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Togo Rural Village Art Museum

  • Date:2021-08-04
Togo Rural Village Art Museum

Chinese Name:土溝農村美術館
Year of Construction: 2012
Location: Tainan, Taiwan
Did You Know?
Togo Rural Village Art Museum is founded on the concept of village as art museum and art museum as village. It is dedicated to breaking down the old ideas of physical artworks and venues to treat homes as art spaces, fields as canvases, agricultural products as works of art, and farmers as artists. Taking the water buffalo as the spiritual symbol of the area, the museum strives to promote community environmental improvement and to call forth shared memories of people regarding their home town.

Tugou Borough is located between Houbi District and Baihe District in Tainan City and is composed of six separate villages. These six settlements are surrounded by farmland covering an area of some 478 hectares.

In 2001, a group of younger adults from Tugou established the Tugou Village Rural Culture Creation Association to promote the transformation of their home by focusing on the living environment of rural residents and reconceptualizing the aesthetics of rural life. From there, they also expanded to concerning themselves with agricultural production as a local organization free from the involvement of local cliques and political forces. With a call to action around the "spirit of the water buffalo," the Association established a community workgroup that set about a series of spatial renovation projects with the hard-working, tireless spirit of the buffalo, successfully gained the approval of the village elders.

In 2002, stone sculptor Hou Jiafu created a stone buffalo sculpture, which became the first piece of public art in Tugou. Each year since then, artists have moved in and continued to build the community through their art.

In 2004, the Ministry of Education launched the Architectural Design Creative Education Program, equipping the Community Building Group from Tainan National University of the Arts' Graduate Institute of Architecture (known as the TNNUA Team for short) to make their way into Tugou Borough and carry out an architectural initiative they called "Buffalo Housing" in cooperation with the locals. Through this, in 2005, a pigsty was transformed into the most popular gathering space in Tugou through its rebirth as an art space.

In 2006, the Tugou Village Rural Cultural Creation Association launched an "art renovation initiative" around the idea that "art is life and life is art" in an attempt to transform hard-working farmers into "elegant" farmers, attracting 29 households in the village to join the initiative and decorate the village through the residents’ own homemade works, thereby reinforcing community identity. That same year, artist Chen Shuhui set up Tugou Countryside Studio, composed mostly of women from the Zhuzaijiao Village, setting down her hoe to dedicate herself to the joy of painting.

In 2008, Hou Jiafu provided a plot of land for the establishment of Tugou Art Workshop, where three graduate students from the TNNUA Team summoned a squad of local high school students to help build a home for the workshop.

The following year, the Tugou Village Rural Cultural Creation Association, together with local villagers and both teachers and students from the TNNUA Team, launched a project entitled “Dream of Beautiful Waters,” aiming to solve the problem of the borough’s notoriously foul drains.

In 2010, the villagers released idle land, and the TNNUA Team set about leading a spatial art project called "Country Road Hand in Hand." In addition to greening and beautifying, the project also incorporated a motif of the green hedges with blue flowers commonly set up by households in the early days of Tugou, bringing out the joy of taking a stroll down country roads through the use of a variety of materials.

In 2011, three recent graduates from TNNUA formed the Agricultural Assault Team, calling on more than 50 college students from seven universities to use the rural area of Tugou as a base for artistic action. Through their efforts, they aimed to promote young adults coming back to the countryside to create agricultural installation art in the form of 10 gazebos for local farmers to find respite from the beating sun and often overbearing heat of summer.

Building on these ten years of experience, the Togo Rural Village Art Museum was born in 2012, becoming the first art museum in Taiwan named after a village and dedicating itself to interpreting rural life through art and boosting quality of life through art.

Over the years, the museum has played host to several art exhibitions, and almost the entire village has mobilized, turning Tugou into a place thronging with people and brimming with an artistic air. The resulting boom in development has even begun to bring many of the younger folk formerly of the borough back to their home town to start their own businesses. More recently, they have added the Elegant Farmer’s Art and Culture Farm as a permanent art and culture venue, attracting many domestic and international visitors to explore this mammoth art museum in rural Tainan, turning Tugou into a shining example of effective Taiwanese rural community transformation.