Photography and moving-image works in Taiwan

ISSUE .07 aims to support emerging photographers from all over the world by involving them in innovative and ground-breaking projects. In the coming months, the works of one of our photographers will be featured in an exhibition curated by ISSUE .07 on the occasion of a world-renowned event entirely dedicated to photography. But we don't want to spoil anything for now. Instead, let's discover the gallery that represents him: UP Gallery, one of the rare galleries in Taiwan that is solely dedicated to exhibiting photography and moving-image works from emerging and established photographers. It is the first gallery to introduce the concept of editions to the audience of Taiwan and has, from the very beginning, succeeded in educating its audience in the merit of photography as an artistic medium.

Fig. 1. View of Up Gallery Main Entrance.

We had the opportunity to talk to the current artistic director, Agnes Liao, who shared with us the philosophy behind the UP Gallery and the projects they have in store.

SB: What prompted the decision to open a gallery exclusively dedicated to exhibiting photography and moving-image works?

AL: The UP Gallery, founded in 2009, was established by photographer/artist Yichia Liao. Amongst his visions were to provide a dedicated space for photography and moving images because at the time he felt there was not a great physical space and platform for artist to present their works in Taiwan. Hence, returning to his hometown, he set out on a mission to start the gallery in hopes of sharing his values on this beautiful medium and enhancing the understanding of photography and moving images.

SB: Do you think the work you are doing with the UP Gallery is contributing to the enhancement of the value of photography in Taiwan? What improvements have you witnessed in the last few years?

AL: I would like to think yes (chuckle) and I do hope it is having a strong impact in Taiwan. The medium has blossomed in Taiwan for the past years, and we have a great number of artists and photo enthusiasts contributing to the field, looking at the artistic side it has flourished. However, building a healthy market for the medium which was quite unheard of has been what the gallery has been contributing towards enhancing the value of the medium. Educating a broader understanding of editions, collecting, photography history, artists' representation, and the commercial side of helping artists thrive in the industry are the key factors that we are contributing to the field. We seek to guide artists to excel in their artistic careers and simultaneously nurture a stronger collector base that focus on photography and moving-image works. I believe improvements can be seen through good sales and gallery artists finding a place within the art world (globally not just regionally).

Fig. 2. LAN. CHUNGHSUAN, View of Up Gallery Past Exhibitions.

SB: What are the pros and cons of dealing with photography in Asia? How does the photography market work there?

AL: I would say it is very much like the markets in the west and encounter the similar pros and cons. Mainly, in Asia I would say the recognition of the medium as an art form and how editions don’t decrease the value of the works are still main concepts we are trying to educate. Nevertheless, NCPI the first public institution that focuses on photography and moving images in Taiwan has recently opened its door to the public, I would say there are only pros moving forward as we see more and more of institutions both public and private focusing on the medium. Moreover, art fairs dedicated to photography and photography festivals in the region have been booming, which directly reflects the interest and also the market for photography.

SB: How do you choose the artists that the UP Gallery represents?

AL: In one sentence it would be that I seek works that challenge the medium’s history while having depth conceptually to provoke the broader contemporary art field. Best of two worlds are the works that will stand the test of time and what the gallery is looking for.

SB: What themes do you explore in the gallery’s exhibitions? Are they linked to tradition and place or do you explore more varied and contemporary topics?

AL: We have various themes within the gallery program and regularly bring in guest curators to curate a show. The current group show for example is a regular within the gallery program where we introduce key Indian contemporary photography to our audiences every two years.

Fig. 3. View of Up Gallery Current Exhibitions.

SB: Which current art world trend is the UP Gallery following?

AL: Honestly the gallery seeks to be trendsetters rather than followers.

SB: What is in the future of the UP Gallery? What are the next projects?

AL: Committed to discovering emerging Asian artists while guiding them into the global art photography world. The value in a photograph has unique potential and uniqueness and progression lead to one direction: UP, which is the gallery’s future.

We have a two-person show happening in July which will feature works from Taiwanese artist Mia Liu and Sameer Tawde which are all very looking forward to. Please, stay tuned to our social platforms for more updates!

Fig. 4. Ronghui Chen, Portray of Agnes Liao.

Author, Sofia Bellisomo - Instagram; Linkedin

Photographers featured in this Article

LAN. CHUNGHSUAN - Website; Instagram

Ronghui Chen - Website; Instagram

Mia Liu - Website; Instagram

Sameer Tawde - Website; Instagram

For further information on the UP Gallery visit their Website or Instagram profile.