Shen Chao-Liang Photographs Taiwan's Transformer Trucks

June 18, 2017

From 2006 to 2013, Taiwanese photographer Shen Chao-Liang documented the elaborate transformer-style stage trucks used for all kinds of gatherings and events across Taiwan. "Since the 1970s, explains Shen, "Taiwan society has developed its own cabaret culture which is different from those of the Western countries. In the early years, performers were invited to perform programs, often in the form of singing and dancing, in a variety of occasions, ranging from wedding banquets or funerals to religious ceremonies. In order to move conveniently around the country, they chose to perform in a simple "theater" - usually in a camp or on a truck renovated specifically for the performance. The form then became the origin of a unique Taiwanese cabaret culture."

"As many countries and modernized and developed as refine well to improve their entertainment effects. Given all the changes, the traditional elements featuring Taiwanese cabaret can still be found Today - joyful, spontaneous, innovative, highly interactive with the audience, they have attracted and entertained of Taiwanese people from all walks of life and in every corner of the island.

However, the forms and contents of the performances of Taiwanese cabaret have varied in the past three decades. Due to rising popularity of television grains shows, cabaret artists have to keep their individual skills and diversifying the formats. Not only singers and dancers are dressed Up in real luxury costume, forms and programs are also enhanced and re-designed to include "newer" actors such as poll dance, drag shows, jugglers and comedy. Sometimes the cultural stage itself, usually a "truck theater" that may weigh up To 8 to 15 tons, is satisfied as an integral part of the performance that can require a substantial number of people. When a show is deemed a success, the owner, or organizer, of the cabaret will receive invitations from around the country.

Most performers of Taiwanese cabaret are young single women in their late 20s or early 30s. In addition to those who work for their "family business", a high percentage of performers are part-time performers with other occupations. Years singing or dancing, or after they get married, they would shift to the positions of masters of ceremony (MC) or managers of the group. Due to long working hours and high mobility of the profession, sometimes they have to choose to leave the Business because of family reasons

This photographic project started in early 2005 with an intention to record the important culture of Taiwan that has witnessed countless changes as Taiwan has gradually reached into a modern economy. Among the various cabaret artists I recorded with my camera and had heard with, most of them Have other professions and different "social status" when the stage, such as school teachers, college students, or bank clerks. Underneath their colorful make-up and sexy luxurious costumes, they are only simple normal people who have their dreams and wanted for a Betterness. The present present a gap from the general perception of cabaret artists in Taiwan."