The War That Never Was


6 October, 2018


Duration: 15’40”


Chien-Chi Chang

Title: The War That Never Was

Medium: Video

Duration: 15’40”

Courtesy: The Artist

Year: 2017


I have been invited to produce a video on Taiwan and Cold War for an exhibition. So out of curiosity, the other day, I asked my mother if she knew what the Cold War was and she replied: “who was that?”

My mother, born in 1938, in a poverty-stricken mountainous region in central Taiwan received little education and worked her entire life before and after she was married to my father. Taiwan’s longest martial law in history (1949-1987) had little effect on her. Her whole life was merely to work for a meager survival. She told me that back then, there was no electricity in our village and she, after working the whole day on the rice paddy, used to ride an old bicycle to the nearest town to charge a battery for the household electricity. She lost track of how many times she ran into the dirt creek in the dark when coming back with a charged battery and me in the backseat.

This interview-based video is centered on my mother. I am the interviewer and my mother the interviewee. All the questions are about her life from a rural, poor and uneducated girl to a wife and a mother of five children, working in scorching rice field, later a washer-woman and a domestic cleaner until the mid 2000s, less than ten years ago.

The questions about her life juxtapose with the years when the historical events took place during the Cold War. The latter is done with historical images, from the Iron Curtain Museum in Hungary and Magnum Photos archives intertwined with the interview with my mother, who has never heard of the Cold War.