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Introduction of Public Art|Kaohsiung Metro


Introduction of Public Art

Kaohsiung MRT – A New Cultural Landmark in Southern Taiwan Sun Li-chuan Dimension Endowment of Art Project Supervisor

Kaohsiung City MRT Station Public Art

“Everybody has dreams and because we all have dreams we are all artists. Kaohsiung MRT public art is a present from artists to the people of Kaohsiung. We very much hope that local residents will take time off from their busy schedules to public art space of dreams.”

At the beginning of this century the largest and most expensive public art project ever undertaken in Taiwan “Kaohsiung City MRT Public Art Project” was finally completed after many years of planning. Project very much showcases past, present an future developments in Kaohsiung and even more takes the Kaohsiung MRT “public transport system” and elevates it to the level of a pioneering landmark in southern Taiwan establishing a new “human landscape” and “cultural landscape” for cities in southern Taiwan at the beginning of the New Millennium.


“Red Line Southern Section” - a New Look for Kaohsiung

The “Kaohsiung City MRT Station Public Art project” is divided into red and orange lines, which operate along a north-south and east-west axis. In total 30 artists from Taiwan and overseas provided works of public art specifically designed for individual MRT stations. The section from the southernmost R3 Siaogang Station to R12 Houyi Station was developed by DADA ART KSD Co.,Ltd, organizing a team of 10 artists (Hung Lung- Mu, Wang Kuo-Yi, Lee Yi-Hsung, Yuma Taru, Hung Yi, Lai Tsun-Tsun, Hsiao Chin, Chen Ming-Hui, Tong Yan-Tze, Liao Jui-Chang), inviting them to apply their own distinctive styles and unique life experiences to create Sun Li-chuan Dimension Endowment of Art Project Supervisor something brand new for the Kaohsiung MRT stations.

For example, Hung Lung-Mu used waste steel components to produce “A Multidimensional Gathering Place” for R3 Siaogang Station, highlighting the importance of heavy industry culture to the area. Aboriginal artist Yuma Taru uses traditional aboriginal weaving handicraft skills to produce “The Age of Dreams” for R6 Kaisyuan Station, as a way of showcasing aboriginal aesthetics. Artist Hsiao Chin creates “Universe Vitality” through the freestyle application of changeable ceramic panels, at R9 Central Park Station. This piece seeks to convey to people the concept that everything originates in the cosmos, highlighting MRT art and culture public space along the southern section of the Red Line.


“Red Line Northern Section” – Showcasing the Happy Memories of Kaohsiung Residents

The MRT Red Line heads northwards, from R13 Aozihdi Station to R21 Metropolitan Park Station. This was developed by Blue Dragon Art Company, organizing a team of 10 artists (Zhu Yu-Ming, Cola King, Yang Winnie, Liu Yu-Ming, Guo Rui-Xiang, Lin Wu-Cheng, Tai Willie, Tong Yang- Tze, Su Zhi-che, Lin Lee-Hua), with a remit to use the expressive power of public art to ensure local residents experience the joy associated represented by the convenience of the MRT combined with public art. For example, R14 Kaohsiung Arena Station is brought to life by the work “Taiwan Sunrise” by illustrator Cola King. This is infused with that wonderful morning spirit of greeting the future each and every morning, a sentiment that dovetails nicely with the Kaohsiung Arena Station which symbolizes the development of a technology-based future.

In addition, for the public art work “The New Ban-Ping” at R18 Oil Refinery Elementary School Station, artist Tai Willie not only used natural landscapes from Panpin Mountain, he also took 20 little artists from Oil Refinery Elementary School and included their mosaic works as part of his piece, forever to be on show on the pillars of the station close to their school. This in turn shows the close relationship between Kaohsiung MRT and local children and a deliberate decision to make them part of this historical event, creating wonderful memories to be on display in perpetuity.


