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February 26, 2012

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'Fringe' festival aims to awaken the senses

Jue means to sense or awaken and the three-week JUE 2012 will be a fringe festival to awaken all the senses in Shanghai and Beijing.

The multifaceted show celebrates alternative, creative and progressive arts and music by Chinese and international talents. Some artists are high profile, some are a bit underground.

Starting on March 9, it runs through March 25 at various venues in Shanghai and Beijing.

"The idea of JUE has always been to shine a spotlight on the creative communities that are flourishing in both Beijing and Shanghai, and to build bridges between different types of artists and organizations," says Abby Lavin, project manager of JUE and the marketing and media manager of the organization Split Works.

Now in its fourth year in China, JUE emphasizes the best of artistic communities in Shanghai and Beijing, especially up-and-coming artists, as well as noted international performers.

JUE was inspired by the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, first conceived in 1947 as a cutting-edge off-shoot of the Edinburgh International Arts Festival. Today there are similar festivals in Europe, the United States, Singapore and China.

The packed schedule includes live music, theater, diverse arts, sculpture, performance art, film, children's workshops, photography, green initiatives and other activities.

"Aside from high-profile events, there is a lot that's a bit more underground," Lavin says.

Headlining musical acts for JUE include American indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie and Taiwanese musician-poet Summer Lei.

Death Cab debuts in China on March 9 at Shanghai's Yunfeng Theater. Lei's participation in JUE will be her Chinese mainland debut. Cooperating with the band BIT Sound, the folk musician will perform at Mao Livehouse on March 21.

Steve Mackay, the long-time sax player with Iggy and The Stooges, will join local musicians at Yuyintang's Monday night jam on March 19.

Chinese folk musician Meng Qi will teach people how to build their own sound synthesizers at a workshop on March 11 at Xinchejian, a workshop.

The Next Gen photography competition this year is themed "Work" and carries a 10,000-yuan (US$1,587) first prize.

"If you can recognize the beauty of work all around you, show it off in the competition," says Lavin. The works of 15 finalists will be displayed at Shanghai Central Studios from March 9-23.

To kick off the festivities, a Warm Up To JUE Market will be held on March 10 in Beijing at Yuanfen~Flow in Beijing's 798 art hub. The fair will feature film screenings, exhibits and art installations. It will sell arts and crafts, snacks and treats and local and international musicians will play throughout the day.

JUE 2009 featured 25 events and exhibitions; there were 77 in 2010, 87 last year and this year over 110.

This year JUE is trying to connect all the various JUE events and venues through a treasure hunt called The Links.

"It's a great way to tie together all the different JUE events, and encourage the community to get involved through a combination of offline and online activities," Lavin says.

The program is diverse and appeals to various types of audience, Chinese and expat.

Ticket sales are going well, Lavin says.

"But JUE is not a commercial event. If your main goal were to make money, we would have given up long ago," she says. "We see JUE as a labor of love, and an investment of time and resources to promote lots of amazingly talented creative in Shanghai and in Beijing."

For full JUE 2012 lineup and schedule, check


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