Liu Chen-hsiang (劉振祥), a fine arts photographer notable for his long-term collaboration with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, shared his experiences in reportage and documentation at a Tea Philo salon session held in Malaysia on Oct. 14.
As a freelance photographer, Liu first began his career as a reportage photographer with China Times, and later joined the Independent Post as an editor and photographer. Since 1987, Liu started a partnership with Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and began documenting the development of the troupe as well as other performance groups through vibrant imagery.
Liu has also published several photography books, including "Taiwan Photography Files,” "In Between the Moments - Cloud Gate: in a photographer's memory,” and "Family Album.”
With a career spanning over three decades, he has won the Wu San-lien Award for documenting Taiwan's transition to democracy and the island's ever-evolving culture, as well as his ability for capturing the elegant movement of dancers.
During the Oct. 14 forum titled "From the Street's Hustle Bustle to the Tranquility of Theater,” Liu quoted a phase from Fujifilm: "Photography is not only a pressing of the shutter button but a way for us to see, understand, and document the world. During the process, photography affects the changing of the world.”
The phase reflects how Liu witnessed the social movements before and after the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, and how he feels about the history he documented as a reportage photographer.
To Liu, a photographer not only photographs and documents a performing piece, but also observes every single movement and expression of the performer to find the uniqueness of the piece and interpret the visual aesthetics that the director wants to ultimately deliver.
Thus, in addition to photographing performances, Liu also takes photographs of performers behind the scene to document their emotional and physical transformation - before and after each performance.
Liu stated that it was fortunate that he was able to turn his hobby into a career. Moreover, his photographic works on news and performance subjects eventually became historic artifacts many years later.
For instance, the photographs that documented Taiwan's social movements during 30 years of martial law had been featured at the "History's Shadows and Light” exhibition co-organized by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York and the Asia Art Archive.
In addition, Liu's photographic works that featured the late dancer Lo Man-fei (羅曼菲) also provided imagery from Lo's performances and everyday life for the 2017 documentary film "Manfei (曼菲).”
The Tea Philo salon program, which is co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, will feature noted poet Zheng Chou-yu (鄭愁予) and artist Yang Tze-yun (楊子雲) in the next session scheduled for Nov. 18.