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Photo exhibition tells stories of the past

Acclaimed photographer Shen Chao-liang (沈昭良) has received various awards for his works in photography. This month in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (臺北市立美術館), Shen exhibits his complete collection of Taiwanese vaudeville troupe photography. The troupes are a unique piece of cultural heritage from Taiwan's performance industry. Peaking around the 1970s, they have had long-lasting and long-reaching effects on Taiwan culture, most obviously at local events like weddings, funerals and other special occasions.

As pop culture grows and infiltrates the entertainment industry, the unique Taiwanese vaudeville troupe has slowly faded into the background, diminishing to near extinction. Here Shen picks them up and dusts them off, presenting them with a hefty splash of his artistic perspective.

Shen's works presented in the three series in the exhibition — “Stage,” (舞台車) “Singer and Stage” (歌手與舞) and “Taiwanese Vaudeville Troupes” (台灣綜藝團) — were taken from 2005 to 2011. The series include works of standalone prints, large-scale photographs, grouped images, visual contrasts and video works. The exhibition displays a total of 88 works, as well as a pioneering photography video installation.

The photographs focus on performers and their various skills, as well as surrealistic portrayals of empty stages in deserted streets and factories. The works also include temporal, spatial, horizontal, vertical, flat and three-dimensional visual interpretations of the vaudeville troupes.

To help visitors further absorb, understand and digest the experience, a reading area has been set up in the exhibition to provide more information. The material includes publications of Shen's previous works, articles and international exhibition catalogues.

A professional photographer as well as an acclaimed artist, Shen's artistic creations record a once flourishing local entertainment scene that no longer prevails in modern Taipei. His illustration of reality reflects on an exceptionally significant piece of heritage in Taiwanese culture and society. ■

Illusion Reality: The Photo Exhibition of Shen Chao-Liang (幻影現實:沈昭良攝影展) ► Oct. 13. ~ Nov. 25. ► Taipei Fine Arts Museum (臺北市立美術館) / No. 181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City (臺北市中山區中山北路三段181號) / Free Admission / (02) 2595 7656 / http://www.tfam.museum

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 Behind the scenes of 'Pi' 
Professional photographer and artist Shen Chao-liang explains his arduous journey in achieving his success on his photography works. (Courtesy of TFAM)

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