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A State of Obscurity

XPO, Enschede, the Netherlands



First we draw lines, and from these emerge a map.
Thus are borders defined.

A State of Obscurity focuses on invisible borders and strives to articulate the sense of partition and belonging. What is a border? Is it a physical line, or rather a state of mind and belief? The borders the artist investigates travel through time and continents, meet at one point, and create a rather devious map. The exhibition involves various layers of personal life histories collected by the artist during her residency in Enschede. Each aspect of the personal story comes together to constitute the profile of “borders”.

A State of Obscurity (“Kaartje van Tamsuy en omleggende dorpen, zoo mede het eilandje Kelang” & “Kaart van Formosa”) took reference from two of the earliest maps of Taiwan depicted by the Netherlands sailors in 17th century. Both maps reveal the sight of outcomer, as well as the idea of border of the time. Through a detailed studies of the relevant archives and research, the artist merged two maps into one space, imaging the impression of those who came to the far East while encountering the Island.

Opaque is a reflection drawn from the artist's daily experience living in Enschede, a Holland city located at the border of the Netherlands and Germany. This installation aims to represent the European borders which are, though, rather invisible, yet still political.


what I-Yen does in her works is to suggest a way of seeing, whether political or aesthetic. Seeing is inventing. After all, before the first line was drawn, the world was just a state of obscurity.

This project was created during an artist residency at ARE Holland, Enschede, the Netherlands. 
Supported by ARE Holland.

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