Food Chain

FOOD CHAIN: Closing the cycle of consumption

As part of the 2012 ChengLong Environmental Art Project, Madoka Yoshitomi (吉富まどか) myself and on-site volunteers realized a large-scale mosaic in the Taiwanese wetlands made from discarded clam shells that had been donated by consumers at markets and eateries in Taipei.

Food Chain P R O C E S S
1. Wetland farmers grow clams.
2. Artists collect empty shells from eaters.
3. Wetland village collaborates on clam shell mosaic.


PDF fileRecycling Slip (2MB)

Wetland farmers in Yunlin County (雲林縣) in south-western Taiwan produce about 80% of the clams eaten on this island nation. Contrary to oyster shells – which are reused for growing more oysters – clam shells appear to be useless and are usually discarded at the place of consumption.

In an effort to close the cycle this dead-ended flow of goods an adhoc team around Michelle Yunju Huang (黃韻如), Vivian ChiaYing Wang (王嘉瑩), TeYu Wang (王德瑜), Madoka Yoshitomi (吉富まどか), YunLong Shyu (徐雲龍), Rachel Chan (詹君珮) reached out to fish market vendors and seafood restaurants to return empty clam shells to their place of origin — made into a landmark on Highway 61 that keeps greeting the wetland community.


videos Clam shell mosaic evolving (April 16 to May 3, 2012)
Stop-motion clip, 1:59min (14.9MB). Audio by Tape (Johan Berthling, Andreas Berthling, Tomas Hallonsten) videos Watch on Facebook

Momentarium Video

Approximately 9000 recycled clam shells and 30kg of mortar were applied to the (8m x 9m) support wall beneath Highway 61, the portal to ChengLong Wetland. The two artists, Madoka Yoshitomi (吉富まどか) and Markuz Wernli (馬酷斯), were supported by Jonni JongWoon Hsu (許鐘云), WeiLin Pan (潘維伶), WanNing Chen (陳婉寧) and numerous local supporters.


Completed Clam Shell Mosaic in Context360° Panorama enlarge
Panorama View

The mosaic’s design shows the tryptich of clam, shrimp and milk fish that make up the symbiosis of traditional fish farming in ChengLong, south-western Taiwan. The integrated face of the human eater points to the interdependency of this fragile food chain called Aquaculture. The mosaic is made from recycled clams shells, donated by fish market vendors, seafood restaurants and individual consumers of clams in Taipei and generously returned to their place of origin. Over time, with the relentless sun bleaching out the color pigments of the shells, the mosaic's look will change and all parts are expected to be rendered white.


TRACING & COLLECTING CLAM SHELLS (Slide Show)
From Fish Markets in Taipei to Mosaic in ChengLong.

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View for yourself: The clam shell mosaic FOOD CHAIN is open to the public 24/7 at on the western (sea-side) support wall of Highway 61 (Interstate 17) and faces the entrance to the wetlands of ChengLong. The mosaic is designed to withstand the subtropical climate and regular typhoons for at least two years.

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What's for Dinner?
T H A N K · Y O U !
FOOD CHAIN was part of the 2012 ChengLong Wetlands International Environmental Art Project, which invited fellow artists Janet Ranson, Isabelle Garbani, Yvonne Chiu (禹多田), Prashant Jogdand and YenTing Hsu (許雁婷). Organized by curator Jane Ingram Allen and educator ChaoMei Wang (王昭湄), the third edition of this annual project was themed "What's for Dinner?" and included six site-specific art installations selected from over 180 proposals. The main occupation in this region is traditional fish farming and the production of clams, shrimp and milk fish. Fish Farmers in Cheng Long always grow these 3 together: clams are the main product whereas shrimp and milk fish assist farmers to deal with algae and unwanted bacteria in the water. The whole fish farm is like a small eco-system and the purpose of this art project was to promote awareness of how our food is produced and the importance of sustainable and organic practices in Aquaculture. Artists were encouraged to use recycled and natural materials to create work in and around the wetlands nature preserve.

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The artworks were created with the participation of ChengLong Elementary School (成龍國小) children and local people during a 25-day residency in April/May 2012. This land art project is made possible and supported by the Kuan Shu Educational Foundation (觀樹教育基金會) the Taiwan Forestry Bureau (農委會林務局) and the governments of Yunlin County, Kouhu Township and ChengLong Village. Special thanks go to local villagers like Vicky or George who spontaneously pitched in with their time or refreshments during the labor-intensive creation of the mosaic. We are also grateful to our friends in Taipei, Michelle YunJu Huang (黃韻如), Vivian ChiaYing Wang (王嘉瑩), and TeYu Wang (王德瑜) who made it possible to launch project FOOD CHAIN in the capitol.

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Map of Taiwan
Cheng Long Village is located in Kouhu Townwhip Yunlin County (雲林縣) and is at the southwestern coast of Taiwan. Economically this area is the weakest and least developed in the nation. With little political clout this region is home to Chiayi Airbase and off-shore oil refineries that influence the eco-system of the wetlands. Some of ChengLong's land that was formerly used for (rice) farming is sinking due to human intervention (manmade depletion of aquifer) and now under water and too salty for growing crops. The Taiwan Forestry Bureau has set aside part of the sinking land to create a wetland nature preserve that is now home to many species of birds, fish and other wildlife.