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The 7th Taiwan Arts Award Nominee: Taiwan Field Factory(Curator) "Art Installation in Tree Valley Park's Public Space"

Taiwan Field Factory(Curator) "Art Installation in Tree Valley Park's Public Space"

Taiwan Field Factory's "Art Installation in Tree Valley Park's Public Space" opened in Tree Valley Park, Sinshih Township, Tainan County in July, 2007 and is nominated for a 2008 Taishin Arts Award. Here, the group discusses their project and public art in southern Taiwan.

We formed our group Taiwan Field Factory (TFF) in October 2004. In TFF, we work as curators and organizers rather than as artists. We help people get involved in local cultural and ecological events, and we host various training programs for young people who are interested and committed to participate in preservation works. We executed the Kio-A-Thau Artist-in Residency Program in Kaohsiung, sponsored by the Kaohsiung City Culture Bureau, and which we currently operate as a gallery and public space.

Our Taishin-nominated work Public Art in Tree Valley Park is located in the world’s first industrial area established specifically for the production of LCD-TV. The corporation owner, the Chi Mei Group wanted to create an ecological landscaped park with public art. We selected 22 various art works to help beautify the park and create a pleasant environment for the local community. We also held workshops and seminars to build bridges between artists, employees and the local residents. We felt that Tree Valley Park should be developed as a cultural property and public space for the community, so instead of professional gardeners planting mature trees, we had the local residents planting small trees.

During the work, we saw a lot people from diverse sectors. From the beginning of the public art project, we worked intuitively of course. But once starting, the work became well-researched as it entailed lots of discussions and huge problem-solving. Whether our process was intuitive or well-researched, it all relates with what we have done in the Kio-a-Thau Sugar Refinery during the past 14 years. So in that regard, we were experienced in working with lots of different interest groups and knowledgeable in how to make the project a success.   

In this work, culture is brought to a new high-tech industry zone. Visual imagination exists as well as aural imagination. The stark contrast between a new high-tech industry and a 4,800 year-old archaeological site turns out to be our most important issue. To face the heritage of Taiwan or to face what we call "civilized modernity" became a criticism of the project. Obviously we had to find a way to appease both sides, that is, to protect and preserve the ancient history while also making the project contemporary.

For our way of working, we have to gather all information and deal with issues that we really care about. Then, we will discuss all possibilities though the curatorial meeting. It is very important that people (the workers, the old residential community, the owner, landscapers and artists) and place (ecology and archeology concerns) will be slowly coming together though participation and dialogue.

One of the most interesting and exciting things about the site is that we could visit our ancestry. This is an archeological site 4,800 years old. We saw the bones and pottery remains of this ancient culture. It was really a big shock for us to encounter a culture we didn't really know, yet, these were our ancestors and we were born from them. We saw what they ate, how they lived, and what they believed in this old land. Many of the chosen artworks reflect the are's rich aboriginal history.

 -----As told to Susan KendzulaK

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