Erenlai - Ida Yang (楊詩涵)
Ida Yang (楊詩涵)

Ida Yang (楊詩涵)

Currently studying a Masters in Art Criticism at National Taipei University of Education.
Undergraduate at Fu Jen Catholic University, Department of French Language and Literature.


Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:27

Nostalgia of a 21st Century Flâneuse

Wondering the streets of Shanghai is sentimental, whoever you are. If you are a tourist or passenger who has visited Shanghai several times, you might sigh that this attractive city is developing too fast, and every time you visit, you can’t recognize what it used to be. If you are a resident, you might be proud of this modern city, but also regard this city with other complex feelings concerning Shanghai’s tumultuous history. If you are a worker from other provinces of China, this huge city might bring you deep nostalgic feelings. The second and third conditions are my imagination, because I am only a tourist from Taipei who is neither resident nor worker. I am also a 21st century flâneuse tribute to Baudelaire. Loafing around in this city, surrounded by the parasol trees (梧桐樹wutong shu), I was under the impression 19th century French flâneur reincarnated in Shanghai. The French concession is mainly in Luwan and Xuhui Districts. I visited no.319 Yueyang Road (岳陽路), where the Former Consulate of France (法國領事館) (pic.1)(pic.2)is situated. On the same road, at no.145, is a French-style garden residence, which is the former residence of T. V. Soong (宋子文). Besides these European residences, there is also some modernist architecture. Most of these buildings were built by Hungarian architect L.E.Hudec.(pic.3) who lived in Shanghai for about 30 years.

This city is a melting pot for an enormous amount of different styles. It’s blissful, but also confusing. Strolling through different areas, it seems like travelling around in different countries. In The Bund, I can see a row of beautiful architecture from different cultures.  It’s an embodiment of different imperialist powers, which let Qing government cede some territory in order to pay off its indemnities. Yet, Shanghai’s ignominious history, just makes the city more glamorous.




(Photos: Ida Yang)



[1] T.V.Soong was at a former Chinese Premier in 1930 and was in a highly influential position throughout the Nationalist era. His three sisters were married to presidents Chiang Kai-shek, Sun Yat-sen and China’s former richest man H.H. Kung.


Tuesday, 07 June 2011 18:49

Beauty in Cruelty

At the end of April of this year, the Dark Eyes Lab launched their new collaborative production ‘A Crash Course in Modern Theatre: Theatre of Cruelty, Absurd Theatre and Anti-Theatre’, a part of which was the stunning Beauty 2011, which was put under the label of Theatre of Cruelty, a play that was first performed in 2000 by the Oz Theatre Company and was performed several times until the dissolution of the company in 2004. This is the first time it has been performed since then.

I'm not sure exactly why, but I started liking the Dark Eyes Performance Lab a while ago, perhaps it was because, without dialogue or scripts, it is the actions and expressions of the actors which allow the audience to experience their performance in a very physical way. In a similar way to Charlie Chaplin's silent movies, they use exaggerated movement and expressions to make the audience laugh, but we don't really question why we are laughing. Are we laughing at the pain of others? Is the nature of laughter cruel in itself? In Modern Times Chaplin falls onto a conveyor belt of a production line, he rolls back and forth comically. But is it funny? In the world after the Industrial Revolution, humanity is pushed towards standardization, humanity becomes but a screw holding together the machinery of the production line, the symbolic,the symbolism of the big gears lead to his insane behaviour. When the mask of humour drops, the cruel reality is revealed.

