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New Exhibit “Illness and Narratives - Illness and Healing in Taiwan Literature”

  • PublishTime:2023-05-23

by Huang Wei-Chih, Gregory Laslo

NMTL recently opened its new exhibition, “Illness and Narratives - Illness and Healing in Taiwan Literature”, showcasing the experiences of illness in Taiwan literature and helping audiences heal spiritually through literature. Illnesses are an unavoidable part of life, and diseases like COVID-19 change not just individual lives, but whole societies. Because of how closely intertwined illness is with human existence, writers have also made experiences with illness into a part of their creative works, prompting empathy for those suffering, and reflection on the significance of life.

This exhibition focuses on the experiences of illness depicted in Taiwan literature. Literature like Portuguese author José Saramago’s Blindness and French author Albert Camus’ The Plague highlights the interaction between illnesses and humanity, and help us explore the meaning of life. As medical treatment improves, sufferers’ understanding of their illnesses deepens; many authors have recorded their experiences, struggles, and revelations of disease, enriching the portrayal of illness in literature.

Taiwan literature includes many such records that also reflect Taiwan’s unique history and culture. Novels such as those by Lai Ho and Yang Kuei describe the social inequalities brought about by disease, while authors Hsinglintzu (Liu Hsia) and Ping Lu have written about their personal reflections on life after illness. The exhibition’s installations, set up in collaboration with their authors, unite different artistic media and literature to create a fresh visual experience – for example, the imagery of roses is often used in literature as a visual metaphor for STDs, so in the exhibition, thorny roses highlight the combination of desire and danger expressed in literature.

The exhibit is divided into five sections, each focusing on a facet of illness commonly seen in Taiwan literature: infectious diseases, mental illnesses, trauma, chronic illnesses, and caregiving. Precious items from NMTL’s collection are brought together with multimedia installations to give viewers a deeper understanding of the history and illnesses in Taiwan literature. This exhibit will be on display until October 29th, 2023. Come to NMTL and see how authors have explored illnesses and healing of mind and body!

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