Art as Environment: A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek

Art as Environment: A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek

Art as Environment: A Cultural Action at the Plum Tree Creek

About the project
Since 2009 curator Wu Mali and Bamboo Curtain Studio, helped the Zhu-Wei neighborhood to understand their Plum Tree Creek which has gone through a dramatic change. The first phase of the project is to raise pollution and water flow issues due to neglect. We used art as intervention for collaborative potential between professionals, the community, the public sectors, via research and dialogue, to lead residents to reacquainted with their environment, and to reclaim the ownership over their natural resources.

A series of cultural actions from over 60 local and international artists, curators, professionals and NGOs intersected multiple stakeholders. we have now reached more than 80,000 participants. After receiving many local and global recognition as prototype of eco-art action, local residents, government and schools realize the value of their local history, the compromised ecology and the pressure from over-development.
After ten years, we have accumulated much data. We now are planning: “Plum Tree Creek School”, and are seeking funding and new collaborators, to use art as catalyst via fun participatory projects, to attract wider sections of the community to jointly be a voice for change in their environment.

We bring artists to lead this journey, using the power of artist as a social sculptor, molding a new value system via mutual learning and mutual exchange. We hope to lead Zhu Wei towards best practice of a livable city that integrates art as the creative platform for embedding sustainable living habits.

Through our interactive “School” we seek art and artists are agent of change, making different models of connectivity to validate reciprocal dependency that keep a system alive.Art can bring change: made from the public, by the public, for the public.

The Plum Tree Creek Area, Zhuwei area of Danshui district, New Taipei City, Taiwan. Plum Tree Creek is approximately 13 kilometers long. Its source is from Datuen Mountain, and the clear water flows through Shuiwei of Pinding Village. Bamboo Curtain Studio is situated near the bottom where various tributaries pass though the downtown area of Zhuwei and converge into the main creek around Zhuwei Bridge and subway stop, before flowing into Danshui River, the biggest river in Taiwan. The creek used to be the source of drinking and farming, but it is after over development from the past 20 years, is now heavily polluted in some parts, and non-existent in other sections, where the waterway has been diverted, its sides straighten and cemented, or has occasionally simply been built over as traffic demands.

Brief Intro of five sub-programs: Breakfast at the Plum Tree Creek

Breakfast meetings were hosted on the last weekend of each month in various locations along the Plum Tree Creek. Locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables were selected monthly in accordance with the solar term. Every activity invited specialists from assorted fields. The program served as a platform for exchange among locals and professionals, investing our relationship with the environment. It established contact through informal conversation and brought residents together who live by the upper, middle and the lower parts of the stream.

Brief Intro of five sub-programs: Shaping of a village: Nomadic Museum Project
With an aim to “weave the shape of a low-carbon urban village”, the team observed local characteristic and discovered that within this urbanized living sphere hides an agricultural lifestyle. “Urban Village“ is a means to allow new residents of Zhuwei to develope local identity, and thus we developed the “Handcraft Market” project. Through a temporary installation, we invited cobblers, appliance technicians, and plant saving specialists in Zhuwei area to bring hands-on practices back into life, reconstructing the connection between human and city, and reigniting the different imaginations for a different lifestyle.

Brief Intro of five sub-programs: Future Class Room: Creating Local Learning that involves the Five Senses
The project invited visual and performing artists to the school campus, whereby they assisted teachers to guide grade six students to learn about Plum Tree Creek, and to create artworks using Plum Tree Creek as the theme. They inspired the students to explore with their ‘five senses,’ and thus become more aware of the environment.
Through this project, with support from the school and its teachers, parents also actively participated, turning the entire community’s attention to Plum Tree Creek.

Brief Intro of five sub-programs: Local Eco Life: Colorful Affairs with Plants
Water and plants are major indicators reflecting the ecological soundness of a place. Starting with sampling the water and learning the plants, they used plants found near Plum Tree Creek as dyes. These natural dyes were not only used to add colors to fabrics, but were also used in making food.
Also, students learned to utilize and give new life to common objects and unused materials, turning “Local Eco Life” from imagination into reality. In collaboration with Zhu-Wei Junior High School, the program brought local knowledge into the classroom.

Brief Intro of five sub-programs: Community Theater
“Community Theater” focused on local residents, and introduced theatre as a means to allow community residents to participate and create. Not only have they achieved personal growth and forged collective consciousness, the project also involved discussions on public issues, which further shaped the culture and lifestyle of the community.
The Community Theater has three parts to engage with people in the community and one of it was focused on physical dramatic performances based on the depiction of old photos and evolving the play from there. Through utilizing the local residents’ life stories, experiences, thoughts and acknowledgements of their surrounding environment, an impromptu theatrical display allowed residents to re-live their past experiences.

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