Visiting the Northerners of the South

花東之行-web version

Interaction with arts through an indigenous community

  • TNUA and IMCC graduate students travel to Eastern Taiwan to explore the unlimited features of contemporary art

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Through the outdoor installations in the public space, the common feature of the three events as they are, an increasing interest from both the governmental and private institutions in developing art and culture projects in the marginalized regions has been noticed, especially how these projects may benefit the communities in terms of prosperity, tourisms, and infrastructure, while their subtle influence on economy, education, traditional culture, ecology, population, and tribal arts is also emphasized, allowing the society to employ artistic activities to look for future possibilities.
Curator’s statement (.doc download)


Art is something you can find everywhere. It can be really close to you, but sometimes it can take you far away to explore what an indigenous community wants to tell you about their way of living. Graduate students of TNUA’s International Master of the Arts Program in Cultural and Creative Industries (IMCCI) and Fine Arts departments had the opportunity to travel to the east coast of Taiwan to appreciate the imaginative perspective of the locals to reflect their present by addressing relevant issues to their daily life. This exciting journey allowed the big group of 38 people to visit the major art festivals held in the coastal areas throughout Hualien and Taitung this year, including MIPALIW Land Art, Taiwan East Coast Land Art and The Hidden South Exhibition.

 

With a very busy itinerary ahead, the group guided by the professors Manray Hsu, Ya-Tin Lin, I-Wen Chang and the director of the Office of the International Affairs Jau-Lan Guo, started the trip in Hualien, which is a breathtaking place because of its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. It is also an indigenous land where most of the ethnic groups in Taiwan converge: Amis, Atayal, Bunun, Truku and Kebala. In addition, these tribes are well-preserved and cohabitate in a quiet harmonious environment.

One of the members of the Amis tribe, Su-Min Su, gave the group the warmest welcoming during the first stop in a former elementary school called Jiqi to visit the exhibition Under-current. The selection of artworks in this exhibition responds to the curative work of three local artists, but also includes pieces from foreign artist.  Even tough Hualien is far away from Taipei,  , the curators have been leading a remarkable work to interact with international artists and bring them to their communities.

The name of the exhibition takes a stand against the stereotype of “laziness”, a generalized prejudice about aboriginal people. Su-Min Su, who is also one of the curators involved in this log-term art project, disagrees with this idea; she truly believes that “you will really know that we are hard-working people once you come to stay with us and connect with us”.

Collecting art is not less hard than creating it. “We have a lot of challenges since we have to negotiate with the government to get funds to encourage this creative production, with special emphasis in local culture. However, we also want to develop a more inclusive work by integrating artists that come from abroad. Foreign artists are invited to live with us for a while aiming to ‘holistically’ understand our customs and living conditions where they will find that both work-life balance and environmental care are a must for us”, explained Su.

In fact, some of the pieces were elaborated with waste material or garbage recollected from the sea. The feminine symbolism in some other pieces was also prevalent. «KITA» an artwork made by an Indonesian artist, Arya Pandjalu, is the creation of three huge female sculptures modelled with marine waste. The artist wanted to pay tribute to the women of the Arashisaki tribe who adhere to traditional agricultural techniques and work hard to care for their families. This piece also brought an important issue to the Amis tribe: to reassure environmental care.

Contemporary art comes in a variety of forms and sizes. Sculptures made of different types of wood, fiber, metal and rocks showed the unlimited imagination of the local people to express the energy, intuition and forces that shape their identity into their creative work. Su-Min Su expressed that “a creative process is not only about art, but it is also about art in terms of life”.

Fu Hsing Tribe: no smoke, no alcohol, no drugs

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After having a great introduction to the efforts of the curators to mobilize creativity towards their remote communities and develop a sustainable project to promote their culture, the crew from TNUA visited an aboriginal village: Fu Hsing Tribe. Besides siting at the table to relish a delicious lunch of meat, fish and vegetables with the members of the village, the professors and students also enjoyed a series of stretching exercises projected in front of a television and led by the grandpas and grandmas –‘agong-ama’– of the small town. This routine that helped the group to digest of their succulent meal is a practice that elders repeat at least once a week to keep them healthy and vigorous.

