Sunday, 29 December 2013

Where life begins

Just back from Tokyo and I have to jump on a fast-speed train of work. The post-production of When Doves Fly is a mess. I didn't get all the details, but as I was ready to resume the editing of some scenes which required the music, I received a fairly ambiguous e-mail stating that I would be from then on working with Adam, the producer for the director, my friend ShangSing being 'not available'... Whatever that means remains a mystery, although I have a hint about what may have gone on, in the light of the situation a few weeks ago...
In the meantime, I was trying to contact Kakuji to find out what happened to my phone and who had been the author of those practical jokes on my apps accounts...
I took the bus to Hsinchu today. Hsinchu, also known as the city of winds. I didn't know why, now I know. The thermometer may show 10°C, I was shivering of cold, when in Niigata, 3°C didn't have any effect on me...
Jiang Shan Yi Gai Suo is one of the few art spaces in activity in Hsinchu. Maybe it's because of the winds... Adrian had found this place and was very willing to do an exhibition there. It all happened very quickly. I can't imagine a similar situation in Paris or London...
The space has a bohemian feel: a gallery, a coffee shop and a hostel. The building is an old house, hidden in a small alley in the former prostitutes quarter - quite difficult to spot for the passer by. I hope they'll manage to keep it open for a long time in spite of that. Words of mouth will help.
They were hosting a gig when I arrived, which meant that we wouldn't be able to set up the exhibition before the end of the afternoon. 
A project with Adrian is always an adventure. He likes to go backpacking and working with him has something of a backpacking trip: I never know what to expect, there's practically no sense of real organisation, everything is to be improvised on the spot. I may feel annoyed by it, but actually, this pushes me to keep my mind active and alert.
Adrian and his friend Keith had been spending the night there in a minuscule room. The sight of them reminded of my younger years as a musician touring with Michèle Atlani. Sometime the conditions were hardly above the acceptable! The little rooms at Jiang Shan Yi Gai Guo were small but full of charm. 
Once again, a waste of time due to miscommunication. Adrian had been in touch with the owner who was only in charge of the hostel and the coffee shop, and not at in all in the know of what was going in the art space.
"I could have stayed home and work on my other projects", I said to Adrian. Of course he was not responsible. But I remembered how the same happened in Taichung at the GDI...
"Let's have a walk in the city" Adrian suggested. I grabbed my camera, finished my cup of green tea and went out with him and Keith. The gallery was located near an old temple, the heart of the old city. I enjoyed the unpretentiousness of the place. I don't think the soul of a city only resides in old buildings, but I often witness in Asia how they're quite incapable of handling new and old, except perhaps in Japan. Their notion of tradition is very elastic and is often distorted in any way possible.
Then the thought struck me. I realised why I was here, and not in London or New York in some swanky gallery. This was where the seed were to planted. Big expensive cities are saturated with arts and culture. It's become a commodity, a product of consumption that people buy or use to show off to assess their social status. Somehow the connection between art and creativity has been forgotten. In cities like Niigata, Taipei or Taichung, everything has to be built, and that may be the whole point. Trying to make it in a big city amounts to join a rat race of success. However, building up a cultural life is a different story. Jiang Shan Yi Gai Suo has only opened a few months ago. Its life and success is uncertain. That's where I could be helpful, as I was in Niigata nine years ago when NINA turned out to be the pivotal work which granted Noism its international career. Had I targetted my work for France only, I'd still be struggling to find a interesting project of modest scale.
The thought filled me with joy and excitement. Yes, the conditions may be messy and uncomfortable, but I was moved by all the efforts and time they brought to create a cultural life.

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