While longevity may be a blessing, a life lasting over a century is lonesome.
There was a saying that “when photography became a belief, works are realized in the hands of God.” Through making this piece, I came to understand that “Centenarians” is both a gift and a test given by God. Even after having visited more than a hundred centenarians, it still feels rather unbelievable. For an undergraduate student from a foreign land, photographing Taiwanese “Centenarians” was indeed challenging. A simple idea originated for a graduation project evolved into a bumpy journey. The experiences gained during the process have been triggering endless thoughts; they deepened my insight and interpretations of life and society.
Since ancient times, especially in Chinese societies, people have been seeking the secret towards eternal life. According to the Qin Dynasty section of “Shiji”, Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, sent court sorcerer Xu Fu to the seas to look for the elixir of life. There is a Taiwanese saying “Jia Ba Li” which means wishing the elders to be able to eat till 120 years old.
We often wish our elders a long and happy life, but is being alive for more than a century truly a blessing? Maybe, but probably only those who actually lived through a century could clearly tell.
During the visiting sessions, I observed that along with the casual talks from centenarian grandpas and grandmas, there is a hint of helplessness and fatigue. Nowadays, Asian countries are facing the transformation of ageing society, which makes me ponder: should one pursue the length or the width of life?
Living for a hundred years is a milestone for humans' lives. It is sort of an accomplishment of their “health”, but they are struggling in the tug of war between physical degeneration and survival power. The paradox is worth exploring in both the context of science and philosophy.
These are images of lives spanning through a century. The photographs in monochrome truthfully embodies a hundred faces, wordlessly relaying a century of stories behind each centenarians.