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Photography (MA)

Hsueh-Hung Cheng

Hsueh-Hung Cheng 鄭學鴻 (b.1998) is a visual artist from Taipei, currently based in London.


2022 MA Photography, Royal College of Art (distinction)

2020 BFA in Studio, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor

Hsueh-Hung Cheng's works explore the notion of the container. A container can be a hollow structure for storage and transportation; it can be a physical separator of spaces, differentiating them as the inside and the outside. It can be a surface, with its appearance implying the history of the subject it represents. It can be a set of social constraints, with its boundaries being an inter-subjective concept.

With a particular interest in photographic representation and its limitations, he utilizes various image-making processes and modes of presentation, from traditional to specialized industrial methods, as a critical response. Through the process of image-making, the context embedded within the subjects are brought back to the surface of appearance.

My uncle was once a sculptor of religious statues. He has a shelf of unfinished sculptures, collecting dust for decades.

The underground lottery was widely popular in Taiwan during the economic boom in the 1980s. People tended to rely on religion, buying statues and asking the gods for wealth and good fortune. After the government banned these gambling activities, a sharp decline in demand has left these statues uncommissioned.

The statues, with rough contours carved by a CNC machine, had never been through the process of consecration but commodification. They were left as empty shells without a spirit inside. I decided to photograph them using a telecentric lens, an industrial lens that eliminates perspective, generally used on a production line for measurements. As a result, there is no central point of view pre-defined by the camera. 

Turning into images, they are isolated from the environment and enlarged into a monumental size. Photography has given them the power that never belonged to them, and an appearance beyond our vision.


Silver Gelatin Print


180cm x 120cm each
Shen Nong
Ji Gong
Xian Gu
Xuan Wu
Wang Ye


Silver Gelatin Prints


11'x14' each

Crates of Tudigong (Lord of the Soil and the Ground).

The sculptures of Tudigong were found in Xihan Temple, formerly storage of abandoned religious statues located by a landfill. These statues were destroyed and thrown away as they never fulfilled their owners' wishes, but then picked out from piles of garbage out of sympathy, and gathered in the storage by the workers in the landfill.

Occupying the lowest position in the celestial hierarchy, Tudigong plays various benevolent roles and is very close, very accessible, and very important to the Taiwanese people. Tudigong is the guardian of the community, and the wide distribution of his statues establishes his omnipresence.

Being shipped as commodities, the sculptures are no longer significant. The crates customized to their sizes occupy the same amount of space; the thumbnail images index and represent their appearances. The containers have become as good as the real, replacing the actual objects.


Archival Inkjet Print