The currents of time have sparked interactions and exchanges across the globe. This advances the progress of civilizations, giving rise to human migration and mobility and leading to the diverse fusion of cultures. In the face of today’s multicultural Canada that emphasizes diversity as a foundational national value, where one out of every four Canadians identify as an immigrant… How do our different cultural heritages impact Canadian culture?
During the Era of Exploration, the outward travels of European nations encouraged frequent cross-sea international trade. The arrival of the West spurred on interactions among Asian countries. At the same time, on the other side of the Pacific in the Americas, similar experiences unfolded.
As a result of international trade, lifestyles in various nations gradually evolved, leaving their mark on culture and society. Seeking better lives, adapting to changing times, and the curiosity to explore the unknown led people to move to other countries. These migrants bring their own cultures and ways of life to the new land, fostering mutual learning and integration.
Post the Era of Exploration, powerful countries sought to establish colonial rule over others. Western ideologies, art, politics, and other aspects influenced the cultural development of these regions. The transition of colonial regimes, however, also gave rise to conflicts in self-identity and cultural recognition among the colonized populations. Across the world, severe cases of cultural deprivation and racial extermination occurred. These historical events continue to impact contemporary societies today.
This year’s TAIWANfest has curated a series of exhibitions exploring diverse themes, including historical narratives, ethnic migrations, craftsmanship and lifestyles, art, and self-identity. From various perspectives, it aims to delve into the profound and lasting impacts the Era of Exploration has on modern society. The festival hopes to inspire reflection and create opportunities for meaningful dialogues alongside the appreciation of the exhibited works.
How should each individual who lived in Taiwan when the Dutch landed four hundred years ago reflect upon this historical period? As the world re-examines its relationship with China, how can Canada draw upon Taiwan’s story to develop a more inclusive “Chinese-Canadian” perspective?
What crucial role does craftsmanship play in daily life that often slips by our notice? Beyond appreciation of the visual, what are the hidden values of crafts? Under the themes of immigration, migration, and multiculturalism, how can we see new sides to the art of craftsmanship?
Both Canada and Taiwan are societies primarily composed of immigrant populations. The cultural, artistic, and lifestyle changes that occur as a result of migration are significant and topics worthy of exploration for both countries. Craftsmanship serves as a link between communities, skills, cultures, and even the natural environment and ethical values. It allows us to contemplate the evolution of human movement and cultural exchange.
Collaborating with the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, “Migration & Arts” invites six Taiwanese craft artists to showcase their artistic creations at the event. They will personally share the creative concepts and cultural significance behind their works. This exhibition aims to convey the cultural narratives and social aesthetics embedded in craftsmanship beyond the visual aspect. By engaging in cross-cultural dialogues with local artists and diverse communities, this initiative is an opportunity to appreciate the unique beauty of Taiwanese craftsmanship on a deeper level.
The National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute (NTCRI) works to promote crafts and nurture craft workers. In recent years, they have focused on introducing Taiwan’s crafts to the world. Toward this goal, they have been working to create legal frameworks, train skilled individuals, encourage regional cooperation and develop new markets. NTCRI is grateful that traditional handicrafts have now found their place in this knowledge-based economy. A 21st century renaissance for Taiwanese crafts is at hand!
Why is the traditional Japanese tableware “Rikyu Chopsticks” sharpened on both ends? What is the relationship between the pottery deities in Taiwanese temples and the lives of the ordinary people?
Crafts play an extremely important role in Taiwan’s daily life, and behind them are profound cultural significance and metaphysical aesthetic value. These works are not just utensils and tools. They show the human pursuit of beauty and reflect the pondering on the meaning of life. By understanding the cultural value of crafts, we are able to reinterpret them beyond the physical level.
Come and learn about the significance of craft works and explores their value. By studying the creative thinking and values of the craftsmen, we catch a glimpse of the philosophy behind these works. It is also an opportunity to reflect on our own understanding of life, as well as our connection to the world.
Whether you are a craft lover or an explorer who pursues cultural depth, this talk will open your eyes to new perspectives and knowledge. Let us embark on this journey to discover the unknown side of crafts, and gain a better understanding of the essence of Taiwanese culture. Unveil the truth behind the craft works, and experience the aesthetics in a new light.
Mr. Jeng-Yi Lin has held many important positions in his life: Director of the National Palace Museum, Director of the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, Director of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Chief Secretary of the Cultural Construction Committee of the Executive Yuan, and General Director of the Chimei Museum. He has an academic background in journalism, literature, and cultural heritage. With over 30 years of experience in Taiwan’s cultural and artistic field, he possesses bountiful experience in adapting operational management strategies to respond to changes in Taiwan’s social landscape, as well as engaging in international dialogues.
Driven by the vision of constructing Taiwan’s cultural subjectivity and promoting art education, his endeavors include conducting research, collection, exhibition, and educational work on Taiwan’s history and culture. He has also advocated for research and educational promotion centered around Taiwanese art, as well as the modernization and internationalization of Taiwanese craftsmanship, to establish Taiwan’s position in the international realm. He has proposed the concept of “publicization of the National Palace Museum” to strengthen its connections with international and local cultural innovations.
