VOP Issue 16 : 廢 / 棄 / 空間 Abandoned Spaces
Voices of Photography 攝影之聲
Issue 16 : 廢 / 棄 / 空間 Abandoned Spaces
Abandoned spaces form a visual spectacle which are often featured in photography in addition to being aesthetic symbols. They are nothingness, history, memories, symbolizing withering as well as regeneration, forming an overlap of various concepts. As society falls into a never-ending loop of demolishing / constructing, and more “to be demolished" / “to be constructed" cases, quiet spaces, without anyone in them, are crying out softly in photographic images, forcing us to focus on the organic materiality and the relationship of control by political forces in abandoned spaces.
In this issue of Voices of Photography, Tomoko Yoneda visits Japanese homes built in Taiwan during the period of Japanese rule that have been abandoned today, tracing the evidence of change caused by history; we accompany Lau Chi-Chung on his inspection of Hong Kong’s urban and rural ruins, recording the wastelands of civilization now covered with greenery; we follow Chen Po-I as he steps into Taiwan’s military dependents’ villages before they are torn down, collecting the traces of gathering and separation left behind in these abandoned spaces. At the same time, this issue invites Japanese photography critic Manabu Torihara guides us through the anthology of Japanese ruin photography beginning with the publishing of Photograph Album of the former Edo Castle in the 17th century; Chinese photography critic, Gu Zheng deconstructs modernism in ruin photography using Gennifer Weisenfeld’s theory of imaging disaster. Finally, we have an intricate discussion on the various ruin settings seen in movies provided by Alphonse Perroquet/Parrot Caille/Quail Youth-Leigh, a self-proclaimed resident of ruins.
To conduct the main thematic conversation of this issue, we traverse the long-emptied “An Kang Detention Center" in the rural areas of Xindian, Taipei with writer Roan Ching-Yueh and artist Yao Jui-Chung led by artist Kao Jun-Honn — a venue where the Taiwan government locked up and tried political dissidents and Communist spies in the 1970s up to 1987 when Martial Law was lifted and the facility was abandoned. The three artists began a discussion of the ruins in the empty, dark hall of the Center (teeming with the danger of Dengue fever), dissecting the powers and desires of dysfunctional spaces.
Sadly, we learnt about the passing of Japanese photographer and theorist Nakahira Takuma in the midst of preparing for this issue of VOP and wish to express our deepest condolences. Upon our request and as a mark of our deep respect for Mr. Nakahira, photography critic Otake Akiko, a friend of Nakahira, has provided a piece of writing in remembrance of this photography giant who has given many rich fodder for thought in photographic art; we also feature Nakahira’s essay on the famous Duel in Photography, describing how he burnt his film negatives by the seaside and photographer Hashimoto Shoko’s invaluable shots taken of Nakahira at the Paris Youth Biennale in 1971.