It’s always a source of pride when we see and hear about Singaporeans making it big somewhere in the world. In the case of the 2018 Taipei Arts Festival (TAF), that Singaporean happens to be TAF 2018 artistic director Tang Fu Kuen, curating the programme and theme of the year.
In this year’s 20th edition, the festival takes on the theme of ‘Assembly’, and 為了～～在一起 in Mandarin, roughly translating to “Because of ～～we are together”, as the various collaborative, cross genre/culture artworks invite audiences and artists to participate and explore the complex relations between individuals and masses today, and how we continue to co-exist in the future as a community. The festival runs for a whopping, unprecedented 10 weeks, from 8th August to 21st October across a number of venues, and activities are split across three main segments:
Kick off the festival with an all new discursive platform at the THINK BAR, with 12 days of critical performances, public talks and network meetings as TAF 2018 goes deep into how ‘performance’ operates in the modern world and relates directly to recent social movements, global capital flows, cultural migration and youth activism. The THINK BAR encourages members of the public to look away from pure spectacle and instead watch works that invite critical discourse on the artistic creation process and experimentation. Works that will be presented as part of the THINK BAR include Filipino dancer Eisa Jocson’s Macho Dancer & Corponomy, Jaha Koo’s Cuckoo, research-in-progress presentations by Singapore’s Ho Rui An and Fang-Yun Lo (Taiwan-Germany), and speeches and presentations from intellectuals and producers from across Europe and Asia as they share more about arts criticism, curation and the art of independent production.
Over at Zhongshan Hall, TAF 2018 has done a 3 weekend takeover, where issues of representation from the ordinary folk will come into play, in this historical civic hall where Taiwan’s key political ceremonies were once hosted. Watch presentations such as Singaporean Tan Liting’s Pretty Butch as it touches on outsiders from society, This is Me by the Bleinders and G-Major Chorus (Taiwan’s first legally registered all gay chorus) and even Hsingho Co. Ltd’s Ting-Koo-Ki Juggling Battle, which will present high octane juggle-offs, transforming the hall into a haven for youthful energy and radical identities to gather as they redefine ideas of consensus and sovereignty with their infectious sense of fun and ideologies.
Three highlights of the festival will be international works co-produced by the TAF – watch Taiwanese award-winning new media artist Chou Tung-Yen as he uses 4D Box Hologram to create immersive scenography for a story about two time travelers in Taiwan-Danish collaborative effort on Chronicle of Light Year: Taipei-Copenhagen, while Shakespeare’s Wild Sisters Group collaborates with Japanese playwright-director Yukio Shiba in “In our distance, there is no sorrow’, and a dance about death and the souls of the departed comes alive with a Japanese audiovisual artist, a Taiwanese studio and a choir from the Netherlands in Under the Horizon.
Even outside of an indoor setting, TAF 2018 will be showcasing plenty of exciting outdoor events, such as the immersive, audio experience granted with the previously sold out, restaging of Rimini Protokoll’s Remote Taipei as guests explore the city and immerse themselves in its newfound sensuality, while Australia’s All the Queen’s Men will push the endurance of one man to his limits as he runs an entire marathon on a treadmill outdoors in Fun Run (expect dazzling lycra, shiny muscles and even bounding pom poms to keep that festive mood up)
With TAF 2018, watch as concepts of the public and private space meet discussion, as we question what it truly means to be alone or together. In this 20th edition of the TAF, Tang Fu Kuen presents works both fiercely local and gloriously international, but above all, always thought provoking, as these works come together to present a Taiwan whose future as uncertain as it is hopeful.
The 2018 Taipei Arts Festival runs from 8th August to 21st October. More information, full lineup and tickets, visit their website here