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Publisher: Artouch
Published Date: 2017-10-05
ISBN: 9789869535403

Launched in early 2016, this project covers more than 220 temples, cemeteries, public gardens and amusement parks photographed within one and a half years in an intensive manner, featuring the statues of deities created by the Han people by reference to their self-images. Some of these statues were toppled, while others remain standing. Carefully observing these statues, namely the objects of people’s psychological projection, we may further grasp the endemic political relations in different geographical spaces.

Generally speaking, no sooner did human figures appear in the scene, than narratives would be constructed. However, this project is designed to transcend the confines of narratives, which is why I hid human figures behind the scenes and focused my camera on the cult objects of people’s psychological projection; to wit, the statues of deities, rather than on events, fiestas or any other scenes with the presence of human beings. Accordingly, this project is not so much a presentation of folklore photography as that of typological landscape photography, since it captures normal patterns rather than unusual cases. Assuming an objective, cool-headed and detached posture, these photographs exclude human figures, evade events, and are out of harm’s way. In addition, the photographed are neither religious architecture nor folk festivals and rites, but the “embodiment of desires” beyond the scope of the foregoing content. With few exceptions, all the forms of religion equally embody human desires for happiness and promise to bring people spiritual growth and salvation, though their approaches may diverge. To attract followers and solidify teachings, symbolic objects or materialized images are necessary commodities in addition to scriptures, sermons, incantations, instruments and rituals. The total of more than 12,000 temples in Taiwan shaped the sui generis temple culture that has become the most enigmatic and eventful dimension of the Chinese world. Most temples serve to address ordinary people’s earthly needs of all stripes and offer them inner sustenance. On a more specific basis, people expect to gain real interests, restore physical health, or satisfy spiritual yearnings for the next life with the assistance of transcendental powers, and the supply-demand issue has ensued. Devotees ranging from those having unusual powers to literati, poets, peddlers and menial servants worship the deities by kowtowing. People from all walks of life as well as both the criminous and righteous sides also worship the deities on bended knees. A temple dedicated to specific deities is getting more magnificent and miraculous because a large number of its followers have experienced or witnessed the deities’ mysterious powers. What inspires the followers’ devotion is not their genuine faith in the deities, but the extent as to how efficacious the deities are in producing miracles; and the statues of deities that are larger than life size in every way may well encourage the followers’ devotional practices.

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