CHEN Po-I is a photographer who uses landscapes to monitor the issues of village relocation and changing topography in Taiwan. Following a series of projects including, An Actual Record of the Relocation of Hongmaogang, The Disappearance of Haikou Dunes, and Moving Tainan Railways Underground, CHEN returned to the temples of his childhood to shift the focus of his landscape photography towards temple courtyards.
Since 2019, he has used the daily activity and religious observances in temples across five counties, as well as the square within temple courtyards, to define the composition of his work. He superimposes thousands of fixed frames into a single shot of the temple square that transforms the temple courtyard into a stage where the parishioners are merely players. The hustling and bustling temple courtyard provide clarity, fantasy, and places where interaction between these individuals constructs a collective memory of Taiwan at the intersection of fantasy and reality.
The Temple Courtyard series created by CHEN Po-I is infused with the illustrious cultural history of Taiwanese temples, which represent an important fixture in contemporary landscapes. The temple maintains a constant position for decades despite the changing face of surrounding real estate. This inspired CHEN to photograph real estate around the temple while capturing the people inside the temple square to record the state of settlements outside the temple courtyards.
CHEN Po-I has been photographing temples for almost thirty years. Notable works include: The Exorcist where he captures the story of Jitong spiritual mediums, Pantheon exploring temple landscapes, Spirit Away showing temple fairs only for immortals, and NG Temple Fair a collage of different temple courtyards. CHEN Po-I is a true temple enthusiast who describes the temples as his roots. He also considers large temple courtyards to be the treasure trove of Taiwanese settlements.