May 2, Gao Xingjian and then President Huang Kuang-nan of National Taiwan University of Arts visited the NTNU campus and had a pleasant meeting with President Gou Yih-shun. Gao Xingjian mentioned that this was his third visit to NTNU. He had visited NTNU twice in the past, when he not only talked to students, but also had a pleasant stay at the NTNU Campus Hostel. Gao Xingjian accepted President Gou’s invitation to be a chair professor at NTNU on the spot.
On February 22, President Chang Kuo-en traveled to Paris in person to personally recruit Gao Xingjian, the first ethnic Chinese Nobel laureate in literature, as chair professor, and Gao Xingjian promised to open courses at NTNU in the following year. Gao Xingjian also allowed NTNU to perform the Mandarin musical he adapted from the script of A Tale of Shan Hai Jing, bringing Chinese musicals to the modern international stage.
In the second semester of the 2011 academic year, the Graduate Institute of Performing Arts opened the course “Studies on Plays of Gao Xingjian.” The course was taught by Associate Professor Liang Chi-min, who is also the art director of the Godot Theatre Company. Through Professor Gao’s scripts and his discussions with theater expert Professor Gilbert Fong Chee-fun as recorded in his book Lun xiju (Theses on Theater), the course goes over Gao Xingjian’s works and delves into his creative concepts.
May 15 to June 12, NTNU organized the “Encounter Gao Xingjian at NTNU: Commemorating Nobel Laureate in Literature Gao Xingjian,” a series of events to welcome Gao Xingjian as he came to teach at NTNU for the first time. The series of events included the “Search for Soul Mountain” photography exhibition, displays selling his books, the world debut of the Mandarin version of Nighthawk, and a subsequent workshop, the book launch of Wandering Mind and Metaphysical Thoughts, the “Crossover - Conversations with a Great Writer” seminar, lectures on Gao Xingjian’s dramas, forums, and special lectures.
November 15 to 24, the Mandarin version of Nighthawk produced and performed by the NTNU Graduate Institute of Performing Arts received rave reviews after its world premiere in June, so additional performances were held in Taipei and Chiayi. Nighthawk follows the experiences of a sleepwalker. The story’s special point of view along with the stage, props, sound effects, and lighting design blur the lines between dream and reality for the audience. It is a very dramatic show with a lot of imagery that challenges viewers’ thinking and understanding of reality.
Gao Xingjian returned to teach in Taiwan again in June 2013. On June 24, he attended the “A Tale of Shan Hai Jing - Gao Xingjian International Symposium” organized by NTNU, where he gave a keynote speech on “The Artistic Value of Dramatic Literature” and had discussions with musical theater and marketing experts and scholars to discuss how to take Chinese musicals to the international stage.
June 28 to 30, the musical A Tale of Shan Hai Jing produced by NTNU was performed for the first time at the National Concert Hall. A Tale of Shan Hai Jing is a modern epic crafted by Gao Xingjian based on the Classic of Mountains and Seas. The play boldly subverts the traditional images of mythological figures. The production incorporated “rock-and-roll” music, a genre close to contemporary colloquial expression, to directly and strongly present a sense of vitality and emotions like desire. Thanks to the creative input of director Liang Chi-ming, script adapter and lyricist Chen Lo-jung, and experienced songwriter/music producer Chris Babida, a rock musical that subverts visual and auditory senses was born.
In 2013, Gao Xingjian donated the proceeds of four performances of A Tale of Shan Hai Jing to the NTNU Graduate Institute of Performing Arts to build the Xingjian Hall rehearsal room, so that NTNU students could rehearse performances in a quality learning environment and further expand the field of performing arts. Xingjian Hall officially opened on April 18, 2014. Gao Xingjian was there to unveil it personally.
In April 2014, Gao Xingjian returned to do lectures at NTNU for the third time, during which the summit conference “Seeker’s Footprint: Into the World of Gao Xingjian” was held at the newly unveiled NTNU Global Chinese Writing Center. At the conference, Gao Xingjian conversed with Professor Chen Chien-wen of the Department of History, Professor Shih Hsiao-feng of the Department of Chinese, Professor Daniel Hu of the Graduate Institute of Translation and Interpretation, and Professor Chang Chun-chia of the Department of Geography, tackling writing, literature, and art from different perspectives.
