Friday, July 10, 2015

Taipei - 开始 (to begin)

Foyer Taipei Artist Village
To find where you are staying, to get there, to enter, to put down your bags and finally stop…
The inner elation in just making it…in arrival, and in beginning.
And then it starts…wow, and what a first week! Learning on my feet, as I explore and experiment, with phones, food, visiting places, meeting new faces and all to a different sound and rhythm… I am make new routines to this new rhythm AND in this climate, which right now is super hot and humid. I go for a run and return saturated, or I get literally soaked as I get caught out in a downpour of torrential rain…and I am writing this as a Typhoon approaches!

Moving from my gorgeous studio 204 to the even more awesome 302, I am relishing the space and the solo framework. The inner city ambiance and vibe of the TAV (with its own galleries, café, dance studio etc) is really fantastic. In addition there is a wonderful group of supportive staff along with the diverse and growing group of new resident artists who keep arriving over the week. 
I am initially welcomed by security staff, then warmly greeted by Ching Ching Yang and I-Hua Lee, AIR Taipei Director Wu Dar-Kuen and now my host support Wanying. I find the supermarket, local MTR stop, great street eats, superb coffee and set up home base. Intern Annie from Hong Kong assists me in getting a great phone plan, shows me over a local stationary shop and we share a chat over iced teas.  
Other residency artists begin to arrive:
Helen Juilliet - France 
Lior Shamriz - Israel via Berlin & California
Yoon Hyangro - Seoul, South Korea
Ha, Francie (the eteam) & son Lewis - New York, USA
Early on we head out for group intro dinner with current resident Yoni Lefevre and a group of her local friends. The food is seriously fabulous (as it is everywhere, in addition to being fresh & available on the street all the time!...more about that later) Already sampling new and surprising food is becoming a daily treat. The group almost gets waylaid (lost) but thanks to Google maps we eventually find the upstairs restaurant (in the Xinyi district) and we have a great night. 
I want to see everything and head off in all directions, taking in the local district of Zhongzheng. I visit Longshan & Qingshan Temples, the historical Bopiliao area, & Ghangzhou street market. I really enjoy MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and exhibitions When I Become You by Korean artist Yeesookyung and Polit-Sheer-Form Individualised Forever (PSFO art group). I get my first massage and walk a lot. As I said, it's hot, humid and at times a challenging assault to the senses and the body, but everywhere I find people are welcoming, helpful and generous.
MOCA entrance
I reunite with Hsu Yenting (2015 Asialink reciprocal resident, Fremantle Arts Centre) and we coffee (it’s really good!), have a catch up chat, make plans and then check out the Huashan 1914 Cultural Park. Along with exhibition spaces, music venues, and currently the Taipei Film Festival, shops, cafes and quirky bars make this converted factory site a local contemporary arts mecca. We visit an upstairs exhibition/installation (complete with a coffin that you can get inside and watch a video) 
A day or so later we regroup to watch a outdoors site specific dance performance Slow dancing in the Fast Lane by exciting local company Horse at the Museum of Fine Arts X-site architectural installation The Texture of Uncertainty. I meet the dance company's Artistic Director Chen Wu-Kang and hopefully we will catch up again while I am here.
Hsu Yenting & Friend
Over two days the Village hosts the inaugural 2015 Annual Conference for the ArtistVillage Alliance of Taiwan. Those who run artist residencies from around the world are here and I meet up with individuals from Tokyo, Florida, New York, and from all over Taiwan. This place is buzzing!
Eliza Emily Roberts from Asialink (Australia) flies in to deliver a keynote address, and it is a busy few days. We head off on a sightseeing adventure and are joined by Nathalie Angles from Residencies Unlimited (NYC) and Bruce Rodgers from The Hermitage (Florida). We take in a traditional breakfast at Fuhang Soy Milk, One of the largest local temples, the Baoan Temple, The National Palace Museum, & Tapiei 101 (the second highest building in the world, and the one with the fastest lift, according to the Guiness book of Records famed notification (see below)
Bruce, Eliza & Nathalie at Baoan Temple
The Proof!
