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National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts
Taichung's No. 65 park
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Days in Jiufen 1963-2006: Photo Exhibition by Wong Ting-Hua
Date: 4 Apr - 8 Jun 2014

Wong Ting-Hua is an important documentary photographer in Taiwan. His career started during the realist movement that took place in Taiwan in the 1960s; through topic-based series, Wong photographed his hometown Keelung and daily lives of those living in the surrounding areas, creating a long-term local photographic documentary. With excellent observation and concerns of social environment, Wong has created valuable photographic works and historic records for the local life and social transitions of northeast Taiwan.

In 1963, Wong Ting-Hua visited Jiufen, which was already beyond its prime, and discovered that Jiufen’s tranquil atmosphere and sense of time were perfect themes for his photographs. Since he was captivated by Jiufen’s misty and rainy climate when he first visited the place, Wong Ting-Hua’s “Mountain Town of Jiufen” series was given the unique misty atmosphere and solitary character of Jiufen. Wong delicately captured the cultural landscapes and lifestyle of Jiufen, internalizing his own experience of Jiufen and passion about local soils into photos with profound poetry. Wong’s calm and realistic camera angles and the aged and isolated sceneries echo each other, making his photographs full of nostalgia and sentiments. From the people in Wong’s pictures, as well as the serene aged sceneries, we can discover his ability to explore things neglected by people, as well as his grass root approach. The details captured and atmosphere created in this series display a simple and serene quality.

Having had frequent visits to Jiufen for shooting during day, night, and different seasons, Wong Ting-Hua returned to Jiufen in 2006 to photograph the landscapes and places he had previously recorded through his lenses with a mission to act as the witness of changes of time. Because at the age of 80, with a career in photography spanning over five decades, Wong Ting-Hua believes that “the people living on this land have the responsibility and duty to make records for this age.” He has also passed on this belief to many of his students, striving to create more images for Taiwan. The core values to Wong’s documentary photography are witnessing history and recording life; with this spirit, Wong leaves behind his footprints of trips to Jiufen carrying his camera on the pieces of seemingly undried silver halide photos that depict rainy sceneries.

In 2011, Wong Ting-Hua donated seventy photographs of the “Mountain Town of Jiufen” series to National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. To pay tribute to his generosity, the Museum organizes the “Days in Jiufen 1963-2006: Photo Exhibition by Wong Ting-Hua”, so that people can get to know more about this photographer, who is still active as a photographer and teacher, and appreciate the misty and poetic old times of Jiufen captured by his camera. In order to exhibit the seventy photographs in the series in a more structured presentation, the exhibition features four sections: “Days of the Mountainous Town”, “Images of Life”, “Daily Entertainments”, and “Moments in the Corners”. In addition to highlight the unique style of the series through the four sub-themes, we also hope to paint a clearer outline of Wong Ting-Hua’s documentary photographic works through this type of planning and analysis.

*image (left)
Dark Clouds, 1963
Silver Halide Photo Paper, 42 x 60cm
courtesy of the artist 

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