about us
contact us
home hongkong beijing shanghai taipei tokyo seoul singapore
more cities
art in more cities   |   galleries   |   artists   |   artworks   |   events   |   art institutions   |   art services   |   art scene
National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Taichung's No. 65 park
tel: +886 04 2372 3552     fax: +886 04 2372 1195
send email    website

Dajia Mazu, The Goddess of the Sea: A Photography Exhibition by Kinnie Lee
Artist(s): Kinnie LEE
Date: 10 Dec 2011 - 12 Feb 2012

The reasons photographs fascinate people so much can perhaps be best described by the words of two earlier photographers. When Bruce Davidson published his album of Harlem portraits, East 100th Street, in 1970, the American contemporary photographer stated that he was serving the high purpose of “uncovering a hidden truth, conserving a vanishing past (Susan Sontag, 1973; 43).” When Sir Benjamin Stone founded the National Photographic Record Association in 1897 with the aim to document vanishing traditional British ceremonies and rural festivals, the rich British industrialist and conservative MP wrote: “Every village has a history which might be preserved by the means of the camera (Susan Sontag, 1973; 43).”

Kinnie Lee has long been concerned with local cultural themes. For twelve years, he systematically followed the Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage on foot, and submerged himself in the spiritual space interwoven by the walking pilgrims and those who live along the route. In his “Dajia Mazu” series, Li attempts to explore the footprint of humanity left behind by the early dwellers of the island through series of images, and hopes to record and preserve the memories of time and space that are vanishing as the consequence of social and environmental changes through his photographs. His creative attitude can be described by the words of Berenice Abbott (1898-1991). In the preface of her book of photographs that came out in 1939, Changing New York, 1935-38, she explained: “If I had never left America, I would never have wanted to photograph New York. But when I saw it with fresh eyes, I knew it was my country, something I had to set down in photographs (Susan Sontag, 1973; 53).”

From the faces and bodies of his subjects, and from the devoted pilgrims awaiting the arrival of the goddess’s carriage, Lee quickly captures the natural and reverent emotions through his lenses. Combined with appropriate descriptions on the surroundings, audience can easily relate to the “immense consciousness” created by the spatial willpower, which is generated by the collective devoutness of Mazu’s believers. This “immense consciousness” is similar to the “collective unconscious” coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), or the imaginations and illustrations of the intimate exhibited space of human consciousness explored in “The Poetics of Space” by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962). Lee abandons direct depiction of the goddess in his works, and turns to the crowd—the pilgrims walking on foot holding banners, weapons, pennants and incenses—to experience the true essence of Dajia Mazu’s grace and mercy. Moreover, in the pictures depicting exhausted pilgrims resting, it seems as if the avatar of Mazu is captured on camera. Every single joyous pilgrim is the testament to the everlasting and fair traditional culture. These believers come to the pilgrimage at the same time every year voluntarily. They participate in the religious activity, and share that special bond established centering Mazu. This is perhaps the real goal and meaning of life these believers are pursuing as they follow the goddess on the pilgrimage.

Reference: Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York: RosettaBooks, LLC, 1973.

Chien Jung-Tai, Curator

Digg Delicious Facebook Share to friend

© 2007 - 2024 artinasia.com