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ISSUE 39 : Museumizing Imagination
Nanyang Radio Station: An Audio Guide for 228 Peace Memorial Park
南洋放送局:為228和平紀念公園所做的聲音導覽
September 30th, 2018Type: Art Production
Author: Syafiatudina , 群島資料庫Nusantara Archive Editor: Rikey Tenn
Quote From: 群島資料庫Nusantara Archive
Note: "Nanyang Radio Station: An Audio Guide for 228 Peace Memorial Park" was proposed as an audio guide for KUNCI Radio in November 2017, by Indonesian artist Syafiatudina of NML Residency & Nusantara Archive Project. In 2018, Nusantara Archive and OCAC co-curate the exhibition PETAMU Project in which her original scripts of the audio is interpreted into the real guide, and Wu Ting-Kuan (Taiwan), Linda Linarta (Indonesia), Au Sow-Yee (Malaysia) are invited as the voice-overs for the guide, along with bilingual guide tours collaborating with National Taiwan Museum during the exhibition. The text were based on the artist's research the knowledge sourced during the residency, including the passage regarding the activists of "No Outsider" witnessed on International Migrants Day in December 2017.
Point1: At Exit 4 of NTU Hospital MRT Station. Photo: Rikey Tenn

Dear listeners, you are now listening to an audio guide for the Taipei New Park, also known as 228 Peace Memorial Park, written by Indonesian artist Syafiatudina in Dec 2017, supported by KUNCI Radio / Nanyang Radio Station. This guide project is also a collaboration of NML Residency & Nusantara Archive Project and Open-Contemporary Art Center for the exhibition PETAMU Project in Sept 2018. The starting point for this audio guide will begin at exit 4 of NTU Hospital Metro Station of the red line. The audio guide will starts with this bell ring.

 

PART I

Point 1: At Exit 4 of NTU Hospital MRT Station

So here we are at the 228 Peace Memorial Park, or others also call it the New Park. I’m going to walk with you, in sound. I often come to this park, to eat lunch, to look at people, also to be looked at. I visit this park mostly during daytime, but sometimes occasionally at night. I have lived in Taipei for a while, but I’m not originally from here. I was born and grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. I came here as a student; and after my study had finished, I decided to stay for another one year to accumulate more work experience. I like this park because it’s located in the city center and it’s open for anyone to visit. Anyone can sit or wander for hours, without having to pay for anything. It’s different from wandering at the mall, like what many Indonesians in big cities do. Once you’re tired, you have to sit, and the only available place is a cafe. When you sit in a cafe, you have to pay at least for a drink. But in public parks, you don’t have to. It’s a public space that everyone can use. (Bell)

 

Point 2: At the 228 Peace Memorial Park map across the exit 4, on your right hand side

So what you see now is the current map of this park. This park has undergone a lot of transformations since the Japanese colonial government in Taiwan established it in 1900s. Since I spend a lot of time here, I’ve been gathering some information and historical background of this park. The name 228 comes from the massacre tragedy, which occurred from the date 28 February 1947. This massacre of 18,000 Taiwanese was done by the Kuomintang regime; some sources mentioned even higher number of deaths. Few days afterwards, on 10 March 1947, martial law was implemented in Taiwan. This massacre was forbidden from discussion in various ways, until the martial law was lifted in 1987. In 1997, a museum along with monuments was opened in this park to commemorate the victims. The park was then renamed to “228 Peace Memorial Park”. Museums and monuments are part of the nation-building project.(註1) They were erected to remind us who we are and justify what we aim for. However, there are positions and narrations that are removed in texts yet remain in collective memories. How do we keep our memories despite the constant force of power to forget? (Bell)

 

Point 3: At the entrance of National Taiwan Museum on 19th August (Festival Seni Budaya Peringatan Hari Kemerdekaan 2018). Photo: Rikey Tenn

Point 3: Turn right towards the National Taiwan Museum. Stop in the middle of the museum entrance and the park entrance