Orange Line – Following Cultural Clues to Everyday Life and Memory

The Orange Line provides travelers with the stunning sea vista of Sizihwan. This was developed by Guo Bang Enterprise Co.,LTD, organizing a team of seven artists (Dawn Chen-Ping, Mei Dean-E, Pan Ta-Chien, Chen Ming-Huei, Lee Yi-Hsun, Lin Huang-Ti, Wang Kuo-Yi), producing public art works along the line from west to east, from sea vistas to land. In this way, the works take the fine details of people’s lives and transform them into something of profound cultural meaning. On entering O2 Yanchengpu Station, one is regaled by pictures of old street scenes and history. Mei Dean-E's work “Taiwan Cider-Salt Yard Recall” encourages us to remember unforgettable childhood memories and days gone by.

As we walk into 07 Cultural Center Station, Lee Yi-Hsun's work “Indigenous  Dancer” with its images of innocent children like a dancer provides us  with a combination of joy and surprise as we go about our day. At O8  Wukuaicuo Station, Lin Huang-t's work “The Visitors”, speaks of nostalgia  and missing home. It seeks to bring together people from different  communities, cities, groups, genders and even countries. The MRT  stations along the Orange Line are infused with history, culture, technology  and art. Indeed, the whole train is imbued with a sense of culture, with you  every second of your journey on the Orange Line.


Commissioning International Works

In addition, we also commissioned a number of works from overseas  artists such as Lutz Haufschild's “Emerald Laminata” at R4 Kaohsiung  International Airport Station; Rwaag Team’s “Floating Rain Forest” at  R17 World Games Station and Narcissus Quagliata's “Dome of Light” at  O5R10 Formosa Boulevard Station. These artists display an impressive  range of handicraft skills, using glass as a material, light as a key tool and  exquisite skills to create several works of public art conveying the message  of "love" to everybody who sees them – from love of water (R4) to love of  mountains (R17) and loving oneself (O5/R10).

This interplay of glass and light, a diversity of forms and different layers of art combine to convey the message of love to every individual who appreciates them. It is also hoped that we can use these aesthetically pleasing works to happily lift people’s spirits. The participation of both local and overseas artists ensures that the works of public art serve not only to infuse Kaohsiung MRT with a strong sense of the local area and culture, but that it also speaks to a broader more international audience.


The MRT is a Vehicle That Facilitates the Interplay of Art, Culture, Life, Memory and People

In the whole, the MRT is a "vehicle" that facilitates the interplay of human art and culture with the local lives, memories and people. Kaohsiung MRT is no longer simply a public transportation system. It brings people closer to art, improves quality of life and enables travelers to complete their dream journeys. In other words, the defining characteristic of the Kaohsiung MRT is the way in which it is imbued with art, the way in which it "makes art part of life and the public consciousness." Each MRT station is decorated with works of public art, so that traveling and appreciating quality art is set to become a leisure pastime of the future and ultimately a new human landmark in southern Taiwan.



Building a City with Aesthetics Bai Ya-ling Managing Director of Duchamp Art Company

Kaohsiung County MRT Station Public Art

Throughout the course of civilization evolution, art has always been playing  a vital role for cities in shaping their unique cultural identities. Even though cities in different times and regions are managed in different ways, there  is a timeless and borderless common attribute among them—that is the  integration of art with cityscape in order to forge unique aesthetics of the cities.

In this modern era when great importance is attached to the competitiveness of a city, there are many channels and methods through which art can positively intervene with urban development. To promote and execute「Regulation of public art installations」is one of them. The public art at Kaohsiung’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations serves as a good example for it provide many open spaces for local citizens and travelers to view and engage in dialogues with local arts and cultures.


Formation of Installation Concept

Exhibitions at museum of fine arts are always based on certain themes or topics in designing the exhibition styles or venues. The exhibition spaces at the museums themselves are neutral. What distinguishes public art  installations with museum exhibitions is the fact that the former need to  resonate and connect with the architecture, ecosystems, cultures and  arts, lives of local people or even future development of the spaces where the installations are placed. In addition, the installations are also designed  mainly for long-term display.

