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Nuit Blanche Taipei to light up Dazhi, Neihu districts

By Yali Chen
The fourth edition of Nuit Blanche Taipei is set to kick off with a series of art and cultural events in Dazhi and Neihu areas on October 5.
From 6:00 p.m. on Saturday to 6:00 a.m. on Sunday, the streets, parks, and shopping malls of Dazhi and Neihu districts will be filled with art and music lovers as the city joins the global Nuit Blanche network.
Sean Hu (fourth from right)
Photo from DOCA
Sean Hu (fourth from right), Artistic Director of Nuit Blanche Taipei 2019 with dancers from Dancecology and the Metro Line Dance Association at a press conference on September 25.
The Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night) festival was first held in 2002 by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë. The idea behind the Sleepless Night festival was to turn a city into a huge art gallery for one night, showing contemporary art to a wider audience and encouraging people to explore areas of a city where they might not often go.
The Paris festival was such a success that it prompted more than 30 cities around the world to stage their own versions. Scores of cities now host their own Nuite Blanche on the first Saturday in October. Art galleries, museums, and cultural organizations also join by opening throughout the night, free of charge.
Taipei was the second city in Asia to stage the event in 2016 after Kyoto in Japan.
More than 100 artists and creative teams
“Waterlight Graffiti,”
Photo from DOCA
A viewer uses a brush to create her own artwork on French artist Antonin Fourneau’s “Waterlight Graffiti,” paved with thousands of LED lights.
Based on two core concepts – urban innovation and public space design, the festival provides art and cultural access for people living in the city, said Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DOCA). It also features the art feast throughout the night, free of charge, and citizen participation.
Now on its 4th year, the festival has attracted more than 200,000 people to join for the past three years, the DOCA said. Last year, the number of participants in this street arts event rose to 400,000, a new record. The capital city was turned into a vast museum without walls, an urban stage, and a street theater.
This year, the annual all-night arts festival features 5 seminars, 10 community workshops, 19 related activities, 22 art installments, and 45 performances. More than 100 artists and creative teams from Taiwan, France, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Australia, the U.K., Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Macau will showcase their artworks during the festival. The event will take place in the areas between the MRT Dazhi and Xihu stations.
The DOCA chose the Da-Nei (Dazhi and Neihu) district to hold this year’s Nuit Blanche Taipei because it is a new urban district in Taipei, said Taipei City Deputy Mayor Tsai Bing-kuen (蔡炳坤).
Many technology companies are headquartered in the Da-Nei area. A host of private galleries and art institutions have also sprung up here. As a result, the region has become one of the most important gathering places for Taipei’s art aficionados.
“We expect to harness synergy by combining Nuit Blanche Taipei, Taipei Art District Festival, Taipei Public Arts Festival, and Taipei Fashion Week,” Tsai said. “The sleepless night festival can also help strengthen bonding among residents of local communities.”
A Gift from Paris
“Weaving the Plastic Souls”
Photo from DOCA
With recycled plastic bags, the installation “Weaving the Plastic Souls” was created by Taiwan’s creative team Dancecology and Give to Give group.
The Nuit Blanche festival is one of the biggest events in Paris every October, said Jean-François Casabonne-Masonnave (公孫孟), Director of the French Office in Taipei. The success of this festival has encouraged over 30 cities around the globe to organize their own Nuit Blanche.
“We are very happy as it’s a wonderful gift that Paris has given to the other cities,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the great interaction between Taipei citizens and artists from overseas.
Such interactions play an important role in the Nuit Blanche festival. Last year, Taiwanese artists were invited to participate in the Paris festival.
Casabonne-Masonnave said he was surprised by the number of visitors to Nuit Blanche Taipei in 2018. “People here obviously love the arts and culture.”
“Dome Project”
Photo from DOCA
Japanese artist Isozaki Michiyoshi’s “Dome Project” is a four-meter transparent tent for viewers to enter and project their silhouettes on color plastic bags.
The DOCA invited curator Sean Hu (胡朝聖) to serve as artistic director of this year’s festival again.
He said that the venues for the past three years included Dihua Street in the Dadaocheng historical block, the Wen-Luo-Ding area (Wenzhou, Roosevelt, and Dingzhou roads), and the business and shopping district along Zhongshan North Road. Unlike these historical urban areas, the Da-Nei district is home to technology and commercial companies.
