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Taipei Original Festival celebrates culture, art and creativity

By Cherice Chen
Staff writer

Singer group S.H.E. and Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, center right, pose during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Taipei Original Festival, Nov. 16, 2012. (Photo by Cherice Chen)From November 16 to December 2 the first ever Taipei Original Festival dedicated to promoting the creative energy and talent of the city is being held at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. There will be a variety of new and enriching workshops, performances and exhibits by artists, creative entrepreneurs and theater troupes over the next two weeks that you won't want to miss!

The festival opened with popular singer group S.H.E. as guest stars. In the opening ceremony, the girl group exchanged gifts with Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, who took the chance to express his appreciation for all the support that led to the event. In the city's bid for the World Design Capital 2016 award, said Hau, Taipei will continue to demonstrate the plentiful energy in the city's creative industry.

"The Taipei Original Festival belongs to the citizens," said Commissioner of the Taipei city's Department of Cultural Affairs Liou Wei-gong as he encouraged greater public participation. "The city is everyone's stage," he declared, adding that performances during the festival are largely free or inexpensive. What the government does is "to provide a platform and services" to show people that "Taipei is a city to be proud of," Liou said.

Signage for the Taipei Original Festival exhibition. (Photo by Cherice Chen)Get involved!

The four themes and four exhibitions of the 2012 Taipei Original Festival – Creative Lab, The City Stage, Taipei Creative Hub and Home in Taiwan – complement each other to bring together imaginative people and spark new ideas.

"Creative Lab" is where you can interact with the exhibits using little props provided on scene. The spotlight is on the spirit of experimentation, and colors are the major players in this part of the exhibitions. Through brushwork, paper cutting and collage in different colors, participants experience the pleasure of creation, while the exhibits are enriched by collective creativity. New innovative art forms are produced collectively by individuals connected in a network – in this case, the city. The concept behind this exhibition is to arouse the creative desire in people and discover infinite possibilities.

Signage for the Taipei Original Festival exhibition. (Photo by Cherice Chen)"The City Stage" is a combination of several mini-theaters where it is possible to put on your own show. Echoing the idea of "the city as stage," the exhibition aims to pull out your inner thespian with interactive visual images and projections. This exhibition also provides a stage for bright young talents, including the winners of this year's "Yong Zhen Fringe Award" at the Taipei Fringe Festival. "Chef in Style…and His Mom," for example, is a one-man show by Inred-Liang that combines a live cooking show with a musical play about a chef who experiences a spiritual connection with his deceased mother after he discovers her hidden recipe.

Professional theaters, including Tainan Jen Theater, Wanhua Theater and Short One Player Theater, will present a lineup of shows almost every other day in this part of the exhibitions. Tainan Jen Theater's "Les Bonnes" is a play adapted from the work of French writer Jean Genet, about two sister-maids who fantasize about killing their employers in a drama that explores class differences and human desire. These fascinating (and free!) performances are unbelievable chances to immerse yourself in arts and culture.

"Taipei Creative Hub" is a series of workshops that discuss ways to build a brand and tips for encouraging creativity and turning a campaign into a social movement. The exhibition includes a presentation of what the Taipei Creative Work Camp has achieved, five seminars about brands, micro films, and other cultural and creative issues as well as screenings of winning films from the Taipei Golden Shorts Awards.

Visitors browse for creative crafts in the “Home in Taiwan” area in the Taipei Original Festival, Nov. 16, 2012. (Photo by Cherice Chen)"Home in Taiwan" is a market featuring creative crafts and merchandise from more than 30 local creative entrepreneurs. Chang Chia-hsing, the Director of Booday, coordinated the "Formosa Village," where visitors will find a variety of original products ranging from jewelry, clothing and wood-carvings to rice, herbal remedies and tea.

Looking for more?

Aside from the four major themes, visitors will find works of local artists dotting the park. Light and sound installations, architectural designs, and street performances are stationed across the park. To capture the spirit of Taipei Original Festival, the organizers guarantee traces of creativity in every corner of the park.

One of the installations, "Recycle – Temporary Permanence," is a collaboration between artists and the singer group S.H.E. The girl group's stage outfits are recycled and used to create installation art pieces by Ya-chu Kang and Christian Nicolay. Through deconstruction and reconstruction, images of the tunnel and space shuttle, Kang and Nicolay explore the transitions people undergo in the course of life.

If you are still in awe about the realistic battle scenes in the movie "Seediq Bale," you can find one of its signature props, an exact model of the French warplane Salmson 2 here. Designed by Japanese production designer Yohei Taneda and built by a Taiwanese company, the model is one of only two of its kind in the world.

1-5	Mascot for the 2012 Taipei Original Festival (Photo by Cherice Chen)Various indigenous bands have been invited to perform at the park over the two weekends of the festival, including Coach, Katncandix2, BearBabes and others. The festival hopes to promote Taiwanese original creative music, at the same time drawing more young people to participate in the activities by sharing the success of already popular bands and giving hope to artists who possess the potential but have yet to break through in terms of widespread recognition. The program's word play emphasizing the low key nature of luxurious rock and roll is aimed at bringing inspiration to all visitors, artists or not, who enjoy the beat of alternative music.

All in all, the Taipei Original Festival is one of the stones that is building Songshan Cultural and Creative Park into a base for ingenuity in Taipei, a place that stimulates imagination and fosters talent, as Taipei is hoping to show the world that it is more than ready to go head to head against all the other major cities in culture, art and creativity.

The Taipei Original Festival is hosted by Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei Cultural Foundation, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and the Taipei Cultural Industries Commission. The event is being held between 10:00-18:00 (Mon.-Fri.) and 10:00-20:00 (Sat.-Sun.) from Nov. 16 to Dec. 2 at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Xinyi District. No entry fee is required. For more information please visit: http://www.originalfestival.org