White Fungus

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White Fungus Issue 17

White Fungus is an arts and culture magazine based in Taipei.

In the 17th issue of White Fungus, we take a deep dive into the world of Taiwanese folk religion. We explore the unusual religious ritual Bombing Lord Han Dan in which participants, mostly members of the criminal underworld, stand half naked on a palanquin and are “bombed” mercilessly by live fireworks in order to please the deity Lord Han Dan.

Banned in the 1980s as an extortion racket, the ritual was later revived and has now become a major tourist event. This is a tale involving the Taiwanese underworld, folk religion, tourism, local politics, and ancient Chinese mythology. The article is accompanied by stunning photographs of the event.

We invited Melbourne writer Tessa Laird to write about one of her favorite subjects, the order Chiroptera. Laird, the author of Bat, part of Reaktion’s much-loved Animal Series, makes an impassioned defense of the wondrous creatures which she says have been freshly maligned in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Laird recalls art and literature inspired by bats and recounts her experiences volunteering to rescue flying-foxes during forest fires on the east coast of Australia.

Also in this issue:

Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, article by Marcella Faustini about the Brazil-based art duo who collaborate with subterranean dancers, singers, and preachers to create video artworks

Yao Jui-Chung, photographs of Taiwan’s religious statues by the Taipei artist with an accompanying text. Following an argument with his mother, Yao says he was instructed by a female voice (perhaps it was the sea goddess Mazu) in a dream to photograph these topographic monuments

Art Ensemble of Chicago, 30-page feature by Kurt Gottschalk exploring the avant-garde jazz group’s five decades of perpetual revolution into the present, accompanied by rare photographs

Annea Lockwood, interview with the avant-garde composer and a look back on her London years in the 1960s and 1970s in which she created her legendary Glass Concerts and Piano Burnings

Paul Celan, article by Barry Schwabsky looking back on the life and work of Paul Celan, often called the greatest of European post-war poets. Celan wrote poetry in German, the language of his mother’s executioners, and his use of the language, Schwabsky says, was always estranged and estranging. The author quotes Jean Daive who once wrote that, “Celan chews a word like a stone.” We too, Schwabsky says, have to break our teeth on them  

The Reinvention of Justice Yeldham, article about the Australian musician who makes music by playing mic'd-up often scalene-triangle-shaped panes of glass with his mouth.

A Brief History of the 21st Century, third installment in New Zealand comic artist Tim Bollinger’s look back on the tumultuous century thus far

UK cover price: £10.00

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