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Art and architecture in Kaohsiung


I went to Kaohsiung (高雄) over the weekend. The sunny skies and warm temperatures were a nice contrast to Taipei of late. As well as enjoying the weather I was keen to see two sites of artistic and architectural significance that weren’t open to the public when I visited last year. My first stop was the Formosa Boulevard Station (美麗島捷運站) of the Kaohsiung MRT to see the Dome of Light (光之穹頂), a public art installation created by Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata.


I borrowed an audio guide from the KRTC Art Shop for NT$30. The guide gave a comprehensive narration, in English, of the key features of the artwork. The dome is very rich in detail and you can spend a long time visually exploring the it. The dome is divided into four sections: water, earth, light and fire. It also takes the form of a yin and yang symbol. Beginning with water it takes a journey through human life, exploring the stages of life and the place of humans in the universe.


The Formosa Boulevard Station is also currently hosting a Human Rights Exhibition for 30th anniversary of the Kaohsiung Incident. On 10 December 1979 Taiwan’s opposition movement staged a protest to mark Human Rights Day. Agent provocateurs in the crowd sparked off violence and in the subsequent crackdown the leaders of the movement were arrested including Chen Chu (陳菊) who is now the Mayor of Kaohsiung.


Inside the station you can also find the recently opened Human Rights Learning Studio (人權學堂). The studio opened earlier this month and hosts regular human rights education activities.


Later on Saturday afternoon I visited the World Games Stadium designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito. Built especially for the World Games held in July this year, the stadium not only looks stunning but incorporates 8,844 solar panels into its roof. The solar panels can generate electricity to power the stadium and the electricity is fed into the grid when the stadium is not in use.


Outside the stadium there is an installation of public art titled “Message of Peace” created by Yaacov Agam.


On Sunday I went to an exhibition at the Pier 2 Art Centre (駁2藝術園區) about the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Games. The exhibition detailed the many parts of the opening and closing ceremonies as well as having some of the costumes and sets on display. The NT$99 entry price included a free DVD of the opening and closing ceremonies. Outside the Art Centre there was an exhibition of container art — artworks created out of 40-foot shipping containers.


There was plenty to do and see in Kaohsiung. I wandered around the Lotus Lake with its distinctive Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. The city also has a well developed bike hire network with the new C-bike system at MRT stations. There are also other outlets offering bike hire. The MRT makes getting around the city very easy too.

*More photos in the Kaohsiung set at flickr.

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Comment from Todd
Time December 2, 2009 at 10:23 am

Kaohsiung is a great city! I had a blast when I visited earlier this year. It looks like you had a nice time, too. Great pics!