In this work, we compiled and juxtaposed images taken by us during our recent visits to the three Palace Museums, along with archival images from the National Palace Museum (Taipei). Through this process, the work becomes a visual exploration on the concepts of centralization and decentralization–examining the notion of an archive as a highly centralized place, and we wonder how these ideas can be manifested in the material form of a “book” itself.
By examining the power dynamics behind the artifacts’ symbols, it enables us to question whether these artifacts, imbued with symbols of power, continue to haunt us by offering a centralized Chinese history and thus a restricted imagination of cultural identity.
We visited the three Palace Museums to understand their shared origin as part of the Chinese imperial collection in the Forbidden City. Throughout history, China has been a highly centralized place. This centralization is evident not only in political structures, but also in the accumulation of material archives. The imperial palace, was once the epicenter of this centralized power, where artifacts, documents, and treasures were carefully amassed and preserved.
This artistic work adopts a dispersed compilation with intersecting layers of various-sized pages, reimagining the material format of a traditional book. By doing so, the piece presents a non-linear and multifaceted narrative.
Between Faces, Stories and Power (2023)
Photography, Research, Layout
Wai Lun Hsu & Lai Ping So
Other Image Sources
National Palace Museum (Taipei)
First Edition, 20 copies
April 2023, Hong Kong and Germany
Printed in Germany, Handbound by the artists
©2023 Wai Lun Hsu and Lai Ping So. All Rights Reserved.