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Eye of the Times - Centennial Images of Taiwan

Juan Ijong's 1986 work People and the Land – Syuhai (Taidong County) (Taipei Fine Arts Museum collection)This year is the centenary of the founding of the Republic of China, a time for contemplation and remembrance of things past. As one of its contributions to the year-long celebration, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum has put together the photography exhibition Eye of the Times – Centennial Images of Taiwan , spanning 140 years of Taiwan's history. A collection of about 270 images trace the changes seen by the island's people over different time periods. Time starts to move with the visual records compiled by John Thomson, a Scottish Presbyterian minister who arrived on the island in 1871, and runs through the works of a total of 117 artists,with many of the vintage photos rarely if ever seen in public. This precious display of photographic treasures is co-curated by distinguished Taiwan photographer Chuang Ling and Chang Tsangsang.

In this exhibit the course and vitality of Taiwan's photography and video art can be traced over the past 100 years.

Moving on through the decades, we visit the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) and a series of photos taken by Japanese anthropologists on Taiwan's native peoples and its society. We see the techniques used during the 20 years from the end of the Japanese rule through the beginning of the Nationalist rule, in which the portraiture methods of Japanese war correspondents come to the fore, giving birth to the“Genesis Period of Taiwan Photography.” We see riveting historical images of Taiwan youths called up for service in the Japanese military, and of a defeated Japan's soldiers and citizens selling their daily possessions on Taiwan's streets before being repatriated. In the “Documentary and Photoreportage” series of works, we see images captured in the 1970s under the shadow of martial law, and we see the results of the lifting of martial law in the later 1980s, with the relaxation of political party ban and news censorship.Lin Boliang's  1996 work Facing the Unknown Future Taipei Fine Arts Museum collection)

As the“Art Photography” period hit the stage, the photographer hit the road, roaming far and wide and combining wide-ranging exploration with high aesthetics, such as in Yao Juichung's Recover Mainland China work. The camera is used to record wanderings far from home— Tiananmen in Beijing, the Great Wall—sneering at the official political culture of Taiwan before the 1970s and before, where the retaking of the mainland was declared the sole purpose of Taiwan society. In“Images of the Mind,” we see how the traditions and other special characteristics of Taiwan are defined by leading photographic artists,engendering deeply contemplated works such as Ko Si Chi's Night Lily and Guo Yingsheng's use of the Hakka people's colorful traditional floral fabrics as theme.From Chou Chinghui's  1990-1994 series Frozen in Time - Images of a Leper Colony; the owner of these hands is named Ye Maolu. (from the artist's personal collection)

This exhibition is designed as a documentary record of the lives of Taiwan's common people, with a special highlight on its exploration of the“small worlds”of those who inhabit its numerous offshore islands. From Lin Wang , the famous Taipei Zoo elephant that almost everyone living in Taiwan know, to the great 921 Earthquake of 1999, and to the Typhoon Morakot flood disaster of 2009, young and old can revisit the strongest images of their lives as seen through the“eye of the times”—the lens of the photographer. The show provides much food for thought on the past 100-plus years of Taiwan, the island's present, and her possible futures.


Eye of the Times –Centennial Images of Taiwan

  • Time: Tue~Sun 09:30~17:30, extended hours on Sat to 20:30
  • Venue: Taipei Fine Arts Museum
  • Add: 181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd.
  • Tel: (02) 2595-7656
  • Transportation: Bus options from other locations include No. 21, 40, 42, 126, 203, 208, 213, 218, 220, 247,260, 277, 279, 287, 308, 310, 612, and 677; get off at the Taipei Fine Arts museum stop .
  • Website: www.tfam.museum