L'être et le Néant (1962, Chang Chao-Tang)

Video color/mute, 5'00" loop, 2016

This work is an attempt to reassemble(not interpret) Chang Chao-Tang’s famous photo piece Being I (the translation of Chinese title is supposed to be Being and Nothingness). The atmosphere of 1962 was darkened by the shadow of martial law and the White Terror. It was an era when people’s thoughts and the feelings had nowhere to go. This sense of stifling and emptiness happened to resonate a little in tone with existentialism, the prevailing “trend in the world thought” at the time. While this resonance had very little to do with comprehension, and may have even been little more than a similarity in title (Jean-Paul Sartre had published his book Being and Nothingness in 1943), it still precisely captured the zeitgeist – a marginal zone of longing for freedom that was unattainable, longing for truth that lay out of reach. Today when revisit the scene of Chang’s Being I, we can’t help being abruptly shocked. That experience of being suffocated, being incarcerated, that sense of being tightly constrained or even a little terrified seems not so far away.

#1960s #Being_and_Nothingness #White-Terror