Blossom into the Blood －Note of the First Workers' Paintings Show
Kapok tree blossoms. The huge red blooms like fire brush the streets, each raises itself toward the high sky of the spring time.
Every Monday afternoon, handicapped workers and families with one of their members gone, join together to paint, to share their opinions, and also to relax and encourage each others. On the streets of Taipei, kapok blooms stand on the naked branches. With the climax of the flowering, they would pass over the gradually searing and just fall straight to the ground. When after the flowers falling, comes the bearing of fruit and bud.
This image of strength and tragedy touched our hearts. After knowing the kapok trees are also known as "tree of heroes", we are more convinced to name the first workers' paintings show of the Injured Workers' Painting Group "Kapok Tree Blossoms". We tried to connect the blood-like image of kapok blooms with the real blood of occupational injuries. Moreover, that the falling flowers make the circle of life complete, and the kapok trees produce materials to make clothes, point out that the "nameless heroes" of the "economic miracle" are actually hundreds of thousands of workers that injured or killed at work!
In the first decade of the establishment of TAVOAD, except the lawsuit counseling and argument between employers and workers that never seems to an end, we started small groups of stories told for healing each others, encouraging as such, or speech on the stages…. Injured workers bravely expose the feelings before and after the accidents; families of the passed workers speak of the sadness and stress of losing a close family with tears. By the "story telling" of the most painful experience of life, they discovered the deepest personal field and the common social sense among them. Individual depression needs group interaction to re-define. With the introduction of Miss Liu Shio-Mei by Lu-Di University of Community and offering of space from Workers' Commission of Legislative Action and Basic Teachers' Association, we started the Painting Group of Kapok Blooms with the stories told by the injured workers and families of the passed with colors.
Under the profit-first logic of the competitive free market, capital accumulation by lowering the cost is the prime rule of Taiwan economic development over the past 40 years. Thus the high rate of occupational accidents become the vice-product of the economic miracle. Millions of "occupational accidents" were actually not far from being expected. Over thirty-thousand cases of occupational injuries, point out the bloody fact that workers work with their own lives at stake!
In April of 2002, kapok blooms, the "Occupational Injured Workers Protection Act" that being asked by injured workers for over seven years is going to be put into practice, and the injured workers' paintings is up to show. We were busy furnishing paintings with materials so simple. Within the laborer's eyes, the country, the factory, the body, and love are many words painted. We cannot find any ascetic discourses to quote, or any examples to place ourselves. But on the very works of canyons there reveals the common life experiences among working class with vivid images. By injured hands show the varied labor cultural realities. The moving strength glows like the kapok blooms.
This is the non-official history of workers besides the statistics of economic development. The labor culture so real, so unwritten and so overlooked, the tears and blood of the working class raise to be the great accuse that is both serious and humble. Like the hero's trees standing straight, blooms in April to make us not to ignore, to comfort us with soft and warm cotton wool after blossom, and to cover a world with motherly green leaves.