Pandemic + Contemporary Art + Religious Traditions = Unique Media

Prior to a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Taiwan earlier this year, many of the country’s Population made the annual pilgrimage to the sea goddess Mazu, held at Cihui Mazu Temple, on May 4, 20221 in New Taipei City. This pilgrimage is a local religious tradition dating back more than 100 years.

The pilgrimage parade presented a fusion of traditional religious aesthetics and contemporary art. Unlike the country’s traditional electronic floats, a work of art in the form of a Vehicular installation of art (Shinyu) shuttled back and forth between the city’s older lanes and newer neighborhoods.

In post-pandemic Taiwan, contemporary art and religious traditions blend to create new forms of expression.

One of the evening’s final events, the Shinyu disappeared underneath the art installation entitled Shengque in front of the temple. Upon reappearing, the Shinyu transformed into a stage installation, becoming a part of Taipei’s nightly Cyberpunk scene.

The use of contemporary art forms to formally announce the beginning of the ceremony celebrating the goddess Mazu’s birthday is a perfect example of the fusion of the old and the new. The performance groups on the stage incorporated street, Oriental, and temple music to reinterpret the ancient culture.

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