been transformed into animals are all captured from a bottom-up angle, in a state of having fallen down.
Having felt that most young people today often feel helpless in our society, Ho is keen to expose how individuals of this generation are not only pressured to take on too many roles at once, but also struggles with having a singularized set of values imposed upon them by society.
Partially as a response to the unfortunately high suicide rate seen around countries in Asia in recent years, particularly incidents involving jumping off of high buildings, the “Girls” series manifested as a way for Ho to advocate a shift in perspective in facing the societal pressure in question.
“We should have our own values, in order to build confidence in ourselves,” said Ho in an interview with
in・art space. “We are boxed in, restricted by the values imposed upon us by society. These values cause people to lose self-confidence… which causes many other societal issues we face today.”
Ho created the fantastical imagery in “Girls” to suggest a dramatic shift in perspective to counter the sense of helplessness and defeat in these crucial moments. “Many years later, [upon one] looking back at the “defeat”, it can even be a valuable turning point in one’s life,” says Ho.
As for the technique involved, she used multi-layered printing to create distinct textures and three-dimensionality on Dibond; aluminum composite sheets with a solid polyethylene core. The combination of the process and material resulted in images with a whimsical blend of reality and fabrication.
“I hope to encourage my audience to suspend their habitual ways of viewing art and passing judgements, as there should be very few experiences that one can rely upon in viewing this series of images,” she said.
To further facilitate a break from traditional art-viewing conventions, Ho has even encouraged her audience to touch and interact with the pieces to experience the textures themselves, especially since the result of the industrial-grade printing process prove to be quite sturdy and resilient.
Born in the 1970s in Keelung, Taiwan, Ho hails from a new generation of artists who follow closely the one before, during which the brilliant explosion of contemporary art movements roared upon Taiwan lifting its decades-long Martial Law in 1987. Still full of energy, bold and unrestrained, the nature of contemporary Taiwanese art is evident in Ho’s works, as can be seen with many other Taiwanese artists’ works today. Nurtured by potent stimuli such as political democracy and economic prosperity ever since the late 80s, Taiwanese artistic creativity has surged and diversified to this very day.
Since her earliest works in the wake of the millennium, Ho has developed a distinct discourse of photography that blurs the line between reality and fantasy. By employing directorial photography and the technique of digital compositing, Ho creates imagery that aims to constantly reconstruct and justify our so-called realities. Motivated by a passionate desire for the individual to discover the strength of one’s true self, Ho continues to create works that resonate closely with the contemporary female empowerment movement and the advocacy of positive self image and acceptance.
Contributor: Stephen Ou (歐士聞), Gallery Assistant / Resident Graphic Designer at Taiwan Academy. Established by the Taiwanese Ministry of Culture, Taiwan Academy serves to promote the unique arts and culture of Taiwan, including but not limited to visual art, performance art, music, literature and film. With passion, we hope to share with the international community the truly innovative and vibrant nature of contemporary Taiwanese arts and culture.