Huatung Village 花東新村 (2009)

Huatung Village 花東新村
Total running time: 7 minutes and 35 seconds

Presentation: five-channel video installation
Year: 2009
Concept/video: Hsu Chia-Wei
Sound design/music score:  Sammy Chien


Huatung Village was once an Amis tribal settlement located in the Xizhi district of Taipei. In 1984, there were three aboriginal families farming vegetables there. By 1996, it had already become a complete tribal community consisting of 215 families. It was a huge block of illegal buildings. The villagers used sheets of iron, wood, and other materials that they had gathered to build houses and buildings. They also used those materials to build traditional tribal lookouts, community meeting rooms, and churches. In 1997, the government evicted the whole village and moved them to subsidized government housing. Nowadays, if one tries to find the original location of the village, one can only find a few ruins left behind. The original Huatung village had no electricity supply. At night, the residents had to light candles for illumination. Because of this, there were many fires in this area. However, the last great fire was set by the residents themselves as they had already prepared to vacate the area.

The artist invited the previous chieftain of Huatung Village to give a narrative in the Amis language of what had happened there using juxtaposing separate audio and video tracks to reconstruct an already non-existent tribe in a real area. Filming began during the daytime and continued into the night, and at the same time, the video’s structure changed from documentation to another approach: the artist wanted to constantly blend the layers between the location (documentation) and the scene (narrative) to create a something new.

The narrative in this work interweaves three scenes: the first scene was the chieftain’s oral history of the already non-existent tribe; the second scene was the filming of the actual site, and the third scene was presented on five LCD TV split screens with marquee subtitles: the exhibition.

The work has been shown major venue/curation/festival such as:

  • Liverpool Biennial 2012 (LJMU Copperas Hills, Liverpool, 2012).
  • Taiwan International Documentary Festival (National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, 2012)

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