In the Fu Hsing tribe, only four out of the 28 people living there are from young generation. This location as others in Hualien has been suffering a negative population growth over the past years due to the continuous emigration of younger generations to other places in search of a better work or study opportunities. This is also called aging society with less kids. “Most of the guys have gone and do not want to come back. Old people’s life is not attractive to them. We are a community free of stress and free of toxic habits such as smoke, alcohol and betel nuts… We are committed to have a slow-paced life, focus on what really matters: care of nature and our health”, appointed Hui-Fei Chang, the leader of the village who also gave a talk about the lifestyle they share with their neighbors. Xiao-hua is one of the young women who has returned to her community. Nonetheless Hui-Fei is aware that one day, when she decides to start her own family, she could also leave.

Outdoor installations

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In the afternoon the group continued its thoughtful exploration of contemporary art by making a stop in some outdoor installations. The crew not only had the chance to feel the quietness of the place and enjoy the awesome scenic view of the ocean, but also appreciate the artworks displayed along the coast.

Nowadays people in the fine arts play with materials in more innovative ways, but there is always a difference or uniqueness in the attitude of the artists to use these materials in relation to their work spaces. It would therefore not be too exaggerated to say that practitioners of the fine arts must overcome the limitations of the materials and spaces to get to engage with their audience. In Hualien, artists do not need to face this type of problem. On the contrary, they are aware of the spacious ground they have around them to create abstract art and encourage sculptors to enlarge their imagination.

Own daily life inspiration

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By observing their own daily life, artists have been able to produce a few wonderful pieces that are expressions of an organic design in response to environmental care and reflect through aesthetic and functional standards their interests and concerns. Among the long list of artworks there was one titled “Wine partner” created by Sumi Dongi, who has been engaged with tribal literature and history research for many years. Her work consisted in the creation of a roofless cabin with only a table settled in the middle of it, two small chairs and two cups for the potential drinkers. Through this installation she wanted to bring to the fore a gender issue; she symbolizes intimacy and connectivity, especially between women, with the wine as a medium to support each other.

“In the past, social hierarchy based on a range age determined the ability of aboriginal women to make decisions, but the situation has fortunately changed. The liberty to sit in the middle of the countryside to breath fresh air, to smash the tiredness of the heart, to share a drink and have a talk with a friend about the changes in the way they are perceiving or even leading their lives is other of the themes exposed in this artwork”, commented Su-Su.

Other of the pieces called “Talo’an”, which is a real shelter made of wood for those in the community who want to take a rest after an extensive day of labor, showed awareness of the care of the forests, as some of the materials utilized for its creation are extinct. In general, through this selection of artworks visitors can see how concerned the population of Hualien is to preserve their natural resources and keep a healthy living style.

Some installations are simply attractive to tourists that get off from their cars to take pictures of them or selfies.

As soon as the sun dipped beneath the horizon, the group that went from one place to another one in a tourist bus –‘youlanche’– made its way to a different strategic point for the art exhibition. The group arrived at a historical whirlpool, a big port estuary pavilion that serves as a location to expose other installations that give the visitors a wider idea of the connection achieved between foreign artists and locals. Some of their artworks feature the cultural context as a medium to contact with nature and local customs.  Later, the group visited an exhibition of illustrations called “I am Amis” at the Cepo’ Art Center. This collection brought together the drawings of children, each with a naïve and unique point of view that described different kinds of feelings and perceptions about their aboriginal identity. Some in the group were amused by the pictures because kids always find a funny way to treat transcendental topics such as loneliness, affliction, sickness and death.

