REM Sleep is a three-channel video installation, approximately one hour long. Its images were projected on three different size of screens hung from ceiling.
In 1994, the Taiwanese government instituted its “Go South Policy,” importing labor from Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, on one hand, to reduce the production costs of local industries and on the other hand, to remedy imbalances in the composition of Taiwanese society. By October 2011, the number of immigrant workers in Taiwan had surpassed 420,000. REM Sleep is the product of Jao, Chia-En’s long-term collaboration with curator Amy Huei-Hwa Cheng. Using the documentary format, it distills the dreams of Indonesian, Filipino, Thai and Vietnamese laborers who came to Taiwan as short-term migrant workers after Taiwanese government policy shifted in the 90s. During the shooting, they talked about their dreams in their preferred languages, giving them the security and authority to depict whatever they saw in their dreams. As a result, their dreams constitute “illegal evidence”—which would never be considered real evidence by the law—formulates a strong critique of social and economic systems.
REM Sleep is a biopsy of Jao’s creative system and of contemporary Taiwan’s social structure. Following the project Thaïndophiliviet (foreign languages learning camp of Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, and Vietnamese), the artist captured the awakening moments of foreign laborers in Taiwan in the name of “fast eyeball movements in deep sleep.” In the form of a semi-documentary, the foreigners away from their hometowns describe their homesickness and anxiety in their nightmares. With three parallel screens, these foreigners wander between realities (awake) and nightmares (sleep), yet the so-called between state perhaps does not exist. For those living at the bottom of Taiwan’s society, the reality is a nightmare. Although REM Sleep presents the story in simple narration, what else will touch our hearts better than the agony of being away from home ? Committee member:Chen, Hung-Hsin
Jao Chia-en’s work REM Sleep touches upon the living conditions beyond laws and regulations faced by immigrant workers in Taiwan. It is distinctive from the light humor or heavy sympathy often adopted by other artists on the same topic.
The work advances from a social statement of performance art to visual discourse and production of concepts and events. Jao takes the verbal and non-verbal images intricate to life and presents precisely the language gap between labor and leisure, routine and exception, living scenes and bio-politics with the poetic interlace of image movements and screen projections.
The depth of the film and the professionalism of the realization put the work in an international context, where the local ideas refer to global issues. Committee members: Chiang, Po-Shin、Lai, Hsiang-Ling、Ulrike Groos、Zsolt Petrányi
About Jao, Chia-En
Jao, Chia-En holds an M.F.A. from Goldsmiths College of London. In 2011, he was nominated for the Signature Art Prize. His exhibitions that year include Republic without People, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Kaohsiung, Thaïndophiliviet, The Cube Project Space, Taipei and Arte da Taiwan, Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Villa Croce, Genova, Italy.