The National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (國立海洋生物博物館) in Pingtung County is hosting a rather unusual art exhibit through Jan. 10, one that focuses as much on human beings and their impact on the environment as it does on ocean life.
Although the exhibit is titled Turning the Tide, turning the tables would perhaps more apt, since the three installations seek to help visitors see the world through the eyes of the denizens of the sea.
This is the first time the nine-year-old museum has hosted an exhibition of environmental art. As American artist Jane Ingram Allen, who curated the show, tells it, the project came together very quickly.
“It was a sort of very quick competition. I asked artists I knew and thought would do it. I sent invites out to 80 and got 57 proposals back,” Allen said in a telephone interview. “We began working on the show in October and the artists came on Nov. 25, so there was only a month to get it together.”
Allen chose one Taiwanese artist — Kang Ya-chu (康雅筑) of Taipei — and two Europeans, Karin van der Molen from the Netherlands and Frenchman Thierry Godet, who now lives in Germany.
Godet’s work, Fishing Basket, is a structure in the shape of a fish made of bamboo and driftwood, with a large opening at the tail and a smaller exit at the mouth of the trap, forcing people to bend down to get out. He wanted to make people think about the problem of over-fishing.
The original idea was to erect the piece outdoors, but the windy weather in Pingtung and other considerations quickly ruled that plan out.
“They have an outdoor space but they wouldn’t let us use it for security issues ... so it ended up that the Waters of the World pavilion was the only space we could use. But it turned out to be the best place,” Allen said. “It’s really funny. There are several entrances to the pavilion but everyone has been choosing to enter through the trap. You really have to bend down to get out. I saw some kids are doing the limbo, people with strollers trying to get through, it was really crazy.”
“Then the first thing they are confronted by is the huge net by Karen. It’s four or five floors up, really big, but it had to be big to fill the space,” Allen said.
Van der Molen’s net, titled The Trap, was woven of sisal and other natural rope materials and is connected to a container of seawater on the floor so that salt crystals will form on it over time. The idea is to show what humans have done to the oceans through careless pollution.
Hanging from the ceiling is Kang’s Skeletons, made from driftwood, plastic bottles and other garbage, all encased in plastic sheeting to resemble the exoskeletons of marine creatures. Kang wanted to draw attention both to endangered sealife and the problem of human garbage in the oceans.
“Kang’s is a soft sculpture. We went to a nearby beach where there was a shipwreck to collect garbage. We got plastic waste from the ship, from the beach, everything, even flip-flops,” Allen said.
“We had six student volunteers from Tainan National University [of the Arts]. They came for two days and were really wonderful, really dedicated,” Allen said. “The artists did much bigger works than they had originally planned because of the space and the volunteers’ help.”
WHAT: Turning the Tide
WHEN: Until Jan. 10. Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am to 5pm
WHERE: National Museum of Marine Biology and
Aquarium (國立海洋生物博物館), 2 Houwan Rd, Checheng Township, Pingtung County
(屏東縣車城鄉後灣村後灣路2號). Tel: (08) 882-500
ADMISSION: NT$450 for adults, NT$250 for children, students and senior citizens
ON THE NET:www.nmmba.gov.tw
This year’s Kuandu Arts Festival (關渡藝術節), which opened on Sept. 23 and runs through Nov. 29, is focused on music. Under the theme “Joy of Music,” a nod to the 250th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven, the program features performances by seven symphony orchestras as well as several Taipei National University of the Arts (TNUA, 國立臺北藝術大學) student and faculty shows, in addition to the annual film and animation festivals. However, there is still room for other performing arts, and two productions this weekend and next at the university in the hills of Taipei’s Guandu area (關渡) feature students from the
The prognosis for biodiversity on Earth is grim. According to a sobering report released by the UN last year, 1 million land and marine species across the globe are threatened with extinction — more than at any other period in human history. According to a recent study, about 20 percent of the countries in the world risk ecosystem collapse due to the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, a result of human activity in tandem with a warming climate. The US is the ninth most at risk. Despite this desperate outlook, the Trump administration, as part of its aggressive rollback of regulations designed
A disconsolate mother dressed in white wanders through Mexico City’s floating gardens looking for her children killed by COVID-19, in a pandemic-era adaptation of a legend rooted in Aztec mythology. The traditional play La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) returns to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Xochimilco ahead of the Day of the Dead with a poignant tribute to the victims of COVID-19. The ghost with flowing black hair, who according to legend reappears every year searching for her downed children, has spread throughout Latin America. “It’s dedicated to the memory of all the people who left without saying goodbye to their loved