In 1958, the Taiwanese government established Lanyu Farm – a correctional facility spread over the island that existed for decades until 1990. Up to 3000 prisoners/felons were successively sent there for forced labour as well as veterans as their prison guards.
These unexpected immigrants were indeed excluded or rather ‘dumped’ by Taiwan’s post-war society and had to suffer from intensive physical labour and social isolation on the island. Their arrival also interrupted the traditional living conditions of the Tao people who had no choice but to confront cultural/social conflicts and even violent acts carried out by their new neighbours.
With the research on the traditional songs of the Tao people, that captured their narratives through poetry, the project questions how personal experiences as well as collective knowledge is transformed through the act of singing. Furthermore, during the interviews with individuals who have witnessed the existence of the former Lanyu farm, certain auditory fragments gradually emerged from their memories, which could be an approach to reconstruct some cruel details of parts of the history of the island.
By juxtaposing forms of narration in combination with auditory and performative elements, Songs of Oblivions exposes the complexity of the relationship between history and collective memory, political incidents and emotions of individuals who had suffered in an unnoticed period of history.