A Poetic Place — Stray Bird 197-East Rift Valley Land Art Festival

The stretch of County Highway 197 from Chishang Township to Beinan Township takes you past miles of idyllic scenery. The endless expanse of rice paddies and terraced fields that you see along the way seem to be right out of a poem. Since 2019, the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau Taitung Branch has organized the “Stray Bird 197-East Rift Valley Land Art Festival” on this piece of pastoral land. The inspiration for this festival came from visionary Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s collection “Stray Birds.” This year, the festival has set up three art instillations in Luye and Guanshan. These pieces will draw visitors from far and wide to meander around Taitung’s East Rift Valley.

This year, the festival invited well-known Taiwanese artists to take up residency in Taitung. The artists in residency include Eleng Luluan, Xu Ming-sheng, Lin Shu-ling, Chen Yi-zhang, Iyo Kacaw and a collaboration between Lin Chun-yong and Yang Hai-qian. These artists each have their own unique areas of expertise. They have transformed the beautiful scenery and stories of the East Rift Valley into art that intimately reflects the spirit of this special place. After the pandemic subsides, come visit Taitung. Lose yourself amongst the art instillations that you’ll discover in this idyllic paradise. This festival will show you just what is possible in the East Rift Valley. A relaxing day of enjoying the instillations will put you at ease, just as if you were reading a poem from “Stray Birds.”


Eleng Luluan

Eleng Luluan’s “Therapeutic Works” echo Stray Birds 227, “The movement of life has its rest in its own music.” Luluan hopes that her art has a therapeutic and inspiring effect upon her audience. “Therapeutic Works” is located in the forest next to Guanshan Waterfront Park. Luluan used pipes, rope and bamboo to create a hanging instillation in between the trees. Come to Guanshan and spend a peaceful afternoon here immersed in the relaxing aura of the forest.


Xu Ming-sheng

In his piece, “Waiting to Transform,” internationally renowned artist Xu Ming-sheng hung cocoons and pupae he created out of bamboo amongst a lush banyan grove. This piece calls upon the power of two forms of “waiting.” The first type of waiting gives humanity peace and quiet. This feeling is like poem 155 of Stray Birds, “Silence will carry your voice like the nest that holds the sleeping birds.” However, the other type of waiting isn’t completely still. It is the brewing impetus of change. This is the force and radiance behind all life.


Lin Shu-ling

“The mist, like love, plays upon the heart of the hills and brings out surprises of beauty.” (Stray Birds 74) Lin Shu-ling’s piece “Of Clouds,” transforms poetic imagination into a physical space. Lin’s piece is like experiencing the texture and temperature of each part of a cloudy sky. Hues weave together just like nature’s tapestry of colors that refract in the heavens above us. This piece is on the top of a manmade hill in Guanshan Waterfront Park. When you visit the hill’s viewing deck, stretch out your arms and welcome in all the possibilities the universe has to offer.


Lin Chun-yong and Yang Hai-qian

Both nature and art can put your mind at ease. Lin Chun-yong and Yang Hai-qian found inspiration from the rose window of Notre Dame. They also transformed imagery from Stray Birds 249, “Dark clouds become heaven’s flowers when kissed by light.” The duo used natural materials to weave together the arches of a dome. Part of their instillation also features a rose window made of multicolored woven bamboo. Standing in the dome on a clear day, sunlight disperses throughout the space. It’s like you’re bathing in the radiance of a sacred cathedral, bringing clarity and wisdom to all.


Chen Yi-chang

Say what? There’s a fat pink hippo in Luye’s Xinliang Wetlands? Chen Yi-chang created this hippo out of fibre-reinforced plastic and acrylic enamel. This hippo is here to remind us about the imagination and passions of long-lost childhood. “We live in this world when we love it,” (Stray Birds 279). This friendly pink hippo is inviting you to join in on the fun of a lazy day floating in the river!


Iyo Kacaw

Amis artist Iyo Kacaw’s “Kitten Seeds,” is an playful and fun creation. The artist imagined if he were a seed, he would one day grow into a cat and follow his owner around on different adventures. Whether a seed or a cat, this work reflects the inherent desire in all of us to travel. “Sit still, my heart, do not raise your dust. Let the world find its way to you.” (Stray Birds 190). Let’s embrace our wanderlust and go to Houhu in Luye. There, we can explore rice paddies under bright blue skies with our new friend “Kitten Seeds.”

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