Energy: Hsu Ching Yuan Solo Exhibition

2022 / 06 / 14 Tue.

2022 / 08 / 14 Sun.

10:00 - 18:00

  • Artist

    Hsu Ching-Yuan

  • Venue



The exhibition “Energy” represents Penghu, where the fierce northeast monsoon sweeps in winter, the vegetable gardens are built with uneven coral stone fences, and the place the artist was born. It was not until 2020 that Hsu had the opportunity to go back to his childhood home after more than five decades because of an official document. Hsu describes it as a place where the coral reefs and the ocean merged as one, and the vegetables and fruits grew exuberantly in winter. It was also where he had to go out to scoop water bit by bit from the well. He has moved to Kaohsiung, headed north to study, served in Kinmen, ran a business, and devoted himself to creating artwork; nevertheless, Hsu’s childhood home has always accompanied him in various forms of energy conversion.

Hsu’s grandmother has never left him either. This exhibition takes its inspiration from a photo Hsu took in 2018. It explores what death is, the meaning of death for humans, and why people need to occupy space after death, providing the audience a glimpse of the “Energy” which accompanied him to grow up, run a business, and create artwork.

Room 102 displays three wooden beams removed from his home, which were assembled by traditional technique, a series of works of deadwood wrapped in white cloth that symbolize the bond of life and death, recently photographed portraits of the exhibition staff, and white leadtrees, a species of pervasive plant in his hometown that immersed in the artist’s memory.

Room 103 lies a universe established by construction scaffolding, the documentary of log shipping, and the photography of the interior of the artist’s childhood house that has been left untouched for more than half of a century, a voidness consisting of coral stone, deadwood, white cloth, screen, land, and death. Through this exhibition, the audience will be guided to ponder the meaning of death, the issue that the artist and all humans will inevitably encounter.




Hsu Ching-Yuan

Hsu Ching-Yuan, born in Houliao, Penghu, in 1956, was the chairman of a construction company. His works take the form of photography, video, and performance art. He has won the first prize winner of the 2017 Kaohsiung Award and the honorable mention of the 2020 Taipei Fine Arts Award. His works mainly focus on Taiwan's social and cultural phenomena, his own experiences, the natural environment, and the survival conditions of contemporary laborers.


Hsieh Jui-Huang on the Origin of Penghu’s Lao-gu Stone
Hsu Wu-Mu on the Origin of the Hsu Family in Houliao, Penghu

“Lao-gu stone” is a unique culture found on the Penghu archipelago, and composed of coral stones, the term “lǎo-gū” is an erroneous transcription of the English word, “coral” (gū-lǎo). The lao-gu stone ecology is quite diverse, with many different types of lao-gu stone observed, including a type of live coral that’s in the Milleporidae family, which comes in stick-like shapes that are exposed (local people refer to this as “lǎo-gū cōng”, or coral scallions). There’s also what’s called “lǎo-gū dīng” (or coral bits), which consists of parts that have fallen from the coral scallions, and the bits are then burned to turn into lime and paved on interior walls. There’s also what’s referred to as “suō”, which is mixed with concrete and used for paving exterior walls.

In ancient times, wealthier people that built “crop houses” (locally called “zhái nèi”) out of lao-gu stones could afford to buy the stones, but those who were less fortunate had to manually excavate them. At ebb tides during each summer season, on the 1st and 15th days and the 2nd and 16th days of the month on the lunar calendar, they would walk into the sea and use pointy pickaxes to excavate lao-gu stones. The excavated stones would then be put into piles out on the sea, and during high tide, those people would return back into the water and use manual rafts to bring the stones on to shore in several batches with the help of the seawater’s buoyancy. Back in those days, a dime of the local currency could buy you four pieces of candy; kids walked barefoot on gravel roads to go to school; people wore over-sized suits that were provided by U.S. aid and also turned sacks into rain ponchos; therefore, every single person had to work hard to haul back the lao-gu stones on ox carts, moving them block by block from the pier. After the stones were hauled back, the stones’ heavy salt content made them more prone to corrosion when made into walls; therefore, the crop house people had to first line them up neatly by the road for them to be weathered by natural elements. After the process of weathering, people then used dustpans and carrying poles to bring them back to their homes to build walls with, resulting in the lao-gu stone houses and structures that we see today.

The Hsu family in Houliao, Penghu originally came from Xuzhou in Henan Province of China, and their ancestor traveled to Tongan in Fujian Province and transferred to Zhupu, Kinmen, before finally settling in the area known as Houliao today. The founding ancestor of the family lineage was a man named Wushih Lang, also dubbed the Venerable Chung-Fu. His descendants later branched out into six families, and the one that settled in Houliao was the second family, known as the “East House”. The saying – “The East House is the biggest” – was circulated amongst people in the ancient times. The East House’s progenitor, the Venerable Chi-Ting, was attacked by pirate warlord Cheng Chih-Lung’s cohort Li Kuei-Chi out on the sea (the incident is referred to in history as “The Mutiny of Kuei-Chi”). After the fatal attack, in order to avoid further trouble from the pirate cohorts, Chi-Ting’s descendants, Houliao Hsu family’s founding ancestors, the Venerable Chi-Chien and the Venerable Po-Teng, brought the memorial tablet of their father and retreated to Houliao, Penghu. This is the historical record on the first generation of the Hsu clan who settled in Houliao. Since then, the ritual of throwing divination blocks and taking turns to worship at the family’s ancestral shrines in Kinmen and Guoye Village, Penghu were carried out by members of the Hsu clan. The one who received the highest positive indications from the divination block ritual was in charge of the year’s family banquet for the entire clan. Moreover, the entire clan also headed to the annual-selected family member’s place to worship the Hsu family’s founding ancestor, Wushih Lang, till the day before winter solstice, and two days prior to winter solstice, each household would also worship their respective founding ancestors. The traditions were carried out consecutively for over 130 years till the year 1972. In 1972, Mr. Hsu Yi-Mou from the second household, a descendant of the Venerable Chi-Chien, was concerned by the fact that their ancestors were not worshiped in one dedicated place and decided to build an ancestral temple. A piece of land was donated by a descendant of the Venerable Chi-Chien, where the Houliao Hsu Family Temple is located today. The temple is where the founding ancestors from each household in the Hsu clan are worshipped. The worshipping was also changed to be held twice on Ching Ming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day) and on the day of winter solstice. This is the history of the founding of the Hsu Family Ancestral Temple in Houliao.


White Cloth Waltz Series
Route 76



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