millonaliu [Klodiana Millona & Yuan Chun Liu]

Photo: Pichaya Puapoomcharoen

  • Atist In Residence 2020
  • Born in1990 in Albania / 1987 in Taiwan
  • NationalityAlbania/Taiwan
  • PeriodSeptember 24 - December 17, 2020 (85 days)
  • Website
For the residence in ARCUS

Sticky Entanglements: Rice as a Technology

During the three-month residency, we have been exploring horaimai rice, which is the manifestation of the Japanese Empire’s seed engineering project in colonial Taiwan, whereby a type of rice was brought to the island and genetically modified to grow in Taiwan’s tropical climate when it was a colony of Japan from 1895 to 1945.

Sticky Entanglements refers, on the one hand, to the particular feature of Japonica rice, a much-desired stickiness that led to a series of scientific, political, and economic efforts to modify Taiwanese local rice so as to satisfy Japanese taste. On the other hand, it describes almost literally our research approach during these three months, where starting from one grain of rice we mapped different entanglements that are glued together as a way to understand the legacy of genetically modified crops within colonialism, politics, science, technology, the environment, and economics.

As our main method, we have studied different archives as well as related literature, and conducted interviews with scholars in the field. We developed a particular interest in archives of postcards from East Asia during the Japanese occupation.

Our research primarily focused on the vast changes reflected in the landscape that the cultivation and commercialization of this crop brought to Taiwan, and how control over the land was instrumentalized as a technology for control over the population. This culminated in us exploring social changes that resonated in local culture and labor practices.

Horaimai seeds have left a strong legacy both physically and socially in Taiwan of intentionally planned ecological transformation through state-engineered and scientifically improved seeds. This form of advanced ecological imperialism took control of economic, ecological, and natural resources away from local inhabitants, resulting in the modification of their ecology and culture. Our research tries to read the current condition of soil as a form of evidence and crops as witnesses that shed light on these issues.

Finally, through this research we want to address, understand, and make visible the multiple entanglements deriving from a tiny grain of rice. By addressing this seed as a technology for social engineering, we tried to unfold the narratives of the ideology engineered in this nonhuman material. For the next phase, we aim to disseminate this knowledge through field research and to advance the practice of looking at seeds as a biosocial archive.

The Rotterdam-based millonaliu is a duo of spatial designers and researchers comprising Klodiana Millona from Albania and Yuan Chun Liu from Taiwan. After studying interior architecture at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, they began developing interdisciplinary activities with a focus on architecture. The duo’s work encompasses everything from architectural practice to video, publishing, exhibitions, and workshops. Made during a stay in Ukraine, Leave Us Alone examines factories left behind after social change, and by holding a festival in collaboration with workers, millonaliu highlighted the social aspect of factories whereby an isolated community is formed while the times move on.

[Selected Exhibitions and Activities]
2020 Other Ways of Watching Together, Showroom MAMA, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (co-curators)
2019-2020 Stimuleringsfonds recipient of the Talent Development Grant
2019 Taking the Kitchen’s Side, Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2019, Portugal
2019 Artist Residency WE ARE NEVER ALONE curated by Metasitu, Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine
2019 Selected Creatives 2019 of the Future Architecture Platform

Reasons for Selection
Through research on horaimai, a type of rice brought to Taiwan when it was a colony of Japan, Klodiana Millona and Yuan Chun Liu will focus on the rice crop improvements that took place at that time within the entanglement of politics, technological innovation, land improvement, and economics. Deconstructing the image the West tends to have about Taiwan as an abundant and peaceful land, this project continually probes the intrinsic historical correlation between agriculture in Taiwan and powerful nations. The duo plans to conduct work online through doing research at an archive about Meiji-era (1868–1912) foreign policy and speaking with experts. The project is expected to reveal perspectives objectively interpreting present-day agriculture alongside subtly illuminating aspects of farmland and crop development in terms of how governance has historically related to rice and the land.

Selected WorksShow Image
ActivitiesShow Image

Resident Artists 2020

Ieva Raudsepa  <Latvia>

millonaliu [Klodiana Millona & Yuan Chun Liu]  <Albania/Taiwan>

OLTA  <Japan>