The Parallel Universe of People with Alzheimer’s Disease as Observed by Taiwanese Artist Hsieh Chun-te

Hsieh Chun-te observes that the elderly men and women with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease seem to enter a parallel universe that is entirely bound by a different sense of space and time. In the exhibition entitled The Parallel Universe of Hsieh Chun-te ─ Brave The World at Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) Taipei months ago, the artist used installation, interviews, photographs and videos to let the viewers experience the cognitive dynamism (or dissociation) these elderly men and women experience. The artist also explores the viewpoints of the caregivers and the family members of people with Alzheimer’s. Hsieh’s interests in this issue is important as Taiwan is dealing with the continuously growing number of people with Alzheimer’s.

anti gravity picAnti-gravity

A powerful waterfall is projected onto the three walls of the exhibition space. The water is flowing upwards against the gravity. There’s also an installation with water dripping from the ceiling onto the floor, creating a dripping sound. The viewer is invited to step onto the small platform where they can hear the water droplets free falling from the ceiling and collecting in a bucket on the floor. This coalesces into an unsettling contrast visually and auditorily.

witch picPhoto courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) Taipei, Witch 1 x 10

In this installation, the video is projected onto 16 mirrors, creating an illusion of infinity mirror. The naked white witch stomps the ground with a staff, creating a thud which triggers the warriors clad in aboriginal-like costumes to act out certain postures. This image, multiplied by the mirrors and accompanied by the loud sound of a beating heart, creates a rather eerie and distressing feeling.

JpegGraceful Son

This video installation of five angel warriors flying mid-air and a sculpture of a child sitting on a chair show the juxtaposition of the real and the unreal. The artist explores the fact that people with Alzheimer’s revert back to their child-like innocence.

JpegJpegAngel warriors

This is another video installation in which the angel warriors jump and flip over while being supported by harness.

JpegPortrait of 98 Years Old─Chen Chuang, King-Chi

old women picPhoto Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Arts (MOCA) Taipei, Portrait of 103 Years Old─Paelabang Tivitiv

Hsieh explores the concept of time through the video portrait of 103 year-old Paelebang Tivitiv. In this video, which was shot at 1000 frames per second, the elderly aboriginal is seen moving in slow motion, just like when you see cars moving from the top of a building–they are much slower than when seen right in front of you. This perception of time interests Hsieh as he wonders about the definition of time.

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