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Feature Article

At Loggerheads:

Conservationists in Dispute


Updated: Jun 22, 2018

If you go to one place whilst visiting Taiwan: make it Ju Ming's Museum. This place is exceptionally well designed, curated, and informed - and the surrounding landscape has been sculpted to near perfection.

Chen Yi-Chang 'The Hippos Flying in the Sky', 2017

From the moment you enter Ming's latest art collection, entitled 'Art-eology Zoo', you are met with two wonderfully unassuming sculptures by the great Salvador Dali. A glittering metallic horse dances in the distance, and from here on in you will begin to recalibrate your relationship with animals and the natural world. The exhibition guides visitors through fables, local stories, and artists' hallucinations - and is refreshingly rich in art theory. Each section is clearly marked, with detailed literature to support the many sculptures, paintings, and installations on show.

"The word "zoo" does not refer to a confined space in which animals are kept to satisfy human audience"


"Though human beings often consider themselves as being superior to other animals, humans are actually one of them, sharing similar traits, instincts, and close relationships. Animals are essential to human lives, satisfying daily needs and providing emotion comfort. Such connection became inspirations shared by artists around the words. They try to express concern for the environment, relate personal sentiment, and use their artworks as metaphors for the living word or their fantasies." - Juming Museum, 2018

"The 2018 Exhibition of Juming Museum Collection is titled "Art-ecology Zoo", which traces the motives behind the use of animals in art, and gains insight into th ideology behind the stories in order to shed light on their unique meanings and diverse presentations. The word "zoo" does not refer to a confined space in which animals are kept to satisfy human audience. Instead, it refers to the kaleidoscopic field where artists tell their stories with animals." - Juming Museum, 2018

As an artist himself, Ju Ming also exhibits his own work at various scales. A sculptor and woodcarver by nature; Ming has masterfully curated the entire landscape that surrounds the formal museum. Visitors are invited to hop, shimmy, and scale his curated spaces - immersing themselves in a philosophy that strives for beauty in the sublime. Unlike many of the public parks and gardens located in Taipei - Ju Ming's landscapes boldly offer up micro-spaces that are uninhabitable to humans. You get moments of hostility and disconnection which strangely provide a sense of letting go.

In a world that is now rigorously connected, the concept of the inexplorable becomes ever more alluring and relevant as a design tool. Forced to become a mere observer of a wilderness that is just out of reach - you begin to realise that Ming's spaces are not for you, and that not all spatial conditions must be ergonomically tested and optimised for human experience. As a result, these curated spaces are best viewed as a collaborative effort with the species that inhabit them. A collaborative effort that sustains itself, for itself.

Surrounding gardens: curating a wilderness


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