Fri, May 09, 2003 - Page 17 News List

Muted celebrations greet start of Aboriginal festival

SARS has led to the postponement of much of what was slated to be the most comprehensive Taipei City Aboriginal Cultural Festival to date, but a photo exhibition will still go ahead

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Exhibits from the Ketagalan Culture Center in Peitou.


Originally set to begin today with all the pomp and circumstance of many a city government sponsored festival, this year's Taipei City Aboriginal Cultural Festival (臺市原住民文化祭) has become the latest in a long line of activities that have been postponed or delayed due to the current SARS epidemic.

Now in its sixth year, the annual event was set to be the largest Taipei City Government Aboriginal Festival to date. It was intended to incorporate Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival (台灣國際民族誌影展) performance groups representing Aboriginal peoples from China's Yunnan Province, in addition to representatives from Australasian Aboriginal cultures.

"Obviously it's a huge blow, as organizing this year's event took a lot of work. And to see all that organizational work come to nothing is a real shame," said Judy Lin (林儷蓉), an assistant researcher with Taipei's Tourism Commission (臺北市政府觀光委員會). "There's obviously no way the groups could come here at present and we could continue with the festival as originally scheduled," she said.

Though city officials have not yet discussed when, or indeed whether, the canceled events will take place at a future date, informed sources said August has been floated as a possibility.

For now, however, the month-long celebration of Aboriginal cultures will instead be a single event at the Ketagalan Culture Center (凱達格蘭文化館).

Whilst the cancellation is a blow to local Aboriginal groups who, according to the center's Wang Chin-fu (王進福), see the festival as both an educational and celebratory event, the center's Aboriginal photography exhibition -- set to open this Sunday, will go ahead regardless.

"Because of the cancellations the photo exhibition has been put in the spotlight, which has meant quite a bit of extra work as regards the event's presentation," Wang said. "It's proven such a rush that we haven't got all the photographs and the book that will accompany the exhibition has yet to be printed."


The Ketagalan Cultural Center's Aboriginal Photograph Exhibition (原住民主題攝影展) will take place from this Sunday through June 20.

The center is located at 3-1, Chungshan Rd, Peitou district, Taipei (台北市北投區中山路三之一號) and is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9am until 5pm.

The exhibition is set to see upwards of 80 photographs of Taiwan's Aboriginal peoples adorning the walls of the center's basement display hall.

Taken by both professional and amateur photographers, the pictures on display will, Wang said, give visitors an interesting and colorful insight into the history and cultural heritage of all of the nation's 11 indigenous tribes.

Located in Taipei's northern suburb of Peitou, the idea to create the capital's sole institute for Aboriginal studies was initiated by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during his tenure as Taipei mayor in May 1998.

Opened to the public in November last year, the 10-story building is home to NGOs, an Aboriginal cultural studies center, an indigenous arts and crafts center, a small movie auditorium as well and three floors of exhibition space. Being the first Aboriginal festival since its' opening, the institute was to have been a showpiece for the event. The cancellations, however, now mean that the center is more than just a centerpiece.

"As this was the first time the center was to play a role in the annual festival, we were hoping to play a significant part in and be a centerpiece for the festival," Wang said. "But with the present situation as it is, we have had to cancel the planned celebration of Pingbu peoples as well as the first cross-strait indigenous cultural exchange forum."

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