Newspaper article China Post

The Nation's Cultural Policy Must Prize Art for Art's Sake

Newspaper article China Post

The Nation's Cultural Policy Must Prize Art for Art's Sake

Article excerpt

Two recent developments in Taiwan's arts scene have left us wondering whether we are steering our creativity toward the right direction.

One is the display of the Rubber Duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the other is a sum of US$5 million in donations from a U.S. foundation for Cloud Gate, which is undeniably the leading dance troupe in Taiwan.

Cloud Gate's works are so stylized that none would deny they are a form of high art. In contrast, many who come to marvel at Hofman's 6-meter-tall rubber duck would probably forget that it is a piece of installation art.

At least for those vendors who have rented stalls around the Keelung Harbor trying to capitalize on the duck buzz, it is nothing more than a giant replica of the ordinary bathroom toy.

Particularly for those who are disappointed with their stall positions which offer only the back view of the duck, there is nothing wrong to make their own duck to attract tourists.

The vendors and some lawyers have argued that it is not a copyright violation - unless you claim that it is an authorized replica. Indeed all the ducks that have been displayed in several cities are not the same one, but have all been authorized by Hofman.

But talks of copyrights actually place the debate within the world of business. The key issue here, however, is about art.

We've seen some similarities in the case of Marcel Duchamp's famous urinal, now regarded as a milestone in modern art. It was originally an ordinary urinal, but extra value was added to it by Duchamp's controversial act of claiming it to be a piece of art - a strong challenge to the conventional concept of art.

Authorized replicas of that original urinal can be found in a few museums to mark that significant moment in art history.

Can any other urinal carry the same significance? Similarly, the Keelung vendors can never replicate the value of Hofmann's duck.

Of course, commercial activity plays a part in the duck exhibition, and probably all other art activities. …

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