Symbols, Movement and Surroundings


The Taiwanese artist community in New York is tightly knit and very dynamic. During the last 15 years the government of Taiwan has invested heavily in contemporary art, and as a result a comparatively large number of Taiwanese artists do “tours of duty” in the US, especially in NYC where Taiwanese immigration peaked during the 80’s. In my exchanges with many of these artists it seemed to me like they always know each other, or at least know about each other no matter which stage of their careers they find themselves in"€”from students to professional artists. They get together and hold salons and other professional interest gatherings. During one of these, artist Jia-Jen Lin mentioned to me that a pair of twin contemporary dancers was working on a series of choreographies inspired by each stop along the 7 subway line. Many subway lines have their own character, especially once they reach the outer boroughs. Among them, the "€˜International Express’ certainly captures everyone’s imagination. Not only are its various neighborhoods incredibly diverse, but their character is clearly evident as you ride the line. You can see, hear and smell each region while reading the newspaper or checking your phone: Turkey, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, India, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, China.

Live Performance of Symbols, Movement and Surroundings

I had seen Hsiao-Wei and Hsiao-Ting Hsieh perform before and found myself very moved, so when I heard they wanted to do this, I wondered in what capacity New New Yorkers could get involved. Then I received the yearly open call for Queens Art Express"€¦ Exactly. What could be more perfect? Dancing twins, the 7 train, and QAX. I wrote Hsiao-Wei an email and asked her if they would come in and discuss their project with us. To my surprise their “Flushing” piece was conceived as a performance at the Queens Library! They are our biggest partner, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity.

Hsiao-Ting and Hsiao-Wei were particularly interested in working with everyday sounds and the largest part of the piece works not with prerecorded music but with the sound being generated by that busy intersection in Flushing. The first five minutes are not “silent” they are reacting to the sounds they hear around them. Afterwards a soundtrack begins and they perform a more conventional piece.

We had great turnout and now I am hoping their next stop will be Corona Plaza"€¦