Schools and the February 28 Incident: The Involvement of Chien Kuo High School
During its history of more than 120 years, the school witnessed the Japanese colonial period, the Taihoku Air Raid before the end of the Second World War, and the post-war rehabilitation period after the Chinese Nationalist government took control of Taiwan. It also lived through autocracy, dictatorship and the martial law period, during which time people were deprived of freedom of speech. Before the democratization of Taiwan, different generations of students and teachers from this school listened to their conscience and stood up against the injustices of the time, which unfortunately resulted in the imprisonment or execution of many. At one point, the school's principal was even detained by the Taiwan Garrison Command for several months simply for attempting to have his students released from custody. The cruel arrests, forced disappearances, torture, and executions by shooting that were inflicted on students and teachers after the outbreak of the February 28 Incident left an indelible mark not only on school itself, but also on Taiwan's democratic development in the 20th century. Only by learning more about their experiences can one understand the importance of transitional justice and the controversy over the removal of the "entrance monument," a statue of Chiang Kai-shek, behind the school's front gate.
Scars on the Land
A Special Exhibition on Historic Sites Related to the February 28 Incident in Northern Taiwan
Drawing upon two dimensions, the chronology of the February 28 Incident and the spatiality of the incident's development in local counties and cities, this exhibition is arranged into three parts. The first part covers the early post-war years in Taiwan, the killing associated with a contraband tobacco confiscation that took place on February 27, 1947 near Taipei's Tianma Tea House, the epicenter of the incident, and subsequent developments until the temporary introduction of martial law was declared on March 1 of the same year. The second part portrays how Taiwanese people who lived in the counties and cities to the west of Taipei and to the south of Tamsui River gathered together in meetings and discussed how to react to the ongoing situation after receiving news of the conflict in Taipei, as well as how the Nationalist government's army clamped down and conducted "village cleansing" after arriving on the island on March 8. The last part focuses on interactions between civilians and the government that occurred in the northeastern area of Taiwan to the east of Taipei as well as in Yilan and Hualien counties in eastern Taiwan, and particularly on the indiscriminate shootings and public executions perpetrated by the 21st Division of the Nationalist government's army soon after it landed at the Port of Keelung, causing significant casualties among civilians. The locations of historic sites that are included in this exhibition span several cities and counties, namely the Greater Taipei area, Keelung, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli, as well as Yilan and Hualien in eastern Taiwan.
The February 28 Incident
This exhibit combines images of historical trails with traditional and digital displays, taking you through half a century of buried historical truth. It wasn't until after the democratization of Taiwan that the truth was gradually revealed.
The February 28 Incident Art Series
That Day and the Days After: The Chen Wu-jen February 28 Incident Art Series Exhibition
Chen Wu-jen was born in Wanluan, Pingtung in 1949 during the period of martial law, when Taiwan was ruled by an authoritarian regime. When he was enlisted in the Zuoying Naval Recruit Training Center in 1969, he wrote the words "Opposing the central government and the Chinese Nationalist Party" on his aptitude test paper. Prosecuted for the "crime of rebellion," he was later transferred to a military court for a trial and sentenced to two years imprisonment for having violated Article 7 of the Anti-Insurgency Law. He gave up the right to appeal the ruling and was later transferred to Taiyuan Prison. As a political prisoner, Chen Wu-jen experienced physical incarceration as well as mental and psychological trauma, and even his family members were politically oppressed. This drove him to use paintbrushes and sculpting knives to translate his misery and agony into art pieces that reminded his fellow Taiwanese they should never forget how Taiwan was ruthlessly ravaged during the February 28 Incident and the White Terror period.
