Taiwan Fun Magazine, July 2004


Taipei Site Maps

By Simon Foster Translated by Iva Huang

  An artist in residence can provide a fresh perspective on her place of art residency, as shown by Jane Ingram Allen's decision to depict Taiwan as a leaf in her installation works that comprise the exhibition entitled "Taiwan Site Maps."

  When I asked the American paper artist (who is about to end her six-month artist-in-residence stay in Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship) if she knew about the common perception here that the island looks like a yam, she said not at first, but she still thinks a leaf is much more interesting. And to her, leaves exude positive symbolism--like rebirth and renewal.

  Allen's leaves are majestic and graceful, suspended from the ceiling of the Su Ho Paper Museum. Each is at least two meters long, and made from a variety of plant fibers.

  Allen spent much of her time in Taiwan learning about the island's subtropical plants and experimenting, eventually settling on a combination of 27 plant fibers that she used to make paper that constitutes the leaves. Indeed, several kinds of pulped leaves, including banana and pineapple leaves, were used to make her paper.
They are called site maps because on the reverse side of the leaf representation, there are maps of sorts, with one striking example incorporating assemblages of newspaper clippings from Taiwan's presidential campaign. To extend the map metaphor, Allen has made folds in the maps, to facilitate folding. Naturally, this convenience will also make the installation pieces relatively easy to transport when they move to a gallery in Massachusetts in August.

  More of Allen's works can be seen at the American Cultural Center until June 18. These are literally "impressions" of Taipei, since they are relief pieces created by the artist working her paper into the city's manhole covers.

  One has to wonder how many life-long Taipei residents have stopped to marvel as Allen has at the beauty and variety of the city's manhole covers. It's all a matter of perspective.

  Jane Ingram Allen's website: http://www.janeingramallen.com/

American Culture Center
Room 2101, 333 Keelung Road, Sec. 1, 21F, Taipei City
June 3-18; 10 am-6 pm; open Mon-Fri
Hands-on exhibit
【Taiwan Site Maps 】
Su Ho Memorial Paper Culture Foundation
Until July 31