Chou Ching Hui's Animal Farm project features nine works that manifest the intangible frames in society that guide our every step. The images urge the viewers to re-examine their situation, to become conscious of their constraints, and to ruminate on the possibilities of struggling free.
Chou negotiated to use Hsinchu Zoo and Shoshan Zoo in Kaohsiung as the sets of his Animal Farm photography project. Shooting in a real zoo, Chou uses the cages as an allusion to modern people’s lives. “The society is as a cage, where we are jeering at the people living in there” says Chou.
Chou deliberately chose the twilight moment to shoot his works. In his opinion, the moment when light and colors blurred as well as when day transitioned into night was the perfect temporal equivalent for delineating the overlapping condition of the overt and covert tendencies in human psyche. In Animal Farm, Chou employs movie production resources: staged sets, lighting design, character styling and props.
Chou’s photographs were all shot with 8x10 format color on film and is a unique approach to staged photography. It took the photographer and his crew of over 60 people 5 years time to create this astonishing collection. In this series, the photographer transformed his role from “hunter” to “director”.
Through saturated colors, he was able to present a visual quality that surpassed ordinary vision. Combined with surrealistic scenes and atmosphere, he guided the viewer to gradually inspect all the elements and details in the images, searching for clues for interpreting these mysterious pictures to connect or resonate with their personal experiences.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Chou Ching-hui (born in 1965) lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. After graduating from Shih Hsin School of Journalism (now Shih Hsin University), Chou joined the fast-paced media industry as a photojournalist in 1988. During this time, the industry had just begun to thrive with newfound freedom of speech as a result of the lifting of multi-decade-long martial law in Taiwan. It was also at this time that Chou started to pursue his passion for photojournalism and embarked on several self-funded projects.
Chou's work since the 1990s often features in-depth depiction of specific groups of people or communities in modern society, and he believes that the storytelling aspect of fine art photography is a more effective way of presenting and annotating familiar stories in our surroundings. In all projects, Chou always ensures that his subjects have enough trust in him and that constant interaction is maintained. He also conducts research and investigation in advance for him to acquire sufficient understanding of topics before he presses the shutter. While inspired by social issues and events, Chou applies an artistic approach that seeks to interpret true stories through near-theatrical representations.
Chou explains that photography provides means for validating one’s self and existence. That is, in Chou’s words, “Speaking my mind through images, which in turn accounts for the value of my existence. Through photography, I can experience more possibilities of life.”
His work won him international recognition. He has been invited by major art museums, art centres and galleries to exhibit internationally.