CHANG Yung-Chieh: photographic vigils of an island village
“If we didn’t have cameras, then I might not have a way to understand the world.”– CHANG Yung-Chieh
1985: As a young girl CHANG Yung-Chieh started shooting “The Call of the Pescadores” series. People, especially older folks from her hometown, fascinated her. The warm and friendly nature of these old fishermen always touched her heart. Her art teacher told her, “Children, once you’ve all grown up, leave Penghu and never come back because this place is a cultural desert.”
She later moved to Taiwan island and spent many years photographing the tattooed faces of Atayal elders and recording the life of puppeteer LI Tian-lu. Why spend so many years photographing the elderly? CHANG Yun-Chieh found the answer during her time with the Atayal tribe: since they’re part of her grandfather’s generation, they all share a certain beauty.
1996: CHANG Yun-Chieh decides to return home but finds that her hometown has started to change. She’s surprised to find that she was so focused on photographing people that she rarely photographed the environment or nature, which had also started to disappear. She built a traditional home for herself, learned to plant the fields with her elders, and studied the ancient vocabulary of the Min-nan language to help her grandfather record his oral histories.
She started looking for local dishes and cooking techniques across various islands thanks to her nostalgia for the food of her childhood. She later published her photos and captions in “The Love of Food” a book she wrote in hopes that the stories of Penghu’s local delicacies will not disappear.
2017: CHANG Yun-Chieh decides to become a monk. The land and sea transmit messages about the vitality of Mother Nature and have become the objects she desires most to understand. This episode of Inside the Arts follows the intrinsic snapshots and the external photographs of her journey from a young girl on a small island to a devout monk.