“Echo, 1976” Hsieh Chun-Te photography exhibition is a special exhibition organized by Michael Ku Gallery to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Sanmao’s death. Sanmao’s Stories of the Sahara was published in 1976; the same year, the 27-year-old Hsieh Chun-Te captured images of the 33-year-old writer in Baishawan and Beitou, with Sanmao dressed in a white robe with the red sand and blue sky in the background. Hsieh managed to accentuate the image of the writer through changes in light and shadow, transforming the composition into a stage for individual personhood . Forty-five years later, we reorganized the films and selected 15 dramatic, lesser-known images for this timeless exhibition. Both figures in front and behind the lens are carefree towards the constraints of their times. Far from mere nostalgic indulgences, the works resemble echoes that dwell in times and spaces that break free from all restrictions.
Sanmao is known in the Western world with the name “Echo,” as in reverberation: the mountain nymph in Greek mythology who is cursed by jealous Hera and lost the ability of speech and can only repeat the last three words of others, leaving behind nothing but endless beckoning and quests.
This special exhibition is simultaneously a dedication to Sanmao and an echo that has journeyed for 45 years, from 1976 till this day; the display is like longings from a past life, presented before our eyes.
As a further enrichment to the exhibition, we invited Chiang Hsun to write an article “Distant Wanderings: Sanmao and Her Times;” Hsieh Chun-Te also wrote a piece titled “A Second Glance at Sanmao’s Beauty and Charm.” The writings are like understated French films, timeless in the passing of the ages. Through these different works, we look back on the life of Sanmao, but also see the creative touches of Hsieh’s personal style.
This 2021 exhibition is also a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the death of painter Shiy De Jinn. While planning for the Shiy De Jinn special exhibition at Chishang Art Center, we were simultaneously organizing the Sanmao special exhibition at Michael Ku Gallery. When Shiy passed away in 1981, Sanmao wrote an article as a tribute to Shiy. Hsieh Chun-Te befriended Shiy in the 1960s and took photographs of Sanmao in the 70s, linking the three artists together.
Hsieh Chun-Te pointed at a painting in the background of a photograph of Shiy, saying: “This is Shiy’s painting of Sanmao!” Sadly, the painting is now lost.
September 18, 2021, Taipei