In February 2009, artist Lulu Shur-tzy Hou visited military dependents’ villages in Kaohsiung as part of a survey research on the city’s Zuoying Military Dependents’ Villages, which brought her into contact with the lives of military dependents’ village residents. Throughout more than eight years, she has been driven by a deep sense of mission to involve herself in the effort to preserve the culture of military dependents’ villages, and as a result has personally shared the trials and tribulations experienced by village residents. In Kaohsiung’s military dependents’ villages, Hou’s encounters with local spaces and her life interwoven with different courses of life have inspired her to develop a style of multi-domain art encompassing and transcending documentary photography, field narratives, and social practice.
This exhibition represents a further collaborative effort involving curator Huang Sun Quan and the artist in the wake of the “Look toward the Other Side: Song of Asian Foreign Brides in Taiwan,” which was held in 2010 under the auspices of Forum for Creativity in Art at Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts. A Trilogy on Kaohsiung Military Dependents’ Villages summarizes the artist’s creative work involving Kaohsiung’s Zuoying and Fengshan military dependents’ villages over the course of many years. Employing the juxtaposition of positive and negative image pairs — which is termed a “Double-gaze” style by the curator, the artist superimposes subjective and objective viewpoints. Her work displays the dispersion and disruption of the military dependents’ villages, the turmoil and transience of the village residents’ lives as well as their appeals for “going back home” due to the improper execution of “Act for Rebuilding Old Quarters for Military Dependents,” and creates a contemporary epic of local history interwoven with the artist’s narratives and her dialogue with the residents.
The trilogy, which consists of the “Here is where we meet” series published in 2013, the “Remains of the Day” series published in 2015 and the recently-completed “Out of Place” series, reflects different fates of military dependents’ villages: people and houses all gone, houses still present but no people living in them, and still-thriving communities. The artist relies on her photographic record, interviews, and active intervention to produce art in social spaces. In the field, the artist has deep empathy with the residents. Going together, they create a public history and start a conversation with Taiwan’s societies.
藝術家的攝影並非再現眷村，而是創造我們與眷村的共感，讓鮮少被論及的眷村女性得以顯露其生命歷程，並揭示出全台消亡的眷村乃公共住宅私有化的歷史。長期致力於從女性觀點書寫與創作的侯淑姿，令我們聆聽眷村女性的聲音，看到她們與國家、家園、男性愛恨糾纏的容顏。同時令我們意識到眷村不是鄉愁，而是一段讓台灣社會聚落失去一切共有 ( 家園、記憶、共同生活 ) 的殘酷歷史的一部分。也因此，此展覽能夠使得我們從「應當去那兒住」( there that I should like to live )的感受性—巴特認為攝影最好的品質—出發，思考逼問台灣土地上每一個人的、而非僅是眷村住戶的問題：若「地景的本質是：家」( the essence of the landscape: heimlich )，那我們的家在哪裡？
The artist’s photographs are not a representation of military dependents’ villages, but rather the creation of a shared feeling among all of us, not just the military dependents’ villages. These works are sketches of an after-war migration history, which reveal the traumatic experiences related to local feelings and living histories due to urban development, and represent a collective movement of the residents of military dependents’ villages to “have a Home.” Having long striven to write and create art from a female perspective, the artist lets us hear the voices of women of the military dependents’ villages; in her art, we see these women’s complicated love/hate relationships with their country, their homeland, and their men. At the same time, her art makes us conscious of the fact that the military dependents’ villages do not represent nostalgia. In fact, the disappearing course of military dependents’ villages across Taiwan are equivalent to the history of the privatization of public housing in Taiwan, as well as the cruel historical process in which some major social communities in Taiwan lost all their common property (home, memories, communal life.)
As such, this exhibition is able to help us proceed from having a sensation of “there that I should like to live” — which French philosopher Roland Barthes considers the best quality of photography — to thinking about a question that not only the residents of military dependents’ villages but also each and every person in Taiwan should be forced to answer: If “such then would be the essence of the landscape: heimlich (meaning home and clandestine in German),” where then is our home?
地點Venue｜高雄市立美術館Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts.