“Artscape Beitou: Our Museum” Community Arts Project

2015⋅11⋅28—2016⋅01⋅31

Artscape Beitou: Our Museum”Community Arts Project

Fall 2015, Hong-gah had launched the Artscape Beitou: Our Museum community arts project. This 3-phase event had set out to engage people from the community to explore Beitou’s cultural landscape hand-in-hand. Community residents and Hong-gah had visited different kitchens to share of their cooking experiences and their stories during Specialty’s Served; personal stories were gathered through Tea Time Chats with Beitou neighbors; and lastly, all whom had participated were invited to Hong-gah to join the Let the Feast Begin! celebration, revisiting and recollecting the warmth of the stories and memories told and recorded throughout the course of the project.

Tsàu-kha[1], meaning “kitchen in Taiwanese, plays an important part in everyday lives, knotting family members intimately together through cooking traditions and taste memories. Neighbors also gather in one another’s tsàu-kha to share news and lives. From this concept, we had planned and designed the Specialty’s Served, inviting different people and organizations from the community to share their culinary experiences and the stories behind, hoping to bond communities through sharing one another’s memories and taste. We had walked all around Beitou and visited tsàu-kha-s including: Qiyan Community Development Association at the Danfeng Mountainside; Erqi Ecological Leisure Farm up on the Datun Mountain; Sheme House, serving delicate desserts and coffee in a revitalised old warehouse; religious center Wenwu temple; Baxian Community Center; and the Beitou Parent-Child Center. Learning of these lovely people and their vivid stories had made Beitou a more authentic presence and belonging place. Moreover, the interactions and interconnectedness between community members throughout the process were those that are artful and aesthetical.

At the same time, in order to discover the stories of Beitou and its dwellers, we had launched the Tea Time Chats interview program, laying emphasis on the everyday life experiences. Relationships between the interviewees and us had changed and deepened throughout the process of this community arts project, for the happening of different programs had offered chances for further interactions and mutual understanding.Still images of every interviewees were taken and blended into the mural installation at Hong-gah’s courtyard. Lastly, community members and program participants all gathered again during Let the Feast Begin! celebration, looking back at the times we had shared stories and memories together, which gradually formed deeper bondings and thus the creation of this relational community arts project.

 

The exhibition of Artscape Beitou community arts project (through Sunday, January 31, 2016) shows a complete project documentation comprised of vivid photography and video recordings, as well as a mural art installation in the museum’s courtyard, and there’s also hand-drawn Specialty’s Served recipe booklets for visitors to bring home as souvenirs.

 

Hong-gah’s First Mile: the Community Arts Project Continues

Centering on the community’s everyday life experience, Hong-gah went hand in hand with our partners throughout the Artscape Beitou project to discover and learn of the diverse textures of Beitou neighborhood, and at the same time serves as the platform for public dialogue and communication. As the first phase of the entire project, Specialty’s Served program had provided opportunities for participants to get in touch and interact with different community members such as local business, agriculturists, community development organizations etc.. Knowing their stories and efforts to make difference in the community had encouraged the bonding between one another and built lateral connections in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, gathering life stories of the Beitou members had also been one of our important approaches in building community all through the project. Listening to and respecting all these little narratives had helped us to look into the plurality of this community, and retraced the past and present of Beitou. In Tea Time Chats as well as Specialty’s Served sessions, we got to hear different sorts of lively personal stories out: whether the famous historic Long Nice Hot Springs as well as the scene of motorcycles delivering escorts in express to their destinations; whether the here-and-there ceramic factories along the Zhongyang South Road, or the sight of Shichito Matgrass (also, Cyperus malaccensis, often used for weaving into mats etc.) spreading all over the Wenwu temple square. Memories shared through stories tellings help shape a multidimensional view of history and therefore a more authentic social construction.

Artscape Beitou may had formed underlying connections and built partnerships between engaging community members. For instance, time goes by and as the project entering its later stage, people participating in Specialty’s Served had always greeted each other fondly and caringly when met in each sessions, where first-timers could also freely blend in effortlessly. While focuses had put on the everyday life and food experiences besides personal stories and memories, each and every participants could share and present themselves and relate to one another easily, for stories and narratives provide multiple entry points that people could engage in and relate to.

Interconnectedness and relations thus formed between communities, and it takes time to get each of us closer and bonds tightened. This is only the beginning of Artscape Beitou Community Arts Project. Hong-gah had started out as a reporter, delving into the Beitou community exploring. We hope to further strengthen the partnership between communities, gradually establishing a community of practice, and Hong-gah could continuously become an activist, a vital part of the community support system, where we all could be relational lifelong learners.

Public Art at the court

Calm, Quiet, and Alive (public art located at the court)

Morris CHEN / 2015

Calm, quiet, and alive — are both the active Tatun Volcano Group and the cultural abundance in Beitou. Diverse features including artistic Yue-Qin[2] and folksong festivals, everyday-life Nakasi culture[3], and the aesthetical Beitou pottery, have mutually sculpted the dynamic landscape of Beitou culture. Strolling down the peaceful alleys and hustle streets, one could delve into the everyday lives and discover its cultivated vitality. As a part of the Beitou, we hope that further engagements through arts in the community could add sparkles to the cultural vibrancy.

 

[1] Department of Education, Taoyuan, Taiwanese Pronunciation, http://web.ffjh.tyc.edu.tw/tai5gi2/70.htm

[2]A moon-shaped lute, stringed folk instrument.

[3]Nakasi is a term borrowed from the Japanese word “Nagashi”, meaning “flow”, using to describe the migratory lifestyle of the itinerant Nakasi musicians who performed from parlor to parlor.

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