Guandu International Outdoor Sculpture Festival, dating back to 2006, was Taiwan's first large-scale natural art event held in a conservation park. The park is located in Guandu wetland, a place with unique estuary culture and diverse ecosystem. The festival takes place annually and invites artists all over the world to create site-specific outdoor installations by using natural materials. The purpose of this event is not only about art and aesthetics but also about delivering messages caring for the environment. Public participation also plays a part in this event. Through communication and cooperation with local communities and volunteers, artists are able to learn from local wisdom and try to blend in the local culture in their works.
With the experience in the past ten years, this art event has come to a new stage by resetting its title into “Guandu International Nature Art Festival “since 2016. The triangle composed of river culture, wetland conservation, and environmental art is still the solid foundation of the curatorial concepts. Guandu International Nature Art Festival is expected to serve as a catalyst to deepen the public’s awareness of our environment, as well as care for local cultures. It is hoped that every single participant of this festival will take the initiative to connect with their surroundings, to get inspired by nature, and to make an effort in finding a way to a sustainable future.
2017 年度主題 Theme of the Year
With Paths Crisscrossing
The Guandu plain was the first region in Taipei to be transformed into paddy fields by Han immigrants. Yet today, it is the largest and the last rice paddies in this city. This agricultural landscape was common in the past, but now has become rather rare and out of tune with the surrounding concrete buildings and non-stop traffic. People who enjoy this unique rural landscape are calling for preservation. However, behind the romantic scenes there are farmers striving to make a living with the challenges of the worsening economic and environmental conditions.
Each place has its own resources to raise its own people. Guandu is situated at the confluence of flowing rivers and brackish water. This estuary wetland is a great habitat for a rich variety of organisms, attracting flocks of migratory birds. The Ketagalan were the aboriginal Taiwanese people who first settled in this area. But, it was the Han immigrants who turned the grassy swamp into rice paddies that they still cultivate today. They also make a living with all variety of fish, shrimp and clams from the Tamsui River. After hundreds of years, the view of Guandu has dramatically changed as Taipei City continues to develop. More rice paddies are lost and replaced by factories and buildings. The water has been polluted by urban waste and people’s lives are no longer linked with these farmlands. Due to the need for additional urban development, Taipei City is increasing its focus toward determining the future of these rice paddies.
Generation after generation of people have depended on the bounty of Guandu that has supported a great diversity of lives. The rice paddies, originally used for producing food for human beings, have also provided large areas of open water acting as wetland systems that have played a valuable ecological role. The importance of these roles is growing increasingly, especially when natural wetlands are disappearing rapidly in modern society. Furthermore, a variety of rice-growing culture and exquisite local knowledge have also been derived from the process of farming these lands. It reflects a close relationship between humans and nature. This wisdom could shine a light on our current search for an ecologically sustainable society.
Here in the Guandu plain, each of our attitudes towards the land has been recorded in detail: in the roads cutting through the rice paddies, in the irrigation canals spreading throughout the field, and in all the other traces we left during the process of modernization. Under the annual theme “With Paths Crisscrossing”, the 2017 Guandu International Nature Art Festival aims to explore the current status of Nature among the complex forces that shape the city, to disentangle the layers of urban spatiality from an environmental perspective, and to find ways for modern people to live sustainably in tune with Nature.
With paths crisscrossing on this land, our lives are all connected. If we can learn to humbly respect the land and the sky again, then not only can we expect the revival of Nature, but there will be much and much more to come back to bring balance to our modern lives.