Contemporary Asian Photograph is an exhibition series that takes a close look at contemporary culture and art practice from Asian artists’ perspectives. The exhibitions concentrate on specific pieces of history and life experiences, but also attempt to construct or discover relationships between historical contexts from varied perspectives. Specifically, they make observations either from different geographical locations synchronously, or from the same location at different times. The personal experiences and collective consciousness are linked with multiple historical trajectories charted by the vicissitudinal political and social forces.

In Part II of the Crisis of Now series we invited three Taiwanese artists— I-Hsuen CHEN , HOU Lulu Shur-Tzy and TING Chaong-Wen to present their contemporary photography through multi-cultural observations. Each work to liberate artworks and aesthetics from reductive classifications and fetishization ingrained in systems of power and interpretation. Each work on view takes up varying methods of collaboration that the artist has employed throughout their practice.

I-Hsuen CHEN’'s photograph series “Still Life Analysis II: The Island(2015-16)” feature household objects of vagrants living beneath the Taipei’s Civic Boulevard expressway. Such objects include trash, unidentified discarded objects, and plants. For the artist, the underside of Civic Boulevard resembles a subtropical island with its artificial stones and potted plants decor. On this island, “citizens” carry with them “objects” that temporarily occupy spaces that could be called home before being removed by the authorities. In contrast, real estate advertisements are crowded together nearby and praise an idyllic, beautiful housing environment and depict the collective desire of Taipei inhabitants for home and lifestyle. The artist collected the written information and advertising slogans, yet eliminated the sales details, such as project names and locations, leaving apparent the blanks and punctuations. What is left of these commercial messages takes the form of poetry, gathered in Real Estate Poem, shown alongside the photographs. A shift in the viewing perspective with the photographs’ subject occurs when pages of the poems are reversed (sometimes presented upside down), echoing the experience of the island “citizens” under the expressway. Between satire and mourning, the work attempts to situate oneself on the thin line separating the private and the public, to address tensions between homelessness and senses of home and to question the nature of property in constant, fluctuating relationships of occupation, re-occupation, and elimination.

HOU Lulu Shur-Tzy relies on her photographic record, interviews, and active intervention to produce art in social spaces. HOU utilized a scattered image narrative in "Here is Where We Meet(2013)" to illustrate the effortlessness and sadness navy military village resident experiencing in the implementation of Military Dependents’ Villages Reconstruction Act. Moreover, “Remains of the Day(2015)” reveals the historical memories and bereaved fate of the first Military Dependents’ Village in Taiwan, Huangpu Village. In the field, the artist has deep empathy with the residents. They create a public history and start a conversation with Taiwan’s societies. Her artwork related to the issue of the late military dependent village time, she carries on a dialogue with the residents and reflects social-economic issues of modern Taiwan.
*The trilogy, which consists of the “Here is where we meet” series published in 2013, the “Remains of the Day” series published in 2015 and the “Out of Place” series published in 2017.

TING Chaone-Wen's work "Prophet and North(2018)" attempts to re-examine the political figures in the history of autonomy, especially the early Tainan County Council. The photographs are part of the "Prophet and North" series, discussing how the ideology of the country's rulers can be spread or enhanced by symbols in space. Completed in 1980, the council building has an Eight Trigrams-shaped roof whose corners and ridge were ornamented with statues of immortals riding beasts appropriated from ancient Chinese architecture. This kind of architectural elements resembling the style of the northern palaces appeared abundantly in the official architectural design of the 1970s, incarnating how art was employed as an instrument for political propaganda. After the county council was moved into the building, the Eight Trigrams with the function of exorcism and golden glazed tiles as symbols of emperor failed to bring better feng shui. Many councilors died of disease or accidents, arousing clamorous rumors. The county people rumored that the Chinese-style official building had the negative effect of worsening the feng shui, leading to the final decision of the council to remove the roof crown to appease the voices from all parties. Although this incident happened after Chen Huazong had died of the car accident for more than a decade, all sorts of rumors around local politics implying coincidences and conspiracies remained to be exorcised.

This publication includes a series of texts: an essay written by CHANG Shih-Lunby, “Between Transparency and Blur” ; HUANG Sun-Quan, “Out of Place—HOU Lulu Shur-Tzy and Her Trilogy on Kaohsiung Military Dependents’ Villages” ; JIAN Tzu-Chieh, “A Pleat in Tainan City Hall (Minzhi). On TING Chaong-Wen’s Photographic Works Prophet and North”.

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