Later in the week, Eliza and I, accompanied by Cindy Wu from the local Australian Office go on a day excursion to the far South of the Island by fast train and then by road to Pintung County. Here we visit Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Cultural Park and then meet individually with leading Paiwanese artists Sakuliu Pavalung, Etan Pavavalung, & Nitjan Takivsalit (Daki) and I discover more about this island’s diverse and rich cultural history prior to colonisation by the Chinese, Japanese and the west. We visit their studios high up into the mountains viewing powerful sculptures and beautifully crafted artworks. As stories unfold there are haunting parallels to the Australian Aboriginal experience. 
Cindy Wu, Eliza & staff member
Etan Pavavalung with Cindy at his studio in Rinari
We hold our first Open Studio for the visiting delegates at the close of the conference. It’s just five days since I arrived, but I set up research materials, print off photo displays and screen the short film of Standing Bird 2 as a sample of my work. There is a warm and genuine interest, great questions and dialogue, as I meet and chat with the wonderful Margaret Chiu (Bamboo Curtain) and also Aibo Lee from (Freedom Man Art Apartments). The conference then concludes up on the rooftop with a traditional banquet served with the Taipei skyline as and incredible backdrop. Here we are entertained by the traditional Taiwanese puppet company I Wan JanPuppet Theater followed by a hands on experience with the puppeteers working with these small wooden hand-held puppets.
Yenting & Eliza
A first - puppets on a rooftop
Asialink trio
Next morning I head off to the National Theatre of Taiwan (it’s impressively huge) where I have a great meeting with Pen-Ting Huang (Head of programming and Planning) and Sarah Ting We-Chang also from the programming and planning department. They talk over their vision and the various governmental processes that underpin their activities, and we exchange information on Australian and Taiwanese contemporary dance. I have the opportunity to talk with them about our show Standing Bird 2, am armed with as many pamphlets and booklets as I can carry, and then we take a tour of this incredible building and its two theatres venues (the Main Theatre & Experimental Theatre). There are possibilities to sit in on future rehearsals, and we will see each other soon at a work in progress showing we are both attending in the coming week.
Pen-Ting & Sarah
Bump In at The National
A final event with Eliza sees me at Café Wooloomooloo meeting the team from the Australian office and a group of young delegates from the Colombo Plan, an educational exchange/internship program offered by the Australian government. The crew from the Oz office are warm and welcoming (as is everyone), and the students genuinely excited and clearly changed by their completed two week secondment. I also meet previous Asialink Resident Annie Ivanova who came here approx. 5 years ago, and has never left! She now has her own successful arts/curatorial consultancy and generously offers her assistance in the facilitating of my project. 
We finish up the night with a meeting and meal shared with Kueiju Lin and her partner from MOVE Theatre. This collective of Taipei based artists is a multi-disciplinary performance company and their program looks fantastic. I am invited by Kueiju to visit their space and attend a rehearsal/showing of a remount of a work Dear John in a week or so, and to also come along to other scheduled events. We then take a lazy stroll together checking out a busy local night market (one of many that seem to be dotted across the city).
Australian Office event at Cafe Wooloomooloo
Kueiju Lin & partner with Eliza at the street market
Meanwhile I continue my research, reading and planning for my TAV Taiwan development project, now with a working title The Ghost Bride. I discover and uncover more 'ghostly' traditions, strange rituals and various myths around all things ‘ghostly, and as Ghost Month approaches I look forward to experiencing and witnessing much more…

Each day fills too easily and I crawl into bed nightly with a weary body, aching muscles (yep, all that walking) and wondering what surprises the next day will bring.
The week has been busy...card swopping (and the timing of it) is an artform
And Kuan Yin (the goddess), she appears this space
A dear friend wrote this to me in an email this says in just a few words the space and place I am now in.
"We all wake up eventually, even if its just into another dream." (HB)
* (Note: Also since starting my blog, I have now decided I will do pages on particular events, research and experiences, keeping my actual posts to the days and week’s activities! Just so many photos! So check out the Pages in the side menu for more info and pix.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing the adventure, which such detail and visuals