Home: Records of the Hongmaogang Village Relocation
Hongmaogan Village (1624-2008), a historic village in the southwest of Taiwan, was wiped off the map by a government relocation scheme. This relocation project had taken the longest time (38 years from planning to completion), involving the largest scale of households (11,237), affecting the highest number of people (20,931), and costing the hugest amount of governmental expenditure (32.9 billion) in the history of Taiwan. In this case, Taiwan government had adopted the ideology of “high modernity” and conjured up the regulations and plan in the name of economic development. In other words, the government regarded Hongmaogang village as a laggard, underdeveloped, and hopeless community. This mindset not only justified the government policy of prohibiting the villagers from expanding their houses, but also facilitated the implementation of relocation.
This solo exhibition “Home: Records of the Hongmaogang Village Relocation” presents the images from the artist’s works which focus on the ruins and remains left of the villagers’houses in the demolition between 2007 and 2008. The contents of these images include the remained objects originally belonged to the villagers, the traces of the objects left in the space after being removed, and the industrial landscapes viewed through the broken windows.
These remains are the evidences that allow us to peer into the history of the villagers’life. The photographic collections include the appearances of these houses and the ruins, after the houses being abandoned in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and after 2000; of which cover 40 years time scale. As a result, the collections truly represent the villagers’life history. It is critical to be selective of the photographs, which represent the objects and parts of the houses, to be exhibited and to contemplate the way of transforming the sites of the ruins into a bright theater of objects. The purpose of the object theater is to highlight the social and historical values of Hongmaogang village, ignored by the development plan in the name of National Developmentalism. In these images, the traces left by the removed objects serve as memorial supplements, and the layers of the interweaving imprints on the walls depict the sequence of lives buried in the villagers’ memories deeply. If the remains represent a frozen scene of the villagers’ lives in a specific time and space, then the traces enable us to read the villagers’ experiences. The views through the broken windows represent the villagers’ deep affection to the land. However, Hongmaogang village was wiped off the map due to industrial expansion. The impressions of the landscapes are reproduced repeatedly in the villagers’ memories, while the window views become discrete fragments of the topography of Hongmaogang village.
The photographs in this exhibition not only convey a wave of nostalgia for the vanished fishing village, but also point out the necessity of reconsidering a more prudent way that allows us to properly deal with the values of local history and culture, in the process of urban planning and act as a remedy for the deficiency on ignoring local history and culture caused by the national developmentalist ideology.
Born in 1972 in Chiayi, Chen Po-I received his master degree in Ocean Engineering at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) in Taiwan.
As a photographer, Chen’s works concern the humanities and social aspects of Taiwan, using his lens to connect himself with the greater context of Taiwanese society. With this, his photographs have the power to express the collective memories of Taiwan.
His photographic works are frequently invited for exhibitions, recently include Into Society: Critical Realism in Taiwanese Photographic Arts since 1990 (Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts; 2012), Crossroads‧Another Dimension—A Cross-Strait Four-Regions Artistic Exchange Project 2013(He Xiangning Art Museum, 2013), Records of the Relocation of Hongmaogang Village( Knaudo Museum of Fine Arts, 2013), and Voices Travel: Conversation Between Two Harbours (Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts; 2014), The Pioneers of Taiwanese Artists, 1971-1980(The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2014). His works came into public notice internationally when they were shown at the Phnom Penh International Festival of Contemporary Photography in Cambodia in 2013. In 2015, he participates an art and cultural research project Rebirth of Doom – Regional Exchange and Dialogue Between Taiwan and Macau.