April 5, 2021 - National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts - Hold the Mirror up to His Gaze: the Early History of Photography in Taiwan (1869-1949)
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April 5, 2021

National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts

St. Julian Hugh Edwards, Indigenous Woman and Child, Qiugou (Today Chuhuangkeng in Miaoli), 1869. Albumen Print, 22.8 × 17.6 cm. Collection of National Center of Photography and Images. 

Narra tree, Los Banos, Laguna, 1923–1924. Courtesy of Wisconsin Philippines Image Collection. Still from Shireen Seno, To Pick a Flower, 2021. Single channel video, 15 minutes. Courtesy of the artist. 

View of Hold the Mirror up to His Gaze—the Early History of Photography in Taiwan (1869-1949)

Hold the Mirror up to His Gaze: the Early History of Photography in Taiwan (1869-1949)
April 20–August 1, 2021

Preview: March 25–April 18, online reservation only
Professional preview: April 2, 4–6pm

National Center of Photography and Images
c No.70, Section 1, Zhongxiao W. Road, Zhongzheng Dist.
Taipei 100007
Taiwan

ncpi.ntmofa.gov.tw
www.ntmofa.gov.tw
holdthemirror.ntmofa.gov.tw
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Curator: Hongjohn Lin

Photographers: St. Julian Hugh Edwards, John Thomson, Lai Afong, George Uvedale Price, Endo Photo Studios, Zhudong Photo Studio , Shih Chiang (Erwo Photo Studio), Lin Cao (Lin Photo Studio), Chang Chao-Mu (Chang Photo Studio), Wu Jin-Miao (Jin-Miao Photo Studio), Lin Shou-Yi (Lin Photo Studio), Wu Chi-Jhang (Mingliang Photo Studio) , Huang Yu-Jhu (Guanghua Photo Studio), Long Chin-San, Peng Ruei-Lin, Deng Nan-Guang, Hong Kong-Da, Chang Tsai, Lee Ming-Tiao

Artistic research: Shireen Seno, Kao Jun-Honn, Nowhere Island Journal (Huang Ying-jia, You Cheng-yan), Chang Chien-Chi, Tsao Liang-Pin, Liang Ting-Yu, Zhuang Wubin, Chen Fei-Hao, Chen Chin-Pao

Venue: National Center of Photography and Images, 301, 302, 303, 305 Galleries

Hold the Mirror up to His Gaze
John Thomson, who traveled to and photographed Taiwan, published his travelogue Ten Years’ Travels, Adventures and Residence Abroad in 1875. He wrote: “…it has been my care so as to hold the mirror up to the gaze…” This “mirror” here is a metaphor for photography, and the “reader” refers to his western spectators. In other words, Thomson’s mirror is the cultural symbol for photographic technology itself, scientific knowledge production, and visual techniques of colonial control.

In fact, the control of the photography during the Japanese colonization becomes an instrument for the domestication of the others and for self-idealization as well. If Thomson’s narratives preserve traces of colonial desire, the images reflected in his mirrors are the desired object of the photographer. These images also keep the secret path open for the photographed to gaze back in the traffic of technology and knowledge production. This allows us to initiate multilayered dialogue among the "to gaze", "being gazed” and "to gaze the being gazed".

On the other hand, “to hold the mirror up to nature” is a quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Thomson’s paraphrasing can be taken as the aesthetic mission of photography in which nature can be represented, or to be captured in mechanical art. From here, there is path of aesthetic ideology of photography since its invention in 1839 to the pictorialism.      

Hold the Mirror up to His Gaze: the Early History of Photography in Taiwan (1869-1949) writes the Taiwan’s photo history through a moment in which photographic techniques, colonial experience, aesthetic ideology and modernity are intertwined. This exhibition is presented in a display of a high-density archive through the juxtaposition of montages in telling the synchronic narrative. The exhibition features 600 images from the National Center of Photography and Images, also combining nine different artistic research projects to serve as a supplement in prescribing the historiography. The exhibition allows us to see these photographs in terms of their politics, culture, and social significances in their latency to glimpse the photo-history of Taiwan in a moment of vision.

About The National Center of Photography and Images(NCPI
NCPI came to fruition as a result of the Ministry of Culture "A plan of Rescuing National Photographic Assets" in 2015. To establish a Center of Photography and Images was a jointed effort by the Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Ministry of Culture; the National Taiwan Museum; and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. In addition to the core work of instituting the NCPI, commitment was made to propel work in relevant areas, such as preservation of photographic cultural assets and research of photography and image-based arts. The mission of the NCPI is to serve as a professional institution for the legacy and development of Taiwan’s photography and image-based arts. With its core functions of collection, research, exhibition, and promotion, the NCPI hopes to construct discourse and the history of photography and images of Taiwan.

Contact: T +886 2 8978 7040

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