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Nuit Blanche turns Taipei upside down

By Yali Chen
 
The third edition of Nuit Blanche, an annual all-night arts festival, opened in Taipei last Saturday night.
 
Themed “Upside Down City,” this year’s Nuit Blanche Taipei (臺北白晝之夜) features a wide variety of artworks, light installations, and performances to explore the connections between opposites such as day and night, prosperity and decline, and tradition and modernity.
 
Taiwanese curator Sean C.S. Hu served as artistic director of this year’s festival. He put forward the idea of “Upside Down City,” placing great emphasis on the concept of transformation, disruption, and inclusion.

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Photo from NBT
From left to right, Sean C.S. Hu, Artistic Director of Nuit Blanche Taipei; Benoît Guidée, Director of the French Office in Taipei; Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun; and Chung Yung-feng, Commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs wear designer clothes during the press conference on September 27.
 
At least 60 groups of artists from Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, China, and Canada were invited to participate in this year’s event. Their installations and performances also center on the theme of “Upside Down City” with the aim of “liberating the space and redefining the city.”
 
At the press conference on September 27, Taipei City Deputy Mayor Chen Chin-jun said that in 2016, the start of the first edition of Nuit Blanche Taipei stretched from the North Gate to the 228 Peace Memorial Park. Last year’s festival explored the west side of the city, centering around the Gongguan area, including the National Taiwan University, Taipower Building, and Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park.

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Photo from NBT
“Moon Haze,” a 10-meter inflatable moon by Chinese artists Feng Jiacheng and Huang Yuanbei,
is located near the intersection of Nanjing E Road and Linsen N Road for the 2018 Nuit Blanche Taipei.

 
This year’s event that began at 6 pm on October 6 runs from Zhongshan N Road Section One and Nanjing W Road, to Zhongshan N Road Section 3, near the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the Flora Expo Park. Unlike the first two, this year’s festival had performances at several sites until 6 a.m. on October 7.
 
“One major feature this year lies in art exchanges between Taipei and Paris,” Chen said.
 
On October 6, Taiwanese artists Tsui Kuang-yu and Chen Wan-jen displayed their creations at the 2018 Nuit Blanche Paris, thus symbolizing a timeless link between Taiwan and France. The two festival venues have a 6-hour time difference.

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Photo from NBT
The audience are invited to follow mysterious stilted figures dressed in white for
“Herbert’s Dream” by Compagnie Des Quidams.

 
The Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night) festival was first held by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, sixteen years ago, said Benoît Guidée, Director of the French Office in Taipei.
 
The idea behind the Sleepless Night festival is to turn a city into a huge art gallery for one night, presenting contemporary art to a wider audience and encouraging people to explore areas of a city where they might not often go.

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Photo from NBT
Tsai Chieh-hsin’s large-scale fiberglass sculpture, “Let Us Hug Each Other Today!,”
sits in Taipei’s Shuangcheng Children’s Park for this year’s all-night arts festival.

 
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, with art galleries, museums and cultural organizations open throughout the night and free of charge. Taipei was the second city in Asia to stage the event in 2016 after Kyoto in Japan.
 
“Taipei’s rich cultural life and active nightlife correspond to the spirit of the all-night arts festival,” Guidée said. “The concept of the Nuit Blanche has been deeply rooted in Taipei.”
 
“The city government is continuing to localize the content of the Sleepless Night festival, adding elements of Taiwanese culture. I also expect that arts and cultural exchanges will spread throughout Asia with Taipei City as the starting point.”

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Photo from NBT
The L’Enfant Sauvage Physical Theatre is one of the groups performing
at the 2018 Nuit Blanche Taipei.


On October 6, the start of the third annual Nuit Blanche Taipei at 6 p.m., MRT services between Taipei Main Station and Yuanshan Station stayed open until 6 a.m. the following day.
 
Participants can enjoy a series of programs that feature 43 art installations by Taiwanese and foreign artists and more than 70 performances ranging from music and theater to a reading marathon and street sports. The art installations have been placed around Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Flora Expo Hall, and some small parks at the intersection of Nanjing E Road and Linsen N Road.
 
Curator Hu said that Zhongshan N Road was chosen as the venue of this year’s festival because its architecture and shops reflect different periods of Taipei’s history, from the Japanese colonial era to Taiwan’s economic boom. That area can likewise claim greater cultural diversity due to the recent influx of migrant workers.
 
