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(Identity and Image)
Chien-Chi Chang

September 28 - December 12, 2004
Lecture with the artist and photography critic Vicki Goldberg: Thursday, October 14, 2014, 5:30 p.m.

Copyright Chien-Chi Chang
Untitled, from The Chain


“It can also be said that the series probes beneath the surface of the complicated dialectical relationship among viewers, the viewed and the photographer: viewers as subjects, the artist as an observer, the subjects as artist. These overlapping identities thereby stir viewers’ consciousness of the issues and images. The Chain exists as a metaphor on all levels in life.”
–Fang-Wei Chang, Chief Curator,
Taipei Fine Arts Museum


The photographic work of Chien-Chi Chang has frequently been concerned with the human conditions of alienation, connection and the nature of the ties that bind one person to others and to society. The Chain was produced between 1993 and 2000 at the Lung Fa Tang mental institution in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The subjects of these near life-sized black and white photographs are the patients that are chained together in pairs. These are people who have had their bonds to the rest of society - family, community - severed. And yet, as part of their treatment, they are chained to one another.

In the pictures, each person is isolated from their context and appears wearing a simple uniform, head shaved and chained around the waist. The series achieves much of its effect through the startling redundancy of its nearly identical and unnerving images. In this mesmerizing and disturbingly powerful installation series the chain becomes a transforming metaphor as Chien-Chi Chang explores the complex and ambiguous relationships between the individuals in each pair.

About Lung Fa Tang
Founded in 1970, Lung Fa Tang temple is a private religious organization in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, that houses nearly 700 mental patients. The institute uses no medicine, preferring to employ chains for "therapeutic" purposes. Often a patient in stable condition is chained with one whose condition is deemed unsound; the seriously ill is led around by the more lucid one, under the supervision of the monks and nuns. They call these chains “the Chain of Feeling”.


Chien-Chi Chang was born in Taichung, Taiwan. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Soochow University in Taiwan and a Master of Science degree at Indiana University. He then became a staff photographer at The Seattle Times and The Baltimore Sun. Since then he has worked on assignment for many national and international magazines including Time, US News and World Report, The New Yorker, German Geo and National Geographic.

His exhibitions include the Kladaradtsch Palace, Brussels, New York Historical Society, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, The Museum of City of New York, The New York State Museum, Chicago Historical Society, JR Kyoto Isetan Eki Museum, Kyoto, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, PhotoEspana, Madrid, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Queens Museum of Art, The International Center of Photography, New York and London’s Barbican Center. The Chain received international acclaim at the 49th Venice Biennale,(2001) and 25th Sao Paulo Biennial, (2002). His books are I do I do I do (Premier Foundation, 2001), and The Chain (Trolley, 2001). He is a recipient of the Visa d'Or and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund for Humanistic Photography. In 1999 he was named the Missouri/NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year.

In 1996 he became a member of the prestigious Magnum photography agency. He resides in Taipei and in New York City and is currently working on a new book project about Taiwan. This is the first showing of the complete Chain series in the United States. The exhibition is presented by arrangement with Magnum Photos, New York.

About the prints: 40 black and white photos, 42"x62", taken at Lung Fa Tang from 1993-1999.

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Copyright Chien-Chi Chang Copyright Chien-Chi Chang
Copyright Chien-Chi Chang
Untitled, from The Chain Untitled, from The Chain Untitled, from The Chain

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