五十步的空間The Space of Fifty Steps
“Ina, I worry that your past would be forgotten.”
“Right! When I see colors so vivid, I always throw away those that were too light.”
“Because I thought the colorful ones were more beautiful.”
“Now, do you still think those colorful things are really beautiful?”
“Not any more. Because I realize these are all facades and shadows. However, what I want to retrieve from the past, those I really want, can no longer be found, because I already threw them away.”
“The Space of Fifty Steps” is a large-scale artistic project series considered and prepared by Rahic Talif for many years. Artworks included in this project are presented in various formats, including performance, documents, installation, and two and three dimensional sculptures. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this project sums up Rahic’s thoughts and activities for the past twenty years in artistic creation. The term “The Space of Fifty Steps” is inspired by what his late father told him, with a heavy heart, that “all we got is fifty steps.” For Makuta’ay tribe that had a very small space for people to live, fifty steps translate almost to the distance between the tribe and the sea. Traditionally, this particular space had been where life waited and set out for a journey, a fragile zone that needed to be treated with care. However, in the process of modernization, the space has been drastically compressed, epitomizing people’s mistreatment of natural environment and traditional culture. For the Makuta’ay tribe of Amis in Feng-bin Town, Hualien, who have been living for generations at the shore of Pacific Ocean and feeding on it, this has never simply been an environmental issue. The “ocean” they concern themselves with refers to a sustainable concept that subsumes the balance comprising the rise and fall of all lives. However, the inherited instincts with which people coexist with the environment is declining, and as a result, Rahic has to employ a perspective that allows him to rapidly going back and forth between tradition and modernity, and to look right in the eye at this ocean and the reality faced by all mankind.
Today, the indigenous people carry on their way of living by obtaining resources for living from the ocean and forest. However, in essence it has been very different from what it used to be. People with indigenous identity are no longer attached to their mother culture, but remain drifting and disrupted. What they are facing in common are “temporal” pressures, that is, the speed of change—in terms of tradition, culture, language, religion, value system, inter-person relations, career, education and so on—which is going too fast. When such a speed becomes a collective pressure sinking deeply into the tribal people, it is going to extend to the Pacific Ocean and further impact tourists in general in a spiritual way. Therefore, what Rahic suggests here is the idea of transition. Traditionally, the space of the fifty steps was considered as the one where mountain and ocean interchange, a buffer zone they agree upon, a route they can walk through but not occupy. It is where the mountain and the ocean interchange, where life transform, moving forward and backward. The spirit of this route reminds us to keep certain flexibility in life, that fifty can mean half of something. The space is where men and women collect food, the hierophant exorcises bad luck and disease, traditional rituals are carried out, and ancient spirits welcome new member while sending away old ones. The myth exemplified all the taboos in this space… As an Ami who is good at collecting things, Rahic inherited the physical action of “picking up”, while replacing what’s been picked up with disposals produced by humans. Through the most primitive action of picking up things, he transformed his own confusion and anxiety, and then, with the transformation of physical space, he “repairs” his thoughts and spirit. Through piecing together the objects he picked up, he pieces together ancient wisdom and transforms the energy to explore the most original myth, so as to return to the beginning of everything and a new interpretation of the meaning of life.
*2014年台北當代館展覽現場的吟誦混音，由數十年長期採集台灣民族音樂進行學術研究的DJ Hatfield，於《旅行》作品製作過程現場收音並操刀製作。DJ Hatfield 任職於Berklee college of music.於2014~2015受 Fulbright Taiwan基金會邀請來臺灣繼續從事相關研究工作。
The mixed chanting played on-site is produced by DJ Hatfield, who has been collecting Taiwanese tribal music for over a decade for scholarly research. The sounds were collected on the site where the artistic work “Journey” has been created. DJ Hatfield is currently a faculty at the Berklee College of Music. He was invited by Fulbright Taiwan Foundation to continue his research in Taiwan from 2014 to 2015.