Dress Suit / Grass Skirt, 2010

Sanying Community, Sanying Bridge, Taipei, Taiwan


This performance was part of a spontaneous plan by the organisers of the ‘Sixth Sense Performance Festival’ in Taipei to visit a tribe of ‘Urban Aborigines’ who live in temporary structures beneath Sanying Bridge on the very outskirts of the vast city. A year before, the Sanying Community’s homes had all been bulldozed by the authorities, but they had simply rebuilt them from wood, nails and string, forming a small shanty-town of a hundred people who live without running water or electricity. The rumour in the national newspapers was that, soon, the town would be torn down again in a forced eviction.

Against this alarming and dismaying backdrop, an English performance artist arrives wearing a James Bond style dinner suit fused with a grass skirt, offering his services as a second scarecrow, eating fake grass and taking photographs of himself reflected in the mirrors that each house seemed to have stuck to their frontage as though to ward off predatory bulldozers.
The Tribe seemed mostly impressed with what they took to be a typical English costume and I made it part of my performance to give the tuxedo, hat and dickie-bow away.