The arts in Taiwan have coexisted along parallel streams, often without mutual contact. At the highest, Government-funded arts cater to the elite avant-garde who glorify university fine art departments and national or municipal museums.
\nEvery two years in Venice, some of these Taiwanese artists meet other avant-gardists (again), exchange the latest ideas and then bring them back to their respective lands. Such contacts make the world a smaller place as images and concepts spread -- sometimes like a virus -- affecting Venice art participants and their associates at home yearning to "modernize." Their videos or installations, however, usually remain unknown to Taiwan's population at large.
\nAt the lowest end are the traditional "backwater" manifestations at temples and temple-markets that still exude strong regional flavors, tastes and images encountered nowhere else on earth.
\nIn between fall high school art classes and workshops teaching people to sketch from Western plaster busts, and the vast majority of Taiwan's modern public who are too urbanized to recognize local traditions, or too lacking in art education to be interested in experiencing "modern art."
\nIn recent years, however, there has been a healthy development in Taiwan bringing arts to people by way of artists colonies. The government has been funding imaginative reclamation projects where abandoned sugar factories in their park-like environs are transformed into open-air theaters, art galleries, warehouse-sized show-cases, conference sites and individual artists' housing complexes.
\nIn Taiwan's southernmost Pingdong County is the little fishing village of Fangliao. Its waterways are crammed with fishing boats and nets, and its restaurants resplendent with fish and seafood freshly caught. Fangliao is celebrated for bell-shaped "Black Pearl" bell-fruit of glowing dark crimson skin, and tiny whitebait called Burahi.
\nNow we can say that Fangliao is celebrated also for its admirable Fangliao Artists' Village (
PHOTO COURTESY OF FANGLIAO ARTISTS' VILLAGE
Taiwan’s rapid economic development between the 1950s and the 1980s is often attributed to rational planning by highly-educated and impartial technocrats. Those who look at history through blue-tinted spectacles argue that, for much of the post-war period, the government was staffed by Chinese who fled China after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lost the civil war “who had no property interests in Taiwan and no connections with a landlord class,” leaving “the KMT party-state more autonomous from societal influences than governments [elsewhere in East Asia],” writes Gaye Christoffersen in Market Economics and Political Change: Comparing China and Mexico. At the same
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