2019 / Post-Production, sound, UVA/C, PET/PC, wood
Sound Editing/Sound Mixing: Feng Ziming

Museums, as a significant entity in preserving historical archives, constantly rewind chronologies of narratives to a certain point in time for a glimpse of relations between “humans” and “objects” in the past. In order to reconstruct the truth of “objects” and extend their preservation, museums set up a strict standard for the act of “archiving” – an aseptic, dust-free environment with stable humidity and temperature. This makes archive rooms a special territory in the museum. Religious objects which are closely related to everyday civic life – sacred statues – are as well particularly revered by conservation teams because of their image and significance in the context of folk religions. Therefore, the archival procedure of sacred statues is an exceptional one in National Museum of Taiwan History.

Ablution before a relic officially enters an archive (collection system) – examination, sterilization, disinsection, decontamination, cleaning, conservation – seems to also filter out “ecclesiastical” interference and residues. When the grease smeared by the smoke of incense over a long time is not removed, or when a sacred statue is not properly deconsecrated, doubts are likely to cloud “the unknown” which are not thoroughly cleansed. What do museums conserve? The history created by “god?” Or “statues of gods?” And who invented our faith?

Sacred statues go through decontamination and deconsecration during their entrance into an archive. At the same time, they are also introduced to a new historical order through research carried out in and by museums, becoming objects on the academic altar. Essentially, sacred statues remain as they were. It is the shift of viewpoints that makes them look different to human eyes.

By including the ritual of “filling” in the consecration of wooden statues, this work addresses the complexities of the act of human beings ascribing “sacredness/spirituality” to an object in contrast to explanations science provides. It attempts to explore obscurities between material and spirit as well as inconspicuous animism are shown in the representation of decontamination procedures exercised on objects in museums. How do faiths and history find their presence again in archives?

About the artist

Working Hard

(KUO Po-Yu, SHE Wen-Ying)
Working Hard are two artists being fascinated with the creation of an inexhaustible imagination space in historical archives. They regard art creation as a documentary work, identifying, distinguishing, summarizing and classifying things, emphasizing that the events behind visual objects are “replayed” into daily routines, but at the same time they let the mistakes of memory and the misplacement of time appear repeatedly; just like the interaction between the two artists, their minds meet in parallel time and space. Instead of looking for the truth, they are more concerned with the value transfer of people’s perceptions of things, and the dialectic of the results of the filing and re-filing of archives. In the past few years, Working Hard concerned about the Educated urban youths who participated Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese immigrants floating in New Zealand. By chasing the migration groups which are also the strangers in the mainstream social archives along with two different axial lines in history, Working Hard rethinks the social reality of immigrants/outsiders in Taiwan under special national circumstances.

Other artworks


Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab

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