Taipei 101 waste cable-turned art project on display in New York

Taiwanese artist Kang Mu-xiang with his 'Rebirth' in New York.

Taiwanese artist Kang Mu-xiang with his 'Rebirth' in New York. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (CNA) - A collection of seven installation artworks crafted from retired elevator cables from the Taipei 101 skyscraper by a Taiwanese artist with the help of prison inmates has gone on display in Manhattan, New York City.

The "Rebirth" collection by artist Kang Mu-xiang, which showcases cable-turned art pieces that range from 1.2 to 3.2 meters in height, opened Thursday in the city's Garment District Plazas as part of the Art On The Plazas event.

Kang was chosen from over 100 artists around the world this year to show his collection in the district, with the most iconic piece his "Infinite Life," a replica of the sculpture sitting in front of Taipei 101.

The other six pieces -- "Twin Life," "The Worried Whale," "Ru-yi Life," "Regeneration," "Ignore Me," and "Serenity" -- also made from the more than 500 kilometers of cable, have never been displayed in Taiwan, according to Taipei 101.

The Rebirth series is special because of its back story -- it is a collaboration of Kang and 18 prisoners in Taiwan, who helped him clean the steel cables so they could be reused.

The theme of Rebirth is twofold, Kang explained. It symbolizes new lives for waste materials and for people wanting to turn over a new leaf.

Kang said he came to realize the meaning of rebirth when cleaning cables for previous works, and decided to visit the prison after discussing the idea with the Ministry of Justice's Legal Affairs Department to share with convicts how art and disposed steel cables had changed his life.

At the event's opening ceremony on Thursday, Kang said he hoped inmates could understand that if waste cable can find a new life, then so could they.

Kang and the inmates spent a month cleaning the cables, according to Taipei 101, and the inmates who participated all wrote letters to Kang after hearing about the exhibition in New York to wish him the best and thank him for the opportunity to be a part of the artworks.

The exhibition will run through Sept. 15, after which the installations will be sent to Washington D.C. to be shown there. (By Yin Chun-chieh and Lee Hsin-Yin)