White Fungus n. 16 -
First it is the exotic charm, then the depth of the thoughts it contains. The story of White Fungus, an independent magazine from Taichung City, Taiwan, is itself part of its very Asian appeal.
Born in 2004 as a protest magazine and with alternative contents difficult to filter in the complicated political situation of Taiwan, the first edition was printed in a copy shop in Wellington, New Zealand. The covers of White Fungus are nothing more than scans of a can of "white fungus", a fruit drink produced right in Taichung City.
White Fungus is an art magazine contemporary and experimental that defines itself as a "quasi-political manifesto" because it often faces or hosts comments and interviews related to artistic performances that deal with social issues.
Issue number 16 is the first that as Frab's we have decided to deal with and being one of the most "exotic" magazines we have, we have faced it with a small positive bias towards Asian culture. What came out in this case is a small confirmation, again in a positive sense: in this volume of 220 pages, with a good presence of written text, you will find 9 contents dealt with with that minuteness and depth of thought that comes to mind if we think of the maniacal precision, constancy, stubbornness and resistance that we imagine as typical attitudes of the East.
White Fungus opens with a magnificent dissertation onharmony and musicality of animal sounds. Tobias Fischer in particular he focuses on the musical complexity of the apparently indistinct and "anarchic" sounds of the animal world. With scientific examples and trying to collect the little institutional material present in the world on the subject, an apparently metaphysical journey worthy of a science fiction book becomes a concrete reflection with scientific relevance. The animal world uses sounds and songs that, like humans, are able to transmit a particular positive energy. It is not yet known what is the key to deciphering the harmony of animal music with human mental schemes, but the positive feeling and empathy that music generates is certainly a phenomenon that unites us to other living species.
Going to a concert to sleep? White Fungus' musical experiments continue with a second essay by Kurt Gottschalk on listening to music while sleeping and practical examples. IS'the sweetest piece of this edition of this issue, which will make you really dream with the suggestive images of the "laboratory tests" brought by Gottschalk as an example for the beneficial effects. These tests are concerts, of classical, electronic or various kinds of music, with beds for the public that is more than authorized, indeed invited to sleep during the musical performances. The author interviews composers and authors who have tried and are convinced that there is a real alternative to those barons of classical imperialism who get irritated when their eyelids drop during a concert. In fact, a little healthy sleep is natural and inherent in human nature. The most enigmatic aspect and of great attention of those who have tried the experience of sleeping during concerts is the anxiety of having missed something, of not having enjoyed a certain melody. On the other hand, the composers enjoy seeing the audience move in the beds or shake their sleep as the melodies and rhythms change. Finally, the undoubtedly and commonly defined most magical moment: awakening. Yes, because it happens that at a certain point from sleep during a concert you wake up, always with the music that continues to play. And the sensation described by those who have tried it is that of a state of mind of absolute tranquility that on few other occasions it is possible to experience.
From music, this issue turns to an interview with the female artist and performer Carolee Sschneemann. The artist was one of the pioneers of the twentieth century, like characters like Marina Abramovic, of feminist performance art that tried to upset and overturn the male dogmas that dominated the artistic scene of the time. The interview is a long personal and artist excursus on the threshold of 80 years.
We then move on to the history of Taiwan and its intertwining with the culture of noise music which on this island since the end of the 80s has seen a powerful explosion of this musical genre as a form of rebellion and liberation. In fact, since 1987 Taiwan, which is part of the People's Republic of China but does not consider itself Chinese at all, finally saw martial law abolished. This allowed the explosion of new artistic forms, also in strong break with the political past of oppression of the island. And so you go through the list of who made the history of noise music movement of Taiwan: LTK Commune, Z.S.L.O., Wang Fujui, Wu Chung-Wei and the historical vicissitudes that brought them to the fore.
Passed through a nice comic that represents the history of the 21st Century, the last pieces of White Fungus cover the stories of artists present or of past decades, not known to most but who leave a mark in music, photography or in their performances as the eccentric Taiwanese Betty Apple, the Palestinian emblem of Dor Guez, Luke Willins Thompson and Ruffo.
White fungus is a manageable volume, light in spite of the numerous pages and soft like the smell of its thin and elegant paper. The style is sober and precise, and the volume is entirely written in English.
Finally, a curious note: whenever Taiwan is named, its belonging to the People's Republic of China is also mentioned. A formal note, perhaps mandatory in order not to incur sanctions, which marks the profound inner conflict of the people of this island that still has not achieved full independence.
White Fungus issue 16 you can find it here, in the Frab's shop.
Enjoy the reading!