Relationships between people and buildings are bi-directional. To people, buildings are ever-present witnesses of history; from the perspective of buildings, people are ever-moving users and interpreters of meaning. Since the Presidential Office Building's completion in 1919, its architectural design has been more than a simple reminder of its role as the nation's seat of political power – its imposing and elegant exterior is a celebration of aesthetic beauty, while its halls house the shared memories of eras past.
As an extrapolation of the theme of the permanent exhibition "府(Fu) - POWER TO THE PEOPLE" located on the first floor of the Presidential Office Building, the theme of the Presidential Office Building 100th Anniversary Special Exhibition is '府 100'; the number "100" represents the building's hundred year history. The exhibition seeks to explore the meaning and value generated by interactions between people and the windows of the Presidential Office Building by emulating the effect of two eyes looking through two windows, the viewer simultaneously introspective and outward-looking. The sub-theme — "Tell Me What You See" — encourages visitors to view the Presidential Office Building from multiple perspectives and come up with an understanding of the building that is truly their own.
The exhibition comprises three sections: "Vision", "Viewpoints", and "Perspectives". Through the three-way vantage point provided by this framework, visitors can traverse the halls of collective memory, set foot on the path to freedom, and pause to examine priceless remnants of history hidden in the nooks and crannies of this building. Thus, panoramic historical narratives are condensed linearly to a single point, and viewers can reclaim their voice and find meaning in the splendor of this unique building.
When one looks upon the Presidential Office Building, the towering arcade comes into view first. Windows placed in the center of the building provide unparalleled views of the city, and they leave the deepest impression on passers-by looking up at the Presidential Office Building.
These exhibitions utilize white lines to depict the silhouette of the arcade so as to bring architecture and visitors together. This approach breaks the boundaries between interior and exterior, allowing lines of sight and dialogue to flow both ways. Looking out through one of these frames, one sees a panorama of historical milestones, a succinct summation of all that the Presidential Office Building has witnessed over the last century. The majority of photographs shown here are provided courtesy of the Central News Agency, the Presidential Office, and Academia Historica.
Here, visitors can learn more about the historical backdrop of their lives. The sense of removal caused by the passage of time is no more, as visitors come in contact with comprehensive accounts of historical events, place them among a more extensive timeline, and gain a glimpse of the bigger picture. In these exhibitions, viewers can take their time to truly absorb the 100 years that the Presidential Office Building has borne witness to.
The relationship between the people and the Presidential Office Building has grown steadily closer since its completion in 1919. Over the past century, both the way people look at the Presidential Office Building and the focus of their gaze have transformed.
In order to give viewers a sense of authentic immersion in different historical eras, this exhibition highlights these changes through a combination of historical images and firsthand accounts. The open ending of the documentary is completed by various interviewees who help sketch a portrait of the Presidential Office Building from a variety of perspectives, including aesthetics, architecture, social movements, and more.
Regardless of which viewpoint you adopt, or when you were born, we all look to a common goal – realizing a world of true freedom and equality. All of us hope to create a better Taiwan, gently yet firmly.
"What you saw depended upon where you were when. What you saw was relative to your position in time and space." – John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Through the "100/100 Presidential Office – A Different Kind of Photo Contest", we hope to explore what the Presidential Office Building means to the modern citizen. The Presidential Office seeks to return the power of this building to the people, and one way to do so is to invite people to redefine its role outside the field of politics through photography. People are encouraged to find with their own unique take on the Presidential Office Building, be it realistic, impressionistic, or documentary. By merging personal stories and imagination with their works, photographers are free to interpret the Presidential Office's significance.
The perfect moment to press the shutter is when inspiration strikes; the perfect perspective is the one that speaks to one's heart. When a photographer translates the Presidential Office Building into visual images, imagination is their only limitation.