If seeing acrobats, clowns and jugglers showing off their skills sounds like a good time, or just a good way to distract the kids, the upcoming Huashan Acrobatics Festival (華山百戲雜技節) may be just the ticket. It offers an exhibition, art fair, workshops, panel discussions and performances by groups and individuals from Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Canada and the US.
Taiwanese stuntman Huang Ming-cheng (黃明正) opens the event tomorrow with Transparent Kingdom (透明之國), a one-man show that combines circus skills, photographic images and the artist’s observations and commentary on Taiwanese society.
Huang said he was inspired to create the piece after completing an arduous project last year that saw him standing upside-down and taking photos at locations all over the country.
Photo Courtesy of Huashan 1914 Creative Park
“I have dreamed of standing on my hands and taking photos to document the places I have traveled since I was 13,” says Huang, who studied circus stunts and acrobatics at the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts (國立臺灣戲曲學院) and majored in theater at the Taipei National University of the Arts (國立臺北藝術大學). “I want to celebrate the acrobatic talent I was born with.”
During his five-month journey covering thousands of kilometers, Huang took more than 1,200 photos at places including temple fairs, cliff tops and paddy fields. He says it took 30 to 90 minutes to capture a picture, as he often had to do 200 to 400 handstands to get just the right shot.
In Transparent Kingdom, Huang uses eight characters, such as a “glamorous but good-for-nothing” politician who can execute all kinds of acrobatic tricks, but is helpless to improve society, to address contemporary problems. Another character, whom Huang calls the “mysterious common person,” is an obedient templegoer who carries a gun and has good connections with both the police and gangsters.
“It’s a show for everyone,” the stuntman says. “Children are excited to see circus stunts, while grown-ups reflect on the messages carried by my characters.”
Some 600 photographs selected from those Huang took during his journey will also be on display at Huashan 1914 Creative Park. The exhibition will run through July 31.
The artist is preparing for a second around-the-country trek, which he says will begin in September and last 20 months. “On the first trip, I documented the land. This time I want to record people’s lives,” says Huang, who eventually wants to extend the project across the globe.
Next week, Canadian artist Jerry Snell will team up with Malaysia’s Viva Circus for two shows that blend street performances and circus skills. Meanwhile, Cru Cru Cirque, a contemporary circus group from Japan, brings its signature creation of dance, pantomime, acrobatic skills and different types of Japanese folk performances to the stage.
The series of circus performances will end with a one-man show by master juggler Michael Moschen from the US. Credited for elevating the minor circus act of juggling to high art, Moschen will hold a two-day workshop on July 26 and July 27 (NT$3,000 per person). For more information, visit www.huashan1914.com/AcrobaticsFestival.
WHAT: Huashan Acrobatics Festival (華山百戲雜技節)
WHEN: Tomorrow through July 31
WHERE: Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)
ADMISSION: Tickets are NT$600 and NT$800 for performances, available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw
Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 If word got out that you were planning a wedding during the Martial Law era, the “Committee for the improvement of Folk Customs” (改善民俗實踐會) might knock on your door. Each borough in Taipei had at least one “agent” who kept a pulse on community happenings. They would visit the family planning the wedding with a letter from the mayor, touting the benefits of being frugal and not wasting money on lavish ceremonies, even encouraging the families to donate money for scholarships. The authorities also discouraged them from hiring musicians and dancers, who were often loud and
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a way urban households can obtain healthy produce, while helping to build a more sustainable farming sector in Taiwan. King Hsin-i’s (金欣儀) transformation from advertising copywriter to social entrepreneur began in 2008, when she visited a rice farmer who practiced pesticide-free agriculture. “He explained that we have to leave space for other species. At the same time, I realized that while big companies have budgets to spread their messages, farmers have few chances to tell the public about their beautiful concepts,” she recalls. Inspired, she quit her job and traveled throughout rural Taiwan for a year. King went
Every day before she starts her shift at a government hospital in Singapore, Farah removes her hijab — the Islamic veil she has worn since a teenager. Although minority Muslim women can freely wear the hijab in most settings in Singapore, some professions bar the headscarf — and a recent case has triggered fresh debate on diversity and discrimination in the workplace. Now Farah has joined a growing number of Muslims — who account for about 15 percent of Singapore’s 4 million resident population — calling for the ban to end, with an online petition gathering more than 50,000 signatures. “They told me
If ever there was a reason to be inside on Mid-Autumn Festival, even for just an hour or so, while still celebrating the natural world, Cheng Tsung-lung (鄭宗龍) has provided one with his first full-length work for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre (雲門舞集) as artistic director, Sounding Light (定光). Judging by the excerpt performed for the press last week, Cheng shows he can be just as minimalistic as his mentor, troupe founder Lin Hwai-min (林懷民), while still forging his own unique path. Just as he did with last year’s Lunar Halo (毛月亮), his final work as director of Cloud Gate 2 (雲門2), Cheng