“Molasses, Ethanol, Fitness Workshops, Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Life So Different, So Appealing?”, 2020-2021
bagasse, tobacco, plaster, iron, lacquer, video, animation
Presented at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan for Taipei Art Awards 2021 (2021.12.25 – 2022.3.20)
Photos: Taipei Fine Arts Museum & Chang Ga-Wii
Sucrose has never been a necessity, yet its addictive taste has changed the palates around the world. Its pursuit caused numerous conflicts, conquests, and colonization in the past. Yet, today many people have begun to reduce their sugar intake and exercise actively to attain a desirable figure. The value and perception of sugar has changed from an agricultural product to an economic and trade commodity. Global trade and the spread of capitalism, in turn, have led to an irresistible consumerist way of life. Sucrose has an interesting duality. On one hand, it is a pleasant mental stimulant, whereas on the other hand, it is a tropical economic commodity with an imperial and colonial tinge. The cane sugar industry contributed to the growth of global trade and simultaneously, to the stagnation of the economies of the colonized places. While fitness exercises and avoidance of sugar also highlights its dual nature. Weight loss has become a new health and lifestyle symbol and at the same time, become part of a vicious consumerist cycle.
This creative project has evolved and transformed over time. It explores the history and power, trade and flow, innovation and transformation of tropical cash crops in the world economic and trade system using the historical context of the sugar industry and the contemporary phenomenon of fitness lifestyle. It presents the transformation of the sugar industry in role and value through different eras. The project facilitates “a dialogue space about sugar and fitness” through a series of fitness equipment made using bagasse and responds to the lifestyle changes prompted by globalization.