Mitakayal Embassy, Guanwu, 2016

Mitakayal Embassy, Guanwu, 2016

An essay and a few pictures about “Atayal return home – the form of Gaga “, action/demonstration at Guanwu Recreation Forest, Hsinchu, Taiwan, November 18-21 2016.

The Chinese version of the article have been published on PTS News Network 公視新聞議題中心



Something always disturbs me when I arrive in some mountain area, is the strange names such as “… Recreation Area”. I can’t think of a natural environment (an ecosystem) as a playground for being entertained, I expect a much more intense, deeper and subtle experience.
When I arrived at the entrance of “Guanwu Recreation Area”, there was a bus, with a large group of people, families with elders and children, wearing colourful sport clothes, waiting on the road. A bit further, there was a tour guide giving explanations through powerful loudspeakers, giving a strange feeling of being in a night market. I decided to ignore them, carrying my heavy bagpack, I went on the trail. After a short walk under the light rain, I arrived in the valley, in a much softer mood. Then I could see through the trees a place where the river bank is wider, flatter, with a little shelter and a small groups of people being busy organising their life in this mountain.

The rhythm of activities during these three days was fascinating. Sudden bursts of energy, cutting a few trunks of small trees for construction of a roof, cutting some blade grass for making couches, carrying stones for arranging the fire for the night. Those were the moments I spent most of my physical strength. Followed some longer period of quietness, observing, watching, listening and getting back my stamina, thanks to the mind-blowing roasted potatoes and taro. When I go to the forests, I always carry my own food and tools, but I don’t stay often longer than a day. Being allowed to stay two nights means another level of connection to the place, to the geology, fauna and flora. Also requires some specific “work”, the actions that would simply allow the body to stay there.

But the most important of this event organised by Mitakayal (1) was the relation with the other people present. First of all, it is like I rediscovered the people I already knew and met. The Atayal friends were suddenly the one I would totally rely on. Any gesture, any way of looking at things, any word would take another significance in this mountain, I was their apprentice.
Then during the last morning, some visitors, representing the Forestry Bureau – an important institution in Taiwan – came to discuss. The family and friends gathered in the shelter, offering sit, food, drinks inside a nice environment, a perfect illustration of what could be an Atayal way of living in the mountain. The most striking aspect of this discussion was the reframing of what a “culture” is. When we think about the elements of a culture, language, stories and art craft are the one who jump to our mind. Because those are easily translated into our contemporary lives, can even get shared through the internet and eventually turned into commercial items. But the physical, incarnated relation to the natural environment is one of the most difficult to transmit. It requires time, spent in the mountain, to start being sensitive, to feel these with the perception, with the stamina these practices. It is a process that can be done only by one individual in a specific environment.

During this very interesting discussion, I suddenly remembered another situation in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year. We were invited to the Biennale of Sydney to present three short films (2), one of them, about Skaru group of Atayal, featuring Laling Yumin. In front of the world-famous opera, in the most touristic area of the city is the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. At the entrance of the building was settled a tent, attracting the attention of passer-by.
From the presentation of the Biennale :
“During the 20th Biennale of Sydney, Richard Bell presents a new iteration of Embassy, a restaging of and homage to the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The world’s longest-running protest – first assembled by activists on the lawn of Parliament House, Canberra, in 1972 – continues to bring issues of Indigenous health, housing and land rights to the forefront of Australian politics to this day. Bell’s latest iteration of Embassy serves as the setting for a series of screenings and talks with special guests, including Gary Foley, Jenny Munro and Lyall Munro Jnr.” (3)
We stopped there, and we listened to a talk between indigenous activists talking about the problem of land appropriation.
The audience was 100% white, non-indigenous people, coming on purpose or by coincidence, listening to some voices and ideas and feeling a bit of the frustration and anger of the Australian indigenous people. There was a full program of panels, discussion and screening of documentaries during the whole Biennale.

I am aware that the comparison between the “Embassy” and the camp organised by Mitakayal is maybe too quick or too superficial. But I found similarities in these unfair and anachronic situations. Yumin, the father of Laling Yumin, grew up in these mountains, in what is now a part of Sheipa National Park, then he was employed by the Forestry Bureau for opening trails used during the exploitation of the precious wood. Finally, in order to discuss the rights to be living and keeping their culture alive in these mountains, there is a whole process of negotiation. To create this temporary camp, this shelter was a part of this process. Once the non-indigenous people were invited to visit, to listen and discuss, the shelter took the role of an embassy. It is surely bitter and ironical for the indigenous people to open an embassy on their own land for discussing their own rights. But it is made with a very positive purpose of sharing and offering a unique experience for Han people, and foreigners like me, to witness during a short moment the life of the Atayal in the mountain.

