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2024.05.04 - 2024.07.21Battle City: Finale

Battle City represents a 14-year creative journey by artist Chang Li-Ren, and encapsulates his efforts to preserve personal ideals and identity in an increasingly realistic environment. As the winning proposal of the Dreamin’ MoNTUE Opencall initiated by the Museum of National Taipei University of Education (MoNTUE), the exhibition “Battle City: Finale” provides a comprehensive view of this extensive project for the first time. The exhibition features the model animations Battle City 1: The Glory of Taiwan, Battle City 2: Economic Miracle, the comic Battle City 3: Formosa and its side stories, as well as an array of elements from the filming process—ranging from puppets, objects, and large-scale models to film sets, manuscripts, and documents. Through their deployment within the exhibition space, these components enable insight into the project as a whole, and highlight the artistic direction undertaken by Chang.


Stage Settings

Chang Li-Ren employs basic materials like wooden sticks and styrofoam to construct a city from memory. This city is not a replica in miniature of any existent urban area but an improvisational assemblage reflecting urban impressions informed by the artist’s personal developmental experiences across various periods. Unlike architectural models that necessitate precision, this city, while predominantly adhering to a 1:12 scale, embraces imprecision. The artist uses his body as a point of reference, adjusting the scale based on his memory of spatial relationships between his body and the urban spaces. This process highlights the fluidity of corporeal memory, akin to how children may perceive their clothing to become smaller as they grow. For Chang, this constructed city transcends a mere visualization of a future, serving instead as a place where memory dwells.

This urban model sets the stage for Battle City 1: The Glory of Taiwan, which unfolds as a narrative grounded in the past, that then bifurcates into Battle City 2: Economic Miracle to engage with the present. From here, a fictional future is anticipated in Battle City 3: Formosa. This narrative progression underpins Chang’s selection of model animation and comics as distinct storytelling mediums. The simultaneous authenticity and simulation of the architectural model highlights the city’s inherent contradictions, establishing a space overlapping reality and simulation that is more tangible than what can be achieved through computer animation. Within this context, comics also emerge as a category of visualization that operates beyond the confines of reality. As such, Chang leverages comics for the narrative of Battle City 3, employing fluid strokes to narrate a story that perhaps exists only within the realm of consciousness.


The Destiny of Characters

Chang Li-Ren utilizes tissue paper to construct characters within the narrative, creating an approximation of human figures with rough surfaces and textures. This “make-do” approach reflects Chang’s engagement with the ambiguous boundaries, achieving a nuanced balance between the functional and the obsolete. The texture of the characters serves to estrange the audience from the narrative, paralleling how the urban model utilizes corporeal perception of scale to signal to viewers that the unfolding story occupies a disparate dimension. This enables viewers to adopt the role of bystanders, viewing the narrative as it progresses in a realm that is at once familiar and strange. A total of 108 puppets, along with their corresponding objects, were incorporated into the project. Echoing the traditional One-Year-Old Catch ritual that divines a child’s future aspirations based on the object they select on their first birthday, Chang assigns a unique set of objects to each puppet. These objects serve as symbolic indicators of the puppets’ destinies within the narrative.


The Sandbox and the Trajectories

Chang Li-Ren’s constructed city functions as a sandbox, a space where myriad trajectories can be imagined. This ability to manifest an entire world from piles of stones or clumps of earth is reminiscent of the capacity that all of us possessed as children. Within this sandbox, Chang introduces characters with various dispositions, and establishes specific rules. Their respective fixations and interrelationships generate complex narratives with denouements that reconnect with reality. Taking a broader view, Chang utilizes life itself as a narrative framework, constructing complex layers of revelation that interweaves his existence with his work, as though a confluence of a dream within a dream, and a maze within the broader labyrinth of life.


Interstitial Spaces for Survival

Eschewing congested paths, Chang-Li-Ren relies on his intuition and instincts to chart his own course, as though navigating a maze. Through his own trajectory, he interrogates possibilities for artists to confront predicaments in the production of art. This current project illuminates the artist’s approach to art-making which, rather than seeking external validation from the larger environment, turns inward to establish his own benchmarks. Chang ensures the work remains close to the tangible and perceptible boundaries of his own corporeal experience, rather than the outcome of resource orchestration, to circumvent its potential imbalance with his inner self. For he prioritizes the creative voyage over the final material presentation of the art. In the global sandbox, Chang attempts to find an exemplar by using modest materials and low technological thresholds to engage directly with his soul.



Dreamin' MoNTUE Project

The MoNTUE launched the “Dreamin’ MoNTUE” project in 2015, aiming to empower creators to transcend the limits of their imagination, and render the implausible, plausible. The project issues a biennial call for entries from artists and curators worldwide, offering selected individuals with exhibition funding, museum space, and professional administrative support. The artist/curatorial team’s residency and their work produced on-site transform the museum into an arena for experimentation where boundaries between “individuals,” “museum space,” and “artistic creation” are blurred, catalyzing dialogue between the three and bringing various unexplored possibilities to the fore.

Battle City: Finale

Chang Li-Ren

2024.5.4-2024.7.21 MoNTUE 北師美術館 

Supervisor|Ministry of Culture
Organizer|MoNTUE, Museum of National Taipei University of Education
Annual Sponsor|NSFG Foundation
Supporting Partners|Hong Foundation、Panasonic Taiwan
Media Partners|ARTOUCH、Artco Monthly & Investment、The News Lens、



Founder|LIN Mun-Lee
Director|KUO Bor-Jou
Executive Director|WANG Rocean
Exhibition Management|LIU I-Ying
Exhibition Coordination|HSU Pei-Lin
Public Programs & Volunteer Management|WANG Pey-Shan、CHANG Yun-Tzu、CHEN Li-Jen
Public Relations|Morphine TSENG
Graphic Design|CHEN Li-Jen
Public Program Support|CHAO I-Tian、CHENG Kai-Wen、CHEN Yu-Jin
Exhibition Assistants|LU Ham-Ting、FUNG Tsz-Ching、HUANG Hua-Wei、CHAN Yung-Chieh、CHANG Yu-Ling、CHIANG Hsuan-Yuan、YEN Yi-Chun


Exhibition Production

Exhibtion Design|Chang Li-Ren
Graphic Design|Most of Hou
Technical Coordination|Foision Art Studio
Exhibtion Construction|Hua Gong Engineering Corporation
Shipping Partner|Dachi Fine Arts
Photography & Documentation|Sean WANG (Photography)、Lane 216, East(Documentation)
Translation|Yvonne KENNEDY
Audio Guide Recording|FENG Zi-Ming of Mothra Productions