Voices of Hakka Women

Voices of Hakka Women - poster

Suzon Fuks, Ya-Ling Peng, Anna Yen
and Jenny Martinelli. Juried Artist
QMC (Queensland Multicultural Centre)

Artist Statement

VOICES OF HAKKA WOMEN is an evocative video poem by Ya-Ling Peng (Taiwan) and Suzon Fuks (Australia), featuring the original poetry of 6 Taiwanese-Hakka women. Award Winner of the Moondance International Film Festival, Finalist of Her Vision Film Festival, Toronto’s Asian Feedback Film Festival, Women’s International Film Festival and Special Mention from Asia South East Short Film Festival.

Layered with imagery shot in Taiwan, it evokes the not-so-old custom of giving away daughters, adopted by other families and often used for hard house and farm work. It is dedicated to women and girls fighting for fairness and justice.

The video is a vehicle for disseminating Hakka oral language and cultural heritage internationally through the artistic interpretation of these poems. It has been produced in 5 versions, each with a second spoken language accompanying the spoken Hakka: Hakka-English, Hakka-French, Hakka-Portuguese, Hakka-Spanish and Hakka-Mandarin. The unique traditions and universal themes expressed in Hakka are also voiced by actresses from around the world (Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Mexico, Spain and USA).

For ISEA 2024, we propose the Hakka-English version that is voiced by actresses from Australia and the USA.

It has been 50 years since the abolition of this ‘adopted daughters’ tradition, and there were centuries before that that the Hakka people have experienced segregation and persecution as a minority. As a result, they migrated from the north to the south of China. About a hundred years ago they moved into Taiwan and then around the world. The original meaning of the name Hakka means ‘guest’, indicating the distinction made between them and local Han majorities in China.

This video, and the larger project it stems from, is a tribute to the resilience of the Taiwanese Hakka community and in particular the women of that community. Ya-Ling Peng’s Uhan Shii Theatre has been working for decades on a truth-telling process, theatricalising the group’s participants’ personal stories, and performing in the minority Hakka oral language throughout rural villages of Taiwan. These days the women of Uhan Shii Theatre are turning their creative expression into poetry.

VOICES OF HAKKA WOMEN is an Award Winner of the Moondance International Film Festival, was selected for Her Vision Film Festival, Toronto’s Asian Feedback Film Festival, and Women’s International Film Festival, and received a Special Mention from Asia South East Short Film Festival, London.

About the artists

SUZON FUKS is an “artivist” whose work bridges art, science and the environment using wearables art, bookmaking, photography, video, and interactive technologies, all driven by her movement practices. She focuses on water, the status of women, asylum seekers, and the impact of technology on humanity and the natural world.

Trained in dance, theatre and music, Suzon gained a Masters in Visual Arts at La Cambre, Brussels. Since 1997 she’s been Co-Artistic Director with James Cunningham of the Australian multi-arts organisation IGNEOUS, directing all its productions.
Awarded more than twenty times, Suzon has received, among other things, a Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts, and a Copeland Fellowship (USA) in order to deepen her research on network performance, begun in 2003, and for which she is recognised internationally as a pioneer.

Her video-dances such as ‘Fragmentation’ & ‘Rings’ have been finalists at numerous festivals.
In 2011, Suzon Fuks founded Waterwheel, a visionary online art-science platform on the theme and issues of Water. This forum of experiences, exchanges, expressions and experimentation has sparked collaborations and innovative performances by more than 1,500 artists, scientists, activists, teachers and young people from 34 countries.

YA-LING PENG is an actress, director and playwright, as well as Artistic Director of the Uhan Shii Theatre and Festival Organiser.

She started her theatre career in 1981, reckoned as the first generation of Taiwan contemporary theatre practitioners. In 1988-1991, Ya-Ling studied acting in London with Animate Theatre and London School of Mime and Movement, and joined the theatre company Tragic Carpet performing at The Edinburgh International Festival.

In 1993, she founded Uhan Shii theatre, a group working on oral history with their first project about reminiscence “Echoes of Taiwan”. In the last two decades, Ya-Ling Peng worked especially with Hakka women, challenging traditions, breaking conventions and promoting change. One of these traditions was exchanging girls and enslaving them. ‘Voices of Hakka Women’ (stage show) toured many Hakka villages, sharing their painful stories and pushing for a shift in their status.

She has also collaborated with many professional groups, nationally and internationally, and organised two Magdalena festivals in Taiwan. Mrs Peng received two awards for raising awareness of Hakka culture and community: Hakka Art Contribution Award 2008 from Hakka Affairs Council, and Hakka Award of Drama, 2008 from Kaohsiung City Government.

Credits: Suzon Fuks: Direction, Camera, Compositing & Editing | Ya-Ling Peng: Producer & Uhan Shii Theatre Group Director | James Cunningham: Sound & Second Camera | Yeh Yeh: Executive Producer | with the support of Hakka Affairs Council Taiwan. The Hakka Association of Queensland, Hakka Association of Queensland.

URL: https://suzonfuks.net

Book Tickets: https://events.humanitix.com/voices-of-hakka-women-screening-and-artist-talk


ISEA2024 acknowledges the Turrbal and Yugara as the First Nations owners of the lands where the symposium will be held. We pay our respects to their elders, lores, customs and creation spirits. We also acknowledge and pay respects to all First Nations peoples across the continent and beyond Australian shores.