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Artists in Taiwan have repurposed an old anti-communist broadcast station

A collective of artists are repurposing a 1967 anti-communist broadcast station to explore the link between propaganda and authority

On August 26, Berlin-based artist Augustin Maurs, alongside three Taiwanese artists, will use an ex anti-communist broadcast station in Taiwan to project sound over the sea to China. Built in 1967 just four miles away from China, the 30 foot tall Beishan Broadcast station was set up by Taiwan on the shore of the Kinmen island in order to project anti-communist propaganda over the sea. 

Over 40 years later, the Beishan station still stands eerily tall on the cliffs of the Kinmen: a now quiet, yet brutal reminder of the persistent tensions between the two countries. Maurs’ project Sonic Territories will bring sound back to the station to explore the power of sonic propaganda, as well as the idea of ‘territory’ and what it means as a geographic, mental and sonic entity. Alongside sound projection, Sonic Territories will also host live performance works from local Taiwanese artists including Hsia-Fei Chang, Wang Fu-Jui, Ada Kai-Ting Yang, and the local Beishan Community Choir.

“The project is not necessarily about Taiwan and China. It is about the traumatic relation between sound propaganda and authority” – Augustin Maurs

“The project is not necessarily about Taiwan and China,” explains Maurs. “It is about the traumatic relation between sound propaganda and authority – sound propaganda being invented in Europe during the Nazi regime. It’s about sonic monumentality and silence. The Cold War Loudspeaker device shall be used to speak about the propaganda of today, about mass communication and muteness”.

As Sonic Territories reflects, the turbulent relationship between Taiwan and China has long been characterised by sound. From the piercing chime of bullets to the verbal threats of missiles from China to Taiwan, or the way BBC radio was the only way Taiwanese people could connect to the Western world, the soundtrack to the countries’ ever-present tension is a key way to understand its history – and the Beishan station is a leading note. “Many of the documented voices of the loudspeaker were women,” explains Maurs, “including the iconic Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng, whose songs, punctuated by spoken messages were used to attract listeners across the ocean.” Another typical slogan that one could hear across the sea is ‘Our steamed buns are bigger than your pillows!’. As Cold War China used to sleep on blocks of wood, the statement echoed Taiwan’s freedom.

Sonic Territories will take place August 26 – you can find out more here