Fri, Feb 18, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Literature musuem has new shows

HISTORICAL LINKS The two exhibitions that open Sunday at the two-year- old Tainan-based museum are its most ambitious yet

By Wang Hsiao-wen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin Juei-ming, director of the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature, talks about two new exhibitions on the development of Taiwanese literature and Taiwanese architecture during a press conference held at the Council for Cultural Affairs yesterday. The two exhibitions will open on Sunday and run for three years.


The National Museum of Taiwanese Literature is inviting the public to flip through pages of Taiwan's literary past and find their cultural roots by launching an exhibition on the development of Taiwanese literature.

"Taiwanese literature is a diverse entity that involves many ethnic groups and evolves with different political rules," museum director Lin Juei-ming (林瑞明) said at a press conference yesterday.

"The exhibition will chart the ups and downs of Taiwanese literature and feature some works of Taiwan writers since early 1920s," he said.

Lin said the exhibition will encompass four periods of Taiwanese literature.

The first is traditional literature at the time of Dutch colonial rule, the Cheng family of Ming loyalists and the Ching Empire.

The second period is the 50-year Japanese colonial era, when writing was often used as a means of resistance and struggle.

The other two periods encompass works written under the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government and the Democratic Progressive Party's administration.

The exhibition, which opens Sunday at the museum in Tainan is scheduled to run for three years. On display will be manuscripts by distinguished writers such as Lai Ho (賴和), who is lauded as "the father of Taiwan's new literature," and various translated versions of Taiwan's most widely translated novel, The Butcher's Wife, penned by the feminist writer Li Ang (李昂). The exhibition is the museum's most ambitious project since its opening in 2003.

"On the sidelines of the literature exhibition, we will also have an exhibition on the architecture of the Tainan State Hall, the site of the museum," Lin said.

"We have spent a total of NT$25 million [US$790,000] on these two projects, the most significant projects we have ever undertaken," he said.

In an age of multimedia, an exhibition on the art of words could have limited appeal to the public. Lin knows this very well and so the museum has used audio and visual aids to recreate the literary world of another time and place to attract more visitors.

The museum has borrowed relics from the Lai Ho Foundation to recreate the diagnosis room of the doctor/writer, a space where the writer drew inspiration from his patients and nurtured his sympathy for the poor.

To revive the aura of Taiwanese literature, the museum also planned two theme exhibitions with literary relics and historical data. One centers on an ox plowing a field or dragging a wagon, a symbol of the nation's agricultural past and a recurrent image in earlier literary works.

For the theme of farming, for example, the socialist writer Lu Ho-juo's (呂赫若) maiden work Ox cart and Wang Chen-ho's (王禎和) short story A Ox-cart Full of Dowry will be on display for onlookers to "feel" the rural life depicted with unaffected realism in both stories.

Another theme exhibition will feature a railway, a metaphor for Taiwan's social transformation and its steady march towards the 21st century.

"The National Museum of Taiwan Literature is not just a library," said Council for Cultural Affairs Chairman Chen Chi-nan (陳其南). "We will materialize fictional scenes and contextualize them. By doing so, we hope to offer a channel to all the people, not just intelligentsia, for developing an appreciation for Taiwanese literature."

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