The 18th Taishin Arts Award Announced Laureates of Visual and Performing Arts Awards and Annual Grand Prize
Against Again Troupe’s White Clear Song Takes Home the Annual Grand Prize for Its Seemingly Light Yet
Penetrating Singing of Heavy History.
The Three Awards Reflect Contemporary Social Issues.
Known for honoring outstanding artistry, humanistic engagement and contemporary spirit, Taiwan’s benchmark contemporary arts award, the prestigious Taishin Arts Award, announced the laureates of the 18th Taishin Arts Award, selected from seventeen finalists on June 6. They are:
The Visual Arts Award: CHEN I-Hsuen, Commissioned—I-Hsuen Chen Solo Exhibition (NT$ 1 million monetary award)
The Performing Arts Award: WANG Shih-Wei, Masses (NT$ 1 million monetary award)
The Annual Grand Prize: Against Again Troupe, White Clear Song (NT$ 1.5 million monetary award)
Due to the impact of the global pandemic, this year’s jury committee was entirely formed by jurors from Taiwan. Chaired by documentary director and the recipient of the first edition of the Taishin Arts Award, HUANG Ming-Chuan, the professional jury committee included independent curator Manray HSU, dance scholar CHEN Ya-Ping, theater critic CHEN Cheng-Hsi, pianist WANG Pei-Yao, and two representatives of this year’s nominators, cultural critic WU Chieh-Hsiang and theater critic Siraya PAI. During a two-day meeting convened for the final selection, the seven jurors entered in multiple rounds of debate about the works, discussing their artistry, the innovativeness of the creative concept and form, the dynamics among the audience and the use of environment and space, along with how these works have reflected the relationship between arts and contemporary society. Through such a process, the three awards were born.
The first award announced and presented was the Visual Arts Award, which was given to CHEN I-Hsuen’s Commissioned—I-Hsuen Chen Solo Exhibition staged at Hong-gah Museum. The artist reversed the roles of commissioners and those that were commissioned, creating a humorous portrayal of the relationship between the so-called “Party A” and “Party B” in ordinary contracts while reflecting the employer-employee relation and common situations encountered by contemporary arts and cultural workers. According to the jury committee, “Commissioned—I-Hsuen Chen Solo Exhibition departs from the artist's working conditions and reflects on the art eco-system, where the artist and his peers are interconnected and mutually supportive in daily life, and belong together to a generation of “slashies” across various cultural production fields in their creative careers. This is not only the reality of the art world but also a microcosm of contemporary society. Intermingling participatory co-productions, extravagant actions, sarcasms of "professional formula," flowing shots, delicately synched music and motion images, Chen turns the video installation into a vivid movie scene, bringing the real world into the museum, while entangling the art space in the cobweb of image society.”
The Performing Arts Award was announced next, and was awarded to the theatrical work, Masses, created by theater director WANG Shih-Wei with choreographer TIEN Hsiao-Tzu, sound designer LEE Tzu-Mei and light designer Helmi FITA. The jury committee gave the following comment, “Wang Shih-Wei’s Masses is a collective performance featuring abundant creative energies of four outstanding artists. The production fully exploits the spatial potential of the venue. Watching from afar or immersed in close range, the audience is invited to bravely face the nuances of personal life amid street protests. Caught in between fierce confrontation and solitary repression, the sole protester calls for hope to persist. The performance sincerely examines the self-awareness, passion and alienation of individuals in the mass, without falling into the cliché of blatant political statement or self-indulgence. While responding to the global unrest, Masses takes the audience to re-experience and re-think the personal and the social of being in a street struggle.”
Out of seventeen finalists, Against Again Troupe, with their work White Clear Song, became this year’s laureate to take home the Annual Grand Prize. White Clear Song was directed and written by Snow HUANG. CHIANG Tao, who also took part in the playwriting of this work, designed the music and was a musician in the performance. Collaborated with the Transitional Justice Commission, the troupe visited sites of stories from the past and employed folk singing, storytelling and the contemporary theatrical form to interweave archives and oral history records of White Terror, including letters, confessions, farewell notes and depositions, constructing a polyphonic site of dialogue. The jury committee unanimously agreed that “transforming the heaviness of White Terror archives into a fluent, profound sound theater, Against Again Troupe’s White Clear Song is an artful blend of story-telling, folk songs and reportage theatre. The work recounts the stories of victims through monologues, dialogues and singing on a makeshift stage with effective symbolic images and flexible mise-en-scène by four performers. It unadornedly restores the original perspectives of the archives to convey the complex and entangled realities of our past. White Clear Song revisits history to relieve the individual's grief after decades of silencing, to clearly summon the power of oral history, and to resist oblivion and apathy. As the sound lingers, the work materializes a difficult narrative of history with an amazing light touch.”
Theater director Lakuz LEE served as the ceremony’s chief producer. Adopting the structure of circular theater and the form of participatory TV studio, the ceremony exuded splendid and warm colors, conveying the imagery of reunion and springtime. TSANG Bowie, the winner of Best Variety Show Host of the Golden Bell Awards, was this year’s ceremony host. During the ceremony, Bulareyaung Dance Company performed an important part called “Mapulaung” (literally, “my battle achievements”) from Luna, which won the Annual Grand Prize of the 2019 Taishin Arts Award, transforming the rite into a special performance. Immersed in ancient indigenous tunes, the eight dancers performed their work while wishing all finalists the best in the ceremony. The live recording of the award ceremony can be viewed on the website of “The 18th Taishin Arts Award,” where more detailed information about the finalists and their works can be found.
Official website of the 18th Taishin Arts Award: http://award.taishinart.org.tw/
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