In modern society, there is often an emphasis on breaking away from the old to create something new. So, is that why aging buildings and traditional beliefs are gradually being phased out? As time passes, physical spaces are inevitably subjected to the natural process of deterioration or undergo transformations influenced by their surroundings. I wonder: if past beliefs will also gradually fade away. Or, is it that the more progressive a city becomes, the greater our need for faith as a source of solace and support? Perhaps we simply cannot let go of our reliance on faith, for faith holds a profound power in our lives.
「我在做的是當代，但我接觸的這個東西是傳統，所以有沒有可能這兩個東西是可以加在一起的。」台灣藝術家邱國峻一直以攝影為創作媒介，這十年來由「神遊之境」延伸創作到「眾生聯盟」、「神遊仙境」共三個系列。他的多媒體攝影作品是以台灣南部廟宇文化活動及民生作為主題，這些作品相繼獲得義大利都靈攝影節（FOTOGRAFI A TORINO 2019）、日本東京大學，2019年台/日藝術交流計畫邀。在最新的「眾生聯盟」系列中，他把鏡頭從人物轉向台灣建築，讓神明的力量重新喚醒空間，讓我們在作品中看見力量。
“What I am engaged in is contemporary, but what I am exposed to is tradition. So is it possible for these two elements to be combined?” Photography has always been the primary medium of creation for Taiwanese artist Chiu Kuo-Chun. Over the past decade, his creative journey has evolved from Land of Deities to Paths of Convergence and finally to The Believers, encompassing three distinct series of works. His multimedia photography works revolve around the theme of temple culture and activities in southern Taiwan. These works have garnered recognition and invitations from prestigious events and programs. For instance, his artworks were showcased at the Fotografi a Torino 2019, as well as the University of Tokyo in Japan. He also participated in the 2019 Taiwan/Japan Art Exchange Program. In his most recent collection, The Believers, Chiu shifts his focus from individuals to architecture in Taiwan, reawakening the power of deities within these spaces and allowing us to witness that power in his artworks.
During the 1990s, black and white documentary photography dominated the photography scene in Taiwan. However, Chiu, who had returned to Taiwan after studying abroad and working in the advertising industry, chose to pursue a different path. He ventured into interdisciplinary color photography, a direction that wasn’t widely embraced during that time. Chiu’s unique approach involved printing his photographs on fabric and collaborating with traditional religious embroidery masters from Tainan to embroider three-dimensional deities onto the images. Through Chiu’s lens and the skilled craftsmanship of the embroidery masters, the two-dimensional photographs are transformed into dynamic and intricate pieces, presenting a fresh interpretation of traditional deities and giving faith a new dimension. Chiu explains, “In Taiwan, there are many divine statues, and they wear garments called ‘holy robes’ which are intricately embroidered. These simple wooden carved statues become divine once they are dressed in holy robes.”
“Once the statue is adorned with the embroidered holy robe, a palpable divine power can be sensed, giving birth to a new entity altogether. Whether it is a statue or any other form, the inclusion of embroidered garments and adornments serves as a means of empowering the subject, making them appear more powerful.” Those golden and silver threads, as well as three-dimensional embroidery bestow a sense of power upon the subjects captured in Chiu’s two-dimensional photographs. It imparts a belief in the strength of these individuals, instilling faith in their abilities.
The disparity between urban and rural areas has resulted in many young people leaving their hometowns, leaving behind old houses and dilapidated movie theaters. Chiu captures these spaces, which he refers to as “disabled spaces,” and then collaborates with traditional religious embroidery masters to embroider elaborate and vivid patterns onto the fabric of his photographs. “I bring the element of faith into these spaces. Through embroidery, a sense of power, a divine energy, and blessings are bestowed upon. You might say, ‘Wow, that house is broken down,’ but once the resplendent embroidery is added, the once forgotten place is summoned back to life.” Traditional religious embroidery, when incorporated into contemporary artworks, brings back to life the disabled spaces in such a magnificent and dignified manner, imbuing them with a profound divine power.
Perhaps we all need such “faith” in our hearts when it comes to the city and life itself. I endeavor to fill the void of powerlessness with traditional embroidery. With my own hands, I bestow blessings upon the land, the people, and myself, invoking a revival of aesthetics.