Taipei Original Festival highlights artistic creativity
By Yali Chen
The 2015 Taipei Original Festival running from December 4 through December 20 at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei City embodied participating artists' plentiful creative energy and the city's vibrant culture and art scene.
At the opening ceremony this past December 4, several special guests were in attendance to announce the kickoff of the 17-day event, including Lee Li-ju, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA); Jasmine Chou, Executive Director of the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park; Zhang Jia-xing, curator of the "Lovely Home, in Taiwan" exhibition at the 2015 Taipei Original Festival; Rukai artist Pasulange Druluan; Japanese photographer Nobuyuki Kobayashi; Taiwanese photographer Wu Chi-tsung; Amis singer-songwriter Suming; and Tsao Yu-ning, Taiwanese actor who took home the best supporting actor of the 2014 Taipei Film Festival for his role in "KANO."
This year's festival, themed "Creators and Stories," was divided into four categories – "Dream," "Mission," "Persistence," and "Value" – to signify the four steps of the creative process.
In its fourth year, the 17-day event invited 20 groups of artists and performers from Taiwan and overseas to showcase an array of works such as drama, documentaries, illustrations, installations, and photography, as well as music and dance performances.
Through their works, participating artists would share stories of their creative inspirations or struggles. The audiences might be aroused by their creative instincts, thereby discovering their own artistic potential, according to the DCA.
One highlight is "Log In" in the Dream exhibit by the Taichung City-based Petit Deer Cinema. The piece features joint projects from a total of 12 Taiwanese emerging illustrators, revealing their passion for animated films and how they develop their artistic ideas. Visitors can interact with these illustrators' tales and works through computer animations.
Another special creation in the Dream area is a joint project by local actor Tsao Yu-ning and Lai Yi-ru, an alumna of the Department of Communications Design at Shih Chien University in Taipei City. Their joint production combined multimedia, illustration and interactive installation to convey how Tsao realized his dream.
One eye-catching work in the Mission category is "Pride of the Sea: Wading through These Waters," created by Daniel Christopher Moore – an Irish artist who lives in Taiwan and specializes in illustration, printing, and installation art of mixed media.
Moore took inspiration from his good friend Suming's three pieces of works: "Wind," "Amis," and "John Suming" to create a rope installation as a metaphor for ship rigging that symbolizes the sea culture of this Amis musician's hometown Dulan Village on the east coast of Taiwan. In an effort to faithfully convey Suming's innermost thoughts during his creation of music, this Irish artist had gone to the Dulan Village to record ocean waves.
As a long-term volunteer for Taiwan's Indigenous Peoples Culture Park in Pingtung County, Moore has spared no effort to promote Taiwanese indigenous culture and helped local indigenous arts groups to take part in Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2015, he and Suming flied to Czech to participate in the European Capital of Culture. As a result, Moore said that his work "Pride of the Sea: Wading through These Waters" had been designed to encourage Taiwanese indigenous artists to pass down some important elements of their arts and cultures to the next generation.
For the past few years, the 36-year-old Suming has taken on many identities from construction worker to musician to actor. In 2008, the Golden Horse Award for best new performer went to Suming for his role as a truck driver in the film "Hopscotch." Three years later, he recorded an album of the same title, winning the Golden Melody Award for best aboriginal album.
In 2015, Suming wrote a song "Never Give up" for the film "Wawa No Cidal" and received the Golden Horse Award for best original film song.
Hualien-based artist Lin Gieh-wen won the Grand Prize of the 2014 Pulima Art Award for her weaving work "Yaku Kuyuh 2014 (I'm a Woman 2014)" rich in symbols from the Truku indigenous tribe from which she hails.
Her past hand-woven works, like Lin herself, were products of vastly different worlds blended together harmoniously. She is from Taiwan and is also of the Truku tribe. She is well-traveled and feels most at home hiking in the mountains and gorges of Hualien.
Lin has devoted all her energies to Truku weaving culture and art creation since she returned to Taiwan from Spain in 2008. In the Truku traditional culture, women must have weaving skills before getting married. Lin began to trace Truku weaving culture and learned to weave in 2013. She has integrated the traditional techniques of Truku weaving into to metal craft, soft sculpture, and spatial installation, as well as video and public arts.
During this year's festival, Lin's creation in the Mission area at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park was her first attempt to combine art, culture and video in an effort to make Truku indigenous culture known to the world.
Born in 1983 at Haocha Village of Pingtung County in southern Taiwan, Rukai artist Pasulange Druluan specializes in driftwood sculpture installation and furniture. His installation artworks can be seen at the Old East River Bridge, Taitung Tiehua Village, Chihpen Forest Recreation Area, Jia Lu Lan, Ketegalan Cultural Center, and Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.
The Rukai artist's work "Gazing" at this year's festival is composed of diamond-shaped patterns that have always been seen in Taiwanese indigenous cultures. In some cases, traditional clothing of Truku's women has colorful diamond shapes. In the Atayal and Truku tribes, diamond shapes have been regarded as ancestors' eyes, which symbolize their protection for tribespeople. A diamond shape in the Paiwan, Rukai and Bunun tribes has been considered a pattern of the hundred-pace pit viper because these indigenous peoples believe that their ancestors came from the hundred-pace snake.
Taiwanese photographer Wu Chi-tsung participated in this year's festival with his artwork "Crystal City 004" in the Persistence area. Wu is interested in how images are made and seen. He often uses everyday materials in elegant and inventive ways to create meditative, dream-like environments.
Although his early influences came from painting, specifically Eastern shan shui works and Western watercolor landscapes, his powerful works are often realized through video, photography, installation and performance. In other words, Wu's works feature landscape, nature and the urban environment, and are connected by his aspirations and fears for an ever-changing world and the aesthetics of traditional Chinese landscapes he studied early in his career.
"Crystal City 004," an all-encompassing installation, invites the audiences to witness a shifting cityscape and become a part of the work itself upon entry to the space. Filling both the room and therefore the audiences' environment with a moving and constantly shifting cityscape, the audiences are playfully introduced into a city which appears and disappears as regularly as the pace we see the rapid development of cityscapes in Asia today.
Equally intriguing is a photograph from the series "Portrait of Nature – Myriads of Gods" in the Persistence area by Japan's Nobuyuki Kobayashi. Beginning this series of photography in 2001, Kobayashi used the platinum and palladium printing techniques in combination with Hosokawa-shi paper to generate unique and sustainable photos illustrating the tranquil beauty of nature. The paper was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.
"The Moment," a performance by Naughty X in the Value exhibition, is also worth watching. Consisting of animators, dancers, designers, engineers and employees at advertising companies, the team staged three sessions of a laser light dance with sound effects.