Coming to terms with the past, seasoning it with topicality, and preparing it in a provocative way belong to Hui-Yu’s strengths. He is inspired by the rapid flow of images in the mass media and the history of his homeland, leading to works that bring a new corporeality to the fore, play with speed, and cause a discrepancy between image and sound.
In The Walker, Hui-Yu works with three plays, Mary Scooter (1993), Asshole Man (1996), and Our Top Horny Novels (2000), of the eponymous Taiwanese underground theater in a six-channel video installation with one projection and five block monitors. Since he was fascinated by the improvised character of the productions, he had amateur actors and actresses play the roles. They are dressed in colorful costumes, wear gaudy make-up, and perform small, repetitive movements or sit indecently clad in an inconspicuous room, which is elevated by smooth tracking shots and the speeding up of images. A voiceover speaks the texts that are still provocative today. The ensuing dreamlike sequences rise up but are immediately fractured again.
Theater combines dramaturgical with performing art. In society, it has always had the function of forming cultural, aesthetic, and socio-critical identity. The simultaneous striving for perfection and the response to chance events bestow a unique live moment on the audience. To neither be appropriated by politics nor succumb to the new media, theater must always engage with and question current issues.
Su Hui-Yu’s works on the theater culture of Taiwan in The Walker in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Born in Taipei in 1976, he grew up in a torn country. Taiwan is involved in a long conflict with the People’s Republic of China, since the island state was passed to China after the Second World War and the opponents of rising communism retreated to there. The one-state policy of China still leads to diplomatic disagreements today. Following a change in the law in 1987, the theater movement Little Theater emerged in Taiwan. In the following years, the theater landscape blossomed and caused a stir with its experimental style and clear stance taken against China. The Walker can be seen in this tradition—in a new livery, but with the same body. (Anneliese Jankowicz)