Sunday, June 07, 2009

Nostalgia for the Future by Juan I-Jong at epSITE Imaging Gallery

On a recent visit to Moganshan 50, I came across the exhibition “Nostalgia for the Future” at the epSITE Imaging Gallery, a retrospective look at Taiwan through the lense of Taiwanese photographer, Juan I-Jong.
An interesting title for an exhibition and very fitting. Juan does a great job of bringing the viewer into the action and makes one feel engaged with the people in his photographs.
Looking at the black and white photographs of Taiwan, I was instantly taken back to the 1970’s life of the island’s citizens. Moreover, I couldn’t help but think of my parents and see my parents in the stunning portrait photographs of young children, elders, and workers carrying on with their day-to-day lives. Looking at Juan's photographs, I was also moved to reminisce about my own experiences and summers spent in Taiwan, finding a personal nostalgia for Guanyin Mountain and Danshui, the Fisherman’s wharf, just north of downtown Taipei. Juan got the mood and feel of the atmosphere just right in these photos, as I remember them.

When I was reflecting on the photographs in “Nostalgia for the Future”, I was swept up in hopeful and calming thoughts for the future. Of all the hardships between the mainland and Taiwan in the past decades, I thought of the recent developments for freer trade and how big of a deal it was when China and Taiwan agreed to have direct flights between Shanghai and Taipei (for so long, you had to transfer flights via Hong Kong). “Nostalgia for the Future” seems to remind us of what’s going on on the other side of the Taiwan strait, and reminds us that these friendly faces staring back at you through the lense of Juan is a gesture of outreach and an unveiling of many tense and divided decades.

The EPSON gallery is a fresh space with spot-on lighting that made Juan's photos come alive. The EPSON gallery is definitely worth a visit if you get the chance.

(Photo courtesy of epSITE Imaging Gallery in Shanghai:

The exhibition “Nostalgia for the Future” runs from April 10, 2009 To May 19, 2009.

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