Celestial Dragons in the Room

The “Celestial Dragons House” project is a participatory action jointly organized by housing advocacy groups (OURs Urban Reform Organization and the Tsuei Ma Ma Foundation for Housing and Community Services) and artist Lee Ken-Tsai. It uses the form of a “mock real estate agency” to express public concerns about housing issues. From Lee Ken-Tsai’s 2016 project “I Want a Home” to the 2021 “Celestial Dragons House” project, his work reveals the profound and lasting impact of housing issues on society through public participation, discussing the complexities involved and the public’s anxiety and unease about the current situation. Despite this, housing issues remain an “elephant in the room” today.
Artist ken-tsai Lee was invited to exhibit at the art fair held in a five-star hotel. This exhibition, as a continuation of “Celestial Dragons House” is curated by Lee Ken-Tsai and curator Liao Yi-hao under the theme “Celestial Dragons in the Room.” It suggests the ever-present yet difficult-to-confront reality, exploring the hidden aspects behind the colossal issue likened to a “heavenly dragon.”
In Taiwan, the most overlooked group in housing issues is often the sign-holders promoting new construction projects on the streets. They stand in busy, exposed streets and intersections, making the dream of housing visible to all with their high-held signs. Yet, as living billboards in the urban landscape, their bodies are frequently overlooked and unseen. This exhibition addresses the visibility and invisibility of housing issues. In the exhibition, sign-holders hold seemingly oversized advertisement boards in small rooms. This misplaced sign-holding becomes the most powerful response to the current situation. Additionally, during the exhibition, participants will leave their thoughts on housing written in invisible ink, which can only be seen under specific wavelengths of light. This raises the question: can we truly become aware of the “invisible” issues, bodies, and voices?
After a tiring protest, when we return to our small rooms, Room 972 offers a space for the public to take a breath on housing issues. This time, we do not discuss how to reform; we rest, greet, converse, bid farewell, or simply stay quietly. The visitors are not merely passive observers; whether they choose to engage with the topic or not, they inevitably become active participants, becoming part of the action.
Curatorial Essay / Liao Yihao
Client: Whatz Art Fair
Curator: Liao Yi-hao
Artist: Ken-tsai Lee
Outside the five-star hotel hosting the art fair, a group of young people renting in Taipei held signs with their written messages about the city’s rental situation. These messages were displayed on boards typically used for real estate advertisements. This performance by the young people was part of the art exhibition, echoing the real sign-holders of a mock real estate company inside the hotel rooms.