Tsui Kuang-Yu

Tsui Kuang-Yu, Liverpool Top 9! (installation view), 2006 

Tsui Kuang-Yu, Liverpool Top 9! (installation view), 2006 

Tsui Kuang-Yu (b.1974, Taipei, Taiwan) is an urban actionist. Shown as performance videos, his actions usually involve the artist playing roles suggested by the environment, thus questioning the hidden and stereotyped relationships between human beings and their urban habitat, while at the same time projecting an invisible city which appears wrong and yet is actually wronged.

The problematic centres on the fact that our habitat forms a surface layer which envelops human subjectivity. In order to penetrate the surface and reveal the possibilities of real action, Tsui employs strategies of making himself disappear, interjecting absurdities, fragmenting preconceived realities, and superimposing alternative sets of behaviour codes embedded in existing social structures.

For International 06, Tsui Kuang-yu’s films evaluated the function of mundane elements of the city that we use daily but would never otherwise contemplate. The sites he selected were peculiar examples of urban design and infrastructure that unwittingly become cultural signifiers. Each has a specific purpose, typically to stop us doing something ‘wrong’ – parking in the wrong place, driving into the wrong lane or crossing the road at a busy junction. Whether we realise it or not, these ‘interventions’ shape our behaviour on a daily basis.

Presented as breaking news stories, the film clips showed residents of Liverpool running amok as they follow instructions given by road signs that subvert the intended function of the spaces they designate. Bollards erected to stop us parking in a private area become a handy dog training facility; a central reservation constructed to stop us driving into oncoming traffic becomes a rest point for pedestrians crossing a dual carriageway; a cobbled section of street becomes a relaxing place to massage one's feet.

The films questioned how we use, navigate and relate to our immediate urban environment. Amidst the radically changing landscape of Liverpool, to take stock of how urban design controls and influences behaviour seems particularly pertinent.

Tsui Kuang in Liverpool Biennial 2006 

Liverpool Top 9!, 2006
DVD projection 
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006 
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool 

Supported by

Tapei Representatives Office in the U.K.
Council for Cultural Affairs, Taiwan