– Yannick Dauby, Xindian 02.12.2016

Mitakayal is the name of the project held by Wagi Qmisan in Hsinchu, Taiwan, reviving Atayal traditional practices of the mountain.
“Atayal return home – the form of Gaga », action/demonstration at Guanwu Recreation Forest, Hsinchu, Taiwan, November 18-21 2016.

Three short films by Yannick Dauby & Wan-Shuen Tsai
– “The Body of the Mountain”, digital video, 2015-2016
– “The Childhood of an Archipelago”, digital video, 2015-2016
– “Beiguan Music at the House of Jiang”, digital video, 2015-2016

From the website of the Biennale of Sydney 2016

《 大使館 》




不過,《泰雅回家去 – Gaga的形狀:展示行動》[注1] 在這個過程中最重要的實踐,是與在場的人所產生的關係。首先,對我來說,有些像是去重新認識了這些我已經見過並認識的人。在這裏,這些泰雅朋友突然變成我需要仰賴的人:任何姿勢,任何觀看事物的方式,任何在這座山裡會產生其他意涵的字語…我成為了他們的學徒。

接著,在最後一個上午,幾位參觀者_以代表林務局的身份,受邀前來對話。這個家族(泰雅霞喀羅群Lwax k’hu社)和友人們齊聚於獵寮內,在一個很棒的環境中提供席位、食物和飲品…體現了一個關於”山林裡的泰雅生活為何“的絕佳景象。這場討論中最引人注意的方面,是重構“文化”是什麼。當我們思考關於"文化"時,通常語言、故事和手藝等元素會優先躍入我們腦海中,因為這些都是較易被轉譯進我們當代生活裡的面向,甚至其中一部分可以透過網路、或者透過商品化而流通分享。但是身體和自然環境的具體連結,卻是最難傳遞流通的其中一種。因為它需要更多時間,佇留山林中,讓身體變得敏銳,用感官和耐心去感知和琢磨這些實踐內容。這是只能由個體在特定環境中去經驗去完成的一個過程。

在這場十分有意思的對談中,我突然想起另一個在今年年初於澳洲雪梨發生過的情境。我和蔡宛璇受邀參與雪梨雙年展,展出三件短片作品[注2],其一,便是關於Laling Yumin所屬的霞喀羅群。在這全球知名的雪梨歌劇院的對面、全市區最觀光的街區上,是澳洲當代藝術館(MCA)。而雙年展開幕後,有一個帳篷被搭建在展館入口前,吸引了所有行人的目光。

雙年展的介紹文件上是這樣描述的:"第20屆雪梨雙年展期間,理查.貝爾(Richard Bell)發表一個新形態的《大使館》,對原初的《原住民帳篷大使館》做重新演繹和致敬。這世界上為時最長的抗議行動_首先由運動者於1972年在坎培拉國會大廈的草坪上聚集組織_持續將原住民的健康、居住和土地權利問題帶到澳大利亞政治的前線。貝爾最新的《大使館》提議,是一系列的放映和特別嘉賓與談會,包括加里.弗利(Gary Foley),珍妮.門羅(Jenny Munro)和小萊爾.門羅(yall Munro Jnr.)[注3]。"


我知道,《大使館》和《泰雅回家去 – Gaga的形狀:展示行動》之間做類比可能太快或太膚淺,但我發現這些針對不公平和不合時宜情況所採取的行動著實很有些相似處。 Laling Yumin的父親Yumin Behuy曾經在這些山林中生活和長大,但現在這一帶卻是雪霸國家公園的一部分。成年後的他被林務局僱用去開闢山路,造路的目的在於砍伐開採貴重的木材。最後,為了去探討關於生活的權利,並維繫他們的文化能在這些山區有機會存續,才有了這一整個對談/談判的過程。為了創造這個臨時營地_包括這個獵寮式的棲所,都是整個過程的一部分。一旦一些非原住民的人被邀請或自行前來造訪,進入傾聽並參與討論,這棲所便擔任了《大使館》的角色。原住民在自己的土地上開設一個《大使館》,去討論屬於他們的權利,這不免是痛苦和諷刺的。但是,它有一個非常積極的目的:那便是分享和提供一個獨特的經驗,給這片土地上的漢人以及像我一樣的外國人,在短暫的時間裡,去見證泰雅人的山林生活。
– Yannick DAUBY 2016.12.02 於新店

微獵角旅人客廳 (Mitakayal) 是由 Wagi Qmisan在新竹五峰後山山區所主持,致力於泰雅傳統山林生活的復甦。
《泰雅回家去 – Gaga的形狀:展示行動》 , 觀霧, 新竹縣, 台灣, 2016年11月18-20日。

Yannick Dauby與 Wan-Shuen Tsai 參加第二十屆雪梨雙年展的三個短片:
– « 來自Skaru’的歌聲 », 數位音像, 2015-2016
– « 離島的離島», 數位音像, 2015-2016
– « 樂返姜家大院 », 數位音像 2015-2016