Taiwan Needs Resistance Art: Where are the Taiwanese Artists Who Can Meet That Need?

  Previous  |  Next  

Friday April 03, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

If you ask a dozen people what the purpose of art is, you will get a dozen answers. For some art should stand for something, for others it communicates feelings, ideas, thoughts, expressions etc. Still for others it is there to inspire, to pacify, to heal, to make us think, to give us experience, to memorialize, to symbolize, to beautify etc. etc. You get my drift. But the subject I want to raise today is a more narrow type of art; an art that I believe Taiwan is in dire need of. Taiwan needs Resistance Art.

Taiwan is an island nation that in 1996 finally achieved a hard won democracy when the people got the right to publicly elect their president. To achieve this, the people had to overcome some fifty years of the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) Leninist one-party state, they had to endure and survive one of the longest periods of White Terror and Martial Law in history. To do this, they had to resist; they did and they won. But democracy once won, must still be protected and honored, and to do this, the people of Taiwan need resistance art.

When I say resistance art, I mean more than memorials. Taiwan has many of those like the 2/28 museum, Green Island museum, the 2-28 Monument and other shrine like places to memorialize those who suffered and survived. Resistance art is different; it is art that captures the spirit of resistance; the refusal of a people to bow to the dictator, the passionate desire to not let their human rights be abused. In Taiwan's case, it should certainly capture the people's unswerving spirit and desire to fight and fight on and on until they won their democracy.

Taiwan needs an art that says it will always resist the invader from without and the traitor within no matter who or what sheep's clothing and traditions such wolves try to put on. It is an art that says Taiwan treasures its freedom. If one truly and realistically supports Taiwan's democracy and freedom, whether one is blue or green, they will support this art. Weasels with ulterior motiveswill not. Taiwan is for Taiwan.

Pictures speak louder than words; let me give you a few examples of resistance art that I have seen. First and foremost is an unusual but powerful statue I saw in Warsaw, Poland, the "Monument to a Child Soldier" or "Little Insurgent" (Pomnik Malego Powstanca). It speaks of the Polish resistance to Nazi imperialism and the duty of all to join in. It reprimands any that hold back. If a child can resist, why can't you? The citizens of Poland understand this and put fresh flowers before the statue every day.

The Clenched Fist from the 1968 Olympics and the Civil Rights struggles in America is another symbol of resistance and called on blacks to continue resisting against the biased and unjust system until their full rights were won.

The "Don't Tread on Me" Gadsden Flag from the American Revolution speaks of how the early Americans felt. It warns outside oppressors to respect American Independence.

These are just a few examples of how people express their beliefs and goals, their past experience and their future.

To the future generations of Taiwan, I hope you can find what symbolizes your quest for freedom and democracy. Find the ideals that say "I am Taiwanese; I love my homeland and will resist anyone who tries to take it from me or control it." The need is there; where are the artists who can answer it?

To see examples of references mentioned on this site as well as a Taiwan poster-art sign after China passed its "Anti-Secession Law" click here. The need is there; where are the artists who can answer it?