One Kind of Behavior by Shyu Ruey-Shiann

By Ismary Munet

As you walk onto the terrace, they come alive; rising up and quickly falling back down. Some do so simultaneously, others at different times, and on this particular rainy and chilly day, this created even more of a musical effect as the sounds of these hermit crab-like mechanical buckets cadenced through the terrace floor. This outdoor installation by Shyu Ruey-Shiann is exhibited on the second floor of The Bronx Museum of the Arts.

“When I try to make this work… when I make the piece, it’s piece by piece. When I show in the museum, it’s one piece. It’s the whole piece that makes music,” Shiann said explaining the concept behind his work. “When people see this, we think about the human environment and the natural life.”

May 1 was the first day in which the exhibition showcasing Shiann’s work, One Kind of Behavior, was open to the public.

Shiann, whose humble and kind face and smile greeted guests, works with different material and media to express ideas about our environment, and has more pieces that explore the connection between natural life and humans. He was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1966. He studied at Aix-en-Provence Art College in the south of France, where he began his work connecting nature and human life, and now lives and works in New York with a studio in Brooklyn.

Unlike a lot of artists, who focus on graphic design or working with other media, Shiann has committed and stuck to working with media in order to create his work with his own hands. Sergio Bessa, Director of Programs at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, explained that this was one of the reasons the museum was interested in displaying Shiann’s work, “That was one of the interests of his work. He rescues the tradition of mechanical work… He really makes things with his hands. It’s really fascinating to see,” Bessa said.

Though he has shown this piece before, in Taipei Fine Arts Museum and another contemporary arts museum in Taipei, this is the first time that his work is shown outdoors, “It’s like trying to show real natural life to the museum,” Shiann said.

Chi-Ping Yen, Cultural Officer from the Taipei Cultural Center, explained that TCC is involved as a sponsor, “We flew him from Taipei to New York. It’s a collaboration [exhibition in museum] between Taipei Cultural Center and The Bronx Musuem,” Yen said. The Taipei Cultural Center promotes Taiwanese artists who have exhibitions or performances in the states, and help sponsor these artists.

Originally, Shiann’s work only had 30 buckets, but because the space and venue at The Bronx Museum of the Arts is larger, they decided to put 51 more buckets, so there about 81 in total. When people walk pass the sensor on the second floor of the museum, it triggers the buckets and they start to move, “If we are not here, these buckets will be very quiet,” Yen said.

Yen also explained that Shiann was satisfied with the space, because he can neatly hide the wires from the mechanical buckets. He originally had to make a wooden floor to hide them.

“The exhibition will last till August. If the audience keeps coming to see the piece, they’ll get to see how the nature in the summer, the trees and leaves and the summer day, how it’s different,” Yen said explaining how the outdoor installation adds to the natural environment concept of the piece.

Bessa explained that The Bronx Museum shows Latin American, African American, and Asian American art, and has a large collection of Asian American artwork.

The museum held an open house on May 4 where Shiann’s piece was the main attraction. The museum will also hold an Artist Talk with Shiann on Friday, July 18 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm in the North Wing Lobby with free admission and bar.

“I’m very lucky about this chance to show the work here in The Bronx Museum, because even for the Asian people, as artists, it’s very difficult to show work here. It’s why I chose this piece. The human environment is not just Taiwan and the U.S. It’s around the world. It’s not just here or there. It’s around the world. It’s the international language when we look at the work,” Shiann said.

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