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Expats sketch their 'Visions of Taiwan'


外籍人士描繪他們的“台灣願景”


American artist enlists others to illustrate their colorful lives abroad


TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A psychedelic experience with a “Random” individual at Burning Man in 2007 was what brought Cincinnati-born Ray Hecht to Taiwan.

This individual didn’t turn out to be so random after all. His name was a clever pseudonym or “Playa name” which many adopt when attending the week-long radical sharing art festival in Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada.

Sharing is what Hecht is all about, as he dedicated the last few months to compiling and collating a 48-page fanzine titled “Visions of Taiwan” Issue 1. On Sunday evening, Jan. 15, a small crowd assembled at Vinyl Decision in Huashan 1914 Creative Park to celebrate the launch.

A table near the door displayed a host of publications. One was Hecht’s previous publication, “Always Goodbye”, which detailed his prior dalliances with expat life before coming to Taiwan.

“I met a guy at Burning Man, who said he could ship me to China. It was the last day of Burning Man and I was a little frazzled, but I decided to take him up on the offer,” said Hecht.

And as they say, the rest is history, or one hell of a long strange trip. Hecht would find himself first in Shenzhen, China, a burgeoning city of millions which was fast and free when he first arrived. “It was a great place with lots of personal freedom. I could teach and do my art there, like publish my book, which is something that I always wanted to do.”

His first publication, a sort of graphic novel akin to Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb, was well received and addressed many of his experiences living in Asia. Recently, he posted on his Facebook page that he had sold 10,000 units of this book online. It’s a huge accomplishment and the primary inspiration for his latest fanzine.

“This time, I thought it would be better working with other artists. It’s been great but a bit of a challenge, like herding cats, to get everyone to meet a deadline and contribute their work to meet our 48-page format.”

Hecht didn’t want any blank pages in the publication, so he hoped that everyone could fill up their agreed allotment of the fanzine.

One contribution, “An Island of Inspiration” by Fabienne Good is remarkable for its artistic detail reminiscent of classic typography and relief artwork. While yet another, "Some People” by Joel Fremming, is drawn with thick marker and recounts the author’s feelings whenever an expat friend departs the island, complete with self-imposed shame, when they make a quick return a few months later.

Other contributors include “Walk & Talks” by Patty Hogan and Todd Allen Williams, a look into the art of life and travel as seen through their eyes. And “ConSequential” by Jon Renzella is strongly in the adult graphic novel milieu, detailing how his life changed when he was accepted for an art residency at Taichung’s Stock 20, and since then it’s been one art affair after another.

Hecht also contributed a multi-page comic titled “How Not to Get Your Scooter License in Taiwan.” A spoiler here, Hecht recommends scouting out a lenient testing facility and practicing for the written test so many times that the answers automatically appeal to you, despite logic or common sense.

While it is too early to plan for issue two, Hecht says he’s planning to stick around in Taiwan for the long haul.

“China was awesome at first and I stayed for 8 years, but later it got too restrictive. The final straw was when I was at a party where 500 people were arrested and drug tested. I don’t smoke marijuana, so I was lucky and didn’t suffer at all. However, I knew then that I wanted to leave.”

As for returning home again, Hecht says that’s way down the road as he has very few fond memories of his home in Cincinnati, which he describes as having "the worst Greyhound Station in America."
 
Sean Scanlan, Taiwan News, Staff Reporter  
2023-01-16  

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