When I was watching Beauty 2011, some of the audience was laughing out loud, this laughter is just the same as the laughter at Chaplin's silent films, rending and piercing, which reveals its latent cruelty. The first actor to come out on stage chewed a steamed bun with an ecstatic expression on his face, the steamed bun looked (fragrant and sweet), as if the flavour came out more and more with every chew, enough to make you hungry for a taste. After undergoing a series of rituals, the other actor is at last ready to receive the sacred steamed bun, one mouthful at a time, enjoying the feeling of her mouth being stuffed full of it. However, her mouth, full to overflowing makes it hard for her to swallow, completely stopping up her mouth, with not a sliver of space remaining. She still forces a smile as she is force-fed more steamed buns. If in the pursuit of beautiful things we manage to chase down our prey, is it not akin to that crazy scene of excess; Wanting to vomit, but not wanting to waste the hard-earned steam bun? Even having regurgitated it and spat it out, the impulse to pick it back up and stuff it back into her mouth overpowers. The scene repeated ad infinitum, attains the nuance of cruelty. How is it cruel? The cruel is something that goes beyond physical pain, a kind of extreme psychological torture. In an interview with director Zheng Zhizhong, he said: "In 2004 when I was putting my actors through the Yuquan special training program, I already thought that their bodies did not have the tension required. They had to hold 1.8 litre milk bottles in both hands, and raise them above their heads; this kind of training program trained their bodies to have more endurance." The weight of 1.8 litre milk bottles to an untrained body seems cruel; it requires one to overcome psychological barriers. Like the psychological wall people report running into at a certain stage of a marathon, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. When the will and the body become at odds with each other it is also has a nuance of cruelty. In Beauty 2011, the will of the actor drives them to keep swallowing the steamed buns, but their body is unable to take any more. If the actors had not gone through the Yuquan special training program, perhaps their performance would not have attained the desired goal.

Rather than analysing to what extent Beauty 2011 conforms to Artaud's concept of the Theatre of Cruelty, it would almost be better to take Beauty 2011 as an embodiment of Artaud's condition: a condition in which the will is split from the body. This split shrouded Artaud for the whole of his life, inside his mind roamed free, but this resulted in the imprisonment of his body in a mental asylum, which made the split between the two only more pronounced. Although Artaud only ever suggested the concept of a Theatre of Cruelty, and that it has never been put into practice in performance, I think that Artaud in himself was an instance of this theatre, any attempt to represent the Theatre of Cruelty on stage signals the return of the unremitting spectre that is Artaud.

Article by Ida Yang, translated by Conor Stuart

Taiwanese director Zheng Zhizhong discusses his recent performance of "Beauty 2011" in a recent three-part introduction to Modern Theatre.

Monday, 01 November 2010 00:00

Cinéma du Réel by Jean Perret

To show its commitment to documentary film, Taiwan allowed the necessary conditions for an exchange of knowledge from the best documentarists around the world. One particularly fruitful scheme was the DOCumentary DOCtor project, which invited young Taiwanese directors to present their projects and be given tips and advice by the experts. Alongside Janne Niskala and Min-chul Kim, Jean Perret completed the panel of experts. Jean Perret founded the Swiss documentary festival Visions du Réel in Switzerland and he is now the director of the Cinema Department of the Art Institute at the Geneva University of Arts and Design.

When Ida and Nick caught up with Jean in the VIP suite, he was delighted to tell us more of his missions in the documentary, against the flux audiovisuel (audiovisual flow) andthe inebriation of information.

Photo: Liu Lu-chen


Wednesday, 27 October 2010 00:00

Directing Intuition: When you are making a film, leave the window open

In October 2010, Taiwan International Documentary Festival welcomed Heddy Honigmann as their special guest. eRenlai & TIDF interviewed her under the watchful eye of her own camera.

Born in Peru to Polish Jewish immigrants, Heddy Honigman moved around the world a lot before eventually settling in Holland. She went from literature, to poetry, where she realized she was writing her poem though a series of images and that what she really wanted to do was make films. Yet even in film Heddy has alternated between fiction and documentary. Added to the various languages she speaks, her lifestyle has always had a nomadic touch: “It sounds cliché but I am from everywhere. If I had been in Taiwan and young, I would become Taiwanese. I can root anywhere; I call it a gift for film”. For Heddy, film is closely related to memory. Her family members were great story tellers, especially the women. Her mum said “the world is full of horrible things,” but that “you can’t cry about everything in life”. You have to approach everything with a degree of humor and irony. “You have to live and smile a little, or die.”