In 2017, the 228 National Memorial Museum organized "Names in the Wind," an oil painting exhibition, in cooperation with the artist. In 2020, the 228 National Memorial Museum worked with Chen Wu-jen once again to organize "That Day and the Days After: The Chen Wu-jen February 28 Incident Art Series Exhibition," featuring ten wood sculpture works from the Slaughter series and 18 oil paintings from the Family series. His artworks re-interpret the moment when victims were shot dead in the February 28 Incident and the torment experienced by victims' families thereafter, helping us revisit the never-ending pain that separates the history of Taiwan into that day and the days after.
Their Era: The 93nd Annual Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
Proud and Unyielding: Chang Wan-Chuan as a Young Artist
Throughout his life, Chang Wan-chuan kept a comfortable distance from the mainstream of the Taiwanese art world and even from tertiary art education. Never trying to appease the aesthetic tastes of society or yield to the mainstream standards of art, he pursued what he believed to be the true manifestation of artistic creation. His styles, paints, themes and even brush strokes were never trapped in a certain mode. Instead, he confidently demonstrated a style of his own throughout his works. Even when he received negative newspaper reviews from art critics, his insistence on "being oneself" did not change.
This special exhibition focuses on the first half of Chang Wan-chuan's life, spanning the beginning of his fine arts education, the selection of his art pieces once for the Taiwan Art Exhibition (also known as Taiten) and four times for the Taiwan Governor-General's Art Exhibition (also known as Futen), his founding of an art association, and his settling down to work as a school teacher. A total of 25 pieces are on display. Chang held the belief that "the most authentic art is that which arises from daily life" as his guiding principle and put this into practice over time. Having experienced the Japanese colonial period, the February 28 Incident, the martial law period, and the post-democratization period, he braved hardship in a proud and unyielding way regardless of how circumstances changed, and left behind a new chapter in Taiwan's modern art history.
Special Exhibition Series: The February 28 Incident and the Taiwanese Independence Movement
Enlightenment and Action: Their Youth, Our History
By awakening Taiwanese consciousness, rescuing political prisoners, and assisting in the island's struggle for democracy, young Taiwanese expatriates gathered up the strength of their community and helped their home country walk the road to democracy and independence.
The 1987 Awakening of the People:
A Photographic Exhibition Witnessing Korea’s Democratization
The historical process of Korea’s democratization in the 20th century shares many similarities with that of Taiwan, as not only were both nations previously colonized by the Japanese and subsequently ruled by military dictatorships, but their democratic development was also successfully prompted by people power in both cases.
In Taiwan, the origin of this longing was the February 28 Incident in 1947; while in Korea, it was the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement (also known as the Gwangju Uprising) in 1980.
In 1987, a Korean-based correspondent from a Taiwanese newspaper candidly recorded the protest scenes of the June Struggle, preserving many precious records for history. These images bring us back to scenes where blood and tears were shed and pro-democratic slogans were chanted.
We hope that the general public can come together to understand and appreciate the value of democracy and freedom through these valuable photographs.
The Power of Words–Folk Publications on the February 28 Incident
In 1947, at the end of World War II and during the transformation of regime, the February 28 Incident occurred in Taiwan. Following the incident, Taiwan was imposed an over 38-year-long consecutive martial law period, bringing the society into a time of the white terror during which freedom of speech and freedom of expression were restricted.
Although, the historical wound of the February 28 Incident has become an unspeakable taboo during the martial law period, however, many pioneer activists still fought for redressing and revealing the truth. The power and energy emerged form the civil society were delivered to the public through written words, which were either published abroad or domestically via informal channels that were at the risk of being banned, showing the power of folk publications and leaving a historical trace for the investigation and research of the truth of the February 28 Incident.
Their Era: The 92nd Annual Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition
A Burst of Light—A Chen Chih-chi Retrospective
Chen Chih-chi was among Taiwan’s first generation of Westernized painters. Born January 1906, Chen Chih-chi passed away in April 1931. He was 26 years old. His life was like a burst of fireworks: exploding on the scene, dazzling in its glow, only to quickly disappear into the night. We celebrate Chen Chih-chi not only for his brilliant use of oil painting through which he expressed his intensely personal aesthetics, but for his abundant participation in various Taiwanese art groups and societies, as well as for his public talks and published articles on the topic of Taiwanese national consciousness. With “the creation of contemporary Taiwanese art” as a goal, Chen Chih-chi stands as one of history’s most representative figures during the period of national consciousness and cultural awakening that characterized colonial Taiwan in the 1920s.