The MRT in Kaohsiung, composed of the Red and the Orange Lines now,  reaches different parts of the city in each direction, serving as arteries of  transportation in this city. It conveniently connects the High-speed Railway  Station in Zuoying and the Kaohsiung International Airport in Siaogang.  It connects not only Kaohsiung City with Kaohsiung County but also the  Greater Kaohsiung Area with the rest of Taiwan. Each of the MRT stations  also serve as a display space for public art installations, telling stories  about local areas through art and also turning the whole city into a huge  “mobile art museum” that is dynamically connected by the rapid transit  system.


Eight Stations in Three Districts

Based on the concept of “mobile art museum,” we developed concepts of Bai Ya-ling Managing Director of Duchamp Art Company public art installations at eight MRT stations in three administrative districts, Ciaotou, Fongshan and Daliao, in Kaohsiung County.

Ciaotou section

When planning the Ciaotou Station, Kaohsiung Rapid Transit Corporation (KRTC) commissioned the Meinon Kiln, an ceramic and pottery art studio, to be in charge of creating a large-size pottery mural for the station. The Ciaotou Station is integrated with the existing station of Taiwan Railway. The work, Old Harbor, New Rapid Transit, among the other two designed by Chu Pan-hsiung from the Meinon Kiln was selected for the mural creation, which represents the transitions of the local district over time. In addition, other artists were invited to submit their installation project proposals for the MRT stations in Ciaotou District. After thorough discussions and evaluations by the jurors, the "Three Stations Public Arts Integrating Project" by the artist group of Lin Pey-chwen and Yen Ming- hung was finally selected. This project consists of three sets of four-piece installation works.

The first set of works,Abundance, is placed under the roof on the second floor of the Ciaotou Station where the MRT station is connected to the railway station. In this set, both sides of the transparent acrylic plates are printed with digital images respectively of nature, a symbol that represents the power of life, and of local cultures unique of Ciaotou.

The second set of works, Three passages to the time tunnel- A kind of territory leaps to aesthetics, is installed in the square in front of the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery Station. The use of materials in this set is inspired by iconic local buildings, such as marble (the office building of the sugar refinery), wood (dormitory of refinery staff), and cast aluminum (buildings in local communities and the MRT station building). The material used in the main structure of this set is fragments of red bricks from the Sanhe Brick Kiln, a 100-year-old brick kiln in Kaohsiung County. The brick fragments are arranged to form mosaic images of local scenery.

The third set of work, Listening to Cloud-light 01 / Mapping the rainbow land, is installed at the Cingpu Station. It is composed of cloud-shaped metal frames in which rows of prism bars. When afternoon sunlight passes through the prism bars, beautiful rainbows can be seen slowing moving inside the station, giving the station a touch of surreal imagination.

Fongshan section

After a careful selection of invited project proposals, the "Legend & Memory with Mind & Hope"project was chosen for the MRT stations in Fongshan District. This project was proposed by Huang Wen-yung, Pan Ta-chien and Hsiao Sheng-chieh from the Creative Media College of Kun Shan University.

The work, The Legend of the Phoenix , is created by Hsiao for the Fongshan West Station. It is a sculptural installation work that incorporates incorporates interactive video and audio features. Located at the first exit of the station, the work resembles a phoenix flying down from heaven, which resonates with the ancient legend the name of Fongshan (literally meaning “Phoenix Mountain”) originates from. The work is the first monumental image of Fongshan that greets visitors to this area.

