Sat, Apr 13, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Art and Taiwan’s global standing

By Chen Chih-wei 陳治維

Although liberty, equality and democracy are deeply rooted in people’s minds, controversy at the London School of Economics and Political Science has triggered heated debate and made people reflect once again on the respect and inclusive spirit beneath these values.

On March 26, the institute unveiled a sculpture titled The World Turned Upside Down designed by Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger.

Wallinger was quoted as saying: “This is the world as we know it from a different viewpoint. Familiar, strange and subject to change.”

The intention of the artwork was to inspire people to view the world from different perspectives, as well as to reflect on the spirit of progressive inquiry that has characterized the institute since its inception with the motto “rerum cognoscere causas” (“to know the causes”) on its badge.

However, the work with its profound meaning has been caught up in controversy.

Echoing the soul of the work as an academic, I would like to express my humble opinion to reconsider and reflect on this issue from a broader and more inclusive perspective.

As Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in the UK, I was deeply moved by the astonishing concept of the design, which encapsulates the spirit of turning the world upside down to convey the anticipation of enlightening people to reflect on the world with broader and more inclusive visions, as well as bring liberty, equality and other shared values to understand and embrace this world. Its location at the London School of Economics and Political Science, a world-renowned institute, no doubt endowed this artwork with more educational impact.

Furthermore, the UN officially launched its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015, highlighting the critical issues that society is facing and emphasizing that everyone in the world should endeavor to achieve the goals, especially SDG No. 17, which stresses the importance of global partnerships.

Former UN Assembly president Mogens Lykketoft said that the “global goals will only be realized in a world of peace, security and respect for human rights.”

The spirit of the goals is also reflected in the artwork, with the title from a ballad of the same name that dates back to the English Revolution, or English Civil War, from 1642 to 1651. It was used as a tribute to Protestant reformer and political philosopher Gerrard Winstanley and the ideals of the Protestant Digger Community.

Winstanley’s “The True Levellers Standard Advanced” manifesto says that “when once the Earth becomes a common treasury again, as it must... Then this enmity in all lands will cease, for none shall dare to seek a dominion over others, neither shall any dare to kill another, nor desire more of the Earth than another.”

The artwork is full of inspirational insights, but it has accidentally triggered a controversy about sovereignty.

From the perspective of geography, the world already knows that Taiwan is no doubt one of the most important countries in East Asia, as it embraces and guards the values of liberty, equality and democracy, which are true values shared by society.

As a member of the world, Taiwan has its own identity and cherishes basic human rights.

SDG No. 17 says that identity and international space should be respected, rather than be suppressed by totalism. The coprosperity of all societies lies in global partnerships, which can only be achieved through respect and an inclusive spirit — the values beneath liberty, equality and democracy.

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