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Exhibition invites new vision of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

2017/12/09 20:29:40

Taipei, Dec. 9 (CNA) An exhibition kicked off at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei on Saturday, encouraging the public to re-imagine and re-interpret the space, as part of a government-led effort to push transitional justice.

The exhibition, titled "Imagine: Transitional Justice," displays photos and videos by artists and architects that depict their vision of the hall and how it could be used in the future. The displays also feature artists' interpretations of the era of the late Republic of China President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

Among the displays are two photo collages by artist Chen Ching-yao (陳擎耀), each showing a different interpretation of the Chiang family dynamics.

The first collage depicts a formal portrait, with Chiang standing in the middle flanked by his family members.

The second collage shows a back view of the family with upright supports taped to their backs, while Chiang himself is in a sitting position and strapped to a chair.

Chen said the two pieces were inspired by written and oral accounts of Chiang's last years, in which his guards said he was in poor health and could hardly stay upright. Chiang, however, wanted to maintain power so he often asked his guards to tape him to a chair so he could continue to greet foreign guests, Chen said, citing the accounts.

Chen said his art pieces depict Chiang's waning power in his last years, which "could barely be fixed or repaired with tape."

The exhibition is aimed at showing that Taiwan has entered a new era of democracy, Deputy Culture Minister Ting Hsiao-ching (丁曉菁) said at the opening. It signals that "the Ministry of Culture hopes to return power to the people to interpret Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall," she said.

Psychiatrist Lin Hsin-nan (林信男), who is a member of an advisory group promoting the transformation of the hall, said the timing of the exhibition is meaningful, as it opened ahead of Human Rights Day, Dec. 10.

"What we need most at present is to lift the martial law in our souls," he said, adding that such a process could take longer than the physical transformation of monuments.

The exhibition will run until April 8, 2018.

Taiwan's Legislature on Dec. 5 enacted a law to establish a transitional justice system that will review and address the legacy of injustices left by former Kuomintang (KMT) administrations, focusing on the period Aug. 15, 1945 to Nov. 6, 1992.

The passage of the law has renewed discussions about the transformation of the CKS memorial hall, which was built during a period of authoritarian rule.

Many believe Chiang was behind the government's crackdown on the local population in the 228 Incident in 1947 that, according to a previous investigation commissioned by the Cabinet, left 18,000 to 28,000 people dead.

The incident was triggered by a bloody clash between government officials and a cigarette vendor in Taipei on Feb. 27, 1947 that quickly turned into an anti-government uprising and was put down by the KMT government.

(By Christie Chen)