Heddy says: "When you are making a film, leave the window open." The art of improvisation is more important when your making documentary. You have a dialogue, not an interview. For example when asked: How do you capture their inner reactions? She retorted: How do you kiss a woman? It’s different every time. It either works or it doesn’t. For example the former Bosnian War soldier in Crazy. He had sweaty hands. He kept looking down. He told me once that he had tried to commit suicide. He was willing to tell me this. Why? I was talking to him like I talk to a person, I only film people, I had tears running down my face because of some of the stuff he told me. Of course I stopped myself making any sounds. But I was listening to him because I was genuinely interested in him and what he was telling me.

Do you observe people for a while before deciding to interview them? Have you already built up a relationship with your subjects?

It depends. Most of the time, I research. I make sure the supporting pillars are in place. I make sure the film is possible. I then search for 3 or 4 characters that are so strong that they will always remain in the film, even if it gets difficult. I might find them in the street, or the cemetery; it’s intuition. I am looking for ‘film characters’. Some people may have interesting content but when they communicate there is no emotion. Some of the people in my films rival Robert De Niro. For example in Crazy, it was very important which music the soldier was listening too; I maintained a veto on Mariah Carey. I dream up my characters. In my dream they would be playing Janis Joplin’s Summertime. In a way it is at type of casting, but the process is open and while filming you can find many new beautiful characters. For instance, in Forever, I randomly encountered a woman in the cemetery. We were eating apples in the tree shade, she walked by and said “bon appetit”, so we caught up with her and asked her for an interview. In it, she revealed that her husband, who was twenty years younger than her, had died from a bee sting, just three years after their marriage. It was a very strong story. All I knew was that she had been visiting a tomb; my intuition told me there was a story there. I am very curious by nature; I never have a complete plan. I hate documentaries where you feel the questions are already prepared. For example the interviewee says her father is dead and then the next question you ask is: “How long have you been in Taiwan?”

In the work Crazy, you ask the interviewee to play a song, which seems to be an emotional medium to trace back through their memory. Meanwhile you continue filming them until near the end of their song.  If I were filming you about your life or a memory, what would be playing?

The film would definitely be full of Bach. He is a master, a genius in joy. Wherever I go, Bach is my home in exile. Also, recently when I was frustrated and all was going wrong, I opened an old file about 10 years old. It had Madonna, George Michael, and the Rolling Stones. So now I have a cocktail of music on a file, which always brings my sprits back and makes everything better.

How do you deal with strong emotional reactions from your subjects? In Oblivion for example you persisted in questioning the shoeshine boy despite his apparent discomfort.

With the shoeshine boy, reality was giving me a slap. He had no dreams, nothing, it was blank. So in a natural way, you respect the moment, the silence, but you know you have to continue – you cannot leave the person alone with his problems. For instance with the women whose husband died, there was no second thoughts; I reacted in the most natural way possible. I said “C’est terrible” because it simply was horrible. In the end, she looked at me and I looked back. She understood that it was the end and simply left. It was a beautiful moment. When the soldiers in Crazy hear the music they love, some would eventually look at me in a way that says “Please, stop the torture” and as soon as I see that, I immediately turn off the camera. I just have to stop. Sometimes when you film, you trespass over the frontier. You see that you went too far. I’m very much aware, that when you make a documentary, you use people. So you need to respect them a lot, you can’t squeeze them.

Thursday, 29 April 2010 16:09

Untranslatable poems: Codes scattered in the city

When I think of poetry in the city, two films immediately spring to mind. The first is Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation, the other Wim Wenders 1987 film Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin). The first one is set in contemporary Japan, the other in post cold war Berlin (complete with the Wall). In both films, the city in question appears to be observed from the eyes of the outsider. In Lost in Translation, Charlotte and Bob's destinies cross paths in Tokyo. They both feel alienated and ill-fit in their surrogate society; they are both outsiders and loneliness brings them together. Their chance encounter takes place in multicoloured Tokyo, yet like two floating reeds passing by, Tokyo is also where they must part, such is their wandering impermanence. In contrast, The Angels Among Us, is seen through the eyes of an angel; quietly, calmly, observing the human world that he so adores. He adores it enough to be willing to descend into the human world; however, living a different type of existence he is completely unable to transcend the role of observer. He hears every humans' secrets, he is captivated, fascinated by the joy, the love, the rage, the sadness;  the fullness and variety of their emotions. Therefore he eventually leaves his position as an onlooker in heaven, to become a mortal human of flesh and blood...

