Festival : Roll up roll up
If seeing acrobats, clowns and jugglers showing off their skills sounds like a good time, or just a good way to distract the kids, the upcoming Huashan Acrobatics Festival (華山百戲雜技節) may be just the ticket. It offers an exhibition, art fair, workshops, panel discussions and performances by groups and individuals from Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Canada and the US.
Taiwanese stuntman Huang Ming-cheng (黃明正) opens the event tomorrow with Transparent Kingdom (透明之國), a one-man show that combines circus skills, photographic images and the artist’s observations and commentary on Taiwanese society.
Huang said he was inspired to create the piece after completing an arduous project last year that saw him standing upside-down and taking photos at locations all over the country.
“I have dreamed of standing on my hands and taking photos to document the places I have traveled since I was 13,” says Huang, who studied circus stunts and acrobatics at the National Taiwan College of Performing Arts (國立臺灣戲曲學院) and majored in theater at the Taipei National University of the Arts (國立臺北藝術大學). “I want to celebrate the acrobatic talent I was born with.”
During his five-month journey covering thousands of kilometers, Huang took more than 1,200 photos at places including temple fairs, cliff tops and paddy fields. He says it took 30 to 90 minutes to capture a picture, as he often had to do 200 to 400 handstands to get just the right shot.
In Transparent Kingdom, Huang uses eight characters, such as a “glamorous but good-for-nothing” politician who can execute all kinds of acrobatic tricks, but is helpless to improve society, to address contemporary problems. Another character, whom Huang calls the “mysterious common person,” is an obedient templegoer who carries a gun and has good connections with both the police and gangsters.
“It’s a show for everyone,” the stuntman says. “Children are excited to see circus stunts, while grown-ups reflect on the messages carried by my characters.”
Some 600 photographs selected from those Huang took during his journey will also be on display at Huashan 1914 Creative Park. The exhibition will run through July 31.
The artist is preparing for a second around-the-country trek, which he says will begin in September and last 20 months. “On the first trip, I documented the land. This time I want to record people’s lives,” says Huang, who eventually wants to extend the project across the globe.
Next week, Canadian artist Jerry Snell will team up with Malaysia’s Viva Circus for two shows that blend street performances and circus skills. Meanwhile, Cru Cru Cirque, a contemporary circus group from Japan, brings its signature creation of dance, pantomime, acrobatic skills and different types of Japanese folk performances to the stage.
The series of circus performances will end with a one-man show by master juggler Michael Moschen from the US. Credited for elevating the minor circus act of juggling to high art, Moschen will hold a two-day workshop on July 26 and July 27 (NT$3,000 per person). For more information, visit www.huashan1914.com/AcrobaticsFestival.