Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Fine Art of Inflating Chickens

by Pa Rock
World Traveler

This was our last full day in Taiwan and we spent it enjoying the arts.  Our first "art stop" was as we were walking from our hotel to the subway station.  We came across a gaggle of what appeared to be professional photographers doing a photo shoot of a skinny female model.   She struck various poses in front of a metal pull-down door that was decorated with graffiti.  I snapped a couple of shots of the photographers taking their pictures.

As the day progressed we visited the Taipei Museum of Modern Art which was showing an exhibit from Australia.  Two things at the MOMA caught my interest.  The first was four large dragons suspended by wires outside of the museum.  They were made from brightly painted plastic bottles and they were amazing - yet so simple that a grade school art class could have made them

The other exhibit that I really enjoyed was an interactive video display.  Four people were permitted into the exhibit room at one time.  There were four holes in the far wall where each of the people had to stoop in order to watch a video.  The video was of their four backsides stooping to watch the video - but then a film was superimposed that showed other people entering the room and doing things behind the ones who were bent over watching themselves - only, of course, no one was actually in the room with them.

There was also some good photographic exhibits, but overall the MOMA Australian show was pretty lame.

We also went to the Palace Museum which is an enormous complex that is basically the national museum of Taiwan.  It is filled with fine art and treasures that Chaing Kai-shek stole from China and brought to Taiwan when he was fleeing ahead of the communist takeover.  One of the more famous exhibits that we saw was the Chinese cabbage carved out of jade.  Later in the museum gift shop I noticed many souvenirs based on the cabbage sculpture including coasters, key chains, and bottle openers.  We spent a couple of hours looking at exhibits but only scratched the surface of what the museum has to offer.

This evening after Valerie took her toys and went home, Murphy and I made a trek to the Baoan Buddhist Temple, a large and extremely beautiful religious complex that is a Taiwanese national heritage site.  We have been to several Buddhist temples and shrines this week, but the Baoan is certainly the most beautiful that we have seen.  It would be hard to imagine  anyone ever being angry inside of a Buddhist temple because they are so serene and peaceful - far different from some American churches whose mission seems to be to inflame and incite - and turn a profit.

However, all of those stops - the MOMA, the Palace Museum, and the Baoan Temple - pale in comparison to the chicken inflators down by the wharf.  We were heading toward the river where Valerie planned to rent a bicycle, when we came upon a shop where several large baked chickens were hanging in the window.  All of the birds looked plump and delicious.  As we passed the shop and turned the corner we encountered two men who were taking scrawny baked chickens out of one cart, inflating them by running an air hose up their butts, and then putting the bloated birds in another cart!  That, I thought, was truly an art!

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