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Remembering 228: A creative exhibition of a sad event

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Photo from 228 Museum
The exhibition’s symbol is an eye with a teardrop.

Rewritten by Ariston Ramos

Taipei’s National 228 Memorial Museum (or 228 Museum) on December 4 inaugurated the “Remembering 228: Human Rights Exhibition” with a press conference and a guided tour of a new wing just for the exhibition inside the museum.
Paintings, sculptures and group portraits of 228 victims are on display until March 14, 2021. Beside the entrance door to the basement exhibition, the organizers hanged a wall poster with a bar code. Those interested could use their mobile phones to scan the bar code and install an app that narrates the history of the 228 incident.
The main symbol of the exhibition is an eye with a teardrop. Remembering the incident by looking at the images in the exhibition evokes sadness over the heroic sacrifice of the 228 victims.

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Photo from 228 Museum
The Yueyue (悅音樂團) String Quartet plays some famous Taiwanese songs.

The exhibition opened with a performance by the Yueyue (悅音樂團) String Quartet who played some famous Taiwanese songs after which Museum Director Mingzhi Hsiao (蕭明治) welcomed guests.
“We hope that this special exhibition could help visitors understand the deep historical implications of that event,” he said.
Inside the exhibition venue in the museum’s basement, photographs of the victims hang on a wall of the exhibition and on another wall hang photos of close to 30 historical sites around Taiwan related to the incident.
“Looking at the photos of those sites will let our visitors know the history they contain,” said Hsiao, “and their connection with the respect that should be given to human rights.”
228 Historical Sites

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Photo by LRM
Photographs of Missing Victims

The “228 Historical Sites” are related to the outbreak of the 228 Incident in 1947. They also include the subsequent countryside pacification campaigns and purges. There are photos of what are called “tipping points” --- protest sites, and policy-making government agencies, military police and Special Forces organizations. Some of the sites were meeting places of social elites and legislators. Still others were locations where ordinary people were arrested and executed by shooting.
The historical sites include schools, offices, old forts, and locations where some of the victims disappeared, killed or were injured, and where massacres took place.
The Historical Sites section is one of four sections in the exhibition. The other three are: 228 Incident: Past & Present; 228 Incident: Photographs of Missing Victims; and 228 Incident: Monuments and Parks.
Following the style of the National Human Rights Museum (in Xindian) for its exhibition: “40th Anniversary of the Formosa Incident: A Pivotal Moment in Taiwan’s History,” “Remembering 228” also included some installation art. The organizers asked four artists to set up their works in the exhibition.

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Photo from 228 Museum
“Going Up” has historical pamphlets suspended between the ceiling and models
of buildings in Taipei.

Tian Zongyuan (田倧源) set up his “Going Up” installation of historical pamphlets suspended between the ceiling and models of buildings in Taipei. He explains his art: “Standing amid the bustle on Qingdao East Rd. and on top of buildings in Ximending, it occurred to me that the oppressive state agencies of the martial law days worked all over the city to eliminate dissident voices.”
“I looked at historical documents and realized that the sites of those agencies have undergone reconstruction, their surrounding environments also changing through time. But our feelings about historical events can never be archived; they can never be reduced to the space of a museum.”
Zhan Qiaojun's (詹喬鈞) “The Archway” is an inflatable art of an archway meant to express the forced movement of victims through historical space. “History is not only a past event—it can produce new meanings through continued contacts and dialogue,” the artist said.

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Photo from 228 Museum
Zhan Qiaojun's “The Archway”

“There Is No Horse Here” is Huang Minchi’s (密寄鹿) wood engravings that depict the sad events of 228. The creator hoped to express the incident’s historical and psychological trauma by creating wood engraving posters that even children could comprehend.
Tsai Kuenlin’s (蔡坤霖) “Inscribe the History” are two woodcut sculptures that recall Keelung and Tainan as the site of two 228 events. One was the March Massacre when the National Revolutionary Army disembarked at the Port of Keelung and the other was the execution of Tang Te-chang (湯德章) after the parade at Min Sheng Green Park in Tainan.
The past is lost in landmarks that cease to exist

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Photo from 228 Museum
Photos on fabric are of 228 Incident sites as they look today.

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Photo by LRM
Raise the front photo and you see how the site looked like in the late forties.

The February 28th Incident and the White Terror are important historical markers that could be used in human rights education. The exhibition’s installation art aims at a more diversified narrative and representation methods to stimulate thinking.
Artistic creation is a very powerful method of telling a story end encouraging its audience to remember historical events, cherish democracy, and esteem human rights.
A brochure of the exhibition states that those who forget their history do not have a future since space, memory, and hope are the links that bind together our past, present, and future.
The 228 Incident in 1947 may have been an original sin that sunk Taiwan into a national identity crisis, engendered conflict and distrust among social classes, and weakened democratic ideals in Taiwan. But looking back to that sad and bitter past should encourage everyone to build a harmonious future, and embark on a path of healing from its pain.
The motivations of the 228 Incident still need further research and study. Some historical sites have disappeared or become unrecognizable due to urban reconstruction. Some sites still exist but have not received recognition, their unique histories remain uncovered.
This exhibition seeks to have the February 28th incident remembered for a long time.
The exhibition is in the special exhibition room B1 of the 228 Museum (No. 3 Ketagalan Avenue, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City), every Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to Sunday 5 pm (Closed on Monday).
For more information, please visit http://228memorialmuseum.gov.taipei/, the Facebook page "Taipei 228 Memorial Hall", or call (02) 2389-7228.