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Nuit Blanche to ‘power up’ Taipei’s Nangang with all-night events

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Photo from DOCA
From left to right, Lin Kun-ying, Artistic Director of the 2020 Nuit Blanche Taipei; Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun; and David Kibler, Head of the Culture, Education and Science Section at the French Office in Taipei at the September 18 press conference.

By Yali Chen

 
The Nuit Blanche Taipei 2020 will “power up” the city’s Nangang District with a series of performances and art installations that facilitate “creations in solidarity.”
 
Now in its 5th year, the annual all-night arts festival aims to bring together participants in the same place, giving them a platform to interact and create art, said the Nuit Blanche Taipei Artistic Director Lin Kun-ying (林昆穎). It will take place from 6 p.m. on October 3 to 6 a.m. on the following day.
 
It is meaningful that the event will be held in Nangang this year as the district is transitioning from an industry-oriented area into a high-tech and music hub, said Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤).
 
“The spirit of the Nuit Blanche Taipei includes city innovation, public space design, and the ability to showcase local characteristics and features. We can see all of this in Nangang,” Tsai said.
 
“Even though coronavirus is continuing its spread across the world, we’re very lucky that the Nuit Blanche Taipei can still be held as scheduled,” he said.
 
Take public transportation, says deputy city mayor

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Photo from DOCA
In her dance piece Girl’s Notes, Taiwanese artist Su Pin-wen performs in the nude to demonstrate the pure state of a female body.
 
The 2019 Nuit Blanche Taipei, held in the city’s Dazhi and Neihu areas, attracted about 400,000 participants. The number of this year’s participants is expected to hit a record high. The deputy mayor suggested that the participants should take public transportation.
 
The Bureau Francais de Taipei has worked with the city government to organize the annual event since 2016, said David Kibler, Head of the Culture, Education and Science Section at the French Office in Taipei.
 
The idea of the night-time arts festival has spread around the world and events are held under the same banner in many cities in Asia, but the Nuit Blanche Taipei is very special to his office, Kibler said. “This is because the most beautiful Nuit Blanche event in Asia is in Taipei.”
 
The Nuit Blanche began in France in the early 2000s, with the hope of bringing more arts and performances into public spaces instead of just confining art to museums, Kibler said.
 
The annual all-night arts festival in Taipei was held in different areas. Nangang is a very ideal exhibition space, he said. This will be the third time for him to participate in the festival. He is eager to see the Inside Out Project – Nuit Blanche Taipei 2020 (裡外反轉藝術行動) – one of the highlights at this year’s event.
 
“This year, the eastern stretch of Civic Boulevard will act as a large-scale arena to make new creations,” Lin said, adding that the event would aim to “power up” Nangang, in the same way electricity powers up a light bulb.
 
There will be 21 art installations and 50 performing groups this year, the artistic director said. Nearly a hundred artists from Taiwan, France, the U.K., and Turkey were invited to take part in the festival.
 
A venue of seven sections

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Tentacles
, created by street art duo Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas from the U.K.
 
The venue for this year’s festival ranges from the MRT Nangang Station to Kunyang Station. It is divided into 7 sections – the Nanxing Park, Nangang Station, Taipei Extreme Sports Training Center, POPOP TAIPEI, east and west squares of Taipei Music Center, as well as the Power Equipment Repair and Maintenance Department of Taiwan Power Company (Taipower).
 
The Nanxing Park will be turned into a stage for the Formosa Circus Art (FOCA) to give two programs – Puzzle Puzzle (拼圖) and How Long Is Now? (一瞬之光). The first program describes a jigsaw puzzle as a metaphor of life. The Taipei-based FOCA created 7 hollow cubes as puzzle pieces for their performances. Daily necessities such as mattresses, hangers and buckets are also used in the shows.
 
By stacking up, replacing and combining, the five FOCA performers will make a series of unexpected combinations of the objects and their bodies. Their circus skills including handstands, human pyramids and somersaults will be also integrated into their brilliant physical performances.
 
Founded in 2011 and named after Formosa (the Beautiful Island), the FOCA aims to develop a wide variety of contemporary circus arts in Taiwan. It is the only circus company in the country to have more than 15 full-time members. Its team members come from different fields of performing arts, including acrobatics, juggling, street dance, contemporary dance, martial arts, and drama. The FOCA is also the only circus company to have received the annual grants from the Ministry of Culture since 2017.
 
In the Nanxing Park, Silver Balloons (銀色氣球團) is an installation artwork using thousands of silver balloons. SUPER ADD Studio and O!Balloon worked together to create a pleasant ambience for the year’s festival.
 
Girl’s Notes

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Inside Out Project – Nuit Blanche Taipei 2020
by French photographer and street artist JR.
 
The performances in the Taipei Extreme Sports Training Center are Girl’s Notes (少女須知) by Su Pin-wen (蘇品文), Dilemma (兩難) by the Awakening Percussion Group (覺醒著製作), Swing into the Pop Songs (時代金曲,搖擺重現) by Swing Taiwan (社交舞與搖擺舞學校), and Blanche Battle Royal (摔角表演賽) by DJ QuestionMark (橘牆樂園).
 
Girl’s Notes was premiered at the 2018 Taipei Fringe Festival. It was inspired by the same-title female behavior instruction book published in 1984. Su Pin-wen adopted a contemporary feminist perspective to create this sole dance.
 
On October 3 this year, the choreographer-dancer will perform in the nude to demonstrate the pure state of a female body. Through her physical performance, she tries to explore what constitutes “the female gender” and deliver her criticism of the book.
 
Su first majored in philosophy in college, changing her major to performing arts and receiving her degree in dance, performance and choreography from Taipei National University of the Arts. Now she serves as Artistic Director of the Kua Bo Dance Theater in Taipei.
 
The artist always creates her works with her own body. She believes that dance is a conceptual art rather than beautiful body movements. Her creations focus on gender equality and feminist issues. They have been presented in many art festivals, such as the 2018 Grasstraw Festival, Chiayi Dance Festival, and Taipei Fringe Festival.
 
A Sea Monster called Tentacles

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The main character in the Fameme, by Taiwan’s artist Yu Cheng-ta, promotes durian
in New York City.

 
A sea monster has temporarily taken up the CITYLINK parking space on the Section 7 of Zhongxiao East Road in Taipei’s Nangang District, with huge and inflatable purple tentacles that emerge from the walls, arc toward the sky, and are big enough to be seen across the street.
 
This ten-meter tall monster is an installation artwork – Tentacles (章魚入侵), created by street art duo Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas from the U.K. Their surrealist inflatables appear regularly at music festivals like Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival.
 
Through their pop-up inflatable street art, the duo have showed their passion for innovative design, public art, and mischievous intervention. They have time again proven to be pioneers in the inflatable medium as well as carving themselves a unique niche in the international street art movement with their larger than life sculptures and anarchic humor.
 
Their pop-up installations never fail to turn heads, raise smiles and create epic scenes that shift the mundane towards the surreal, the sublime and often the downright ridiculous.
 
Filthy Luker, also known as Luke Egan, is a mixed-media artist from Bristol, England. He is known for his signature style of creating gigantic and outlandish inflatable sculptures that are typically installed temporarily in different parts of the world. Some of these works include traffic-stopping giant banana peels and outrageous colorful tentacles bursting from buildings. Luker, a self-taught artist, has been creating his monstrous sculptures since 1996.
 
The love for public intervention and site-specific public work inspired him to begin creating sculptural artworks specifically for urban landscape installations in the early 2000s.
 
Luker began creating bizarre pieces comprising a collection of urban interventions, mainly installing huge tentacle octopuses in buildings and other large inflatable works such as gigantic pencils or large inflatable eyes on trees. His octopuses can be found in cities like Singapore, London, Geneva, and Quito, Ecuador. The pop-up installations have the power to transform the face of a city within minutes.
 
Inside Out Project
 
One of the highlights at this year’s festival is the Inside Out Project – Nuit Blanche Taipei 2020, by French photographer and street artist JR. He shot portrait photographs of about 202 Taipower maintenance workers powering up light bulbs and turned them into an art installation, said Lin Kun-ying.
 
“All those workers had their portraits taken, smiling, wearing a hard hat, and holding up a light bulb. The portraits do not just represent what Taipower personnel do in their jobs, but also show what we as a people are doing in our daily life,” he said.
 
There are also seven to eight immersive works that make the audience into the performances through sound and interaction, the artistic director said.
 
Taiwanese artist Yu Cheng-ta (余政達) created his interdisciplinary work – Fameme (法咪咪) in 2019 to explore the cultural phenomenon of “online influencers” in Western social media and food trends in a series of live and filmed performances.
 
The main character in the Fameme is a Taiwanese farmer attracted to New York City to promote durian – a thorny, odorous, tropical fruit indigenous to Southeast Asia. He tries to use the latest marketing strategies to achieve his goal. Yu used his creation to depict an outsider’s quest for fame and acceptance in American culture.
 
During the 2020 Nuit Blanche Taipei, a huge inflatable durian will take up space in the CITYLINK Nangang Store. The character in the Fameme will sing, dance and take selfies with the audience.