ACTION FOR JINMEN ISLAND
Action For Jinmen islands by Sarah Trouche means “ammunition”. With the writing of the first Chinese character “Ammunition” on the wall, Sarah Trouche connects directly with the history of the Jinmen (or Kinmen) islands group. Jinmen is a county with a complex past: it belonged to China for centuries, established an autonomous government in 1912, was then occupied by Japan during WWII, and finally became part of the Republic of China (ROC) /Taiwan in 1945. The geographical proximity to Mainland China makes it a vital military spot in the conflicts between PRC (People’s Republic of China) and the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan). With a continuous history of bombardment and artillery fire, the memory of wars still live in Jinmen people’s mind, and they existed under Martial law for more than 40 years(1948-1991). Ammunition is the symbol of the Jinmen story.
In this context, the site chosen by the artist is important for the identity of the island. Inside an observation post numerous texts handwritten on a wall describe in great detail the technical specifications of gun use. Every sentence shows how soldiers were taught to maintain and use their weapons, to learn the technique of their employment: “ Check the chamber is without deformation to avoid problems on returning a cylinder. Change the plate to return a cylinder. ”
The content of the text on left upper wall seems to be a list of weapons, sizes, direction and distance, and even prizes. It is an operational guidelineand demonstrates that Jinmen has been ruled by military training for decades.
Although the characters are hard to be discern, by focusing on them the artist has touched some important issues.
The tools and color used in this action are laden with meaning. When Sarah Trouche painted herself yellow and wrote the fading words with brush pen and red ink on the wall, she was also recalling many things. Those blood-red hieroglyphics awake the memory of wars, while calligraphy connects to traditional Chinese culture from Mainland China. Jimmen stands in a contradictory place, culturally rooted in China but politically against it. Painted yellow, the artist’s body has “the color of land” for Chinese people, and could be read as a communication between territories.
Sarah Trouche is always naked while undertaking actions without permission from authority. In the art institutional context such actions evoke little reaction, so here it is the connection with the place that is important. This plays an important role despite the isolation with the illegality making the action powerful. She reveals the political and historical circumstance that neither Taiwanese nor Chinese are freely allowed to discuss. Action For Jimmen Island mirrors the ambivalent reality which is happening in the Taiwan Strait.
Morine Mu-Yi, Huang