Sat, Jan 05, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Locals argue relevance of Tainan sculpture

EYE OF THE BEHOLDER:One critic said artist Chuang Chin-wen’s sculpture ‘Against the Wind’ has no connection to the history or culture of the park it was placed in

By Hung Jui-chin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A replica of the sculpture Against the Wind is pictured at Tang Te-chang Memorial Park in Tainan on Thursday.

Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei Times

Preservationists have criticized a replica sculpture installed at Tainan’s newly renovated Tang Te-chang Memorial Park (湯德章紀念公園) as lacking in relevance to the city’s history.

The park is named after Tang Te-chang, a prominent civic leader killed in 1949 during the White Terror, and it is also the site of the former residence of Qing Dynasty artist Lin Zhaoying (林朝英).

The Tainan City Government on Dec. 7 last year installed a replica of contemporary artist Chuang Chin-wen’s (莊靜雯) Against the Wind (逆境之風), which is in the Tainan Art Museum’s collection.

“A public art piece should have an intrinsic connection to the history and culture of a place, which Against the Wind utterly lacks,” said Huang Wei-fen (黃微芬), a frequent author on subjects related to the city’s culture.

Huang made the remarks in a Facebook post on Dec. 13, which has since been removed.

A member of the Tainan City Archive Committee had suggested that the city government put a statue of Lin in the park, as he was an iconic figure in Tainan and Taiwanese culture, whereas the sculpture the city selected was not even an original, she said.

The statue is displayed at the museum and at least one other copy has been used to decorate the lobby of a luxury condominium, Huang said, adding that the city’s decision was “puzzling.”

Yeh Tung-tai (葉東泰), who owns a teahouse based on a colonial-era building in Tainan, said that the city should have used a more transparent process when making a decision about the sculpture.

“This is a missed opportunity for Tainan residents to understand local history,” he added.

Tainan Art and Design Association president Chen Hsin-heng (陳信亨) said the park is already a municipal heritage site and does not need a statue.

The Tainan Department of Cultural Affairs on Thursday said that Chuang’s artwork was selected by its public art workgroup, because it is an open and inclusive symbol for the city, and the group’s deliberations followed city guidelines.

Limited replication of famous art pieces is a routine practice for modern artists and in no way diminishes the statute’s value, it said.

The city began searching for a statute after pro-Taiwanese independence protestors toppled the park’s statute of Republic of China founder Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) in 2014, before it was designated a municipal heritage site.

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