National Taiwan University professor Hsu Shih-jung (徐世榮) on Sunday made an appeal to the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman to draw upon his influence and block a massive land expropriation project in Taoyuan County involving the site on which one of Hofman’s giant sculptures is displayed.
The Taoyuan Landscape Art Festival, which opened on Thursday and runs through Sunday in the county’s Dayuan Township (大園), features a Moon Rabbit created by Hofman, among other works by Taiwanese and Chinese artists.
Hofman, whose Rubber Duck created a sensation in the nation last year, has said that the 25-meter-tall Moon Rabbit, made of waterproof paper, wood and Styrofoam, was inspired by a Mid-Autumn Festival folk tale which mentions a rabbit making an elixir on the moon.
The piece, lying against an aircraft hangar, is being displayed on the site of a now-defunct marine base south of Taoyuan International Airport, which the county government’s Aerotropolis plan has proposed demolishing so that the site can be transformed into a residential and commercial district.
The expropriation plan also includes the building of a third runway to the north of the airport’s current site, for which the city government plans to seize a number of residential areas.
“The Aerotropolis plan is a collusion between the Taoyuan County Government and unscrupulous construction companies and is meant to drive up property prices,” Hsu said in a Facebook post.
According to Hsu, the county government is aiming to seize up to 3,707 hectares of land and evict about 46,000 residents from 15,000 households for the Aerotropolis project, which covers 4,791 hectares, making the expropriation the largest in the nation’s history.
He told Hofman that members of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis Self-help Association protested before the opening ceremony for the Moon Rabbit artwork, but Taoyuan County Commissioner John Wu (吳志揚) “brutally” evicted them with the use of police force, injuring one member in the process.
Saying that Hofman’s works are not created to exist in a vacuum but with the concept of encouraging people to interact with the artwork and each other, Hsu implored the artist to help “bring back the smiles to the faces of the self-help group members” by facilitating interaction between residents and government officials, especially Wu.
“Would you please try to have people around the world to know the miserable reality of ‘Aerotropolis’ plan? Thank you very much, and I wish you to have a very successful Moon Rabbit festival,” he wrote.
Hsu said that as soon as he hears from Hofman, he would post the artist’s reply on Facebook.
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