Engaging tour of public sculptures in Taipei – Borneo Post Online


An article published in November 2011 in BorneoPost online thrusts the public art of Taipei City into the limelight. Writer Ghaz Ghazali uses a description of the works that he comes across during his time in Taiwan’s capital to outline the art form’s local development.

One of the pieces of public art that was on display at the 2011 Taipei Lantern Festival.

One of the pieces of public art that was on display at the 2011 Taipei Lantern Festival.

Click here to read the original article, titled “Having an ‘art attack’ in Taipei”, as published on BorneoPost online.

From the Atlas globe in front of Taoyuan International airport to the gleaming Millennium Arch by Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum, Ghazali reports that the city is well supplied with a diverse range of public artworks.

I began to notice that Taipei – enterprising and economically vibrant to the world – is also very artistic with quite a number of public art displays dotting the city. I got my first ‘art attack’ during my tour to the Taipei Sogo shopping mall. It was during my stroll around the grounds enjoying the cool, crisp autumn afternoon that I immediately noticed a very unique sculpture near the mall’s entrance. Just looking at it made me hungry. Why? Because to me, it looked just like a big ball of twisted white dough. Unfortunately, as I got closer, I couldn’t see any plaque bearing the name of the creator. Strange looking as it was, the ‘twisted dough’ sculpture was amongst many publicly-displayed, government-funded artworks throughout Taipei and across the island republic.

Shu Min Lin, 'Stonehenge', set in 2004 (Shilin District, Taipei City), tempered glass, mirror, sensor, speaker.

Shu Min Lin, 'Stonehenge', set in 2004, tempered glass, mirror, sensor, speaker, Shilin District, Taipei City.

Quoting a study by Chou Ya Ching, a researcher at the Taiwanese Council for Cultural Affairs, the article relates that the earliest example of art installed in a public place, dated 1930, was Liao Chiu-Kuei’s gigantic bas relief Herd of Water Buffalo, today in Chungshan Hall in Taipei. Since then, the idea of “landscape art” slowly started to gain impetus.

During the economically booming 1990’s, more importance began to be attached to the issue of art and environment in Taipei. The Government, eager to balance the problems associated with extreme urbanisation and commercial development, and to promote itself culturally, increasingly endorsed public art projects and in 1998 ratified the Public Art Establishment Measures, stipulating that public artworks were to be installed in highly visible locations. A total of 1,790 public artworks were installed in Taiwan between 1998 and 2009. Chou observed:

The numbers could have easily reached 2,000 artworks by now. In Taipei itself, more than 400 works of public art are now gracing many of the city’s public areas […] Whether looked at from the perspective of buildings, urban planning or art, we live in a time when greater attention is gradually being paid to public art. Indeed, it could reasonably be said public art is the fastest developing and most changeable visual form in Taiwan today.

From a giant red birdcage encasing a sculpted tree on the intersection of Dunhua South Road and Anhe Road, to the traffic lights mounted on a huge zebra behind on Civic Boulevard, the city is replete with curious artworks. Around the National Taiwan Science Education Centre, science-related works merge contemporary art with scientific theories and technology. The Nankan Software Park in Nangang District, a former industrial area of Taipei, hosts site-specific projects by nine artists of different backgrounds, while in Xinyi Commercial District, most public artworks were created by overseas artists, reflecting the district’s cosmopolitan nature.

One of the most intriguing projects of urban renewal in Taipei, the Dihua Sewage Treatment Plant, an environmentally critical spot, has been turned into a leisure and sports park with public installations relating to nature and water to raise ecological awareness. Since 2011, public art spaces have became part of Taipei Lantern Festival, further integrating public art into Taiwanese traditional culture.

Hsu May, 'Garden', set in 1999 (Da'an District, Taipei City).

Hsu May, 'Garden', set in 1999, Da'an District, Taipei City.

Share your favourite piece of public art in Taipei City with us by leaving a comment below.


Related Topics: Taiwanese artists, public art, art venues in Taiwan

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar for more on interesting public art projects

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.