A US-based Taiwanese artist was questioned briefly by the FBI on Dec. 11 after he projected giant images of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) flag and a Republic of China (ROC) flag on the side China's New York consulate and the UN's headquarters.
As part of his conceptual art piece Gordian Knots, artist Yang Chin-chih (楊金池) projected the DPP and ROC flags, as well as a "Taiwan independence symbol" on the walls of the consulate and the UN building in New York before being detained by an FBI agent and a UN security guard for questioning, Yang told the Taipei Times' in a telephone interview yesterday.
The original Gordian Knots which Yang's Web site said was deemed too controversial to be part of the "Beyond Measure" exhibition at the Taipei Cultural Center in New York last month and had to be exhibited elsewhere, consists of more than 2,300 ROC and Chinese flags, as well as the DPP flags tied into knots -- using what his Web site calls an "ancient Asian technique" -- on a Christmas tree, with lights intertwined in them.
Yang said that human relations inevitably are marked by mutual dependence and conflict, and that he was trying to show the distorted relationships between nations.
Feeling that a static piece would not be able to fully express this idea, Yang decided to expand his exhibition area to all of Manhattan by loading a projector on a truck, and projecting the image of a Christmas tree and various flags on the walls of different buildings.
Yang began at Rockefeller Center, moving on to the Museum of Modern Art and then the Chinese consulate and the UN building.
He said yesterday that he questioned by the FBI agent and UN guard for about 10 minutes until he produced a letter from the New York Foundation for the Arts that explained his project.
According to the Web site www.123soho.com, which is run by Yang, the "piece functions both as a Christmas decoration and also a challenge to the strong emotions surrounding flags."
The site also says that Yang "attempts to express the twisted relationships between nation states -- in this particular instance, between Taiwan and those nations that directly or indirectly oppose its independence. It is the artist's hope that by calling attention to these thorny global issues, an effort will be made to resolve them peacefully."
Yang, originally from Banciao,Taipei County, has lived in New York for 30 years.