於本文的伊始，身為本展的總策劃，我想必須也提到這個展覽的舉辦緣起。自 2016年擔任館長以來，將近 5年的時間，我不斷思考美術館典範如何轉移。其中一個重要環節，即是如何延展高美館所累積的大量南部藝術家作品的能量，使之成為不僅是豐富台灣，甚至是全球在構築現、當代美術史時，提供多元差異的敘事元素。2019年高美館完成 3樓空間改造，成立「大南方多元史觀典藏特展室」就是這個思維的結晶。我們這幾年嘗試整合幾個有關「南方」的範疇，提出更大尺度的「大南方/ South Plus」作為高美館的新座標，就是試圖讓「南方」從單一的地理指涉中鬆脫開來，轉向以高雄長期所處的政經、文化的「南/難」處境，作為銜接高美館與「全球南方」後殖民文化語境的切入點。
延續著過往「地域南方」或「地理南方」的典藏脈絡，我也同步爬梳幾任館長對台灣原民創作的典藏，特別是從 2005年由李俊賢前館長推動的「南島當代藝術計畫」。 透過有意識的收藏、駐館創作或策展「南島當代藝術」，高美館不只培育臺灣自身的原住民當代藝術家，也透過藝術的形式，將具有南島語族身分或認同的藝術家或研究者聯繫起來，藉此經年累月蓄積了豐沛的研究與論述能量。
因此， 首次舉辦的《泛‧南‧島藝術祭》，正是企圖以「去邊界」、「多元」、「海洋文化」等更具流動性與包容力的語境想像，鬆脫高美館「南島當代藝術計畫」所建立的，根基於既有語系、血緣固著的南島、原民框架，藉此將原民的當代創作，嫁接進「大南方」的座標網絡，讓原民文化正式成為建構高美館新座標「大南方」的重要元素之一。我們的企圖是，一方面回應台灣原民當代創作的豐沛能量，同時也期望能更積極錨定原民文化與當代社會發展的必要關聯性 （relevancy）。透過建構差異文化彼此對話、相互激盪的「大南方」新座標，我們除了企圖擴大台灣文化主體性的想像光譜與論述之外，更試圖借徑南島語系的鏈結，拓展台灣與世界對話的多軌渠徑 (channel)。
About the Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival
By Yulin Lee (KMFA Director and Lead Curator of the Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival)
Inception of the Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival
The Pan-Austro-Nesia Arts Festival is the capstone project that we proposed in creating a new cultural brand that represents the city of Kaohsiung. "Pan-Austro-Nesian" is a made-up term that uses the three composing words to convey a position that the exhibition would like to take, a position that is willing to engage in dialogues:
Pan(泛)－expansive, all-inclusive visions that transcend boundaries;
Austro(南方)－plural, non-center-constrained perspectives from the South;
Nesian(島嶼)－multi-lateral oceanic connections.
The concept of “Pan” conveys the intention to break loose from conventional ideologies and mainstream cultural frameworks; the ideas of “Austro” and “Nesian”, associated with fluidity and dissociation, imply a kind of relative “openness”.
To begin this article and as the chief curator of this exhibition, I feel obligated to share how we first decided to organize this exhibition. During the past five years since I started to serve as Director at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (KMFA) in 2016, I have been contemplating about how an art museum can lead paradigm shifts. One critical aspect is to build on the massive creative energy of southern artists that the KMFA has accumulated over time and transform it into a narrative element that enriches the modern and contemporary art history discourse not only in Taiwan but even globally. What crystalized from this concept was the South Plus: Constructing Historical Pluralism from the KMFA Collection, a special collection we created following our third-floor renovation in 2019. Over the years, we have attempted to integrate different areas of “the South” and proposed the concept of South Plus, a new coordinate system based on larger scales. This allows us to break free from the geographical dimension of “southern” and focus more on the political, economic and cultural predicaments long facing the southern city of Kaohsiung. This is how we fit the KMFA within the post-colonial cultural context of the “Global South”.
Following this curatorial context of the “regional south” or “geographic south”, I also combed through the indigenous collections that my predecessors built, especially with regards to the Contemporary Austronesian Art Project initiated by former Director Lee Jiun-Shyan in 2005. Through deliberately building collections, inviting resident artists and curating related exhibitions, KMFA has not only cultivated Taiwan's contemporary indigenous artists but also, through the forms of art, brought together artists or researchers with Austronesian ties or identities. Over time, the KMFA has accumulated abundant research and discourses on this topic.
Thus, this inaugural Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival aims to create a more inclusive context and fluid imagination, using concepts such as pluralism, oceanic culture, and boundary-free to break loose from the previous Austronesia and indigenous frameworks under the Contemporary Austronesian Art Project that were rigidly based on languages and blood ties. In this way, we can formally include indigenous cultures as an element in building the KMFA’s South Plus vision. On one hand, we aim to respond to the artistic creativity of Taiwan’s contemporary indigenous artists. We also hope to proactively identify the relevancy between indigenous cultures and contemporary societal development. In constructing the new coordinate system of “South Plus,” introducing dialogue among different cultures to stimulate each other, we want to expand the imaginations and discourses on Taiwan’s cultural sovereignty while also expanding channels for Taiwan to engage in dialogue with the world based on our Austronesia ties.
On the other hand, as we position the KMFA as a city art museum, I often think about how we can further enrich the minds of the residents in the city with the keen intuition of artists. In response to Taiwan's rising oceanic awareness and to the “outward-exploring” city image of the southern harbor city of Kaoshiung, this exhibition formulates a visual ground for conscious dialogues. We named this exhibition an “art festival”, which also implies that one day when we garner sufficient energy, we want to be able to regularly hold the Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival.
I therefore proposed the concept of “Pan-Austro-Nesian”, hoping to take a stride further from our current foundation and to invite artists from around the same ocean to freely express their views and imaginations. We expect the Pan-Austro-Nesian Arts Festival to gradually become a new cultural brand that highlights the various internal and external excursions across ocean currents, and that underlines the rich diversity that cannot be easily categorized.
(To be continued)