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2015.02.20 Fri, by
Chen Chieh-jen participates in the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale

Chen Chieh-jen’s Realm of Reverberation (2014) participates in the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale curated by contemporary artist, Jitish Kallat, with the theme of ”Whorled Exploration”. The exhibition started on December 12th, 2014 and lasts until March 29th, 2015.


Realm of Reverberations



In 1930, the Japanese colonial government established the Rakusei (Losheng) Sanatorium for Lepers of Governor-General of Taiwan in what is now Xinzhuang District. The sanatorium was created to forcibly house and quarantine sufferers of Hansen’s disease and carry out the government’s policies of marriage prohibition or forced sterilization. Residents were forbidden to leave the grounds, which were enclosed within a barbed wire fence. In the period immediately following the Kuomintang government’s move to Taiwan in 1949, policies at the sanatorium were left unchanged, but later were gradually relaxed until 1961 when the quarantine mandate was lifted. Nonetheless, the long-term stigmatization of Hansen’s disease sufferers has made their reintegration into society very difficult.

Influenced by bureaucrats and local politics, the Taipei Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) decided in 1994 to move their depot operation in Xinzhuang District to the property occupied by the Losheng Sanatorium, necessitating the relocation of the remaining residents. Those who had originally been forced to reside in the sanatorium were forced to fight against relocation and “safeguard their homeland.” In 2002 DORTS undertook the first phase of the project by demolishing the sanatorium buildings, thus triggering intense resistance among residents and various other groups. Consequently the seemingly endless Losheng Preservation Movement (which continues today), the resident-organized Losheng Self-Help Organization and the student group Youth Alliance for Losheng were all born. Furthermore, countless scholars, lawyers, engineers, documentary filmmakers and others have joined the movement to preserve the sanatorium and help the residents. In late 2008 the police forcibly cleared the area of residents and their supporters, after which DORTS immediately erected a fence and started bulldozing the site. Today, less than 30 percent of the original Losheng Sanatorium remains.

After more than five years of demolition, the remains of the sanatorium and massive construction for the Metro depot look like two enormous wounds sitting side by side, or perhaps a wound and a symbol of the desire for progress.


Realm of Reverberations comprises four sections, each presenting the perspective of individuals whose lives have been touched by the Losheng Sanatorium: a young woman who accompanies sanatorium residents (Keeping Company), old residents (Tree Planters), a hospice nurse from Mainland China (The Suspended Room), and a fictional political prisoner (Tracing Forward). These individuals discuss what seems to be the inevitable outcome for the Losheng Sanatorium. But is that really Losheng’s legacy? Perhaps following reconsideration, we can move forward with a new imagination.

For detailed information about the Losheng Sanatorium and the Losheng Preservation Movement, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Losheng_Sanatorium