The past year saw photography finally being given its due at galleries and museums throughout Taipei. It was also the first time an art fair, Taiwan Photo, was held exclusively for the medium.
“Beijing has its own photo fair, as do Singapore and Tokyo,” said Edward Chiu (邱奕堅), the fair’s chairman and owner of 1839 Little Gallery (1839小藝廊). “It’s about time Taiwan had a fair of its own.”
Many of the best exhibits of photography were held at museums, both because they contextualized the works on display and provided coherent information of what the curator was trying to achieve. The Taipei Fine Art Museum’s (TFAM) Eye of the Times: Centennial Images of Taiwan (時代之眼 — 臺灣百年身影) provided an in-depth look at the evolution of the medium in Taiwan over the past 140 years with 271 shots by 117 photographers, ranging from John Thomson’s early documentary images to the latest in digital art photography. Though there were some glaring absences (no photographs of the 228 Incident) and it was too large to digest in one viewing, the show certainly set a new standard.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA, Taipei) deserves praise for its New Generation Photographers of Taiwan (台灣新世代攝影) exhibition, which presented the work of 13 emerging Taiwanese photographers covering landscape, portraiture and experimental photography. Of particular note were Feng Chun-lan’s (馮君藍) rich monochrome portraits of Aborigines, and Elaine Lee’s (李宣儀) superb multiple-exposure color photographs inspired by the “atmospheric impressions” of 19th-century European painting.
Several galleries put on excellent photography shows over the past year. Exhibits included Yi&C Contemporary Art’s (易雅居當代空間) Documented, Doubted and Imagined Realities: Contemporary Photography From Japan and Taiwan (真實‧試煉與魔幻:台日當代攝影聯展), which brought together 70 photographs by well-known contemporary artists such as Chen Chieh-jen (陳界仁) and Wu Tien-chang (吳天章), and Crescendo Prelude (漸進式序曲), a series of photographs by Tseng Yu-chin (曾御欽) that depicts the daily lives of individuals at traditional markets and modern supermarkets.