The main sites include Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Flora Expo Hall, the Expo Dome, Taipei Artists Village, the Nanxi circle-Zhongshan MRT Station, and around St. Christopher’s Church.
 
Art lovers, party animals, sports fanatics, or people who simply find an excuse to enjoy a night out are welcome to take part in this all-night arts festival.
 
The 43 art installations are waiting for art lovers to create a check-in status update and post it on Facebook or add it to Instagram posts.
 
Highlights include “In No. 94,” (第九十四夜) by Taiwan artist Wang Te-yu (王德瑜) who used fabric and inflation equipment to transform a bookstore into an exhibition venue. Tsai Chieh-hsin’s (蔡潔莘) large-scale fiberglass sculpture, “Let Us Hug Each Other Today!,” (讓我們今天就擁抱吧!) is at Taipei’s Shuangcheng Children’s Park.
 
A large rotating light installation, “Untitled Monochrome #1,” (無題 單色一) by Canadian artist Liam Morgan, adds its unusual and hypnotic visual effect into the festive night. Tao Ya-lun’s (陶亞倫) “Morse Code” (摩斯密碼) translates and projects the messages from the audience into the night sky through a searchlight, thereby extending the viewers’ imagination from the earth to the sky.
 
One of the most visible installations is the environmental piece, “Moon Haze,” (月霾) by Chinese artists Feng Jiacheng (馮嘉城) and Huang Yuanbei (黃苑倍), a 10m high inflatable moon that changes brightness according to the amount of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the air. Located near the intersection of Nanjing E Road and Linsen N Road, this artwork aims to evoke environmental awareness.
 
For video installations, Yu Cheng-ta’s (余政達) “Ventriloquists: Liang Mei-Lang and Emily Su,” (附身【聲】者:梁美蘭與艾蜜莉蘇) filmed two women from the Philippines married to Taiwanese nationals. It expresses the delicate relationships among cultures, languages and identities.
 
It is worth mentioning that the video installations of two Taiwanese artists will be on display at the Nuit Blanche 2018 in Paris. One is “The Swimmer Series” (泳者系列) by Chen Wan-jen (陳萬仁), which describes swimmers repeating their strokes silently and conveys a complex sense of peace and uncertainty.
 
The other is Tsui Kuang-yu’s (崔廣宇) “Invisible City: Taiparis York,” (隱形的城市:台巴黎・約克) which adapts foreign symbols on the streets of Taipei City to create exotic scenes. His film with satire and humor stimulates viewers to think about the absurdity of an imagined world.
 
Major performances include the dream-like street performance of “Herbert’s Dream” (亞伯之夢) by internationally-acclaimed French theater company Compagnie des Quidams (匿名者劇團).
 
“Herbert’s Dream” begins with a short procession led by mysterious stilted figures dressed in white. Communicating solely in a mysterious language of silence and articulated gestures, they hold strange and secret meetings, approaching and withdrawing as if inviting others to follow. Step by step, the figures grow to 4m high, transforming into billowing masses as the haunting procession culminates into a fantastic finale. Unearthly and entrancing, this unique and otherworldly parade will mesmerize Taipei’s visitors.
 
The L’Enfant Sauvage Physical Theatre and residents of the Guangneng Community in Taipei will perform together from the Jazz Square in the Zhongshan underground mall to the Flora Expo Hall to warm up the audience for this year’s festival.
 
The Taipei-based group “One-Forty Migrant Stars,” (移工大人物) which consists of migrant workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, will give a performance combining music and fashion shows.
 
“Noised” (噪型) by the French-Taiwanese Sondes A/V Duo (電波接收器) is an abstract audiovisual performance about city noises. The Creating Music Orchestra (CMO), which just won the Golden Melody Award for Best Aboriginal Album this year, invites the audience to listen to songs at St. Christopher Church.
 
One of the very few drag groups in Taiwan, the Snow White Entertaining Troupe will give a drag queen show, titled “Night of Rebellion – Grand Dress-up Party.”
 
Manzai (traditional Japanese-style stand-up comedy) superstars Dacon.come (達康.come) will join forces with Man_otokojuku (漫!!男塾) to spend the happy night with the audience through their entertaining show “The Night We Go Back to Laugh.”
 
Moreover, starting at midnight, films will be shown at the Late Night Cinema, and unique pop-up hotels at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei and Taipei Artist Village, although advance registration is required for these events.
 
There is a well-designed Web site (nuitblanchetaipei.info) with information in Chinese and English, including a program schedule, artist information and downloadable map.