Confronting Memories: Nine Minutes With Wang Ding-Yeh

Confronting Memories is an exhibition by Wang Ding-Yeh which deals with White Terror in Taiwan. The show is on in Taipei until June.

White Terror was the second longest period of martial law in the world, surpassed only by Syria: between 2000 – 25,000 civilians were imprisoned, tortured, and executed.

The exhibition deals with human rights abuses, and the continuing impact of this bloody history on the contemporary Taiwanese psyche.

Wang Ding-Yeh was born in 1978 in Taipei and he specialises in video installation and painting. His works have been exhibited in Taiwan, the USA, Israel, France and Germany.

After Nyne met with Wang Ding-Yeh to get the artist’s eye view behind this fascinating show.

Wang, can you explain the concept behind the White Terror Exhibition?

Confronting Memories is a version based on memories of our family, the concept of exhibition is about reconstructing my grandfather’s figure through the memories; however, the vague figure of my grandfather indicates the obscure time of White Terror. Persecution of the government results in my grandfather’s death. The island was under a disturbing atmosphere, and it affects not only emotions of individuals but also memories of family and it gradually expand to the society.

How you have interpreted the ideas behind the exhibition?

In the process of the series of my work ’family history’, I work with a member of another family in my previous work. I convert his collection of memories into a work and gave it to his family as a gift. In this exhibition’ Confronting Memories’, I created a LINE group and invited my family members to collect the memories. They can share their memories to the group any time. Sometimes ones memories can trigger others memories and they can discuss or correct it. Through this process the whole family can generate new memories, connections and conversation.

What surprises did you discover while you were researching the exhibition?

There is a work named ‘Secret’ in the exhibition, it’s a file from White Terror times and was declassified recently. To find out why my grandpa was captured by the government, we send a letter to the government and their answer was ‘UNINVESTIGATED’. During the period, many people were captured to investigate without reason they didn’t even make a crime and was killed. It was solemn age.

Why is this show important?

In nowadays, the communication of information is fast forward and developed in this global trend, because we’re in a long-term state of hustle and bustle, we seldom mention our own family history and memories; therefor, the relation between individual to become frail. Alienation between family members is a problem of this generation. Through the series of my work ‘family history’, we can rebuild new memories and conversation in our family. Every single part of the family memories is a part of the general history. When we put our view back to our family history, in the meanwhile we look back to our history. If we want to seize the future, we have to know the history particularly.

Confronting Memories is staged at VT Artsalon, a gallery in Taiwan founded by a guerilla art colllective.

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