What if Buddha suddenly materialized on the beach? Will he enlighten the lost souls of this muddled world, or is he simply on vacation? Such burning questions and more will be answered at Ars Electronica, one of the largest and most diverse avant-garde art festivals in Europe.
Following the success of "Schizophrenia Taiwan,” a collective of contemporary Taiwanese artworks that debuted in the Austrian city of Linz last year, the Ministry of Culture has teamed up with Berlin-based nonprofit SidebySide Studio and French art center La Maison Laurentine to produce "Buddha on the Beach.”
Inspired by the 1976 non-narrative opera "Einstein on the Beach,” the innovative "Buddha on the Beach” comprises three large interactive installations, two live performances, and 12 visual and video artworks by contemporary Taiwanese and aboriginal artists.
Unlike "Schizophrenia Taiwan,” which dealt with the fragmentation of national identity through urban art, "Buddha” embraces chaos and dares the audience to venture a guess at the future of our crisis-plagued world — after observing the horrors carefully selected by the featured artists in the exhibition.
Curators Li I-wei (李怡衛) and Pierre Bongiovanni call it a "poetic glimpse of the current world” aimed at awakening the planet's inhabitants to "the need to invent new paths for humanity.”
They also invoke the Buddhist belief in the six realms of karmic rebirth — namely the worlds of humans/desire and doubt, animals/stupidity and complacency, hellish beings/anger and aggression, hungry ghosts/cravings and addiction, titans/jealousy and hate, and heavenly beings/blind and privileged — as metaphors for the wrongdoings in the world.
Of the 13 Taiwanese artists who will be featured in the five-day Austrian festival, music makerHuang Da-wang (黃大旺) has also been selected to perform at the opening night of Ars Electronica on Sept. 4. For more information on Taiwan's lineup, please visit the festival website at www.aec.at/c/en/buddha-on-the-beach.
‘Buddha on the Beach' @ Ars Electronica
Festival for Art, Technology, and Society
Ars Electronica will kick off in Austria on Sept. 4 and showcase a dazzling array of innovative productions, including the transnational collaboration "Buddha on the Beach."
Joyce Ho (何采柔) x Day Dream: "Mixed media installation. Androgynous mutant creatures colonize cities, rendering humankind obsolete."
Chen Chieh-jen (陳界仁) x Realm of Reverberation: "Video installation. The elderly, the sick, the disabled, the poor and the unemployed are the primary victims of urban development devised by experts, politicians and financiers. But dignity remains intact on the victims' side."
Yao Jui-chung (姚瑞中) x Long Live: "Video installation. The only spectacle still possible seems to be the military destruction of the world."