The work, Light in the President, at the Fongshan Station is created by Huang together with Cheng Guang Bai. This work is composed of five light boxes that the themes respectively of Fishing in the Ocean(fishery), Hunting in the Mountain Forests(hunting), Pasturing in the River Valleys(husbandry), Farming on the Earth(agriculture) and Love of the Universe(placed at the center). The five light boxes are a commemoration of the epic past of how ancestors settled down in this area. The work as a whole radiates a warm atmosphere rich in splendid colors. It is a strong magnet of attention from travelers and many are frequently seen taking pictures in front of the work.

The work at the Fongshan Junior Highs School Station, The Spread of History, was create by Pan. Its structure is based on the concept of “historical ripple.” At the center of the ripple are the images of the historical development of Fongshan, city flowers, and smiling faces of local citizens. Containing the center is a heart-shaped area where colorful tiles are used to form a mosaic image of Fongshan as a historical city. Then two images of phoenixes are used to form the outermost circle. The center of the work serves as an ideal place for people to meet their friends or dates at the station.

Also located in Fongshan District is the Dadong Station.However, given the fact that it is close to the Dadong Culture Park, it is better for the installation work at the station to echo with the culture park. Therefore, the Cultural Bureau of Kaohsiung County Government specially commissioned Lu Ming-te to design an installation work suitable for the station. Lu worked tohether with the group led by Kuo I-Fen and came up with the project of The phoenix brings propitiously. In Chinese culture, the phoenix is a symbol of augustness, sublimity and virtues. The sight of a phoenix on earth means the arrival of a peaceful and prosperous era. This project is composed of 13 pieces of sculptural works using materials such ass light-size light boxes with floor illumination devices, lenticular plates, transparent laminating films, and spray-printed metal plates. They are placed respectively in the front square, entrance, see-through elevator, corridor wall, the interior and the floor of the station, forming a coherent “ecosystem theater” of art of the station as a whole.

Taliao section

Among all the submitted project proposals, the Hometown of Adzuki Beans project by Lu Ming-te and Kuo I-fen was selected for the station in Tailiao section. This project consists of 15pieces of works in the forms of sculptures, light boxes with lenticular plates, and transparent images. They are placed respectively in the front square, wall and elevator of the station.


Participation of the Public

As suggested by its name, public art requires both direct and indirect participation of the public in terms of implementation, project selection and evaluation, and the project review by local government. It is to ensure the access, contents, and results of public art all involve participation of the public.

There are two types of public participation methods in the installation projects of the above-mentioned KMT stations.

The first type of methods are planned by Duchamp Art Company and implemented by the KRTC and the participating art groups in different time frames. They include a pre-selection exhibition of project models (in the front square of Ciaotou Station during the trial operation of the Red Line), an open-air seminar (in the square in front of the red-brick water tower of the Ciaotou Sugar Refinery), an public announcement of the selected projects(at the Dadong Station), a bookplate DIY campaign for local community residents, a display of color-painted ceramic plates (at each of the stations on its inauguration day), an unveiling ceremony of the finished installation works(at the Dadong Station), and production of derivative souvenirs as well as introduction brochures of the installation works.

The second type of methods are proposed by the participating artists in their project plans and then implemented after obtaining approval from the governing committee. The methods are different for the stations in different districts. For example, in Ciaotou District, activities of printmaking and acrylic painting were held as a part of cultural measurement to build a sense of community. In Fongshan District, a seed instructor training activity of mosaic tile creation and an activity of DIY installation production for the public were held. Questionnaire surveys, production of souvenirs, and speeches by university professors were held at the Dadong and Daliao Stations.

These activities attracted participants ranging from 5 years old to 80 years old in age. They are from all walks of life-ordinary people, cultural workers, students, KRTC’s presidents and contract workers, and officials from local governments and the central government. They participated either by having hand-on practices or by having discussions. Nevertheless, they all contributed to the creative momentum that made the installation projects possible and successful.



From the cultivation of observation, liberation of imagination, to the realization of creativity, the public art is not only at the MRT stations but also in every part of our lives. By taking a ride on the MRT, we can enrich and share our life experiences together through public art.