Thursday, October 15, 2015


Pix by Shantel Liao - Filming and in Studio - The Ghost  Project
The last time I blogged I noted that the weeks were going fast and time was speeding up…then it flew away so fast I couldn’t grab it…and before you know it is all over and you are winging your way back home.The chaos due to the days being jam packed with activities as my project came together with off site location filming, intensive studio rehearsals, the giving of a number of artist talks, writing and sound recording sessions with Yen-ting for our ABC Radio piece, and finally culminating in the public performance & presentation of The Ghost Project - Jhih.
With Shantel Liao, & Chi Hsuan Lin on the rooftop @TAV
Jhih showing - Stage 1 - in the Barrie Gallery @TAV
This was followed by post show celebrations, more travelling around Taiwan and then the goodbyes. An ache in the belly as you feel deeply all that you have discovered, learned and come to understand. The rich and diverse experiences, both shared and solitary.The places you have visited, the wonderful people you have met and come to know, to call friends and colleagues… 
It was a professionally busy time and also an emotional time. Dealing with the logistics of producing and presenting work, the technical and operational aspects, the letting go of some of your own expectations, a necessity of any residency, and the surprise of achieving other unanticipated and even more rewarding outcomes. An underlying feeling that you will return, and the hope that this might be a stage of a project and the beginnings of a cultural exchange that will grow and develop in new directions. Perhaps we will make this work in both Australia and Taiwan…watch this space!

There were little gem-like moments such as meeting previous Asialink TAV resident Cath Brophy, who provided me with much need support and advice before I came to Taipei, and then arrived on her own adventure in my final days. Her love of Taiwan now well entrenched and from my side mutually shared. Really delightful to share with another alumni the unique experience that being here was, and is!
Cath Brophy & me
Another highlight was on my final afternoon participating in an installation, as part of Ting-YU Tseng’s exhibition (part of the Cross Strait Chinese Character Art Festival which focused on contemporary commentaries around the art of calligraphy) at the impressive monument that is Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Taking tea in the public gallery with Ting, one of my earliest collaborators on Jhih, with other members of the team, now friends, Li Hui Huang (& her partner Robert) and Wan Ying Tsai was a genuine moment of connection and delight as we gently debated once again the act of art in translation. 

In the final days it was a blur of rehearsals, packing, presentations, gift buying…visiting Treasure Hill a final time to see the conclusion of projects by other resident artists; Tadayuki Tahara's exhibition, and once more the wonderful work of performance maker and contemporary Japanese Butoh artist Yuko Kaseki. Saying goodbye to the team who has supported me at Taipei Artist Village, Director/CEO Dar Kuen Wu, Manager I-Hua Lee, and my wonderful host (ess!) Wan Ying Tsai.

With I-Hua & Dar Kuen
Wan Ying Tsai
In my final week I travelled right round Taiwan, tired but also eager to see a little more of this country I have grown so fond of. A fast Train to Tainan City, a day of sightseeing, a lane way B & B, then back on the rail ways through the mountains to Taitung. Another hotel stop, tour bus up the East coast, a walk around the village of Dulan (including visiting the old sugar factory art complex) and another evening back in town again enjoying new tastes, temples and busy street life. On the train up the East coast to Hualien, another hotel, and along with my flagging energy a sense that as the weather was changing, the days cooler, the sky grey and grim, my time was coming to an end. 
Dulan coast
Tainan city

Back in Taipei a crazy night watching the Aussie Rules preliminary final eating pizza and drinking quantities of beer brought ‘home’ sharply into focus...(nothing like your team losing…vale the Dockers for 2015) My last day spent wrapping things up, cleaning and squeezing a large suitcase tightly closed. Final shows, goodbye drinks, and a mid-night coffee with my fellow Asialink arts resident HsuYen-ting and it was time to take a 4am cab to begin the pilgrimage back to Perth...The moment of Déjà vu as the night security guard got me to sign for my key…this time out, and then it was good bye, well, for now...and thankyou.

Alive or dead, they come, anyway.
What is it you have to say, you who keep
coming to me in sleep, in dreams.
I see you, and you and you and you.

Visible, invisible, a passing through,
walk alongside right next to you.
No touch, only breath upon your neck,
a cinnamon scent, a smokiness.
The breath is warm as sweat trickles
down neck and back, tracing its track.

Yes, there was flesh once,
All has faded away,
All that is left are shadowy notes that
whisper upon the air
to remind me that once you were there

And so was I

(excerpt from Jhih)
Oh, and the best part of going of course coming your family and loved ones.
Me with my son Yvan
*** Please check out side pages for additional updates & images; Ghost Project - Filming 1 & 2, Training around Taiwan, & Jhih showing.

Some additional thoughts on a residency 

Be open – to new opportunities, experiences, food, whatever!

Be flexible – understanding that nothing will quite work out as you imagine.
Grab the moment – often an offer is not repeated, be it for a meeting, travel, an event, a shared experience.

Try to make time to travel away from your residency base, experience the place you are in and further afield if you can manage it.

Contact and arrange to meet people prior to arrival and in the early days of your time there; it is important to reach out early on, to begin all kinds of conversations.  
Initiate: conversations, connections, ask questions, invite discussion and debate, listen and learn the stories of this place.

Go to as much as you can; exhibitions, talks, events, shows, performances, galleries, arts related and all kinds of other activities.

Have time out: for research, reading, exploring, wandering and wondering, allow for reflection, dreaming, imagining…to follow your thoughts wherever they take you.

Move: Don’t get stuck in the studio or on a lap top. Get out and about; walk, bike, get into public transport, hike, swim…etc.

Documentation: take pictures, write, make drawings, scrap books, film..etc. 
Challenge yourself in new directions, experiment, question your own practice...and yes, a residency is ultimately what you make of it!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

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