An LGBTQ art exhibition billed as the first of its kind in Asia opened in Taiwan on Saturday, just months after the island’s top court ruled in favour of gay marriage.
A paper cutting depicting two men having sex on a train and life-size charcoal sketches of naked homosexual couples embracing are among the artworks on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in the capital Taipei.
An installation piece outside the museum invites the public to scratch messages on painted black blocks, revealed at night when colourful LED lights shine from within.
Others explore darker themes, including a dreamlike video inspired by a murder case 16 years ago, when a man accidentally killed his partner while having sadomasochistic sex.
Organisers say the exhibition — titled “Spectrosynthesis” — is the first show centred around LGBTQ issues to be held at an Asian government-run museum.
It brings together works by 22 artists from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, most of whom are homosexual and one is transgender.
The island is set to become the first place in the region to legalise same-sex unions after its highest court in May ordered parliament to amend relevant laws within two years.
But there is still opposition, with thousands taking to the streets in protest before the court ruling.
MOCA director Yuki Pan says she hopes art can play a role in closing that divide, helping viewers learn about some of the issues the LGBTQ community faces.
“Through feeling and empathy, people may be able to understand the pain of being marginalised and vilified by society,” Pan told AFP.
“We feel a little bit nervous about the show, but I believe it will help us to advance human rights through art,” she said.
Oppression of the LGBTQ community is a prominent theme throughout the exhibit.
A video made by Hong Kong composer Samson Young shows a choir but their singing is muted — symbolising the “unheard” and “marginalised” voices.
Chinese artist Xi Ya Die took to traditional Chinese papercutting to tell of his first sexual encounter with a man and how he struggled with guilt as a man married to a woman.
One of his five pieces on display depicts a man sewing as he sits on pins with his leg entwined with a snake, which he says shows the pain and fear he felt suppressing his homosexuality.
“I’ve experienced a lot of pain, helplessness, and oppression in my life,” he said.
“There are no words for the suffering I felt.”