“Dear Lâm-kong, do you fancy me posing like this?”
“You black puss from Tâi-pak, that’s gorgeous!”
On that breezy day, the sky resembled an inverted bowl, clouds drifted like marshmallows, the sun shimmered and glowed, and the blades of grass scratched her skin like ten thousand ants crawling.
An itch was permeating through the density of time. A diamond-shaped tapestry flooded the gaze with a lady’s mental image that brooded over the poignancy of life. In a flash, golden light stung the eye as the curtain lifted: there nestled a cub vibrant with libido.
The punctum arises from a ubiquitous absent presence. One’s affection knits by day and unravels at night, as a flâneur’s gaze wanders and roams. I photograph you to transcend your physicality. Through the dark tunnel I see a spinney with entangled twigs of leaves, yet I am still searching for you.
Would this photo last for thousands of generations to come? If so, how would future generations retell our story back in the day? I have lived, loved, and savoured bittersweetness, and I embrace it all.
In a quiet corner, beams of light spill onto a framed image, wherein a lying figure strikes a stilted pose for the photographer. The stagey posture betrays her flirtatious thoughts, yet her gaze arrows down into the distance: a profoundly intelligent face, like an unfathomable well.
None ever steps in the same river twice. What’s done cannot be undone. What has been embalmed is the gazer––whose eyes once fixated on Deng Nan-Guang––and her everlasting gaze.
Streets Are Also Where We Dwell
The narrow fortress shaped by three brick walls at a corner might be nothing to others, but a precious space for these girls. Like sitting around a hearth or in a backyard, they share the innermost thoughts here.
One of them gracefully leans against the column, one supports herself with a hand to the wall, and one turns her back to the viewers. The one with a delicate profile elegantly sits. Their conversation is not heated, but viewers fall into the whirlpool of their lives. The sorrow on the face of the standing woman might suggest hardship in life or emotional exhaustion. The woman with her back to us seems to have surrendered to the challenges in life. She lowers her head, wishing to say something but never speaks out. Perhaps in her heart she is crying, “Leave me alone in silence.”
And the woman looking ahead with her delicate facial features facing us shows a slight smile on the corner of her mouth. Does the smoothness in her expression tell us she is the lucky one whose fate is not impacted by the roughness of life? The answer might not be revealed so soon. Is she in love and all she cares for now is a figure in an aura? Perhaps.
Who is she? Does her profile betray the vicissitudes of life? Perhaps turning one’s back to life is the best strategy for being persistent and stubborn. The day dimming, light and darkness are fighting, like women’s beauty that is peeled away by time. Nevertheless, their youth is forever preserved in this photograph.
There was a world map in my father’s study. When I was little, he would hold me and point to each area, country, river, and city for me. Cities were like stars on the map.
I was so infatuated with the lakes and forests on the map as if I had a fever for them. At night, my father smoked, and I looked up at the giant map, eager to understand the complicated and bloody histories of peoples with different ethnicities. I felt restless.
I wanted to fly. I imagined myself becoming a steel aviator with a straight back, so I would fulfill my dream of flying.
I brought with me a pair of binoculars, a book The Golden Bough, and my notebook. My destination was the heart of the continent flooded through by winding torrents. Swaying in the noisy river waves, I was entranced.
I was not afraid to travel alone. From the subtropics to the equator, I went ahead and traveled further and further. Farewell, my hometown.
Cool Before Cold
In an ideal afternoon
Something is hanging in my mind
I powder my nose and shine my shoes again
Small but wonderful things
Are inscribed in my head
Sweet dreams I ever had
Have really come true this time
The wind is soft and cool
My heart is a container. How about yours? Is it inflated, too?
We are women waiting for love
The rose in his hand is white or red?
White roses are calm and refreshing, red roses wild and passionate
But I am a black rose
Not buyable, nor capturable
Romance is a fruitless game
In retrospect, the emergence of photography has not only rewritten humans’ perspectives but also influenced literary writing. Photos can be more than just a window that reflects reality but, at the same time, a space that houses creativity and imagination. Books, a symbol of humans’ thoughts and civilization, started showcasing a new relationship between images and texts, while perspectives of cameras also appeared in works of literature. A Gentle Breeze invites five contemporary writers to step into the viewing of images and the practice of exhibition from the perspective of literature. As texts and images complement each other, the abstract understanding of reading metamorphosizes into sensuous intuition. This process turns both viewing and reading into a unique experience and demonstrates possibilities of dialogue between the history of photography and its connection to memory. Texts, photography, and writing spark the existential meaning of symbiosis, guiding the reading of images towards changing aesthetics. This exhibition section can thus be interpreted as a resonance between photography and literature, revealing the subtlety of human nature and the true meaning of life through the act of writing.
Sol Yang was born in Wanhua and raised in Yonghe. She is the second generation of migrants from rural areas to cities. Sol Yang has strong affection for her parents’ hometown Yunlin, referring to herself as a Yunlin person in Taipei. Sol Yang was a reporter for China Times and investigated issues at the bottom of Taiwanese society. Later she published two books of essays, The Happiness of Evil and My Gambler Dad. Sol Yang’s maxim is Anton Chekhov’s quote, “A writer has the right and responsibility to enrich his work with what life provides him. Without the intertwinement of reality and fictionality, literature becomes sterile and dies.”