This exhibition also aims to explores the life of Chen Chih-chi—from his awakening as an artist, being expelled from school and leaving Taiwan to study painting at the Tokyo Fine Arts School, to his artistic achievements in Taiwan and Japan, and his efforts to gather and teach Taiwanese artists through the founding of and participation in various art groups and societies. In addition to his contributions to the world of art, Chen was also deeply engaged with Taiwan’s national movement. He would often travel between Japan and Taiwan in an effort to help progress Taiwanese cultural identity and national consciousness, to the point that he soon found himself trailed by police authorities in both Taiwan and Japan. Regardless of the surveillance he found himself under, Chen Chih-chi never let up in his efforts to elevate the standards of Taiwanese culture, and never gave up in his search for a Taiwanese national identity. His life of dedication is truly a model that continues to inspire and instruct Taiwan’s art world.
After 228 - How the generations talk
During the period of martial law, the February 28 Incident was a taboo topic, and many Taiwanese were unable to be familiar with the history of the island. As online communities have well developed in recent years, more people have begun to turn their attention to contemporary social issues outside the formal education system. Based on historical research, the creators attempt to portray stories on this land from perspectives that vary with the rise of democracy and reflect the different perceptions of the February 28 Incident among generations. As the differences create possibilities for dialogues, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of the February 28 Incident, democracy as well as human rights.
Special Exhibition｜Massacre of stations – Revisiting the February 28 Incident
Massacre of stations – Revisiting the February 28 Incident is an exhibition that is curated with a focus on what happened at and around the three railway stations of Badu Station, Chiayi Station and Kaohsiung Station, and illustrates how the incident unraveled at these locations. Through the literature, pictures and oral stories surrounding these stations, it is hoped that the truth of their history can be revealed in a clearer way.
The February 28 Incident was not only a resistance movement ignited by a murder committed by a contraband tobacco investigator, and its range was not limited to an ethnic clash between locals and newcomers. The development of the incident was related to the overall dynamics of Taiwanese society and culture and was intertwined with the actions, decisions and ideas of a variety of individuals and organizations. Today, now that these stations have become tourist destinations, it is hoped that by reconstructing and reinterpreting the historical scenes, visitors of the exhibition can understand how the victims of state violence were persecuted, as well as appreciate the historical value inherent in the railway stations in terms of the history of human rights abuses.
Special Exhibition｜Back in their times: a visual history of Taiwan from the 1930s to the 1960s
From the 1930s to the 1960s, Taiwan experienced Japanese colonization, bombing by the Allies in the Second World War, and takeover, military oppression and massacre by the Nationalist government's army. The destruction caused by the war brought the once flourishing economy to a halt. After the war, Taiwan also experienced a rapid change of regime, which threw Taiwanese people's identity into confusion and incoherence.
During this period, not only were famous photographers and civilian amateurs using cameras to record historic scenes, but colonizers of different regimes were also making documentary or propaganda films about Taiwan. Although these photographic works only show cross-sections of specific scenes and cannot completely represent the historical background of the times, they still provide perspectives through which the audience can take a peep at history. These films that were originally made with a strong intention of propaganda might seem absurd to our modern eyes, but they also contain some elements of truth about people's lives back then.
In this exhibition, photographs and films show the multifaceted lives of ordinary people during Japanese colonization, the state of mobilization in war, ruins caused by Allied bombing, and the difficult times after the end of the Second World War, as well as reconstruct these turbulent and vulnerable decades in Taiwanese history.