The fact that practically anything in Taiwan merits a festival should have been warning enough. But the Miaoli International Mask Festival for some reason just beckoned with its outrageous theme. If someone's going to have the gusto to set up a months-long festival in Miaoli based around masks -- and call it "international," no less -- then extra curatorial thought must have been put into the exhibitions to pique interest in a subject that cannot be intrinsically interesting to many people.
\nTurns out I was wrong.
\nThe Miaoli International Mask Festival, which is held inside the Shan Grira Paradise amusement park, bills itself as part art exhibition, part cultural festival. Don't be fooled. It's neither.
\nThe cultural aspect of the festival takes place several times each day when foreign performance troupes don masks and period costumes for uninspired shows on an open-air stage.
\nThe art is to be found in two exhibition halls located at opposite ends of this expansive park. At the entrance are the "Theme Exhibition of European Mask" (sic) and the "Exhibition of World Cultural Mask" (sic). Here you will find cheap replicas of Middle-Ages battle helmets, which are nothing like masks at all, considering the latter serve a ceremonial or artistic function, whereas the former are utilitarian devices by definition. I was amused, though, by the line in the description text which for all the helmets read: "materials: metal."
\nThis cavalier attitude toward detail prevails at all the exhibitions. After the helmets, in other rooms are to be found airport souvenir-shop examples of Korean, Japanese, Tibetan, Sri Lankan and African masks with the wall text literally taped to the wall. Two rooms of Venetian masks might be called a highlight, with some of the masks showing a degree of craftsmanship, but they're nothing to knock your socks off.
\nThe best items on show are the Taiwanese masks, located in the park's hinterlands, past the swimming pools, past the roller coaster and beyond the fishing ponds.
\nHere, artists like Yeh Yi-li (
PHOTO: MAX WOODWORTH, TAIPEI TIMES
Oct. 18 to Oct.24 To chief engineer Kinsuke Hasegawa, the completion of the Taiwan Railway Hotel was just as important as the launch of Taiwan’s first north-south railroad. Many guests — most notably Japan’s Prince Kotohito — would be coming to Taiwan for the Western Trunk Line’s inauguration ceremony on Oct 24, 1908, and it was imperative to host them at the extremely lavish new establishment. Hasegawa personally presided over its construction for the final months, which carried on day and night with over 1,200 workers toiling in shifts. They just made it — four days before the official ceremony. Designed
It’s not even a road yet. At the moment it is merely a hint of upturned sod off Highway 11. When I visited last week the digger was sitting there unattended for the holiday. And yet, there it was, terrifying. On the site plan the locals obtained, the road goes down to the south end of Taitung County’s Shanyuan (杉原) Beach. That beach now hosts the infamous Miramar hotel, built on land taken from aborigines by the government in 1987 and handed over to a developer to build a hotel in 2004 as a build-operate-transfer (BOT) project. The hotel became the
Wu Shih-hung (吳識鴻) isn’t an avid reader of comics or Taiwanese literature. An animator by trade, Wu first became involved with Fisfisa Media (目宿媒體) through its acclaimed documentary series on Taiwanese writers, contributing his distinct ink brush-style artwork to the 2011 feature on Wang Wen-hsing (王文興), The Man behind the Book (尋找背海的人). “When I first joined the company, people were talking about how good the animations in The Man behind the Book were,” editor of Fisfisa’s comic division Lee Pei-chih (李佩芝) says. “Every new employee had to watch it.” When Fisfisa decided to launch its long-discussed comic venture featuring acclaimed
Jazz is back, but just don’t call it a festival as the Give Me Five concert series is set to kick off tomorrow in Taichung. Running through Oct. 31, the small-scale performances take the place of the annual jazz festival, which was canceled for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In years past, the multi-day event attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators. “It’s totally different this year,” Hsiao Jing-ping (蕭靜萍), head of performing arts for the city’s Cultural Affairs Bureau, says. Nearly 30 traditional and contemporary jazz bands will perform at venues throughout the city. The old