Lucky Charms

This bilingual (Chinese/English) book tells five stories across the Guantian region of northern Tainan in Taiwan. Maybe you already know about the strange happenings. Perhaps you have heard people talk, or seen something unusual yourself. A lost mountain reappeared; a young girl metamorphosed into an insect; a bird laid golden eggs and gave them away; villagers returned to their under-water ancestral homes; and a farmer temporarily swapped places with a god. We have been researching and documenting these events and here we share our findings with you. We have to acknowledge that there is another world, at least one other, that sits alongside the one we see every day. If you look hard enough you will find it: just peek through the holes in reality.

Blending fantasy and real life, Lucky Charms explores how creating a contemporary mythology can encourage a sense of belonging and placemaking. The book is a mixture of documentary and fiction in such a way as to simultaneously cast doubt on established ‘truth narratives’ and at the same time promote a sense of magical connection to the locale. Each story is pushed through a range of media: words (history and geography next to magical realist fiction) and images (documentary photography, sculpture, illustration, and performance). Lucky Charms is in itself the artwork. It is not the presentation of documentation of artworks that have happened outside its pages, so much as the site of the artwork itself.

By creating a new mythology with and about the people and places of Guantian, Lucky Charms tests the possibilities to deepen sense of place. The hypothesis here is that by creating contemporary folklore, based in fact but quickly (and obviously) becoming fiction, residents will have a sense of belonging, connecting them to their locale and to each other. Lucky Charms has been created together with students from five departments in two universities, with professional artists and writers, and community participants.

Lucky Charms by Joshua Sofaer with Yu-Jou Tsai and Ke-Wei Wu was created for Mattauw 2022 Triennial, Tainan, curated by Jow-Jiun Gong and Clio Yu-Cheng Hung. The project was produced by Emma Liao and Yoyo Kung.

Lucky Charms was commissioned by Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government and supported by Ministry of Culture, Taiwan.

Concept & Artistic Director │ Joshua Sofaer
Writers, Photographers & Community Liaisons │ Yu-Jou Tsai, Ke-Wei Wu
Curators │ Jow-Jiun Gong, Clio Yu-Cheng Hung
Producers │ Emma Liao, Yoyo Kung

Costume Designer │ Tsai-Chun Huang
Photographers │ Rong-Hua Chuang, Chang-Hsu Su, Ken Photography, Heng-Hui Huang, Herng-Ching Chen Li
Poet │ Chi-Tzu Chang
Botanical Illustrator │ Alice Chen
Ceramicist │ Todd
Sculptor │ Xin Qi
Temple Artist (Sculptor) │ Jun-Hsu Chen
Temple Artist (Painter) │ Rui-Zong Cai
Temple Installation Support │ Wen-Hua Wang
Visual Artists │ Shun-Ting Huang, Chiaos Tseng
Glass Artist │ Chun-Hsiung Chen
Architects │ Deng-Yeh Wang, Da-Wei Lin, Yun-Jen Lai
Architectural Advisor │ Chi-Pang Lu
Movement Director │ Fang-Yi Chu
Performers │ Kui-Hong Lí, Seong-Wei Choong, Yi-Ju Fang, Yu-Chi Hung
Mage │ Jiun-Yin Su
Mage Assistant │ Yu-Bi Wu
Community Co-ordinator │ Visa Lai
Mushroom Foragers │ Yong-Shan Lai, Shu-Mei Hu
Community Cooks │ Lai-Chih Lai Wu, Chin-Szu Lai Huang
Mushroom Farmer │ Kun-Yi Li
Ingredients Supplier │ Qing-Shi Lai
Toy Supplier │ The House of Art Grower
Engineer │ Shu-Chin Lai
Hand Models │ Huei-Ming Chen, Jian-Fu Liu
Community Participants │ Chun-Ta Lai, C-P Lai, Tsung-Li Lai

Publishers │ Art Commons Tainan, Cultural Affairs Bureau of Tainan City Government
Authors │ Joshua Sofaer, Yu-Jou Tsai, Ke-Wei Wu
Graphic Designers │ Franky Hsiao, Mirr Lo
Proofreader │ Erica Liu
Printer │ Dawn Cultural Enterprises
ISBN │ 978-986-99880-1-8
First Published │ July, 2023 in a numbered edition of 500

During the creation of this book, