Stretching back three millennia, Taiwan's horror heritage is a treasure trove of stories about the innumerable yōkai (monsters, ghouls, and goblins) that haunt this island, from the shadowy depths of mountain forests to the dimly lit corners of modern cities. If Taiwan is an island of truly enigmatic enchantment, then the unique paranormal energies and monsters that populate its literature cannot be overlooked.
Taking place from July 5 through Sept. 15 at the Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab (C-Lab) in Taipei, "Yao-Chi City: Taiwanese Paranormal Literature and Contemporary Art Exhibition" shall explore the horror genre in Taiwan through related works of literature and art, graphic novels, VR/AR installations, performances, games, and parades, weaving together literature, folk traditions, and contemporary culture to give all manner of demons and monsters their proper moment in the spotlight.
Starting with enchanted powers in distant mountains encompassing local folklore and indigenous animistic beliefs, the exhibition will reveal how tree spirits and shamans have long interjected themselves into contemporary, earthly affairs — with the former tapping into the energy of mountain mists, and the latter draining energy from wayward victims, to transform into monsters.
The ability of Taiwanese yōkai to use the negative energy of yin to alter their appearance is a unique characteristic of Taiwanese demonology that draws heavily upon the oppression inherent to colonial history and urban landscapes. In a shadowy realm hidden from the light of day, lives felled by misfortune and disgrace itch for their turn.
Monsters are born from the impenetrable forests and dark corners of the human psyche. Moreover, in this diverse and porous world, gods apply their powers both proactively and reactively to maintain a natural order, according to indigenous animalistic beliefs interpreted by forest shamans and their modern heirs. It is time to restore the paranormal to its former position of importance in Taiwanese culture.
Co-organized by the National Museum of Taiwan Literature and Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab, with assistance from Taipei Legend Studio and the National Center for High-Performance Computing, the "Yao-Chi City" exhibition has brought together four curators, four teams of authors and literary organizations, eight teams of contemporary artists and architects, six teams of illustrators and painters, six teams of sound and theater artists, and six teams of VR/AR experts in film, game, and animation.
Most befitting to visit during Taiwan’s Ghost Month festivities, "Yao-Chi City" offers a balanced perspective of a world shared by the realms of light and shadow. The Taipei-based Taiwan Contemporary Culture Lab is accessible via MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station (Exit 6) or Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (Exit 2), find out more on Facebook or at the exhibition website yaochi.clab.org.tw.