Inside Out Taiwan- Born Free 生而自由

In Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, we use the power of art to advocate and raise our voices.
At this year's Nuit Blanche in Taiwan, we unite under the rallying cry of 'Time to Rise Up!', broadcasting our commitment to democracy and freedom worldwide. Through the medium of art, we empower artists to amplify our voices, presenting the collective aspirations of our 23 million people, shaped by our legal framework, culture, and way of life—we are all inherently free!

Action Organizer

Taiwan is a vibrant country, where people are friendly, free, and considerate and also where industries are prospering with progressive and innovative ideas. However, in recent years, the freedom in our life has been threatened by the possibility of a war breaking out. Therefore, through this Action in Taiwan, we hope to unite everyone and demonstrate the freedom we have while protecting our values ​​and national institutions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, begins its first article with the powerful statement: "All human beings are Born Free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." Marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, we were inspired to embrace the profound wisdom of its opening words: "Born Free" as the theme of the Action in Taiwan.

Liberty Square of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall was our first stop for photo shooting. The location is very symbolic as many social movements that changed Taiwan forever took place here, a resounding reminder that people fought and continue to fight for freedom at every corner and stage either in Taiwan or globally. In addition, we also drove the mobile Photobooth to various cultural venues, including Taipei Fine Art Museum, Taipei Performing Arts Center, Taipei Music Center, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and more landmarks of Taipei - Taipei 101, the subculture gathering place - Ximending, Yangmingshan National Park and Taipei City Hall to invite different communities and people to participate in the Action. Through engaging people at these iconic places, we would like to demonstrate Taiwan's diversity, kindness, and freedom to the world.

Inside Out Photobooth truck in action at different locations.

So far, we have collected more than 1,100 portraits. In addition, we asked people to share their thoughts about freedom through audio recordings. Everyone was very open and expressive, and their ideas about freedom were very broad, ranging from personal stories about their families to national perspectives. Some kids said that they would like to have the freedom to play video games whenever they want; a sporty senior in his sixties said that being able to cycle around the island after retirement is the freest thing; some teenagers said that they hope for freedom to be free of bullying; an artist said that freedom is to be respectful to people who hold different opinions than ourselves; a man in a wheelchair said that he hopes our city can have more barrier-free facilities and spaces so that all people with disabilities can move freely, and a gay couple (both males) brought their one-year-old son to take photos with us, and they said that falling in love, getting married and starting a family in Taiwan is the freest thing.

Gay couple posing for portraits with their son at the Photobooth. They shared that falling in love, getting married, and starting a family in Taiwan represents freedom to them.

Most people found this Action very interesting and meaningful, and many fans of JR came to participate with great excitement. The Action is part of Nuit Blanche Taipei. Hundreds of thousands of people will participate in the project, using the power of art to show everyone the essence and pricelessness of freedom. It doesn’t matter whether we hold different political views or have different positions on issues, freedom is what we have in common, and that makes this Action meaningful to everyone.

As we carried out the Action, pasting was the biggest challenge we encountered. Due to cultural differences in Taiwanese society, a large number of portraits in black and white can be seen as ominous by more traditional and conservative people, so we had to elaborate, or even convince, the community of the rationale behind the Action. On top of that, we also wanted to paste at many important historical buildings, but due to the regulatory restrictions on historical sites, it was with regret that we weren’t able to paste at those sites. However, we still ended up pasting at many significant landmarks in Taipei, covering some of the most beautiful sceneries in Taiwan.

Installation on Taipei Fine Art Museum's floor.

It is a common saying that “People” are the most beautiful scenery in Taiwan, and we have definitely felt and witnessed this during the Action. Everyone we met has been very lovely and encouraging, and they all thank us for making this Action possible here. But the truth is, we learned much more from them. Through all the words and stories about freedom that participants shared with us, we see people’s imaginations, desires, and expectations for freedom, and we also realize that freedom is never an empty word or an empty concept. Rather, it is life, a life for adventure, and a pursuit of challenges. As Taiwanese, we shall cherish the freedom we are born with.

Group of kids waiting to have their portraits taken in the Photobooth.

This coming Saturday (Oct 7, 2023), the mobile Photobooth will be in front of Taipei City Hall at 6 pm, during Nuit Blanche Taipei 2023. We invite everyone to take photos with us and share their ideas of freedom through audio recording. Join us at the City Hall, and look out for our huge pasting “FREEDOM,” written in huge Chinese letters on the fast lane throughout the night.