Interesting debate with sophisticated topics

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The time was strictly controlled due to the hectic schedule of this two-day trip named “Visiting the Northerners in the East”. At night, the group participated in a heated and fruitful debate and deep discussion. Even though everyone looked tired before the dinner and almost ready to go to sleep after having a long day, professors and students still had energy to take part in an interesting dialogue which included a wide variety of sophisticated topics, with Professor Manray Hsu as a moderator and Professor I-wen Chang as the interpreter for IMCCI students.

For this in-depth educational lecture, we had the presence of Biung Ismahasan who presented a research titled “Ethno-Spaciality as Sovereignty: Articulating ‘Performative Indigeneity’ within Taiwanese Indigenous Curatorial Practice.” Through this seminar, students got to know the work of the member of the Truku tribe and activist Don Don Honwn, who has taken his pieces, focused on an ethno-aesthetic nature of Taiwanese tribal performative art, to an international level.

In Don Don’s opinion, the poetic language used in his performance -characterized by an authentic musicality-, has not been a barrier to expose his indigenous identity abroad. On the contrary, this has been a “powerful strategy” to expand his audience. “Foreigners find wonderful and powerful what is unknown or exotic to them”, declared Don Don when professor Chang asked him whether relying on a language that people from Norway, where he had a performance, do not understand, created any sort of barrier or possible exoticism.

During the seminar, the participants also discussed about the alternative spaces available for indigenous intervention and curatorial activism. Concepts like white cube, global South and identity itself aroused a series of inquiries. Professor Manray Hsu came out with a few of them: Where are we? What has a greater role, indigeneity or contemporary art? What is the spirituality of a piece of art? “How do we define ethno-spaciality?” added Professor Lin Ya-Tin.

In addition, a student from IMCCI asked where was the “starting point” to bring out the topic of tribes and the implications of the differences with other geographic spaces? to which the Professor Hsu responded: Is there even an “ending point” related to this global concern? At the end, both agreed that sometimes even a multitude of channels or bridges do not help to address some issues, particularly those pertinent to cultural loss, and you may see an empty place where you will find conflicts instead of solutions. On the other hand, Su-Min Su stressed the idea of trying to find the “starting point” in common people. “If we do not know how life works in terms of the arts, then we are in front of a weakness”, concluded Su-Min Su.

The Hidden South Exhibition

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In the second and last day of the trip, the group spent most of the time touring the exhibition titled The Hidden South. This is the fourth year that the administration office runs this event, which covers the area of Taitung and offers a moonlight ocean concert. During the summer, tourists can enjoy a three-day music festival along the coast with participants from many different countries. But, in this occasion, the reason to go further south was to appreciate other abstract artworks.

The features of more than a dozen pieces were explained by the curator Eva Lin, who pointed out the importance of highlighting a marginalized issue, instead of seeing the success through art. “It is not that convenient to only look for economic values when there are many concerns to accomplish a better understanding between the interests of the government and the demands of the local people”, emphasized Eva Lin.

To give an example, Eva Lin said that “the idea of environmental conservation comes from the indigenous legends, not from science. To the government, it is easy to say that we are a superstitious culture, and even though I respect the energy and legacy of our ancestors, I also find it necessary to believe in the progress of science, because we use technology to expand our creative work”, she said

In a remote place like Taitung, where they are still working on the extension of the South road, technology plays a great role. As beautiful as Hualien is, Taitung has been recruiting the talent of various artists who are interested in appropriating the customs of this part of the island.

Overall, our trip to the east presented a unique opportunity to acquire a better understanding of how to manage and curate art projects that involve aboriginal communities, and it provided a chance to unplug from the rushed pace of city life and immerse ourselves in the lifestyles of the various communities we visited.

