Enveloped in an air of mystery for the past five decades, a red-brick townhouse situated close to Taiepei’s bustling eastern disctrict has now cracked open its gates to visitors in the lead-up to its renovation.
The two-story townhouse with its white-painted steel fences and fancy carvings had once been the residence of a doctor, and with its high walls effectively removing the house and its gardens from public sight, it has constantly been a topic of discussion for passers-by.
However, now the veil of mystery is to be lifted after the house was sold to the Fubon Financial Group.
As part of the group’s ongoing “Very Fun Park” event, it has opened the townhouse’s gates to a curious public for the first time in the house’s history.
Fourteen artists have been invited to use the townhouse’s interior — eight rooms and two sitting rooms — and exterior to mount exhibitions.
Despite the artists’ works, the former owner’s occupation can still be felt in the way the rooms have been partitioned off, the occasional sack of medicine and a medical journal or two cluttering the corners of the house.
Stepping through the door, artist Heidi Voet’s rug — “woven” from 3,000 digital watches — can be seen in front of the first- floor fireplace, and as each watch strikes the hour, various works of classical music can be heard resonating from the carpet.
The work of Akiko Ikeda, inspired by pop-up books, features small 3D figurines which have been sculpted from the surfaces of magazines which are scattered around the library, creating the impression of Lilliputians inhabiting the room.
Ujino, another artist, fashioned the The District of Plywood City for his Rotor series by using a blender, electric drills, guitars and phonograph records.
Kang Ya-chu (康雅筑) recreated a miniature version of the townhouse by weaving together felted wool, hoping to express through the material itself her idea of “home.”
Meanwhile, Hsu Wei-hui (徐薇蕙) created a flower which hangs on the walls of the restroom by intricately lacing facial masks together, hoping to express through the creases and folds in the masks the passage of time. In another series using the same medium, Hsu laced the facial masks into the form of a gun, using the paradox of portraying a firearm — traditionally a masculine symbol — made from a feminine product to symbolize the hidden strengths of women.
The Film of Light by Tao Ya-lun (陶亞倫) attempts to create for his audience the sense of entering an alien dimension through the creation of kaleidoscopic walls of light in a darkened room.
In the courtyard of the townhouse, there sits a spectacular Alice’s Doughnut, under which visitors can sit on a chair. The imagery and name is designed to evoke Wonderland in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.