Thursday, March 21, 2013

Juming Museum, Taiwan

The Juming Museum is an enormous outdoor garden, filled with sculpture. There are dozens of monumental bronze statues of tai chi practicioners, soldiers and people in flight.


I keep meaning to visit the Juming Museum, but every time we're in Taiwan we fail. Today was no exception. We had another solid eight hours of sleep, and woke from it feeling drugged, groggy, confused. When we finally worked out that the shortest route to the Juming Museum was a two hour bus ride, our enthusiasm began to pall, and instead we went for a walk around the centre of Taipei instead.

What we intended to do was visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, but our erring sense of direction meant we went to Zhongshan station and then walked in the wrong direction for twenty minutes, and only after judicious application of coffee did we muster the mental wherewithal to find our way to our intended destination.

We were last at MOCA more than three years ago, and although it was ok, I felt a little underwhelmed. The current showing was much better: lots of dark rooms and playing with light, whether that was a handcranked hypnosis wheel you could try to induce fits in yourself by spinning, or a tiny train carrying a spotlight, travelling round a track, casting strange silhouettes on the walls of the room, or an interactive piece where your brainwaves would levitate a chair (but only if you didn't get excited about this).

Best of all was either a heart-rate-activated photographic exhibit, or the Epson Colour Imaging photographic competition, where in a nice bit of irony almost all the entries were in black and white.

We wandered again after that, lonely as clouds, down to the railway station, to the bus station, to the mall, to a group of shops that proved there was nothing I wanted to buy, and on, until we found ourselves at the cinema, watching Warm Bodies. Because if you can't go and watch a film in the middle of the day when you're on holiday, when can you?

Later, we were at Taipei 101, to visit the bookshop in the mall. It saddens me greatly that in the five years I've been visiting Taipei, Page One is being pushed ever so slightly further into the distance: it's now lost its grand front entrance space to another branch of Burberry, and you get into it via a tiny side door, like it's a part of the waste disposal area of the building. Within, it still has almost as much space as it ever did, but there's a certain amount of dignity that's been snatched away from it.


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