Adding tribal touches to urbanity

Modern and contemporary art by Aboriginal artists from home and abroad will go on display this weekend at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park in Taipei

By Nancy Liu  /  Contributing reporter

Thu, Dec 13, 2012 - Page 12

A cornucopia of indigenous artwork and handicrafts will make its way to the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park this weekend, offering something different from Taipei’s main shopping area, which is located within a few minutes walking distance.

A swirl of metal made of small-sized nuts, bolts, and screws, simple wood carvings that tell the story of Aboriginal habitats, black-and-white photographs of a village and neon color totem-like decoration hanging on walls are among the works on display.

Through the hands of imaginative talents from Taiwan’s 14 Aboriginal tribes and Austronesian-speaking areas throughout the globe, prints have jumped from cloth onto canvas, jewelry and installation art, while avant-garde flourishes have been incorporated into an Aboriginal context.

The Pulima Art Festival (Pulima藝術節2012), held this year under the theme Faith and its Creations, calls attention to such growing creativity and invites appreciation of the constantly-evolving indigenous art.

“Pulima derives from the Paiwan tribal language, which refers to those who are skilled at handicrafts,” said Chou Hui-min (周惠民), chair of Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation, co-founder of the festival and the Pulima Art Prize, which is handed out at the festival to exemplary entries.

The festival models itself after the Festival d’Avignon and Edinburgh Art Festival — though on a much smaller scale. It features art exhibitions, performances, forums and documentaries related to the environment and cultural issues through various mediums including books, music, theater, dance, handicrafts and fashion, he said.

Bulareyaung Pagarlava, an internationally known choreographer of the Paiwan tribe, will make a rare appearance tomorrow at 7:30pm to deliver his own production. Admission is free but seating is limited so those interested are required to register online. Another noteworthy performance is singing by Ngerenger, winner of Taiwan’s annual Golden Melody Award for Best Aboriginal Singer.

A detailed schedule of the festival’s planned event can be downloaded from its official Web site.

After the performance, if you want to bring a bit of Aboriginal ingeniousness home with you, a visit to the small souvenir section at the entry will do the trick. The venue showcases a gallery of indigenous-themed accessories such as clothing, music albums and books.

Wang Yu-hsin (王昱心), an assistant professor at National Donghua University’s Department of Arts and Creative Industries, said that she was “wowed by the quality of the artworks” displayed at the Pulima Art Festival.

Referring to the nuance of lima, a word meaning “hands” in a wide range of Austronesian languages, she said that through the hands of artists, Aboriginal heritage is passed on and given a new dimension.

“Hands are the origin of creation,” she said.