 


Written by Xiomara Gonzalez Sotelo

Visiting the Northerners of the South (Chinese version)

“清澈湖水中的每一抹倒影,都訴說著族人生命中動人的故事與回憶。

 ──西雅圖酋長宣言“

山巒阻隔了風塵,台灣東部的天空是清澈的;一望無際的湛藍太平洋流動著,滾滾海水是寧靜的。這是普遍對東部的想像,事實上東部也的確如此美麗,但除了美景外,還有更多在美景上的風貌值得探索。

由郭昭蘭老師、張懿文老師帶領的文創產業國際藝術碩士學位學程學生、以及徐文瑞老師的全球觀念主義班級從11/13至11/14進行為時兩天的東部各個藝術季參訪。

本次參訪的藝術季有:2018森川里海濕地藝術季、2018台灣東海岸大地藝術節、以及南方以南。藉由每個展覽的策展人帶領,除了覽歷美麗的自然風景外,學生們得以同時深入散佈在花東縱谷的部落、理解藝術與在地的關係,並且從中學習策展實踐與藝術觀點。

透過第一線交談與接觸,綺麗的花東景色內增添了許多生命厚度,透過這一次參訪,可以觀看藝術家與策展人們如何去回應以下提問:在地人們如何生活?如何看待他們的山與海?如何面對後代離家的落寞?如何從周遭重新看待、淬鍊他們的過往並持續至未來?

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森川里海濕地藝術季:土地的返還與再接觸

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若要思考藝術與一個地區的關係是什麼,或許森川里海可以給出一個明確的回答;若要詢問藝術這個看似遙不可及的概念要如何實踐於日常大眾的生命與生活,森川里海的策展人可以娓娓道來。

森川里海藝術季的英文是Mipaliw Land Art,Mipaliw在阿美族語中為互助的意思:有水田的人請沒水田的人幫忙做勞力活,並致贈稻米做為報酬。即便是現在,Mipaliw的精神仍在延續,不過今年除了帶出人與土地之間的互助關係外,更把情境拉到喧囂的當代世界,詢問在考驗重重下,人與自然的連結如何持續穩定走下去。

這是四個靠著水梯田維生部落的生活呈現,今年以「流」為主題,森川里海想要去探討生活與生產中面對的情境與威脅:侵蝕海岸線的浪流、影響捕撈的海流、土石流、人口外流。森川里海涵蓋了四個部落:因為少子化而廢校、決定要興建山海劇場的磯崎;位在土石流潛在區域、大多居民為老人、潛心農耕的復興;嘗試進行海岸梯田振興的新社;以及因為眾多公部門機關進駐,而成為重要行政區域的港口。

「不理解部落的策展人是不行的。」策展人說。

秉持著這樣的理念,她深入四個部落、帶領參與藝術家們進入當地的生活時區、進行田野調查並且與在地居民互動。比起注重最終的作品呈現,她更在意的是當地的記憶是否被充分理解和呈現、部落居民能否也真切體會到藝術進入他們的生活。

邀請當地人參與藝術:磯崎部落

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因為學生不足而廢校的磯崎國小如今正替未來以觀光為目的的劇場進行籌畫。放眼望去一片廢墟、野狗三兩隻、搭配著海浪聲頗有滄桑之感。若不仔細去進行探索,被隱藏在紅盒子內的在地記憶與故事便會被輕易忽略,如同擁抱了現代要建立劇場,過去的一切種種習以為常最終被取代、遺忘。名為磯崎國小的地景在未來將不復存在,而在海邊由各種廢棄垃圾物組成的女性雕塑作品也只是對污染文化進行了當代的考古。

兩件作品都只是對現象進行中性的呈現,但卻也會令人思考如今所謂當代生活,其中隱含的各種矛盾該如何化解呢?在此等情境下,策展人與藝術家們是否還有更積極的作為呢?策展人與表演藝術家們邀請當地人們一同參與表演藝術,讓他們深切明白自己即將擁有的劇場以及表演是一個甚麼樣的概念,透過實際參與,藝術的風吹進在地人的心坎中。

信仰作為最強大的凝聚:復興部落

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復興部落居民大多為老人,進入部落前必須要走過一條好漢坡、經過被稱為「寧靜部落」的墓地,但這都不是復興部落最令人印象深刻的地方。

無菸、無酒、無檳榔,一掃一般人們對原住民的印象,復興部落這三樣物品一律不碰,這要歸因於教會對當地的影響。居民們對信仰如此虔誠,凡是教會認為不行的他們一律遵守。這個部落收不到網路訊號,因為他們活得很簡單,專注於農耕是長壽年輕的秘訣。

那麼,這樣純樸的地區會讓藝術離他們的生活很遙遠嗎?藝術家們替老人們編了一段段健康操,表演藝術對身體的理解直接實踐於幫助老人家保持身體健康;在水田中發現了現代的垃圾、與老人用日語交談,一種時空變換的感受藉由鏡子與特定的時間點灼燒漂流木。

生活地景即為藝術:新社與港口部落

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新社與港口部落都靠海,海洋對位在河海交界港口部落的日常生活更是息息相關。在靠海稻田中、被樹叢所遮掩的隱蔽處,藏著阿美族的工寮Taloan。這個改良、與織布機混種的小工寮將阿美族的勞動景色和心境合而為一,邀請當地人的參與呈現在地觀點,豐富外來藝術家作品的內涵。

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在復興部落中,酒被教會嚴格禁止。但是在別的地方,酒卻是能幫助人們與萬物生靈溝通的媒介。同樣是阿美族,為何會有如此歧異的看法?或許只用族群來看待眾多群體的聚合體是可惜的,集合體內的每個群體都有自己所選擇的生活、因此創造了各種子文化。從各個地區中看見普遍中的獨特,便是森川里海每位駐村藝術家們獲得的啟發。

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「跟我們說說海吧!」一位熱愛海洋文化的同學對策展人說。這時,在秀姑巒溪與太平洋的交界處,風雨稍微開始飄搖。

一排漁網在眼前,是港口部落人們的一種生存方式:捕魚。在河海交界處,得天獨厚的漁獲資源哺育著人們,但隨著時間的發展,人走了、產業結構、環境變了,傳統捕魚技術慢慢不出現在生活中;海岸阿美熱愛向海洋學習,他們的pakelang(類似慶功宴)所跳的舞是貨真價實的強烈漩渦,一群自稱老鼠的藝術家們學習了他們的製陶方式、然後將燒好的陶扔進海中玩起了屬於他們自己的pakelang,一種自娛娛人的傳統實踐於現代。

同時,也是一種嘗試與海洋建立連結的行動。

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港口開講:原住民性x當代藝術x展演與策展

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第一天的尾聲特別邀請布農族策展人彼勇(Biung Ismahasan)以及太魯閣族展演藝術家東冬侯溫(Dondon Houmwm)進行對談與演講。

當原住民碰上當代藝術,過去容易被忽略的聲音得到了抒發的機會;除了解殖、表達對自然的觀照、追溯文化根源……,策展人如何操作可能會有控訴、有爭議、令人不悅的議題?兩人以自身的例子回應了森川里海的策展問題:原住民如何在與自然保持平衡的關係為前提去適應當代。

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彼勇透過替東冬策劃在倫敦的展,嘗試以實驗的行為來探討原住民如何脫離殖民。他說:「這是一種跨文化與政治、也是難以定義的原住民策展。」透過讓東冬在金匠學院餐廳中開放式的展演,彼勇想以身體的動作與精神性為出發點,探討超越國族與國界的觀點,並且與當代社會、文化中的衝突與爭論進行對話。他期待,兩人攜手的合作可以進行自我再現以及視覺性創造,關聯著原住民失去的靈性文化,來呈現原住民面對當代的調適。

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Smapux,太魯閣族語中的巫覡,是東冬在部落中的職位,也是不斷啟發他創作的靈感。透過族語中的音韻,冬東發現了奇妙的、神秘的力量。

於是他開始伸展他的肢體。

這是一場儀式,聲音以及與靈的溝通讓東冬詮釋了他的生活與生命。以身體展現了他對殖民、對生存空間被剝奪的提問,並提出一套觀點:從「文化傳統」中看待自己的行為,而非從「藝術」這個來自西方的概念來看。至此,他更加深入自己的母文化,更加去理解自己的存在。