The world premiere of Gao Xingjian’s third cinematic poem Requiem for Beauty was held at the National Palace Museum on April 18. The film was screened at Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts in Taichung on April 19 and 20, respectively. A seminar and screening of the film was also held at NTNU on April 23. The name of Requiem for Beauty comes from a long poem written by Gao Xingjian with the same title. In the film, Professor Gao combined his paintings with actors’ performances, music, and narration in French, English, and Mandarin. A masterpiece of “comprehensive arts,” it completely subverts the common plot lines of contemporary films and boldly challenges traditional film formats.
In April 2015, Gao Xingjian returned to give lectures at NTNU for the fourth consecutive year. In addition to a professional course for students of the Graduate Institute of Performing Arts, Professor Gao also did a general education lecture entitled “In Conversation with Great Writers: Facing the 21st Century - On the Role of Creators” on April 22, where he had fascinating discussions on creativity and reflection with President Chang Kuo-en and Chen Den-wu, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Gao Xingjian encouraged students to adapt to the changing times, stressing that creativity is needed in all sectors, including industrial inventions as well as science and technology. He also reminded them that reading on a wide variety of subjects is how we can ignite our creativity.
August 23 to 31, NTNU’s Graduate Institute of Performing Arts performed A Tale of Shan Hai Jing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is among the largest and most popular art festivals in the world, where top artists and groups long to perform. A scaled-back version of A Tale of Shan Hai Jing with just 15 cast members was performed at the Spotlites Theatre, bringing this classic Chinese musical to the international stage.
In late May, Gao Xingjian returned to give lectures at NTNU for the fifth time. The book launch for the Requiem for Beauty art book was held on May 31. The Requiem for Beauty art book was published by NTNU’s Cultural Creative Design Industry Center. While filming Requiem for Beauty, Gao Xingjian also took over 280 photographs, editing and color grading them on a computer through an artistic lens to capture subtle moments in the moving images. Gao Xingjian said that these images show the possibility and necessity of aesthetics in the current era to appeal to a clear understanding and inspire a new Renaissance.
June 1, the College of Liberal Arts hosted the forum “Be a Person with Freedom: Literature, Society, and Historical Context,” where Gao Xingjian and Dean Chen Den-wu talked about art and humanities and how to find freedom in reality through the lens of literature, history, and social context. Gao Xingjian stressed the need to cultivate independent thinking, to recognize one's own mental state, and to not be affected by the external environment in order to remove the constraints of the era and the real world, and pursue the freedom of spirit and creation.
June 3, Gao Xingjian participated in the 70th anniversary celebration of NTNU. In his speech, he praised Taiwan's cultural maturity, artistic prosperity, literary affluence, and social stability, which are the result of education. He also talked about his connections with Taiwan, saying that “Taiwan is my new home.”
June 7 to 8, the Graduate Institute of Performing Arts performed Soul Mountain in the auditorium. The choreography brought a new vitality to the images and words. This is choreographer Wu I-fang's understanding of Soul Mountain and his outlook on life, which he hopes that the audience can experience, to join in on a spiritual pilgrimage to Soul Mountain.
To welcome Gao Xingjian’s sixth year as a chair professor at NTNU, the university organized the “Gao Xingjian Art Festival,” a series of events from May 15 to June 15 that included the exhibition “Overlooking the Sea, Looking back Soul Mountain—Gao Xingjian and NTNU,” the Soul Mountain musical and dance performance, the musical A Tale of Shan Hai Jing, a forum sharing the experience of creating Soul Mountain and A Tale of Shan Hai Jing, and the “Freedom-Seeking Soul: Forum on the Works of Gao Xingjian.”
On May 18, Gao Xingjian gifted NTNU the ink wash painting Thinker, which President Chang Kuo-en accepted on the school’s behalf. This painting became part of the permanent collection of the NTNU Art Museum, which was completed in December that year, symbolizing the spirit of his literary creative spirit at NTNU.
On May 22, NTNU awarded the Nobel laureate in literature Gao Xingjian with an honorary doctorate in literature in recognition of his outstanding achievements in literature, writing, art, and theater, and to commend his works, which are compassionate, eternal works of art for mankind. In his speech, Gao Xingjian talked about how he left China and relocated to France for 30 years. “Paris is my home; it is there that I achieved all my goals.” But he also has a hometown, “and that is Taiwan.”
President Wu Cheng-chih led a delegation of school officials to visit Gao Xingjian in Paris. As chair professor, Gao Xingjian went with the delegation to visit NTNU’s sister school in France, Paris Diderot University.
