1995 / 4月
Chang Yung-chieh /photos courtesy of Chang Yung-chieh /tr. by Brent Heinrich
When I was very little, I often heard some old folks mention a place called Kuoyeh, on the east shores of Penghu [the principal island of the Penghu archipelago, traditionally referred to in English as the Pescadores]. At dawn when the weather is good, one can stand on the east edge of the village and gazing across the distant waters catch a glimpse of the towering mountains of the main island of Taiwan, rising up to the east.
After graduating from high school, I did not continue on to university ; instead, I started to be intrigued with taking pictures. At that simple and carefree age, photography was like a key that opened the great door of life. It helped me to pass along the road of life, to cross many a threshold.
I liked to look at people and their ways of life on the islands, so my camera would always accompany me as I passed through one village after another. In those days, I had no clearly defined purpose. I had no idea if I followed the path of photography where it would ultimately lead.There was only at the bottom of my heart an irresistible fascination with life.
Once when I was feeling blue in the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly thought of the coastline that the old folks had talked about long before . Through the dark of night I rode my motorcycle in the direction of Huhsi Village, hurrying to reach my destination before the first rays of the sun appeared on the horizon of the sea. I stood alone in the gusting ocean breeze of Kuoyeh's eastern shores, awaiting the light of dawn. . . . At that moment, surveying the vast distances of the sea, I felt the desire to spread my wings and fly away. That unnamable and faraway longing was the deepest secret of my childhood heart in Penghu. . . .
In the spring of 1989, the chance I had waited so long for finally arrived. Taking with me excited expectations for escaping my little island, I flew away from my hometown to become a part of frantic urban life. The big city, filled in every direction with the vibrations of modernity, and my fully challenging work in magazine photography, completely fulfilled the aspirations of this country child. I came to know how to dress myself up, to master the intricacies of the slang, a mix of Mandarin and English, to internalize the furious pace of affairs. . . .
Occasionally while I walk along Chunghsiao East Road, crowded with people and cars, an enormous loneliness rushes in upon me. On a street corner, I think of my mother's fish soup, and I miss the wind and the peanut fields, encircled by stone fences. I miss the flavor of black sugar cake, I miss the many faces on Penghu Island, dye-soaked by the colors of the sun and salty bite of the air. I miss Grandpa's boat and those unfathomable depths of blue.
I want to go home, but I cannot cut myself away from the practical exigencies of big city life. . . .
I want to go far away from Taipei, but I cannot cast off the chains. . .
Why are my emotions always so capricious? How can there be such contradictions between my wishes and reality? Is this the unending destiny of alittle girl from an offshore island?
Is it that I must wait until my great grandfather's old house is turned into a gambling den, until the peanut fields are all abandoned, before I change my mind? It will be too late to go home then!
The Festival Horse, Chihma, 1988.
At the edge of the temple festival crowd, an old man holds his ceremonial horse of bamboo and paper, smoking his cigarette at the side of the road and killing time.
The Fisherman, Huchingyu, 1986.
The hands and face of this old man of the sea show the traces of the ocean and the sun.
Warm Winter, Shuangtoukua, 1992.
On a warm afternoon, a child and his dog hurry to glue themselves to the warm mud.
On the Road Home, Hsiyu, 1990.
Returning home with our family on the road to Hsiyu, the wind is strong.When we cross the bridge, our hair takes flight.
She Sells Seashells, Tungpanyu,1986.
A Penghu girl sells her beach trophies by the harbor.
The Bottle Seeker, Shanshui,1990.
After classes have let out, a boy carries his bag to the beach in search of bottles to play with.
The Boring After noon, Chihkan, 1987.
On an afternoon hanging out with Grandma as she mends a net, a little child doesn't know what to do.
1963 Born in the city of Makung on Penghu Island
1982 Graduated from Makung High School
1989 Photography editor for Ren Jian magazine
1989 Photography editor for Living Psychology magazine (until 1995)
1991 & 1993 Won Golden Tripod awards for magazine photography from the ROC Government Information Office
1992 Part of the "24 Hours in Taiwan" exhibition at the Taipei Photography Festival
1992 Part of "Exhibition of Images," a group show at the Eslite Gallery in Taipei
1993 Part of the "Exhibition of Six," a group show at the Eslite Gallery in Taipei
1995 Personal show, entitled "The Call of the Pescadores," beginning at the Taipei Provincial Museum of Art and circulating to other venues around Taiwan
Tomb-Sweeping Day, Chibeiyu, 1994.
On Tomb-Sweeping Day in April, an old man hurries back to Chibeiyu from Kaohsiung where he now lives, and lights incense on his mother's grave.
Leaning on Each Other, Shanshui, 1992.
On the second day of the Lunar New Year, as I looked at my ailing grandma and my old grandpa in the dressing table mirror, my hands began to tremble.