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山的綠、海的藍、我們的血液:大地藝術節

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“我們的汗水與淚是鹹的,所以我們知道

我們血液中流的是海洋。

 ──泰艾娃“

第一天的森川里海探討原住民面對當代的調適。第二天的大地藝術則是去觀看人與自然的關係──尤其是與海洋的關係。

《潮間 共生》之「島 群之間」是今年大地藝術節的命題,探討著花東視角如何觀看台灣與無數個坐落於海洋中島嶼的關係。南島語族的分布北至台灣、西至馬達加斯加、南至紐西蘭、東至復活節島,透過海洋,千年來南島語族不斷流動,並創造了獨特的海洋文化。在遷徙過程中,人與海洋建立的親密的連結。

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因時間關係,本次參觀大地藝術季主要聚集在都歷遊客中心。此區作品大多為地景藝術,學生們徜徉在東管處的草皮上、在各個藝術作品中奔跑,聆聽著海風、觀看著遠處海岸線。

在這海平線的彼端是甚麼樣的景色?

過於習慣陸地的我們似乎遺忘了過去,不論血緣為何,台灣這塊土地上所有人的祖先都曾經踏浪而來、都曾經與海洋血濃於水。曾幾何時,我們開始將海洋視作一片藍色沙漠、未來希望的阻隔、毫無可能的墳場。這是在踏進菅野麻衣挖掘的《歸/turtle》遠眺海面時,雖說是海龜的穴室,但更讓我聯想到的反而是卑南文化中那埋有側身屈肢骨骸的墓穴。這是一種奇異、錯置生死的感受,反而更能讓人去深度思索眼前海洋與我們的關係;而在《泡風景》系列中,躺在網中眺望著海面、其他許多的作品都在帶領我們看著海面、拉黑子撿拾的海洋垃圾被塑造成一尊尊巨大、由線構成的、隱藏著許多生活殘影的雕像,也凝視著我們……

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在那平靜美麗的藍色汪洋中,我們到底遺失了什麼呢?\

隔絕的南方:南方以南

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在台東南方,號稱景色最為美麗的南迴鐵路上一輛輛火車駛過。從太麻里以南,因為地形與文化的特殊性,一道結界隔離了這個區域,自成一個空間。這個特別的南方並不為人所熟悉,這個寧靜秘境中的山海距離極為貼近,卑南族、阿美族、排灣族有的置身於山、有的則選擇親近海洋。山海快合為一線的區域有點複雜、有點讓人感到陌生。與森川里海策展人有相同看法,認為應該要讓藝術家們進入當地,去觀看甚麼才是當地需要的?策展人邀請藝術家進入其中,從歷史檔案、訪談口述、地景、居民參與一同呈現屬於他們的生活面貌。

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因囿於時間關係,此次只參觀大鳥部落區域的作品:豪華朗機工的《在屾》、吳思嶔《名字嗎?我有很多個》以及戴克斯特菲南德《vuvu&vuvu》。出現在各族傳說中的矮黑人成為藝術家的靈感,以虛擬實境的手法讓已經不存在的種族出現身詢問何為「名」?何為「虛」?何為「實」?豪華朗機工蒐集了廢棄鋼筋,呈現鏤空的山,橫嶺側看是不同的景色:山的綠、海的藍、有些垃圾被落在沙灘上的灰;在排灣族語中,祖父母與孫子皆稱彼此為vuvu,也是奇形怪狀塗鴉的發端。來自透過口述的夢,這些被視為最為可信的故事,成為藝術家的靈感來源,維繫了排灣族與祖靈的連結。

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一個有點與世隔絕的南方以南攙和了些許神秘,隨著遠處打下的山嵐環繞在在地居民們的日常生活中,並且構築了他們獨特的文化與生活景象。