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Chien-Chi Chang

The War That Never Was

Chi-Wen Gallery, Taipei

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Artist
Chien-Chi Chang
Title
The War That Never Was
Year
2017-18
Duration
15 min 40 s
Format & Technical

Single-channel video, 4K, sound, stereo
Edition of 5

In the video The War That Never Was, Chang interviews his mother, who was born in 1938 in a poor region of Taiwan. His questions are about her life as a wife, a mother and a labourer. With her life dedicated to survival, deprived of any proper education, global affairs have little meaning to her. She had little understanding during the imposition of Taiwan Martial Law (1949 – 1987) and she never heard of the Cold War (1947 – 1991), yet, she remembers dates of every important family event. 1961 was a critical year in the World; John F. Kennedy became the U.S. President, Bay of Pig invasion, the Berlin Wall was built… His mother, however, has no grasp of any of this far-reaching historical events. Still, 1961 was an important year in her life because her first child (the artist) was born.

Now at the age of 79, Chang’s mother still rides her scooter for grocery shopping. The film starts with her riding through the old village recalling and reflecting on her life and family events, from an impoverished farm girl to now a grandmother of ten grandchildren, juxtaposing with critical events of the Cold War. The soundscape of the film is realistic and evocative of the, even including a portion of George Orwell’s essay “You and the Atomic Bomb”, for which he was credited to be the first writer to use the term Cold War in recent history.