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hat, and surgical mask, and carrying a revolver he took from a police officer that he had killed in 1980. He fled with more than NTD5 million in Taiwan's first ever armed bank robbery. Li gave NTD4 million to the parents of a neighborhood girl for her education and was apprehended when the parents reported the money to the police. Li was executed by firing squad on May 27, 1982. The details of his death aroused an inward sympathy for the man during the martial law period; a time when there was no free speech in Taiwan. In his 1982 article Wei Laobing Li Shike Hanhua (speaking out for veteran Li Shih-ke), the well known martial law period dissident Li Ao wrote about Taiwan’s countless veterans like Li who were forced by the Kuomintang to abandon their homes in China and serve in the army until they grew old or sick, and then left unattended at the bottom of society. For Li Shih-ke, robbing a bank was the only form of protest available against national mechanisms that stripped him of his life.

Premise After the robbery in 1982, Taiwan's three state supervised television stations repeatedly broadcast the incident as recorded by bank security cameras. These unclear images show Li Shih-ke wearing a wig, hat and surgical mask climbing over a teller station. Most media outlets at the time surmised that the robber was about 30 years old, and they only learned of his true identity, a 55 year old veteran, after the arrest. I remember watching the television news reports of Li's arrest, including one where a television reporter carrying a microphone cornered Li and asked him why he robbed the bank. Li was only able to get out, “I have something I want to say...” before a policeman quickly covered Li's mouth with his hand. Many years later, several television stations revisited Li's case, but this scene of the police officer preventing Li from speaking never appeared, making me wonder if I imagined it. Perhaps those images of Li at the time of his arrest, with his calm demeanor and the traces of hardship on his face, sparked my imagination after they were projected into my mind. To me that repeatedly aired footage of Li climbing over the bank counter represents a person who had been deprived of his life crossing an uncrossable boundary in order to get it back. And his disguise represents revealing what is behind

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the disguise, and forcing Taiwanese society to rerecognize the faces and fates of those countless people who were deprived of a life. Li chose not to silently endure an abject existence and die in martial law Taiwan, but instead chose to transgress by robbing a bank and take back his right—and the rights of other nameless veterans—to author one’s own fate. If we separate ourselves from the view of identity imposed by colonial modernity and re-investigate the histor y of cultural production in Taiwan, then Li Shih-ke is a martial law successor to the Taiwanese Cultural Association of the Japanese colonial period, and a pioneering video artist and practitioner of relevant cultural activism. Despite his struggle in the lowest rung of society, which is devoid of the luxury and leisure to imagine whether his actions will one day be recognized as a form of cultural production, Li spoke out for a generation of people who had been deprived of their destiny, and had their individual sensibility repressed for so long, and did so during martial law when most intellectuals remained silent.

Cheng Bao-yu A Context Constructed by Illiteracy

Introduction My mother Cheng Bao-yu was born in 1931 in Klang City, Malaysia. When she was 5, she was sent to a family in Kinmen as part of an arranged marriage. At the age of 7, she was left in the care of a widowed grandmother in Kinmen when the family emigrated to Indonesia. When she was 10, she picked seaweed and sold it to Kinmen's Japanese occupiers to support herself and the grandmother. When 14, she made a living by gathering firewood and selling it to wealthy families for cooking. When 17, she set up a fruit and vegetable stall next to a well at Kinmen's Dongmen Market. At 20, she started living independently. At 23, she married my father, who was a soldier at the time. After the 823 Artillery Bombardment erupted in 1958, my mother left Kinmen with my older siblings and relocated to Neili, Taoyuan County, Taiwan. I was born in 1960 in Neili, and in 1962, she took us to live in Zhongxiao New Village in Shuiwei, Xindian City, Taipei County.

Profile for 立方計劃空間 TheCube Project Space

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TheCube Project Space is honored to present Chen Chieh-Jen’s solo exhibition The Bianwen Book: Images, Production, Action and Documents of C...

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