The "Monuments of Injustice: Design Competition on Visual Identity for Sites of Negative Heritage" exhibition curated by the National Human Rights Museum will began its Taiwan tour on June 18 at the Taichung-based Cultural Heritage Park, where the first phase of the exhibition is scheduled to run through Aug. 11.
This touring exhibition aims to elaborate upon the historical factors behind Taiwan's negative heritage sites and the artistic ideas involved in these newly released design works. The last leg of the nationwide tour will be held at the Tainan Cultural and Creative Park from Aug. 21 to Oct. 27.
After 38 years of martial rule known as the "White Terror," Taiwan remains dotted with sites of negative heritage that were formerly used to detain, interrogate, torture, imprison, execute, and bury political victims. The museum noted that these sites are important historical monuments that tell people of a time when the government used violence to curb human rights.
The museum hopes the exhibition tour will introduce the concept of "sites of injustice" to Taiwan's citizens by helping them learn more about this part of Taiwanese history and reconsider transitional justice from different aspects through cultural activities that exhibit artistic works, architectural proposals, and design projects concerning this very issue.
The museum identified 45 sites of injustice during its preparatory stage by conducting studies and investigations across the nation. This was followed by the May 31, 2018 establishment of the Transitional Justice Commission, whose major tasks are removing antiquated icons that symbolize Taiwan's authoritarian past and preserving White Terror sites.
As the major engineer behind the campaign of preserving such sites of injustice, the museum pointed out that there are many ways to commemorate negative heritage. For instance, the German "Stolperstein" project, meaning "stumbling stone," is a decentralized memorial across Europe involving over 70,000 concrete cubes each bearing a brass plate inscribed with the name of a victim of Nazi persecution. The stolperstein is installed in front of the victim's last home and serves as a quiet reminder for passersby.
The museum began inviting artists last year to offer their proposals that could help memorialize the sites of injustice so that different people of all ages can gain a better sense of Taiwan under White Terror. The open call culminated in 21 artists and 19 sets of proposals straddling audiovisual arts, architecture, and design.
While planning to convert these ideas into real-life monuments, the museum will invite more art creators to joint its plan in turning the nation's negative heritage from the past into collective assets that can be shared by Taiwan's people in the future through artistic creations that honestly reflect history.
More information is available on the museum's website at www.nhrm.gov.tw.