In a time of sharp polarizations and identity politics, Singaporean Tang Fu-kuen (鄧富權), now in his second year of curator of the Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節), and the festival’s programming team decided to focus on relationships, collaborations and power dynamics for the 21st edition of the festival.
The theme of this year’s festival is “I (do not) Belong To You” (我們認同藝術 我們認同臺北).
The idea is to look at how power is ambivalently produced, negotiated, distributed and performed between entities.
Photo courtesy of Witjak Widhi Cahyo
The 12 programs and five “works-in-progress” that will be presented at the THINK BAR events include three music shows, five dance programs, two theater shows, two interdisciplinary programs and multi-media presentations and artist talks. Several of the artists involved in last year’s festival whose works were popular and critical hits have been invited back with new programs.
Taipei residents and visitors are invited to imagine a common future, one shaped and informed by art in all its possible permutations, organizers said.
Taipei Department of Cultural Affairs Director-General Tsai Tsai Tsung-hsiung (蔡宗雄) said the goal of the festival is to get city residents to participate in activities they might have been exposed to before, to express themselves through art and to embrace difference through dialogue.
Photo courtesy of Bryony Jackson
The festival opens next week with a new work, a Taiwanese-Indonesian collaboration between Les Petites Choses (小事製作) and Jecko Siompo entitled Before/Step/After.
It is a free outdoor show at the Xiangti Avenue Plaza on Saturday and Sunday next week that is centered on teaching dance and audience participation. The artists involved believe that anyone can dance, and they want to prove it.
Among the other dance highlights in the festival are two shows by Indonesian dancer Eko Supriyanto, who is bringing his powerful solo Salt to Wellspring Theater on Aug. 13 and Aug. 14.
Photo courtesy of Jorg Baumann
With Princess, Eisa Jocson and Russ Ligtas from the Philippines seek to subvert the Disney standard of happiness through the viewpoint of the many Filipinos who work in theme parks around the world. They will perform at the Wellspring Theater on Aug. 9 and 10. Jocson’s gender-bending show, Macho Dancer and her artist’s talk packed people in last year.
Another subversive show is a collaboration between Australian Luke George and Singaporean Daniel Kok (郭奕麟), Bunny, which explores the boundaries of desire, trust and consent. Their work mixes dance, installation and bondage. In case you were wondering, “Bunny” is a nickname for a person being tied up in rope bondage.
The show will be performed at the Umay Theater in Huashan 1914 Creative Park on Sept. 6 and 7.
Jereome Bel’s GALA was a major hit for last year’s festival, so this year his The Show Must Go On will be presented, featuring 20 performers, 19 songs and one DJ.
However, Bel handed over the directing duties to Taiwanese dancers — and husband and wife — Chen Wu-kang (陳武康) and Yeh Ming-hwa (葉名樺), who, as with last year’s show, recruited local performers and amateurs to take part.
The festival also recommissioned last year’s IsLand Bar to be this year’s Festival Collection choice, with Henry Tan from Thailand and Taiwanese Huang Ding-yun (與黃鼎) leading new immigrants who have chosen to live in “Sweet Potato Land” in mixing cocktails and performing stories.
The THINK BAR was initiated last year as a series of lectures, artist-dialogues and performance showcases, but this year the idea was to focus on the work of five artists and their creative processes.
The festival runs from Saturday next week through Sept. 9, at venues around the city.
Ticket prices run from NT$600 to NT$900, but there are several events that are free.
More information about the programs, the artists, events and ticketing details can be found on its easy-to-navigate Web site (www.artsfestival.taipei/index.aspx).
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