Burn, baby, burn – Taipei Times

Turtle Burn, Taiwan’s spinoff of the avant-garde art festival Burning Man, will take place over the Tomb Sweeping holiday

https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2021/03/26/2003754519

In the mountains of Yilan, far from the confines of everyday life, people gather during the holidays to celebrate. Outlandish costumes are the norm. The fashion styles run from Mad Max-inspired outfits, to anime cosplay, along with colorful makeup and dresses for both men and women.

It’s time for the Turtle Burn, the official “regional Burn” of Taiwan. This is a spinoff of Burning Man, the world’s largest art and music festival held annually in Nevada. For one week a year, over 70,000 people camp out in Black Rock Desert to attend this seminal countercultural event. All over the world, there are also smaller regional Burns, and the Turtle Burn will be a more intimate affair, capping at 150 people.

Although the main Burning Man event was canceled last year due to COVID-19, the Turtle Burn did have a successful opening in 2019 and plans to continue annually. The latest will be from April 2 to April 5, over the Tomb-Sweeping Festival holiday weekend, at Shanlinciji campsite.

Wooden turtle sculpture is set aflame on last night of Turtle Burn, 2019.

The site is filled with several “theme camps,” which groups organize in order to spend time with likeminded friends and to pool resources together. One is the Tavern of Truth, headed by Kate Panzica, which holds a free bar to give drinks to everyone who strolls by.

“Educating both foreigners and locals on the Ten Principles is a net positive,” Panzica says. “I think it’s great for folks to explore themselves and what they want to be in the ‘default world’ as well as a Burn.”

The Ten Principles of Burning Man, written by late founder Larry Harvey in 2004, are: Radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy.

Attendees gather around a flaming effigy on the last night of Turtle Burn 2019.

These guidelines help to make the event stay as ethical as possible, and people are encouraged to clean up after themselves and promote sustainable living. Radical self-reliance refers to how attendees must bring their own food, cookware, tents and other camping supplies. People are encouraged to contribute to the culture by building their own artistic creations, whether individually or as part of a group. And after the event is over, they must make sure to leave no trace by cleaning up all “MOOP” — matter out of place.

For four days the Turtle Burn will hold a variety of workshops and activities. The gifting principle doesn’t just refer to handing out free drinks or personalized jewelry, although that is also common. It can also be expressed by giving one’s time by hosting workshops.

In the past, these workshops have included improv comedy sessions, where participants learn to play and practice their comedic skills, yoga classes for keeping fit, lip-singing performances, fashion shows on a makeshift runway and even impromptu puppet shows. Some camps contribute at meal-times, cooking pancakes or grilled cheese sandwiches to share with the entire community. At night, fire-dancers are a particular attraction of any Burn, dancing to the beat of electronic music and entertaining others as they express their craft.

Shanlinciji campsite overlooking the city of Yilan under a full moon.

“I was part of the Queen of Hearts camp,” said Michi Fu, sharing her experiences. “We had a shared costume closet with a full-length mirror to encourage radical self-expression through costuming. I sang with my furry, lavender bunny ears and turquoise silk robe and we all had hand-cranked ice cream.”

On the final night, tradition dictates that a wooden effigy is to burn. This started in 1986 at the very first Burning Man in San Francisco, as a symbol of how to keep the creative “fire” burning on even after the event concludes. At the Turtle Burn, a two-meter wide wooden turtle sculpture is scheduled to be set aflame. Dale Albanese, Taiwan’s official Burning Man contact, said of the installation: “There’s a sense of buildup and tension, and this sudden quietness and a collective shared spirit. You hear the oohs and the aahs at similar times. There’s a kind of shared attention. We’ve all been busy doing our own thing, and then there’s a pause. A reset. It’s also a moment to open up and say it wasn’t just about me.”

As 150 artists and performers gather their community together to continue the Turtle Burn tradition, they are also planning for next year and beyond. Tickets for this year’s event have already sold out but there is a waiting list. For more information, visit: turtleburn.com.

Preparing for Turtle Burn in 2019, attendees construct a communal dome space.

Turtle Burn 2021 Map.

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Shenzhen Daily

SZ Daily
Occasionally I write (and edit) for the local English-language newspaper of Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Daily. All very official. The only English daily in South China…

It’s not much in the realm of hardcore investigative journalism, but some fun lite reads herein. Here are a few humble lite posts worth resharing:

Hong Kong ASSEMBLING Art Exhibition Features Shenzhen-based Artists

Shenzhen-Based Artist Wins Award in Hong Kong

Interview/Restaurant Review: Canadian Opens Vegan Restaurant

Book Review: Good Chinese Wife

Book Review: No City for Slow Men

Film Review: The Wind Rises

Futian District: A Holiday at Lianhua Hill

Interview: American Expat to Run Marathon in Australia

Interview: Expat Cycles to India for Good Cause

Interview: American Starting Local Volunteer Group

Editorial: Kimmel’s Apology Merits Acceptance

Restaurant Review: Vegetarian Oasis

SZ Daily: A holiday at Lianhua Hill

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Kite-flying park

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Posing in front of the Civic Center building, best pic I got

http://szdaily.sznews.com/html/2014-06/20/content_2915071.htm

IF I was asked to choose my favorite place to relax in Shenzhen, I would say the Lianhua Hill area. When the weather is clear and I have the day off, no place is better. Containing some of the most beautiful scenery in central Shenzhen, in the heart of Futian District, the area boasts the best of both worlds: a calming natural setting and convenient shopping nearby.

Last May Day I enjoyed the holiday by first checking out the book mall and then taking a stroll along the hill path. My day began by taking the Metro to Children’s Palace Station and walking to Shenzhen Book City CBD Store. I enjoy their Eon import bookstore very much because they have an ample selection of English-language books. The nearby library also has a broad range of tomes from both the United States and the United Kingdom, and even though I live in China to learn Mandarin, I am still grateful that there is international literature in my native language on hand.

The book mall has lots of other shops to choose from, including various high-end restaurants, but I wasn’t there to partake in consumer culture. After some snacks, I climbed to the top floor. The roof leads to Lianhua Hill Park, where some friends of mine were waiting.

At the entrance to the park there is a square where kite enthusiasts gather. I hadn’t planned to fly a kite that day, but when the opportunity presented itself I spontaneously bought an inexpensive one from a vendor. The vendor even helped with a refresher course on how to fly a kite, a skill I haven’t practiced much since childhood. It was fun to see my kite go higher and higher into the air, and it provided good photo opportunities for my friends.

Eventually, we made it all the way to the top. The hike might not be too demanding as far as mountain climbing goes, but compared to other mountains in Shenzhen, such as Wutong Mountain, which require hours and hours of work, Lianhua Hill makes it easier for a briefer and simpler afternoon outing.

Once at the top, the whole city of Shenzhen is visible and is perfect for taking pictures. Besides the famous statue of Deng Xiaoping, the view of the iconic Civic Center building is one of my favorite sights.

We took the leisurely path back downhill as a cool breeze came with the setting of the sun. Back near the book mall, the large square contains many aspiring musicians and artists during the evening. At a mere (optional) price of a few yuan in tips, we could listen to rock musicians as well as watch caricaturists and painters practices their craft.

It was a wonderful day and I didn’t even have to travel very far. The diversity of activities in Futian District is the reason I have stayed here the past four years and counting. I can’t wait until my next opportunity to further explore Lianhua Hill Park.