Jump to the content zone at the center

For two dear friends, the past is a foreign country

Art editor Img
Photo from Taipei Arts Festival
Jun Yang, left, and Michikazu Matsune with a photo of the 1969 first human landing on the moon.

By Ariston Ramos

 
Jun Yang (楊俊), a cross-category Taiwan artist who frequently performs at European and Asian biennales has co-produced “The Past is a Foreign Country” with Japanese performance artist Michikazu Matsune. Performance art involves actions, spontaneous or scripted, performed by artists and which may be live or recorded.
 
From August 31 to September 2, the two artists will have three performances at Zhongshan Hall’s Zhongzheng Theater. Their presentation includes a short film and their brand new production “Dear Friend,” where they act out a lecture on the absurdity of unforeseen historical events such as the present pandemic.
 
Dear Friend opens with Kamishibai (紙芝居), the traditional style of Japanese story-telling. Yang and Matsune use pictures in their declamation of their personal experiences and some global historical events such as the 1969 first human landing on the moon, the 2018 Surprise Summit of the leaders of North and South Korea, and the present territorial disputes between East Asian countries.

Art editor Img
Photo from Taipei Arts Festival
Matsune and Yang with a photo of the 2018 Surprise Summit of the leaders of
North and South Korea.


Kamishibai started in Japan towards the end of the 19th century. It was a street performance art that used paper and wooden puppets. The storyteller would first write the story on a wooden board and with the puppet as a visual aid would narrate the story in stages. Yang had lived in Japan for some years and learned this art of storytelling.
 
In The Past is a Foreign Country, Yang and Matsune will share their growing up memories with the audience and how those memories are related to global historical events. They will then express how the events have helped shape their personal histories, their national identity and their culture.
 
Born in Austria, Yang is a visual artist who creates his images, installations, and public art in Taipei, Yokohama, and Vienna. At 30 years old, he won the Msgr. Otto Mauer-Preis Award, the highest in the Austrian art world. Matsune was born in Kobe. He lives in Vienna where he works as a performance artist and dancer. His acts are parodies of language, places we live, and bodily reactions to situations.

Art editor Img
Photo from Taipei Arts Festival
In their performance, Yang and Matsune express how world events have helped shape their personal histories, their national identity and their culture.

The Past is a Foreign Country was the first co-production of Matsune and Yang for the 2018 Gwangju Biennale in Seoul. It was also Yang’s first performance art creation. His parents immigrated to Austria when he was a boy. There he met Matsune, and the two of them developed a friendship because they were both Asians – a minority in European art circles.
 
Yang came to Taiwan for their co-performance. With the resurgence of Covid-19 in Japan, he had to sign a document at Narita International Airport waiving his right to return. Upon arrival in Taipei, he had online meetings with Matsune who was in Vienna. They planned their performance and came up with the concept of “Dear Friend.”
 
In Dear Friend, the audience sees Yang perform on stage while they see Matsune demonstrate his performance art on a screen. This dual-venue presentation expresses the deeply felt isolation that many experience during this pandemic. Yang said that the visual arts and performance arts have completely different theatrical principles and styles. But for “Dear Friend,” they both sought to outdo each other in achieving a more unified performance. “We both felt that this was a unique theatrical experience, but it could just be our last co-production,” he said.
 
More information at: https://www.artsfestival.taipei/FilmContent.aspx?ID=33
 
News windows:
 
0978-322-873 chris.tseng@tapc-taipei.org
0930-795-453 chiunghua.kuo@tpac-taipei.org