In the second semester of the 2018 academic year, the College of Liberal Arts launched the common course “The Literature and Art of Gao Xingjian,” which was jointly taught by teachers from the College of Liberal Arts, College of Music, and College of Arts. Through a trans-disciplinary approach, students were expected to gain a more in-depth understanding of the creative concepts of Professor Gao. Professor Gao highly praised the course, calling it an incredible creation, and thanked the president and teachers who taught the course for their efforts in carrying forward his creative spirit and ideas. He added that he looked forward to seeing the expansion and cultivation of the “New Renaissance Movement” at NTNU.
From April 26 to May 10, the College of Liberal Arts organized the “NTNU Humanities Festival - Gao Xingjian Week.” The series of events included a panel on the “Meaning of Leaving” by Hu Ching-fang and Chu Chia-han, who are both writers that have moved to France, as well as guided readings of A Tale of Shan Hai Jing, A Preliminary Examination of Modern Fictional Techniques, and Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather led by Professor Liang Chi-ming and Shih Hsiao-feng. The series of events also included the global premiere of Gao Xingjian’s theatrical work Soliloquy. Directors, actors, and Professor Hong Zu-ling were also invited to do a forum on “The Charisma of Gao Xingjian’s Theatrical Works.”
May 2 to 5, Gao Xingjian’s Soliloquy had its world premiere at the NTNU Zhi Yin Black Box Studio. Director Liang Chi-ming said that Soliloquy is a one-man show that “addresses performing” through “performance,” making it extremely difficult to act. The actor would need rich acting experience to master the way the actor and multiple characters come in and out of the story. Actor Hsu Yi-sheng took the lead role in the play. As for the production, renowned stage designer Wang Shih-hsin, award-winning image designer Wang Yi-sheng, and other expert theater professionals were invited to take part. The sound effects designed by Wang Chih-kang used stereo surround sound; in addition, the production had ultra high-end projection technology supplied by Delta Electronics, making Soliloquy the ultimate theater aesthetics, sound, and visual experience.
Through the efforts of President Wu Cheng-chih and Professor Lin Shu-chen, as well as the strong support of Gao Xingjian, the NTNU Library established the “Gao Xingjian Center Planning Office” on Gao Xingjian’s 10th year as chair professor. The newly established office compiled Gao Xingjian’s works, manuscripts, documents, research files, and other precious materials and organized courses and lectures on “The Literature and Art of Gao Xingjian” as well as the “Gao Xingjian Research Subsidy Program,” hoping to deepen NTNU's art and literature education and research through Gao Xingjian's rich interdisciplinary creations and profound humanistic spirit, while promoting an international academic perspective.
To celebrate Gao Xingjian’s 80th birthday, the 30 year anniversary of the publication of Soul Mountain, and Gao Xingjian’s 10th year as chair professor at NTNU, NTNU Press published the Gao Xingjian Art Collection in December Journey to Soul Mountain. The collection includes photos taken by Gao Xingjian from 1982 to 1985 across the Yangtze River Basin, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the Yunnan-Guizhou region. Gao Xingjian carefully curated and selected the 100 photos and 40 paintings created between 1979 and 2015 to reflect his constant pursuit of exploration and reconstruct the epic journey that inspired the masterpiece Soul Mountain.
National Taiwan Normal University established the Gao Xingjian Center in 2021. The Center houses a collection of 593 pieces of manuscripts, literature, and other documents donated by Chair Professor Gao Xingjian in order to promote research into Gao Xingjian’s works, in hopes that NTNU will become an important center of research into the works of Gao Xingjian in the Chinese-speaking world. The Center officially opened on January 25 and held the “Journey to Soul Mountain” special exhibition and book launch. The “Journey to Soul Mountain Exhibition” lasted from January 25 to March 25. The exhibition not only featured photos and paintings from the Journey to Soul Mountain art book, but also displayed Thinker, a painting Gao Xingjian donated to NTNU, and other limited-edition prints for the first time.
The Gao Xingjian Center held the "Gao Xingjian's Donated Manuscripts and Collections Exhibition" from November 9 to December 26, 2016, displaying the precious manuscripts, masks, posters and other collections donated by Gao Xingjian in 2020. Exhibits include Gao Xingjian’s observation records, creative notes and manuscripts from when he traveled to Southwest China in the 1980s, the Venetian carnival mask used in his film "Requiem of Beauty" in 2013, and authentic documents such as theater and art exhibition posters from Europe, America and Asia. Especially for this exhibition, Gao Xingjian donated 10 of his paintings during the epidemic period from 2020 to 2022 to the NTNU, which are displayed in this exhibition.
"Gao Xingjian's Donated Manuscripts and Collections Exhibition" Website
Have a look at the exhibition through google street view