After City Officials Criticized Her for Showing a Controversial Artwork, the Director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Will Resign

The museum denies that criticism of Ping Lin's curatorial choices led to her abrupt resignation. 

Installation view of Mei Dean E's I-DEN-TI-TY (1996/2020). Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.
Installation view of Mei Dean E's I-DEN-TI-TY (1996/2020). Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.

Ping Lin, director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan, has announced that she will resign from her post in January of next year. The unexpected news comes after local elected officials publicly criticized Lin’s inclusion of a mordant, political artwork in an exhibition she co-curated this summer. 

The artwork in question, I-DEN-TI-TY, an installation by local artist Mei Dean E, features 15 golden plates that represent the countries with which Taiwan has broken diplomatic relations, shrouded in textiles bearing phrases such as “shame” and “disgrace.”

First created in 1996, the work was updated this year for “The Secret South: From Cold War Perspective to Global South in Museum Collection,” an exhibition of art from developing countries in southeast and western Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands.

Ping Lin, 2020. Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.

Ping Lin, 2020. Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.

According to ArtAsiaPacific, Taipei city councilor Yu Shu-hui called the installation “an incitation of xenophobia, or a pure rage out of resentment” in a Facebook post that has since been deleted, and demanded that the artwork be removed. Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je added to the controversy by saying that, if one of the countries in Mei’s piece complained, “we should give the director Lin Ping a demerit.”

“Even if they cancel the exhibition of my works, diplomatic relations cannot be restored,” the artist said in his own Facebook post. “If they cancel the exhibition in the name of the public institution, then it is abusing their power to interfere with public art activities, and this is the worst kind of damage to the public arts.”

Artist Mei Dean E in front of his installation, <i>I-DEN-TI-TY</i> (1996/2020). Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.

Artist Mei Dean E in front of his installation, I-DEN-TI-TY (1996/2020). Courtesy of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum via Youtube.

The museum claims that Lin’s departure had more to do with her nearing retirement age than it did with the incident over the summer, according to ArtAsiaPacific. The director now plans to return to teaching at Tunghai University in Taichung City, where she previously worked for 17 years, including a three-year stint as dean of the arts department.

Representatives from the museum did not respond to a request for comment.

Since signing on as director of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 2015, Lin oversaw its signature Taipei Biennial in 2016, 2018, and this year, as well as the Taiwan pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2017 and 2019.


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