Of course the subject matter that make up these two films are present in many other literary works;  however, the image created in Lost in Translation is much closer to classical Chinese poetry,  specifically the poets who wrote of their drifting from place to place as the outsider, or sighed the tragedies of separation and death.  For example, when Bob and Charlotte are about to part,  standing on the street embracing, there is a sense that they may never meet again, which for me brings to mind the words of two Chinese poets: Li Shangyin, a Tang Dynasty poet "Though this moment will turn into a precious memory, I cannot help but be devastated at its passing" and Northern Song poet Liu Yong's poem - Yu Linling "The smorgasbord of emotions in times of parting has always caused a world of pain". It's an unfulfilled love story,  no doubt dooming them to separation and feelings of loss, and as Charlottes tears roll down, the two of them keep rolling on. Wings of Desire, in contrast, is a piece of western theology, a reinterpretation of Christianity's fallen angel. When the film starts, a poem is read:

When the child was a child 
It walked with its arms swinging, 
wanted the brook to be a river, 
the river to be a torrent, 
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child, 
it didn’t know that it was a child, 
everything was soulful, 
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child, 
it had no opinion about anything, 
had no habits, 
it often sat cross-legged, 
took off running, 
had a cowlick in its hair, 
and made no faces when photographed.


Als das Kind Kind war, 
ging es mit hängenden Armen, 
wollte der Bach sei ein Fluß, 
der Fluß sei ein Strom, 
und diese Pfütze das Meer.

Als das Kind Kind war, 
wußte es nicht, daß es Kind war, 
alles war ihm beseelt, 
und alle Seelen waren eins.

Als das Kind Kind war, 
hatte es von nichts eine Meinung, 
hatte keine Gewohnheit, 
saß oft im Schneidersitz, 
lief aus dem Stand, 
hatte einen Wirbel im Haar 
und machte kein Gesicht beim fotografieren.

The original German version from the film is in fact read by the main actor Damiel (Bruno Ganz). The poem is called Lied Vom Kindsein (Song of Childhood) and was written by Peter Handke, a poet and scriptwriter. He got his inspiration from another German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke's great work Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies).

There is a subtle metaphor here: before the angel fell down to earth, he could maintain the innocent eyes of the observer, like the purity of a child without any preinstalled beliefs or standpoints. However when he becomes human, it's just like when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit; they became aware of their naked bodies and had to find leaves to cover themselves, they then began to nurture a sense of shame and thus had to endure human suffering. This notion stems from a biblical allusion and although the words used in the poem aren't especially profound, what they represent is far deeper than what meets the eye. Another interesting aspect of this film is that when the angel transcends to the human world, the frame switches from black and white to a colour. His head is bleeding as he encounters a pedestrian and asks his first question as a human: "Is this the colour red?" This echoes the meaning in the poem, that whilst he was still an angel he did not possess the human sensory system; after humanisation he felt pain, but he also saw colour. This is the beauty and the tragedy of being human. For him however, it's all worth it, because he experiences love.

Wings of Desire is set in pre-unification Berlin, with many of the city's landmarks appearing in scene. The angel often stands on the famous Siegessäule overlooking the bleak, desolate post-war Berlin. The huge Berlin wall encircles and demarcates the isolated island of democracy that was West Berlin. For those, like myself, that have never been to Berlin, it matches the image of Berlin we imagine, a numbing chill hanging in the air, freezing all the poetry and songs we mutter to ourselves. Perhaps, if I eventually visit Berlin, I will look up, searching to see if there really are angels occupying the skies. Going back to Lost in Translation, the hustle and bustle of modern Tokyo, is in great contrast to the lonely souls of the two protagonists who have nowhere to anchor. Is this not indeed a feeling that all drifters, travellers living as outsiders in a foreign land have, as they walk alone down a road full of traffic? Another Tang Dynasty poem written by Zhang Ji comes to mind:

The moon descends and the birds call, through the frosty midnight bite

Fishing lamps and maple trees lining the riverside accompany my anxiety induced insomnia.

