Sat, Mar 08, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Kaohsiung MRT art illuminated

LIGHTING UP The Red Line of the Kaohsiung MRT will open tomorrow afternoon. Passengers may ride for free for until the end of the Tombsweeping holiday

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER IN KAOHSIUNG

The illumination of the world's largest public glass art work -- the Dome of Light -- at Kaohsiung Rapid Transit System's Formosa Boulevard Station yesterday marked the official beginning of the city's era of transformation.

During the opening ceremony held under the dome yesterday, Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corp (KRTC) chairman Lin Wen-yuan (林文淵) announced the company's plan to commence operation of the north-south Red Line tomorrow afternoon.

The launch was confirmed after the company obtained its permit of operation from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday morning, Lin said.

During an inspection of the Red Line on Tuesday, MOTC inspectors gave the company a conditional green light of operation, demanding the company correct five flaws, including running tests of all ticketing machines and obtaining official documents proving the safety of the system's firefighting equipment.

Free rides will be granted to passengers for a period of one month through the end of the Tombsweeping holiday early next month, Lin said yesterday.

The new service is expected to bring major changes to the lifestyle of Kaohsiung residents as this is the city's first rapid transit route.

Yesterday's ceremony was held at the Formosa Boulevard Station, which is near the site of the Kaohsiung Incident.

The Kaohsiung Incident, also known as the Formosa Incident, took place on Dec. 10, 1979, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government cracked down and imprisoned participants in an anti-government parade organized by Formosa magazine.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who attended the ceremony, said the illumination of the dome is particularly meaningful to Taiwanese people, who have been pursuing freedom and democracy.

The 660m2 dome, created by Italian maestro Narcissus Quagliata, embodies the incident in the art work, the KRTC said.

The work displays the spirit of "tolerance" through the incorporation of the elements "water," "earth," "light" and "fire" into the art piece, the KRTC said.

"I was aware that here in this square a very important incident happened," Quagliata said. "I felt it was a responsible and interesting thing to relink and include that in our project so that people will remember the incident."

The dome, which is composed of four major quadrants, also explores themes related to reincarnation such as "birth, growth, honor, destruction and rebirth," the KRTC said.

"Transportation and transformation are linked," Quagliata said.

"When a city decides to change, the first thing it changes is the way people move," Quagliata told the Taipei Times.

"When that happens, the city transforms itself, and there is an opportunity for many things to happen, in art, business, lifestyle and many departments," he said.

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