The Pigeon Assembly
Program Host│ LEE, Li Chung
The Pigeon Assembly was conceived in tandem with artist Li Chung Lee’s solo exhibition The Battle of Mt. Zhugao and Red Feet Ling at Fotoaura in 2019. The exhibition traced the evolution of pastoral living through the history of pigeon racing, in which homing pigeons carry traditional Ling bells on their backs and travel distances. The exhibition also highlighted the activities of commoners in Taiwan, showcasing image documentation in a contemporary art format. It formed a visual archive merging the fields of folk cultural studies and contemporary art discourse, calling attention to the absence of pigeon racing materials in the historical narrative of Taiwan.
Ling-bell pigeon racing is a creative hobby activity unique to the Xibei region of Tainan. Between the second and third month of the lunar calendar every year, reverberating hums of Ling bells fill the air of Xinying, Yanshuei, and Syuejia. Local uncles can be seen training with their pigeons and bells, determined to bring honor to their home villages by winning the much-anticipated race. The Pigeon Assembly is held as a prelude to this annual extravaganza, providing context and educational content to kick off the competition.
Programming includes an orientation talk and onsite observation. The talk is given by artist Li Chung Lee, covering the history and significance of pigeon racing in Taiwan. Participants are then guided through the actual race. The Pigeon Assembly encourages the public to experience the folk tradition and celebration in person, breathing more life into this fascinating yet declining cultural event.