From the Han Mountain Temple outside the Suzhou city walls,

An echo descends from the midnight gongs all the way to this passenger boat

Even if these two examples couldn't be further apart in time and setting, they nonetheless express the same emotions; one follows the insomnia of the drunken immortal Zhang Xu on a boat in ancient Suzhou, the other has Bob and Charlotte lying sleeplessly on their beds in a deluxe hotel in modern Japan; the nostalgic feeling that the moonlight is always brighter in your hometown.

Ida_UntranslatablePoems05Another way the film shows the changes in Charlottes state of mind is that at the beginning, after she visits a temple, she rings a friend and tells her: "Today I visited a temple. Monks were reciting passages, but I didn't feel anything." Finally at the end of the film she takes a high speed rail to Kyoto, moving from one city to another. Transport is a very important setting for travellers and contemporary urban nomads. Staring out of the window onto the ever changing sceneries has a mysterious charm. In the same way life is like a drama, scene after scene, one appears temporarily but then eventually all scenes come to an end. Fittingly, the accompanying background music for this part is 'Alone in Kyoto' provided by the French duo Air. And for me, her time spent in Kyoto is the most poetic of the whole film; strolling the temples of Kyoto, Charlotte eyes catch a newlywed couple passing by, dressed in traditional wedding garb. As she stops and watches them, the groom takes his partner by the hand and the lens slides over to Charlottes face. She is no longer the girl who didn't feel anything; subtle changes in her expressions show us that where she used to only feel a cold alienation, she now feels warmth.

In big cities, one constantly encounters different people; sometimes these can become true lasting relationships, other times we just brush by transient visitors. And this, this is the fatal attraction of the city. People are just words and the streets just phrases, freely interweaving together to create a huge fantastical poem. And every city is a poem, regardless of all the tiny words whirling and dancing within. And every encounter between two of these tiny characters can kindle a moving story, and every story can be a poem;  some disappointing, some tragic, some helpless, some soul destroying; yet some heroic, some romantic, ecstatic and tantalising!

Translated from Chinese by Nicholas Coulson

(Top photo by Ida Yang/ Bottom left photo provided by AtMovies)

Wednesday, 28 April 2010 20:23


關於詩和城市,我會聯想到兩部電影:一是2003年蘇菲亞科波拉(Sofia Coppola)導演的《愛情不用翻譯》(Lost in Translation),一是1987年溫德斯(Wim Wenders)導演的《慾望之翼》(Der Himmel über Berlin);前者的背景是現代的東京,後者是冷戰後期的柏林(在電影中有很多柏林圍牆的場景)。兩者似乎都是以一個外來者的眼光,來觀察這兩個城市。《愛情不用翻譯》裡夏洛特與巴伯這兩個素未謀面的美國人,因緣際會下在東京相遇,他們兩個同樣都感受到一種疏離與扞格不入的感覺,同為異鄉人,是孤獨使他們相聚、相識在這五光十色的東京,卻也因身為旅人這短暫的邂逅只如浮萍,終將分離。


Ida_UntranslatablePoems05這兩部電影所用的題材,我們似乎可以在很多文學作品裡看到,但「愛情不用翻譯」的意境比較接近中國的詩,一些客居他鄉或是感嘆生離死別的詩,譬如說,當巴伯和夏洛特在東京的街道相擁即將分離時,他們知道或許此生不會再相見了,我腦海中想到了李商隱寫的「此情可待成追憶,只是當時以惘然」(唐朝詩人李商隱《錦瑟》),還有「多情自古傷離別」(北宋詩人柳永的《雨霖鈴》)這種沒有完成的戀曲,和註定要分離的惆悵感,隨著夏洛特的眼淚落下,一起飄散。而「慾望之翼」則是跟西方文化,基督教的墮落天使(the Fallen Angle)的再詮釋有關,電影一開始,旁白就唸了一段寓意深長的詩 :

