LUI, Yun-Yi | Statement
In 2017, I spent several trips to Great Kinmen and Lesser Kinmen taking photographs of battlefields remained from the civil war between Nationalist Government and the Communist Party. The natural landscape on the island has been gradually modified in accordance with military use throughout the long period of wars. The ROC Armed Forces intensively built countless fortified points, bunkers, defense lines and underground tunnel networks like ant nests. When the situation was no longer on the verge of breaking out, the islands were once again overgrown with wild grasses and these military ruins became places forgotten by history.
Surveying along the coasts of Kinmen Island and Lieyu Island (Lesser Kinmen), the scenery unfolding before us is a layered accumulation of time, space, history, and war. These elements are interacting with each other, intertwining and hidden in a seemingly dull landscape, which create scenes with subtle extraordinariness. This landscape depicts the wounds and sorrows from the war. The events that have happened become the traces hidden in space with the slow passage of time.
The Great Kinmen, Lesser Kinmen and the surrounding small islands were originally connected to the mainland China, which were separated as the sea level rising. The island was once like a Utopia, but nowadays it is full of the darkness from the war. During the late Ming and early Qing dynasty, Koxinga took Kinmen as the base for the resistance of the Qing conquest of China. The lush forests on the island were almost completely harvested and turned into ships, therefore the land was barren. When the ROC armed force stationed, they re-introduced and planted a large amount of wind-resistant casuarina, sisal, tequila, and cactus which are as hard as spikes, and serving as good covers for military facilities. When sisals bloom, the rosette grows into sword-shaped leaves like a narwhal’s protruding canine tooth, and points toward the sky like a spear. These plants were used as counter-air defense at that time but are now growing everywhere to form a part of the island’s natural vegetation.
The bunker built on steep cliff near the coast has recently fallen due to subsidence from mainland China and coastal retreat. The collapsed bunker has been gradually integrated with nature through the erosion of the waves. It is like a mysterious giant rock and is overflown by seawater when the tide rises. The relentless wars of the past strongly contract with the serene scenery nowadays. The coastline of the island has been receding, the bunker has fallen, and the landmines on the beach have been removed. Nerveless, all of these did not come from the fading gap between the two sides of the border.
Through this series of photography project to gaze and read the symbols of war and historical textures left in the landscape. The scenes of this island are microcosms of the past history of the battlefields under the Martial Law. I imagine the history I’ve never participated in and the past of closed borders from the remaining scenes. Perhaps I could re-understand and glimpse the history of that period of darkness, hoping that history will not be blindfolded and repeat itself again.
LIAO, Zen-Ping | Statement
I create paintings according to scenes or objects that I have actually seen. I often take photographs at whim as I move through everyday life. I analyze these photographs without a specific theme by repeated observation in order to discover a visual language, a form, or a triggered reaction within, and select these for inclusion into a painting.
Painting and photography are both instinctive impulses to capture the feelings of an instant. Some say photography cannot truly preserve a memory but is, instead, a medium for reconstructing memory. Could it be possible then, that paintings that reference photography become an act of intervention and disruption in the memories of others?