Zheng He’s voyages to the West, Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe, and Columbus’ discovery of the New World… They are renowned historical explorers even before the Era of Exploration. When it comes to Taiwan, most people associate it with its relationship with China. If we go back to the 16th and 17th centuries, what was Taiwan like when it first encountered the world? What resources did Taiwan possess that Europeans sought during that time? What impact did these encounters leave in Taiwan? And what similar experiences were happening in Canada at the same time?
With the cooperation and assistance from the National Museum of Taiwan History, and a special exhibition curated by Associate Researcher Wen-Cheng Shih, “Charting Formosa” takes you on a journey through time. It explores the encounters between Eastern and Western cultures during the Era of Exploration, how Taiwan was perceived by the Western world, and major periods such as the Dutch using Taiwan as a trading post in East Asia, and the arrival of the Zheng Dynasty, leading into the departure of the Dutch. Let’s reacquaint ourselves with Taiwan, its rich history, and its interactions with various cultures. Reflect on the diverse cultural and maritime characteristics of Taiwan, and draw parallels with the experiences of Canada during that era and beyond.
TAIWANfest will use these historical stories to embark on a voyage exploring the impact of colonization, cultural exchanges, and human migrations on contemporary societies.
From the middle of the 16th century onwards, Taiwan gradually became a base for foreign trade. During the 17th century, the Dutch and Spanish from the West came to Taiwan one after another, building cities in the south and north to establish trade bases. The name “Island of Formosa” gradually emerged on the stage of world history, and Taiwan also appeared on the maps of the West. The encounters of different cultures brought about changes in the social pattern of Taiwan’s Indigenous tribes, which has impacted Taiwanese society in waves. Yet this has also created Taiwan’s unique society in which multiple ethnic groups and cultures coexist.
Diverse groups of people have diverse historical perspectives. Take well-known historical figure Zheng Chenggong as an example. He was considered by the Han people to be a hero who expelled the Dutch and established the Han Chinese regime, but the Indigenous peoples recognized him as an invader who subjugated their homeland. Westerners and Japanese also have different interpretations of Zheng Chenggong. We believe that the juxtaposition of these varying historical views represents the openness of Taiwan’s island culture, and is also the epitome of Taiwan’s democratized society.
Image of Taiwan in Western Maps
Cultural Encounters and Local Appropriation
Zheng Chenggong’s Multiple Positions In History
Known by its initials NMTH, the National Museum of Taiwan History is located in Annan District on the western edge of Tainan. 400 years ago, this was the site of a huge bay known as the Taijiang Inner Sea. In this historically significant place, they continue to tell stories of Taiwan’s past and preserve its present.
To preserve Taiwan’s historical and cultural memory, NMTH has amassed a collection of nearly 150,000 artifacts. Combined with strong research, planning, and promotion capabilities, they focus on historical and contemporary issues to tell the story of Taiwan and its people from a variety of viewpoints and interethnic perspectives. NMTH provides diverse members of the public with friendly services and educational programs. Built upon a strong foundation of local historical research and the foundation of museum historiography, NMTH’s vision is to showcase “Taiwan and its Place in the World”. They aim to promote Taiwan’s cultural identity through preservation of historical artifacts, dialogues on historical issues, international cooperation, and knowledge accessibility. They reiterate the value of multiculturalism and their commitment to be a history museum at the national level that can shine a light on contemporary social issues.
His paintings, full of mysteries;
His name; a secret that cannot be revealed!
He is an artist, he is a progressive thinker of the times, and he is a lover of Taiwan!
Chen Cheng-po was born in the Qing Dynasty, was baptized with the art of the Japanese colonial era, and was not able to escape the arrest of the nationalist government.
The most beautiful thing in life was his ability to create art, and every brushstroke revealed the depth of his emotions and passion. He had the courage to experiment and challenge all kinds of innovative expressions of art, such as a painting style that combines Chinese and Western elements. His was a pursuit of avant-garde thinking.
This exhibition is divided into two themes: Chen Cheng-po’s unique personality that encompassed his fierce love for his hometown, and the parallels within his artistic standards and that of the West. Today, in Canada, let’s step into the vibrant oil paints and experience together his golden years of 1895-1947, and explore the connections of Chen Cheng-po to Taiwan and the world beyond the island he called home.
Born to Paint – First generation Taiwanese oil painter: Chen Cheng-Po
Tropic of Cancer – The perspectives from Chen Cheng-Po’s paintbrush
Chen Cheng-po is one the first generation of Taiwanese painters. His children established the foundation in 1999 in order to realize their father’s dream, to promote the development of Taiwan’s art and enter the international painting circle. The foundation has hosted and co-organized various local arts and cultural activities in Taiwan for many years, and also participated in international events. With the purpose of developing Taiwan’s local culture, the foundation supports students or social advocates with a passion for Taiwan’s local arts and culture. It subsidizes and participates in the maintenance and publication of works by senior painters of Taiwan, including the research and development of Chen Cheng-po’s painting style. The foundation is also committed to the promotion of education, and is a leader in the research and publication of Taiwan’s local art history.
Bestemming: Canada (Destination: Canada) is a project commissioned by the Dutch Consul of Toronto. A team of Dutch artists drew the biographies of ten Dutch migrants to Canada. Each story is unique and moving in their own way. Why did they come to Canada? What were they expecting to find, and what did they actually end up finding?
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TAIWANfest Vancouver is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation). We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.