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Beyond the Border(s) – the Ocean

Beyond the Border(s) – The Ocean by Lin Shuen-long is a wonderful Art Setouchi artwork that has been sitting in Takamatsu Sunport for four years now, and I realize that I never wrote a proper post about it. So, I’m doing it before it’s too late.

And first, why is that “s” in parentheses in the title? Well, the original title was in Mandarin Chinese (M. Lin is Taiwanese) and the official title in Japanese. As you may know, neither language marks the plural to their nouns unlike European languages. So, it has been translated both with the plural and the singular into English. In a sense, the plural fits the story of the artwork better, but this piece is the first of a series of three, and the two other ones are always written with the singular in English, so for consistency, maybe the singular is preferable.

Oh, and why am I saying that I need to talk about it before it’s too late? Well, Takamatsu Sunport will see some major changes in the year to come as a big construction project is about to start, and eventually Beyond the Border – The Ocean will be moved (best case scenario) or dismantled (that would be very sad).

Something is telling me that it will be moved somewhere else (I don’t have inside info, just a hunch).

If you want to know more about the major construction project, I invite to go check out You Sakana‘s blog (I invite you to check it out no matter what actually):

Back to Beyond the Border – the Ocean. The massive artwork first arrived in Setouchi back in 2013, almost as a surprise. It was not listed among the artworks back then, or rather it was listed as an event, which was a bit misleading. The thing is that it started as a stage theater for a specific play. Yes, as you’ll see with the pictures below the whole thing is actually a theater. Originally, it was located on the beach of Koh on Teshima. An amazing location in my opinion, but also one of the most isolated locations of all of the Art Setouchi spots.

If you want to see my first encounter with it, please check this old post:

At the end of the 2013 Triennale, it was dismantled and I thought it was the last time I would hear from it.

Except that it made a glorious return in 2016. This time, in a location that could seem out of place, but which actually was great for many reasons. Being able to see it all the time not being the least important one.

And so, it’s been in Takamatsu Sunport since then, but for how long? Nobody knows (I’m sure people in charge of the site know).

I have already posted quite a few pictures of Beyond the Border – the Ocean over the years on this blog (you’ll find them there if you’re interested), but looking through my archives before writing this post, I found a bunch from 2016 that I had never posted before. So here they are:

Here is what the sign in the last picture says:

Beyond the Border: the Ocean
Artist: Lin Shuen Long
Medium: Driftwood, Metal
Installation Date: 2016
Dimensions: L20m x W9m x H9m

The Seed Boat, with its design element based on the shape of an Indian Barringtonia fruit. The fruits of Indian Barringtonia, a sea-drift plant (01), dispersing over the ocean areas of Australia, Southeast Asia, even traceable in the sea areas of East Africa, travel all the way northward from South Pacific via Taiwan, Okinawa along such sea-drifting route to Japan, coincidentally with the human migration route in ancient times. This is actually a gift from the Kuroshio Current so that the giant task of growing the future generation could be accomplished in the age of great human migration.

Note($)01: The “sea-drift plant” is a new word assigned by the artist Mr. Lin, meaning “an ocean-dispersal plant” that grows sea-drift seeds or sea-drift fruits with seeds in it.

The Seed Boat constructed from utilizing large pieces of driftwood left by Typhoon Morakot for reinforcing the primary framework, various other woods such as beech, camphorwood, phoebe zhennan and pine would be used for secondary structure and exterior decoration. Doing so would not only be building the symbolic “seed” of the Seed Boat as well as the longing for “drifting” again, but also represents the miniature of the forests of Taiwan.

As you go around, a rock island with a golden buffalo erected on top, which represents agriculture, you continue along a ramp that rises and dips like an ocean current into the seed boat. Another rock island is found beneath a Taiwanese gong, with a frog that represents nature upon it. The inside of the seed boat is a sacred space filled with natural light spilling in from the outside. The seed boat carries the world’s children standing upon its bow, symbolizing humanity’s hope. The children sail towards a beautiful galactic ocean as they gaze towards the Northern Star.

If you want to know more, may I also advise you to read the interview that Lin Shuen-long gave me last year?

And finally, here is a short video I made the other day, upon learning that the construction for the sports center was about to start and I was afraid that it could be the last time I’d see Beyond the Border – The Ocean:

That is pretty much all for today. As previously mentioned, I have no idea how long it’ll still be in Takamatsu Sunport. So, if you’re around, go see it while you can.

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