Mon, Oct 06, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRA accused of sabotaging art

‘A BRUTAL ACT’:Two artists have slammed the treatment of their public artworks in Banciao Station. The TRA said it made the modifications due to safety concerns

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Huang Ming-che’s artwork Desire is Flying, before alterations were made, is displayed in Banciao Station in an undated photo taken from the Ministry of Culture’s Web site.

Photo: Huang Li-hsiang, Taipei Times

Two artists have accused the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) of sabotaging their artworks in New Taipei City’s Banciao Station (板橋) by making modifications unilaterally and not informing the artists first.

The artworks — three created by artist Kristy Chu (曲家瑞) and one by artist Huang Ming-che (黃銘哲) — were used by the Ministry of Transportaion and Communications’ Railway Reconstruction Bureau to decorate the then-newly built Banciao Station in 2002.

However, two of Chu’s works were recently found to have been covered up by canvas, and the piece Have You Eaten Yet? (呷飽沒) was missing.

The lower part of Huang’s piece was removed because the TRA said it was obstructing passengers walking in the station. The artwork had cost about NT$14 million (US$460,000) to construct.

Huang said in an interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that he had absolutely no idea that his artwork, titled Desire is Flying (慾望在飛行) was being modified.

He said the modification was “a brutal act” and that the TRA had failed to recognize the passion of the artist and had killed it instead.

Chu, who is known for being frank and outspoken, said the TRA showed no respect to artists.

She said that one of her artworks in the station, Graduation Class of 2010 (畢業班2010), took her about eight months to complete as she needed to go to an elementary school in Banciao and create work based on the images of the students, adding it also helped her win the Public Art Award for involving public participation in the creation of the pieces.

Chu said she spent about two years working on the other two pieces, On the Way Home (回家路上) and Have You Eaten Yet? which were inspired by the faces of people on the streets.

The TRA might as well give these works back to her if it does not appreciate them, so that she can sell them and donate the money to disadvantaged children in remote areas, she said.

In response, TRA Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said the agency needs to review how it places public art, but he said the allegation of sabotaging the artwork was exagerrated.

He said the TRA had in the past adjusted the locations in which some of the works were placed because they could get in the way of people using the station.

Chou said the TRA had moved the lower half of Huang’s artwork a long time ago, adding that it is unlikely to put that part back because it prevented passengers from moving around the station freely.

He also said that the canvases covering Chu’s Graduation Class 2010 and On the Way Home would be removed immediately.

The lower part of Desire is Flying and Chu’s piece Have You Eaten Yet? should still be in storage, Chou added.

According to the TRA, the lower part of Desire is Flying was only 1.8m above the ground when the piece was installed in the station, and many passengers complained that they hit their heads on it.

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