Military dependents’ village is a unique cultural landscape and a product of structural historical factors in Taiwan. After the Kuomintang (KMT) party retreated to Taiwan in 1949, housing for soldiers and their dependents were built hastily in enclosed areas. These provisional communities ended up becoming permanent settlements due to political and historical circumstances. Since the passage of the Act for Rebuilding Old Quarters for Military Dependents in 1996, however, many of them faced being relocated or torn down. These immigrant communities slowly turned into marginalized urban heterotopias, eventually becoming fragmented wastelands.
The book In Tropical, documents artists Lu Yi-Lun and Lin Yi-Chi’s “Zuoying Project,” a long-term project running from 2011 to 2016 in which a migration narrative about life in a military dependents’ village in tropical Zuoying is presented. During these five years, artists witness the rise and fall of many villages —from populated communities to ghost towns as people move away; from ghost towns to desolate historical sites after teardowns. Their creative trajectories and fieldwork in heterotopic wastelands are reflected in their journaling and a large amount of visual documentation.
Moreover, the idea, “tropical,” highlights the range of two climates in Taiwan. Tropical and subtropical climates shape different ways of life in the South and the North. When someone travels into the tropical area, not only their geographical location changes but also their bodily senses adapt, which results in an indescribable intimate resonance between artists and Zuoying.