Unlikely encounters  -  Tree Tree Tree Person   Taiwan Taroko Artist Residency July - August 2017, Taiwan     Ima hangan su?  What is your name ?, we ask our host Ashang when we arrive. She laughs, amazed at the few chunks of Truku language that we have picked up, and promptly gives us a new name in Truku. For the next five weeks, we are called Gulu, Loking and Tumeng.  The Truku are one of more than twenty indigenous tribes that still exist in Taiwan. Since 2004 the Truku are officially recognized by the government, but they still face serious structural repression. In 1986 the Taroko National Park was founded on the land of the Truku; they had to leave their villages in the mountains and have been living at the foot of these mountains next to the entrance of the national park. Their traditional ways of life, hunting and farming, are prohibited on the site of the national park. The Truku have thus lost their livelihood as well as an identity-building cultural practice and now live mostly from badly paid factory jobs or from tourism.  What can we do as artists in this situation? Should there be art at all in this place where there are so many more pressing political problems?  We are overwhelmed, have many questions in mind and no answers. So we limit ourselves to what we can do. Ashang and her sister Yuli are both over sixty and have recently lost their husbands. We share their life and help them with their daily work. Through the work and the talks we get closer, we learn from each other and develop mutual trust and friendship.  Slowly we get a more intimate understanding of the living conditions in the village and in the mountains. The living space of the Truku has been split since the resettlement. In the mountains there are still two of the old villages. People like Yuli who own a house there, travel back and forth between the mountain and the plain - on foot, because a proper road was never built. But neither the old nor the new village is a home and many people seem to live in the up and down, in a constant state of in-between.  More and more, we become part of this environment. Walking up and down our bodies experience the two places and the transition between them. We focus our artistic practice on this experience. The process of living with the local people finally enables us to involve them into our practice, to make work that is with them instead of about them.
       
     
  Ima hangan su?  (What is your name) / Tainan  inter-media installation (sound, video) sound, double channels, 59’00”  video projections, double channels, 16’00” 6m x 8m x 10m  Sound Artist, Benjamin Ryser Media Artist, Dorothy WONG Ka Chung  22 July 2017, 4 a.m. – 4 p.m.,  Howl Space , Tainan City, Taiwan  Tree Tree Tree Person      In this installation, we deal with the living space of the Truku people we met, which is split between the residential area in Xincheng and the old tribal villages Datong and Dali on Liwu mountain. When we visited the Truku we joined them on their hikes to their old homes on the mountain and back to the town where they now live. This transition between the two spaces left us with a feeling of in-between, of not belonging to either place. We took video footage in both places and paired them in the installation. All videos observe specific details of the environment, being attempts to learn about the people by observing their surroundings. A mountain video always appears together with a Xincheng video, thus pointing out the contrasts as well as the connections between the two places. A diverging feature of the two places is their respective soundscape: machines and cars dominate in Xincheng whereas a rich variety of natural sounds can be heard in the mountain villages. On the pathway between the two places the acoustic arenas of the mountain and the city blend. Factory and street noises are layered with the sounds of the mountain forest. This observation is at the core of the installation’s sound part. While watching the videos the visitor is standing between two sound sources that play the two soundscapes. Two spaces fall into one, they coexist and at the same time interfere with each other.
       
     
   
  
   
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     Ima hangan su?  (What is your name) / Hong Kong  single channel video sound, colour, single channel, 11’21”   Story Teller, Nac Hijiyu Sound Artist, Benjamin Ryser Media Artist, Dorothy WONG Ka Chung  October 2017, Hong Kong     Screening  Screening and Sharing,  Intermissio n, Hong Kong "Taroko Artist Residency Project Screening + Artists Sharing"  Screening,  Asia Society , Hong Kong "Hong Kong Art Week - Art Symposium : Asia: New Frontiers in the Art World", curated by 2nd Annual  Hong Kong Art Gallery Association      This summer we were invited to join the Tree Tree Tree Person – Taroko Arts Residency Project .  During the two-months stay in the residency, we live and create work together with the Taroko indigenous people. We learn about the people, and gain an understanding of the political problems they face. We raise questions and reflect on the situation. How should we position ourselves, how should we respond to these circumstances and how should we create art in this place – as artists, friends, mankind?  This video is focusing on the experience of belonging, displacement, and distance.
       
     
   
  
   
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    Just Add Water  Benjamin Ryser, Composer Eva Lin Yingchi, Choreographer Carla Doorn, Dancer Curated by Brandon Farnsworth  24 April - 7 May 2016,  Corner College , Zürich  Just Add Water: A score, a set of instructions. Do this and you'll get that, guaranteed. Fill in the blank and it's done, easy! It's already been prethough for you, precomposed, predetermined. There's a cost of course; it's straightforward, but always the same. Reliable yet totally uninteresting. We need to experiment, see how we can shake things up. Maybe: It's never the same water that gets added in, always slightly different. Alpine water, or imported from China, we've already found some wiggle room.  We wiggle some more, stay within our structure, our enabling constraints, but never seem to stop discovering. We begin to tell stories, abstract ones, using our tactics to fashion props, switching between Alpine and Chinese, creating a rhythm, building and breaking expectation. A makeshift stage. Then the illusion collapses; what are we talking about anyway? Who knows, but we felt something, that's the most important. We begin again…