En-Man Chang 張恩滿
Chang En-Man’s project Snail Paradise maps out the entangled eco-culinary history of a local population as they have adapted to waves of colonialism and globalization. In doing so, she also maps out the unlikely kinship that connects different immigrant and Indigenous populations throughout Southeast Asia by way of a peripatetic creature turned diverse food source—the African Land Snail. This iteration of Chang’s research brings her to Singapore and the regional recipes by which people connect to place and history, with foodways that exhibit both innovation and a resilient sense of cultural continuity. — AY
Snail Paradise 蝸牛樂園
2019, Site-specific installation: videography, embroidery and recipes, dimensions variable
Installation of Snail Paradise at the 2019 Singapore Biennial (Images courtesy of the Singapore Biennial)
Artist Reflection —
“How to make a snail food?”
This sentence is the axis, not only to cook but to make this mapping project. Reviewing and rewinding the migration route of the African Land Snail (Achatina fulica), I attempt to portray their Age of Discovery in ecological history. The African Land Snail have their origin in East Africa; they were introduced to Taiwan from Singapore by a government official during the Japanese colonial period in 1933 for the purpose of food farming. This creature, who emerges after rain, separately invaded the Hawaiian Islands, Indonesia, North Borneo, and Malay Peninsula at similar times. These regions shared the experience of empire’s spread, while transforming these incursions into their own cultural development.
The snail has become an interface for me to think about the hybridity of local cultures—setting sail to Singapore, collaborating with local artists to explore attitudes towards the snail as an ingredient in a range of recipes, and creating an accumulating map of foodscapes during the research process. How to think about mapping a cookbook? “Map” originally comes from mappamundi in Latin, which means “draw the world on a cloth.” I apply the embroidery of Taiwan’s Indigenous people on a traditional costume while using a needle as pen, so that the sewing becomes my ink to write and to research. As “needle road” implies the “seaway map,” the snail is the compass in this project. (translation by San-San Liu)
About En-Man Chang 張恩滿
Chang, En-Man was born in Taitung, Taiwan, and lives and works in Taipei. Chang has focused extensively on how the Indigenous people of Taiwan deal with the cultural, social, and fundamental conditions they are faced with throughout the irreversible process of modernization. Based on this, she then extends outwards to explore the world and seeks to discover the transformative power that art embodies. Some of Chang’s solo exhibitions include As Heavy as a Feather, presented at the Taiwan Academy in Los Angeles, USA (2017), and Centre A in Vancouver, Canada (2016); and Snail Paradise at Open Contemporary Art Center, Taipei (2013). In 2019, she took part in the Singapore Biennale – Every Step in the Right Direction; COSMOPOLIS #2 REPENSER L’HUMAIN at the Centre Pompidou in Paris; and the Istanbul Biennial – The Seventh Continent. She was also a contributing artist in Wild Rhizome – 2018 Taiwan Biennial, and the 2014 Taipei Biennial – The Great Acceleration.