How Difficult Is It To Be An Art Soldier
Written by Weiwuying Residency Artist CHOU Shu-yi
I have heard many people talk about their time at Weiwuying, most of which are about their gruesome army days. Because of these unforgettable military experiences, many people in Taiwan know that there once was a military camp in Fengshan, Kaohsiung, called Weiwuying, which is now a center for the arts. Although I have never served in the military, it felt like I was being drafted when I received the Artist-in-Residence assignment last year. I serve in the art force, so I had to be curious about anything art-related. Just as a person jogging alone is quite different from jogging as a group, when art becomes a communal affair, it is transformed.
The year I was supposed to serve in the military, I suffered a severe dance-related injury. Because I could not dance, I sharpened my will to live and contemplated my dance future. I gave up my dream of becoming a professional dancer and began to focus on creating and teaching. My life used to be all about dancing, but that injury made it difficult to demonstrate and even walk, which affected my teaching and dancing. I began a long rehab process and slowly made my way back to the stage. I searched for dance pieces that I could complete and developed my artistic voice...... This story will take forever to finish, but what I want to say is: when you choose to become an artist, it is a lifelong service that takes a lot to carry out. I learned that many artists and I share similar life experiences. So what kind of beauty does an art center that hosts numerous performances display? The artist's persistence. It is a technical exercise invisible to the naked eye that slowly grows. When it is finally ready for the public to see, it has become a sight that speaks to each of us differently. That is art. That is life!
When the pandemic shutdown venues, the artists and staff had to stop all projects. Although there were no performances to attend, you could still dance. In the face of the pandemic, clever artists fought for their survival and adapted. Held initially once a month at the Banyan Plaza, the public dance class "Weiwuying 365+ Dance" relocated online since June 30. In her workshop, artist Su Pin-wen incorporated the online format and led nearly 200 participants to explore their physical senses online through graphics and audio guidance. This is an incredible display of the artist's vitality for all to experience. Kaohsiung artist ZUO Han-chieh, who founded the Double & Cross Theater Group, was also affected by the pandemic and suspended physical performances. ZUO, who has created a baby theater series, started a Sunday parent-child workshop to infuse new energy into the household through online interaction. These are examples of the artists' resilience: learning to face and adapt to adversity while holding onto their vision. It is these strengths that give art its value.
If there is a gender difference for soldiers, then art soldiers are gender-neutral. Many people are standing their ground on and off stage, and I hope I can do the same and bravely share my vision right here in Kaohsiung!
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