Yes, if you can see far enough, you’ll see the Taipei Main Station area. This was intentionally planned by the Japanese colonial regime, so when travellers went out from the train station, they would immediately see the grand building of the National Museum. It was a theatre to show the superiority of the colonial power. It was a sign that you had arrived in the heart of civilization. Yet for me, every time I see the sight of Taipei Main Station, it reminds me of big groups of Indonesian migrant workers who always gather at the station every Sunday. They can gather at the Main Station because they are only allowed to have a day off or holiday. But there are a lot of migrant workers, especially domestic workers, whose employers do not allow them to have any day off. Sometimes I see them when I am waiting for the garbage truck. One time I saw an Indonesian care-taker in the park taking a walk with her Ama (阿嬤) on wheel-chair. I don’t know if they are allowed to have day-off from work or not. Do they have good living and working conditions? There was a cleaner in my dormitory, and she was also from Indonesia. We would talk briefly when we passed each other in the hallway. Then one day, she disappeared. My landlady said that she went back to Indonesia. I knew that the landlady had a bad temper. And I had the feeling that she wasn’t treated fairly by the employer and decided to go home. I still feel disappointed that I couldn’t help her. (Bell)

 

Point 4: Turn left towards the locomotives in display and stop in front of them

Point 4: the locomotive in display. Photo: Rikey Tenn

According to the text in the description, these two locomotives are the oldest in Taiwan. The left one is called Tengyun (騰雲), and it was purchased during the Qing Dynasty and retired in the middle of the Japanese occupation in Taiwan. There was no information here to explain what these locomotives had been used to transport for. But all railway routes built in Taiwan during Japanese colonial period were to connect the North and the South and bring agricultural goods to the ports in Tainan, Taipei (then Taihoku) and Kaohsiung (then Takao). Afterwards, the agricultural goods would be shipped to other important trading ports such as Yokohama, Nagasaki, as well as Manila. The former office of an international trading company for camphor from Taiwan was located across the entrance of the park, behind this locomotive display.

(Turn left to the public toilet and stop)

This is a public toilet. You might laugh at my information because anyone would instantly recognize that it’s a public toilet. But public toilets in this park have a different story compared to the others. The 228 Peace Memorial Park was formerly known as the New Park because it is the second park in Taipei City, and some people still call it that way now. When it’s known as the New Park, it was also a popular site for cruising. Cruising is a code word for gay men to look for sex partners. Cruising areas identify public places known within a gay community as places to find sex partners. The places include public toilets or parks; they are public as well as hidden.(註2) A novel written by Pai Hsien-yung (白先勇) in 1981, entitled Crystal Boys (孽子), describes how the New Park became a place of refuge for gay men, in times where their sexual desires were forbidden. The novel was set in the 1960s where same-sex relations were unacceptable and even could be prosecuted by police. The main protagonist, A-Qing(阿青) was expelled from school and kicked out of home by his father because of his relationship with the guard in his school. He was stranded in New Park until a man offered him a shelter and introduced him to the hidden community of gay men in the park. Eventually A-Qing found the friendship, which he had been looking for in the park. Therefore the park was, and I think, still is a place to find each other and to be with each other in times of estrangements. (Bell)

(End of PART I)

 

Point 5: The amphitheater. Photo: Rikey Tenn

PART II

Point 5: Walk to the amphitheater, find a bench and sit while maintaining your gaze to the stage

When you listen to this audio guide, it was an important day for me. It’s the International Migrants Day, on Dec 17th 2017. Although it had been drizzling in Taipei city since the morning with no sign of stopping, the workers and migrants from different countries still eagerly filled this park in many ways. There are different things happening here in the same time. Some migrant workers from Indonesia were doing a performance near the pavilions. On the stage, a group of Vietnamese women migrant workers had just finished singing. You could also find cuisines from the countries of Southeast Asia from where many of the migrant workers were originated. I came here to work and I am also coming from the South. Though I don’t think I need to specify my identity or origin. I’ll tell you the reason later. For now, I am just your guiding voice.

What you see now is one of the oldest material structures in this park. This amphitheater was built by the Japanese colonial regime in Taiwan in 1935 as part of the facility for Taiwan Expo. In 1935, Japanese colonial regime held Taiwan Expo in this park to celebrate the 40 years of their governance upon Taiwan. At 10:30 in the morning of October 10, 1935, the sound of gunshots and fireworks filled the air. The opening ceremony for Taiwan Expo was held in Taihoku City Public Auditorium, or what is known now as Zhongshan Hall, the location is a bit distant from the amphitheater. After that, we would hear the sound of aircrafts flying over us, very closely, and then small pieces of colored paper immediately fell from the sky. As we look up to the sky, we would notice a huge flock of pigeons were released to the sky. How ironic, isn’t it? The pigeons as the symbol of peace were circling around along with aircrafts and sound of gunshots that are technology for war. (Bell)

