LAST LETTERS (2017 －ON GOING )
A Photographic Investigation of White Terror
I traveled around Taiwan over the past four years researching the phenomenon of societal amnesia, and to record stories of individuals and families with hidden memories during the martial law that began in 1949. Over 150,000 people were arrested, and as many as 4,000 people were executed until martial law was lifted in 1991. I collected the letters that dissidents wrote before their execution, which were concealed from the victims’ families by the government for more than 70 years, never sent, never received and never answered.
The absence of these last letters marks the start of a reality based on distorted memories. I photographed individuals and families of the massacred, and their replies to the last notes from their late relatives. 70 years fastered forward, the statues of former dictator Chiang Kai-shek remain ubiquitous across Taiwan while the wounds left on victims’ families under that period of authoritarian rule still fester.
The images I’ve made and archival material I’ve collected speak to the hidden traumas and memories that have passed on, one generation to the next. Underlying these excavated memories are the absent presences — which leave their traces in the past, present and future.
This on-going project is producing with the support of Magnum Foundation Grant