“This new area offers countless opportunities to integrate creativity and innovation into urban and cultural development,” Hu said.
Drawing inspiration from American environment and behavior researcher David Seamon, Hu made “Double-Face Ballet” a central theme in this year’s festival.
Seamon compared the development of a local culture to the life of a ballerina. The curator came up with the “Place Ballet” – a phenomenological notion based on the regularity of habits, routines, and the physical environment that supports regularity.
“The festival aims to turn the city into a stage for Taipei’s residents, encouraging them to become artists such as ballet dancers, on Saturday night,” Hu said. “Artists from here and abroad will find space for creation, experimentation and imagination.”
The 7-meter-tall Inflatable White Rabbit
Illuminated in stark white light, “Intrude” is a 7-meter-tall inflatable white rabbit.
Photo from DOCA
Illuminated in stark white light, “Intrude” is a 7-meter-tall inflatable white rabbit.
On Saturday night, the festival will showcase 22 art installations and video creations. Highlights include “The Gate of Phantoms” (眾幻之門), composed by Taiwan artist Tao Ya-lun (陶亞倫) and students from the National Tsing Hua University. They used a series of videos to introduce the landscape of the Da-nei area through augmented reality.
Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s “One Minute Sculpture” (一分鐘雕塑) invites viewers to pose with oranges or books as a sculpture for one minute. French artist Antonin Fourneau paved his “Waterlight Graffiti” (水燈塗鴉) with thousands of LED lights. He encourages participants to create their own artworks with brushes and sprays on this LED wall.
Japanese artist Isozaki Michiyoshi’s “Dome Project” (巨蛋計畫) is a very simple interactive artwork. It is a four-meter transparent tent. Viewers can walk into this large plastic dome to project their silhouettes on color plastic bags.
“Intrude” (打擾), an installation of a 7-meter-tall inflatable white rabbit, has been “invading” this year’s Nuit Blanche Taipei. Illuminated in stark white light, the rabbit looks very cute, sweet and innocent. Australian artist Amanda Parer examines the relationship between humans and the natural world in her massive inflatable artwork.
Other video works will be played on the big screens at ATT 4 Recharge, Miramar Entertainment Park, and New Square Shopping Center. Viewers can find themselves immersed in art on every corner in the city.
The film projects include “The Jog” (慢跑) by Taiwan’s artist Musquiqui Chihying (致穎). One performer in sports clothing jogs on the conveyor belt of a supermarket to symbolize a fight against the consumerist society and materialist lifestyle.
“International Radio Exercise” (國際收音機體操), another film produced by Taiwanese artist Chen Ching-yao (陳擎耀), explores the impact of national collectivism on the subconscious of people doing a healthy exercise every morning in Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan.
Taiwanese artist Hsu Chia-wei’s (許家維) “White Building – Sisters” (白色大樓-姐妹) describes two sisters specializing in modern and traditional dance. They dance inside a white building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Through their body language, the artist combined human and spatial elements in his film to reflect the changing urban society.
Some creations mixed art installations with performances. For example, Taiwan’s creative team Dancecology (舞蹈生態系創意團隊) and Give to Give group (廢青不廢) led several women in the Metro Line Dance Association (中華民國大都會排舞協會) to use recycled plastic bags to create their installation “Weaving the Plastic Souls” (膠織・膠魂). Their “Plastic Legend” (膠的傳奇現場) is a dance creation.  
The opening night will kick off with the performance “42535 Daily Life in the Internet” (42535網路裡的日常). The Anarchy Dance Theatre (安娜琪舞蹈劇場) will lead amateur dancers and students from Jing-Shan High School, Jing-Shan Junior High School, Jing-Xing Junior High School, Jengde Junior High School, and Nei-Li High School in a dance presentation.
Local performance groups, including Live Comedy Club Taipei (卡米地喜劇俱樂部), Guts Improv Theatre (勇氣即興劇場), man!! Otokojuku (漫!!男塾), and Dacon.come (達康.come), will bring laughter through talk shows, sit-coms and Manzai comedies.
The organizers will hold two forums on the square of Miramar Entertainment Park. The curator Sean Hu, Dancecology’s Artistic Director Peng Hsiao-yin (彭筱茵), and French artist Antonin Fourneau are set to share the ideas behind their creations for this year’s festival in Taipei and their exhibition experiences in other cities.