When the child was a child 當孩子還是孩子的時候

It walked with its arms swinging, 他搖擺著雙臂走著

wanted the brook to be a river, 多麼希望小溪可以成為江河

the river to be a torrent, 多麼希望江河能變成湍流

and this puddle to be the sea. 水坑經年累月後也匯聚成了大海

When the child was a child, 當孩子還是孩子的時候

it didn’t know that it was a child, 他並不知道自己只是個孩子

everything was soulful, 事事皆款款深情

and all souls were one. 所有的靈魂都是獨一

When the child was a child, 當孩子還是孩子的時候

it had no opinion about anything, 他對於任何事物都無成見

had no habits, 也還沒養成任何習慣

it often sat cross-legged, 他常常盤腿坐著

took off running, 或匆匆跑開

had a cowlick in its hair, 前額貼著他蓬亂的捲髮

and made no faces when photographed. 照相時也不會裝模作樣

Ida_UntranslatablePoems01(以下是德文原文,旁白其實就是主角Damiel(Bruno Ganz),這首詩是由劇作家、詩人同時也是這部片的編劇之一的Peter Handke所寫的Lied Vom Kindsein〈孩童之歌〉,而〈孩童之歌〉的靈感來源是德語詩人里爾克 Normal 0 0 2 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Rainer Maria Rilke所寫的〈杜伊諾哀歌〉(Duineser Elegien)):

Als das Kind Kind war,

ging es mit hängenden Armen,

wollte der Bach sei ein Fluß,

der Fluß sei ein Strom,

und diese Pfütze das Meer.

Als das Kind Kind war,

wußte es nicht, daß es Kind war,

alles war ihm beseelt,

und alle Seelen waren eins.

Als das Kind Kind war,

hatte es von nichts eine Meinung,

hatte keine Gewohnheit,

saß oft im Schneidersitz,

lief aus dem Stand,

hatte einen Wirbel im Haar

und machte kein Gesicht beim fotografieren.





這部片中還有一個部份是描述夏洛特前後心境的轉折,電影一開始她去了一間寺院後,回到旅館她打了一通電話給朋友,她對她說,我今天去了寺院,那裡有僧人在誦經,但我沒有感覺(I didn’t feel any thing)。而電影的最後,夏洛特自己搭新幹線去了京都,從一個城市連結到另外一個城市,交通工具是非常重要的場景,對於旅人來說,看著窗外不斷移動的風景,會有一股神奇的魔力,人生也就像一幕一幕的戲劇,上映後下檔,沒有什麼事是過不去的,這時候的背景音樂是法國電子雙人組Air的Alone in Kyoto,我覺得這一段在京都的場景是這部電影最詩意的地方。在京都的寺院走著,夏洛特看到了一對穿著傳統服飾的新婚夫妻經過,她駐足觀望,這時候那男人把手伸出給他的女伴牽,鏡頭帶到夏洛特的臉,她已不再是電影一開始那didn’t feel any thing的女孩了,她的表情細微的顯示出她的變化,她可以感受到一些溫度,而不再只是冰冷疏離的感覺。



劇照提供/開眼電影網(愛情不用翻譯)、Bradley Allen(慾望之翼)


No71_small 想瞭解更多關於城市的詩意,請購買本期雜誌!


海外讀者如欲選購,請在此查詢(紙本版PDF版 訂閱全年份




Normal 0 0 2 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 〈〉
Thursday, 11 February 2010 13:02

Butterflies and amusement parks

Self, the other and fantasy. Ida contrasts Taipei New Year, an Aboriginal tribe's New Year and her vision of an ideal Chinese New Year.

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation


Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« August 2020 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

We have 10727 guests and no members online