Sat, May 04, 2019 - Page 13 News List

A cultural feast for the senses

Creative Expo Taiwan’s main fair may be over, but its interactive and multi-sensory exhibitions on regional culture and creativity as well as specific trades at Huashan 1914 Creative Park are worth visiting, with the Tainan Expo Park taking the cake for best experience

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Twelve objects from 12 professionals are arranged in a grid at the Tatung Expo Park at Creative Expo Taiwan.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

I’m sitting at a typical cluttered round table commonly found at Taiwanese food joints with a menu in hand, but I don’t plan on ordering any food. I put on some headphones that are on the table, and the crackling and sizzling sounds from the kitchen of Tainan’s famous Yeh Family Barbecue (葉家燒烤) whets my appetite as a narrator describes the restaurant and its dishes.

The only grub I’ll be getting, though, is some malao (麻荖, fried maltose cookies) as a prize for answering questions about the six featured restaurants at this Tainan-featured exhibition, one of four region-focused shows at this year’s Creative Expo Taiwan (台灣文博會). This type of interactive and multi-sensory experience is the most enjoyable part of the extensive program, and while not all of them work perfectly, the curators should be commended for pushing the envelope.

But what really anchors all these elements is the human focus on the craftspeople, artists, chefs and conservationists instead of looking at culture as merely a product. Not all of the exhibitions are handled as well as the Tainan one, but they are all informative, well organized and worth peeking into if you are interested in Taiwan at all. Plus it’s free.

While the Creative Expo’s main design and brand showcase is over, there is still plenty to see and do before the annual event closes tomorrow. The bulk of the action is taking place at Huashan 1914 Creative Park across seven exhibition halls. Stage on the Move focuses on performing arts while Places on the Move looks at the unique cultural and creative elements from Taoyuan, Tainan, Taitung and Pingtung, and includes a traditional goods market and craft tea exposition.

Exhibition notes

What: Creative Expo Taiwan: Culture on the Move

Where: Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區), 133 Guangfu S Rd, Taipei City (台北市光復南路133號) and Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文創園區), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號)

When: Infrastructure on the Move is from 10am to 7pm, the rest from 10am to 8pm. Ends tomorrow

Admission: Free

On the Net:

The accompanying events, talks and performances are time-specific, so watch the schedule if you want to don a white coat at the Tea Future Lab or enjoy a show by Yi-Shin Taiwanese Opera Troupe (一心戲劇團). Also, the make-your-own books in the craft tea exhibition are usually snatched the instant they’re replenished at 10am and 3pm, so act quickly.

With individual curators, each exhibit greatly differs in theme and format. Tainan’s “Simmering Fire” by local travel and culture expert Yu Chih-wei (游智維) is clearly the best put together, using the theme of fire to interpret and connect chefs, musicians, craftspeople and other passionate professionals from the city. By comparison, the Taoyuan Expo Park is presented as a design firm, highlighting the creative developments in local factories, public spaces and sports activities with a focus on kendo. It’s organized and innovative, focusing in particular on audio, but the human aspect is not as strong. And while the Pingtung Expo Park has the human element, featuring videos of performers as well as their personal items and musings, the hands-on part is mostly missing.

All exhibitions have some sort of interactive component. At Stage on the Move, visitors can lie on the ground and mimic the dance moves of professional performers, while one can press buttons and make beats out of factory noises, kendo shouts and audio recorded at Taoyuan’s various public spaces. And almost all have something visitors can hear, smell or feel.

However, getting too creative with the displays can backfire. The Taitung Expo Park has a fresh concept by displaying 12 everyday objects on loan from 12 professionals, from gloves to ground coffee to a whole dried squid — and kudos for diversity as it includes not just Han Chinese and Aborigines but also an Indonesian shop owner. Visitors can smell the ocean from some of the objects while a soundtrack plays with waves and guitars scored by Amis singer Suming.

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