 

1935 Plan of Taiwan Expo

Point 6: Turn right back to the bridge across the pond. Find a spot to sit or stand comfortably

In 1935, Japan colonial regime held Taiwan Expo in this park to celebrate the 40 years of their governance upon Taiwan. This event was also to show the mission to unite East and Southeast Asia under the Japan Imperial power. The New Park became one of the exhibition sites, along with Ximending and Dadaocheng (Taiping Public School). During the fifty days of Taiwan Expo, the visitors would see how Japan was a great and civilized country. There were various pavilions from important cities in Japan, such as Tokyo, Hokkaido, Osaka, Kyoto, with the combination of traditional houses and futuristic structure. There was a Japan-styled garden where visitors could take a rest. The pond that you see now was one of the remaining attractions from Taiwan Expo. Maybe it is good that the pond was preserved; yet it also has the history as a medium to show one culture being more exemplary than others. To wander around in this park is also to move across time and stories. Each person who visits the park will have his or her own memories as well as practice of occupying the space. Everyone in the park moves or stops according to his or her own will. Yet we share the same place. How can these moments of common presence become modes of acting together?

 

Point 7: Facing the amphitheater in front of you with your back against the Monument

This festive atmosphere marked the opening of Taiwan Expo to the public. For the next 50 days of the Taiwan Expo, 2,738,895 people visited this site, along with the other exhibition site in Ximending and Dadaocheng. The expo had shown what a great and prosperous nation Japan was, from their advanced military technologies (showed at Ximending venue), the combination of preserved traditional cultures and developed industry along with the commodity potential from Taiwan (in this park) and the exotic yet under-developed Far-South of Asia (including Malaya and Siam) in Dadaocheng venue. Have I told you before that I come from the South? There were many Southerners who came here before me, who came with me, and who will come even after I died. For Japanese colonial regime, occupying Taiwan means establishing the military and economic base in the South and to further expand the Empire to Southern hemisphere of Asia. Because Taiwan is located in the Southwest of Japan Sea, I find the same irony that imperialism is also the driving force, which created the South-South movement of people, commodity, and imaginaries.

(Remain seated, turn around and look at the Exit 1of NTU Hospital MRT Station)

You can imagine we were still in the middle of International Migrants Day event in 228 Peace Memorial Park. The performance on the stage has finished. More and more people started to gather in front of the stage. I heard the organizer would hold a lucky draw with the newest iPhone as the ultimate present. None of us received the coupon to join this lucky draw so it didn’t really matter. But I would like to ask you to look at the distance. You will see the policemen wearing eye-catching police jackets that have fluorescent yellow and silver stripes. You will also see that there are many of them and they are all standing along the barbed wire iron fence which stretch from the entrance of Exit 1 of NTU Hospital MRT station to the 228 Memorial Monument. I wonder why there is such iron fence in the middle of International Migrant Workers Day event. We are just dancing, singing and eating together. But then my suspicion grew larger when I noticed the placement of this barbed-wire fence. This fence was located exactly between the migrant workers gathering site and the protest site of Indigenous land rights activists. Are the fence trying to separate this two groups, the Southeast Asian migrant workers and the Indigenous rights activists? Is the fence part of larger political power, which tries to prevent any connection between the migrants and the indigenous? (Bell)

 

Point 8: the Exit 1 of NTU Hospital MRT Station. Photo: Rikey Tenn

Point 8: Take the road on the right of 228 Monument to the Exit 1 of NTU Hospital MRT Station

I am also from the South, I came here because I’m looking for a better job, education, and overall better opportunity in comparison to what I can access back in my hometown. I am a migrant here. I might not be a citizen here but I live here for already long time. Although I live here, I don’t own the same right as regular citizen of Taiwan. Many others said this is because I don’t belong here. I don’t look like I belong to this place. I don’t talk like I belong here. Yet every time I pass by the Exit 1 and see the banners from the Indigenous rights movement, I feel a resonance, which connects us. I feel they are telling me something, or telling “us” something, even speaking for us; speaking our possible collective struggle. I still keep the yellow sticker he or she gave me, it said, “No One Is Outsider.” How could this become possible? (Bell)

(End of PART II)

 

PART III

Point 9: Walking back to the center of 228 park from the right side of Exit 1 of NTU Hospital Station

Hello, my name is Syafiatudina or short for Dina, and I will be the narrator for the last part of this New Park / 228 Peace Memorial Park Audio Guide. This series of audio guide was made as the output from my one-month research in Taipei in December 2017. I was invited by NML Residency & Nusantara Archive project to conduct a research on Nusantara as conceptual departing point to reflect on our contemporary condition. As someone who grew up and being educated in Java Island (specifically Jogja and Jakarta) where history lesson is very much Java-orientated, I would immediately associate the term Nusantara with Gadjah Mada’s oath, Sumpah Palapa.

