one-channel 4K ultra HD video, 10', 2013
Commissioned by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum
By drawing out unusual conversations between the frog god Marshal Tie Jia and the artist, this Marshal Tie Jia project is an attempt to map the creation and disappearance of myth, image, culture, and history from both the contemporary modernist context and a more ancient and mysterious perspective.
Marshal Tie Jia, who was born more than 1000 years ago in Jiangxi, China and lost his temple in the Wuyi Mountains during the Cultural Revolution, is currently exiled on Turtle Island, a tiny islet between Taiwan and China that came under the jurisdiction of the former after Chiang Kai-Shek’s retreat to Taiwan. After an accidental encounter with Marshal Tie Jia, Chia-Wei Hsu decided to unfold the conjunction of modernity and myth. The first stage of this work Marshal Tie Jia – Turtle Island is depicting the island where Marshal Tie Jia currently resides in daylight, and Marshal Tie Jia - Jingsi Village is its second stage, presentingthe pond where the frog god was born in the night and accompanied by both Nuo dance, an ancient exorcism ritual that shares the same roots as the frog beliefs.
This area is the birthplace of the frog beliefs and Nuo dance. After the cultural revolution, these beliefs were categorized into monsters or ghosts and were forbidden. Nuo dance troupe was forced to disband, andthe masks and costumes were burned by fire. Many scraped old embossments and paint-covered walls can be found in the village. The ancient memory was removed shortly in few years by the power of modernity. In the film, Chia-Wei Hsu represents the ancient exorcism ritual with local villagers based on the description recorded on an oracle bone scripture in Shang Dynasty.
As the difference between fact and fiction seems to disappear and the modern nation state’s appropriation of history and memory is revealed through discovering a living myth, Hsu creates narratives through image, text, and installation to untether the formation of cultural identity from its preceding attachments, which become key elements of the structure of the new artistic myth of Marshal Tie Jia: the magical stories and political background ebb away, and the narrative becomes a means to transcribe an imagination of life.