I was trying to build a Zeelandia, with a specific method.
The project was initialed by an interest in the common name of the eighth continent in the world and the first fortress in Taiwan – Zeelandia. The name was both given by VOC (Dutch East India Company), based on the Zeeland Provence in the age of discovery in 17th century, which means Sea land, a place of land soaking in the sea . With the bricks which was collected from demolish sites and everywhere in the city, and the material which Dutch used as mortar to build the Fort Zeelandia, namely: glutens rice powder, brown sugar and seashell, to develop an geographic model of the continent Zeelandia, as a method to link up the connection between Taiwan and New Zealand. The development of the project itself is conversing to “The diary of Fort Zeelandia” that Dutch governor kept as the working log in Taiwan. For me, the project is not only a start for the researching and understanding of New Zealand, also a opportunity to look back and study the history of Taiwan.
By Gina Ferguson
Chun Tsao’s project was initialed by an interest in the common name of the eighth continent in the world and the first fortress in Taiwan.
“Fort Zeelandia was built in a ten-year period beginning in 1624 and completed in 1634 using bricks brought from the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia (Jakarta). The Dutch had signed (forced) an agreement with the Chinese that gave them Taiwan as a trading colony. The settlement of Zeelandia was on a small island called Tayouan “ (Tainan City)
The floor installation references a geographical model of the continent Zeelandia, in which he has used the materials of the Fort Zeelandia, namely: bricks, glutens rice powder, brown sugar and seashell as mortar.
Furthermore Tsao draws attention to the act of discovery and the significance of multiple ‘Zeelandia” that span the world as an integral part of the journey, he has experienced in coming to New Zealand as an Artist in Residence. He considers the residency and project as an opportunity to look back and study the history of Taiwan from a distance whilst contemplating the continent that lies beneath New Zealand, the place he currently stands. The journey of discovery is both experiential and performative, setting the premise for the construction of the work itself as he set about searching for bricks from his local surroundings.
Due to the limitation of time and transport, the collection and discovering of bricks was arduous. Tsao describes the activity as both tiring and sometimes frustrating as he relies upon chance in locating bricks. Subsequently there were times when, after hours of biking uphill and downhill in the search for bricks, he would return home empty handed.
“The process reminds me of the difficulty and the risk Dutch people used to encounter while they were importing bricks for the construction of the fort, and also makes me think of Sisyphus, the one who pulled the rock up to the hill and then watched it fall, day after day” (Tsao)
This process of discovery, location and relocation both informs and forms the work. In its calendar format the diarized wall work operates as a record of this and time spent, and the bricks themselves reference a site of construction, both old and new.
*Diaries extracted from “De dagregisters van het kasteel Zeelandia (The diary of the castel Zeelandia, 熱蘭遮城日記), Taiwan 1629-1662”, chinese translated by TSAO, Yung-Ho, english translated by LAI, Kuan-Ying.
May 1, 1630.
The junior business officer Duycker ordered three Joncquen boats to set sail to Chincheo River, to carry some pepper for Paulus Traudenius’ trading post. In this voyage they will transport the bricks required for building fortress Zeelandia, and bring back the purchased merchandise immediately.
June 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1630.
There is nothing in particular. We kept building up the southeast bastion (of the castle) with bricks.
September 20, 1631.
Yacht Beverwijck anchored off the shore. We sent out all applicable ships to unload goods from the yacht.
Today His Excellency Governor Putmans made a resolution with the parliament to rebuild the collapsing soiled bastion Nassauw (a bastion of the fortress Zeelandia) with bricks and complete the building. This rebuild did not infringe chief officer and His Governor-General’s command of not building new castle or fortress. On the contrary, by doing this it fulfilled their command of living with frugality. It not only reduced the base troops, but also spared the labor of workers and slaves.
December 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 1632.
Weather was good. There were four Joncquen boats coming from China during these days, and they headed to south for fishing.
Today, at the northeast bastion (of the fortress Zeelandia), in order to avoid leaking we replaced the old vault with a new one using Chinese bricks.
January 1, 1633.
For the building of fortress Zeelandia (praise the Lord), now we have used bricks to surround all the bastions. This morning, Governor Putmans appeared in the company of councilors. In order to identify clearly the above-mentioned bastions, as well as the forts located at Noortplaetse and the entrance of this port, after three-volley salute ceremony, he denominated them after the four major cities in Walcheren and the major islands in Zeelant. Thus the southwest bastion was called Middelburch, the northeast Vlissingen, the southeast Camperveer, and the northwest fort Arnemuiden. The fort at the top water channel was named Zeeburch (Sea Fort). May the Lord Almighty bless fortress Zeelandia, the constructions and the employees of our company, so this place will prosper and will protect us from violence and persecution from enemies.