• News
  • Dec 29, 2021

Taiwan Pavilion Artist Faces Accusations of Sexual Assault

Portrait of SAKULIU PAVAVALJUNG, Taiwan’s representative at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, by Chen-Hsiang Liu. Courtesy Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

Paiwanese artist Sakuliu Pavavaljung, who was selected for the Taiwan Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, has been accused of committing rape and sexual assault in several social-media posts. In response, on December 20, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which organizes Taiwan’s collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennale, suspended preparations for the event. Meanwhile, documenta fifteen has also halted Pavavaljung’s participation in its upcoming edition until “facts are clarified.”

Allegations began to surface after artist Kuo Yu Ping published a Facebook post titled “Town Story” on December 16. The post describes an unnamed 19-year-old girl who was brought into a forest without any communication devices and raped by her art teacher, a Paiwan artist with the pseudonym “Gulu Sa.” The post drew strong reactions from the art community, as it raised suspicions about the identity of “Gulu Sa,” a near homonym with “Sakuliu” in Chinese.

Kuo’s post sparked a series of other revelations on social media including by a woman named Yu Yueh Lien, who claimed that Pavavaljung attempted to sexually assault her in 2006 when he was the artist-in-residence in Dulan Village in Taitung. Yu alleged that Pavavaljung forced her to kiss him and tore off her clothes until she managed to stop him. Her post then spurred another series of anonymous revelations on the Facebook group page “Kaobei Art,” under the hashtag #metoo.

The police department in Pingtung is investigating the case. On December 24, Pavavaljung released his own statement denying all the allegations, and said he will continue his preparations for the international exhibitions in Venice and Kassel. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s National Culture and Arts Foundation is considering rescinding Pavavaljung’s National Award for Arts.