1 episode. (Duration: 16 minutes)
This piece is the radio version of Teng’s installation work After All These Years (2017).
Rainy Night Flowers tells the unfortunate story and feelings of a depressed young woman using the metaphor of a delicate flower. It was released in 1934 during the burgeoning (and very short-lived) period of Taiwanese-language pop songs under Japan’s colonization. This song has been released in records by more than 30 singers and songwriters (most recently in 2016), with nine different versions of lyrics written in Taiwanese, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. It was performed at numerous political campaigns, memorial and religious ceremonies of all kinds, and wherever some dose of Taiwanese nostalgia/solidarity is in need. The song once earned its -ism status—Rainy Night Flowers-ism—coined by people in the 80s who think of it as a mentality that is stopping Taiwan’s true independence. It was used by writers to title their books, including a biography of the famous female Taiwanese communist leader, and an examination of Taiwan’s economy in the 80s. It was banned several times and rejected (still) by many, while also transformed into theater plays, movies, novels and most recently the main puzzle to be solved in a video game. It was studied by theorists from a phenomenological perspective, condemned openly by an Ex-President of Taiwan and (after two years) chosen by the Spanish tenor Placid Domingo to perform at his concert in Taipei.
The artist reads this rich history of the song by reversing the conventional mapping of the network of agency. Rainy Night Flowers, under this view, has been actively fighting for survival using all possible strategies and tactics for all these years and has finally achieved immortality. After All These Years, materializes this view of song’s life into a physical space that invites viewers to be part of it. A recording of a “voice-over” of the song is played, and several diagramming and drawings made by the artist are displayed throughout the space. Together they present Rainy Night Flowers’ life-long ups and downs and lessons learned: how it mobilizes people and institutions from all sectors for such a long period of time, allies with different socio-political-economic environments/thoughts, and raises itself to the status of the representative of Taiwanese folk songs.
Voice-over: TSAI Pao-Chang
TENG graduated from the Media Arts and Sciences Program at School of Architecture and Planning, MIT, in 2007. His practice takes a variety of forms, with a focus on the formation of subjectivity and its challenges, taking into account its relationships with histories, narratives, systems and structures, randomness and indeterminacy, etc. He was invited to participate in residency programs including the Arctic Circle and Para Site, HK, and has recently exhibited in Project Fulfill (solo, Taipei) and The Cube (solo, Taipei), Taipei Biennale, Art Sonje Center (Seoul), Hiroshima MOCA and Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (Warsaw), among the others.