Gadjah Mada is the maha patih (prime minister) of Majapahit Empire (1293-1527), an empire, which was centered in Java island with its areas of power covering the nowadays-Southeast Asia. In this oath, Gadjah Mada declared that he would not eat Palapa fruit until he had succeed in uniting the Nusantara. I remember back in my elementary to junior high school time, the students will have to memorize the oath of Gadjah Mada. Yet in the Bahasa Indonesia version, Gadjah Mada’s will was to unite (menyatukan) instead of conquering (menaklukan) Nusantara. Though Pramoedya Ananta Toer wrote in his historical novel, Arus Balik, on how Gadjah Mada was able to conquer Nusantara under Majapahit Empire with muskets in only 20 years. After the fall of Majapahit Empire in 1527, Nusantara was divided into smaller kingdoms, which were also in constant encounters with actors from foreign lands including China, Arab, and Europe. Then the conflicts with Portuguese, Spaniards escalated, especially due to the attempt to monopolize the spice trade and market, until Dutch East India Company had taken its hold upon Indonesia archipelago starting from 1603. (Bell)

 

Point 10: Taiwan Radiobroadcasting Booth. Photo: Rikey Tenn

Point 10: Find Taiwan Radiobroadcasting Booth and take a seat

Have you arrived yet at Taiwan Radiobroadcasting Booth that was built by Japanese colonial government? You might imagine that the statue is a part of the building, but it is not. It is actually a public radiobroadcasting booth with a height around 2 meters. It looks like a sculpture with a bended square top. The top, to me, is similar to the black hat, which students wear during their graduation ceremony. If you have arrived at this Taiwan Radiobroadcasting Booth, find a place to sit. (If you still need time to find it, pause this audio here.) (註3)

This booth was used to broadcast programs of Japanese Colonial government radio station to public. It was built in 1934, because there were not so many families that had their own radio, the Japanese government chose some public sites to install the radiobroadcasting booth near the radio station in Taipei and other cities. This booth was also famous for the Jewel Voice Broadcast in which the Japanese Emperor Hirohito read out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the war in 1945.

According to a few sources, the programs ranged from basic Japanese language lesson to Malay language news, and the broadcast range including from the other Japan colonized areas in Southeast Asia, such as British Malaya (Malay Peninsula), Boneo, Singapore, and Dutch East Indies — it is what we called Nusantara. And this reminds me in 1976, an Indonesian telecommunication company launched Palapa, a series of communication satellites on a US rocket from Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. President Soeharto, the president at that time of New Order authoritarian regime in Indonesia, deliberately choose Palapa as the satellite name, from the Palapa Oath of Gajah Mada, with the intention to show Indonesia’s glorious past and hope that the system can unite the archipelago. Like many other notions of worldview, Nusantara can be dangerous when it’s being utilized as means of conquest, domination, or specifically for the expansion of market under the pretext of shared history, or identity. On the other hand, the understanding of shared history across regions also allow us to do a comparative study on today’s global issues, such as forced migrations, exploitations of labors, enclosure of resources, and create our shared struggle.

The audio guide by Nayang Radio Station will stop here at this point. I sincerely wish that we would meet again on the air. Goodbye. (Bell. End of PART III)

Footnote
[1] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and the Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 2006).
[2] Helge Mooshammer, Cruising: Architektur, Psychoanalyse und Queer Cultures (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2005), quoted in Moira Hille’s "Cruising as", Spaces of Commoning: Artistic Research and the Utopia of Everyday, 2016.
[3] See 臺灣廣播電台放送亭 in Wikipedia (only available in Chinese version).
See Also
An Audio Guide for the Tropenmuseum by KUNCI Cultural Studies Center (Excerpt) ,Kunci Culture Study Center