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Special Taiwan Literature Exhibition and MOUs Mark Closer Cooperation with Czech Republic

  • PublishTime:2023-03-23

by Gregory Laslo

In the winter of 2022-23, “Running Towards Freedom”, a special exhibition on Taiwan literature organized by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature (NMTL), was held for the first time in the Czech Republic. In addition, several MOUs have been signed between NMTL and prominent Czech libraries, promising closer cooperation in the future.
Taiwan’s National Day, October 10th, 2022, was specially chosen for the opening ceremony for the exhibition at Masaryk University in Brno. Guests including professors, diplomats, and prominent figures from both countries attended to support the promotion of Taiwan literature in the Czech Republic.
Freedom and democracy are the core themes of “Running Towards Freedom”; its content cuts across political, gender, and ethnic categories, and showcases the diverse voices on the island of Taiwan, covering topics including the White Terror and the struggle for human rights, the rise of women’s gender awareness, and indigenous peoples’ fight for recognition. The purpose of the exhibition is to introduce Taiwan’s culture and literature to university students and teachers, as well as the broader Czech public, and capture their attention through themes such as ecology, indigeneity, gender, and human rights, while also raising the visibility and influence of Taiwan literature. 
NMTL has also signed MOUs with the Moravian Library and Václav Havel Library; both signings were witnessed by Representative to the Czech Republic Ke Liang-ruey and Czech Representative to Taiwan David Steinke. The goal of these MOUs is to foster stronger collaboration between the Taiwan and Czech literature communities, and further strengthen the mutual friendship between Taiwan and the Czech Republic through literary exchange, exhibitions, and personnel exchange and training. These partnerships will also boost NMTL’s capacity in curating central-European literature exhibitions.
The signing ceremonies were held in a hybrid format that virtually connected the event sites in Tainan, Brno, and Prague. The first MOU was signed by NMTL Director Lin in Tainan and Moravian Library Director Tomas Kubicek in Brno on Dec. 9th. The Moravian Library is the Czech Republic’s second-largest library, as well as a regional literature museum and research center. It hosts a rich archives, historical documents, and literature manuscripts of the Czech Republic and the Moravian region.
For NMTL’s upcoming Czech Literature Exhibition in 2024, the Moravian Library has already provided great assistance in the form of writers’ artifacts and curatorial support; and on the very same day the MOU was signed, the “Running Towards Freedom” exhibition opened to the public at the Moravian Library. Though that event is now largely finished, related lectures are still being held. On February 20th, TLA Annual Golden Grand Laurel Award winner Lai Hsiang-yin, who currently resides in Germany, was invited to speak at the Moravian Library. The topic of her speech was “Storytelling in Great Eras”, and she was joined by Associate Professor of Masaryk Lu Wei-lun for a discussion afterwards.
The second MOU was signed on Feb. 6th with Michael Žantovský, Executive Director of the Václav Havel Library in Prague. During the ceremony, Director Lin said that the works by former president Václav Havel reminded her of acclaimed Taiwan literature pioneer Ye Shih-tao, who guarded the feeble light of Taiwan  literature through difficult times with his pen.
Executive Director Žantovský highlighted the efforts by NMTL to digitize collections and build virtual museums and online exhibitions. He hopes both institutions can organize residence programs for mutual learning and facilitate deeper and broader exchange between Taiwanese and Czech writers. 
Building upon the foundation of our predecessors’ collaboration, Taiwan is looking forward to further collaboration and exchange with the Moravian Library, the Václav Havel Library, and other literary institutions in the Czech Republic. In 2024, NMTL will also be holding a Czech literature exhibition, with the aim of promoting Václav Havel’s ideology of using one’s pen to fight against authoritarianism.