This November at New York, one of the performance capitals of the world, five Taiwanese artists — Chou Yu-cheng (周育正), Su Hui-yu (蘇匯宇), Yu Cheng-ta (余政達), Huang Po-chih (黃博志), and Shu Lea Cheang (鄭淑麗) — will present their commissioned works through site-specific live performances at the 2019 Performa Biennial.
Taiwan's inclusion to the 2019 Performa Biennial as one of the two theme nations to be spotlighted by the biennial's Pavilion Without Walls program was finalized during a May 23 meeting between Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun and RoseLee Goldberg, director of the New York-based nonprofit interdisciplinary arts organization Performa.
Minister Cheng noted that as a globally acclaimed festival dedicated to live performance, Performa is a great platform for Taiwanese artists to gain international exposure, while Taiwan is the perfect base from which Performa can tap into Asia's burgeoning cultural scene.
Director Goldberg explained that her interest in Taiwanese arts began with a 2018 trip to Taiwan upon the invitation of the Taipei Cultural Center in New York. During her visit, she also saw the unique trends of contemporary Asian art, prompting her to begin looking into possible exchanges with Taiwan.
For the Taiwanese Pavilion Without Walls, conceptual and installation artist Chou will explore systems of labor, exchange, and trade in New York's financial district by tracking the movements of distributed goods such as whole wheat.
In his first live theatrical work, artist and film director Su will survey the life of Tian Qiyuan, Taiwan's first openly gay and HIV-positive student and co-founder of the experimental 1980s Taiwanese theater group Critical Point Theatre Phenomenon, by re-inventing Tian's influential production "White Snake," which was originally inspired by a classic Ming dynasty legend.
Contemporary video artist Yu will examine the phenomenon of social media celebrity via a series of staged interventions — both online and in real life — and work with influencers to address cultural stereotypes. He hopes to illuminate the common experiences of Asian immigrants in New York.
Taiwanese mixed media artist Huang, whose complex conceptual works challenge the industry status quo, will arrange an elegy for Song Yang, a Chinese immigrant sex worker who committed suicide in Flushing, Queens in 2017.
Technological pioneer Cheang, who is representing Taiwan at the current Venice Biennale, will present "SLEEP1237," during which participants will be read to sleep, following a screening and public discussion of her earlier works.
As the 2019 theme nations of the biennial's Pavilion Without Walls program, Taiwan and Sweden are following in the footsteps of Norway (2013), Australia (2015), and South Africa and Estonia (2017). More program details will be announced at https://performa-arts.org/performa-19.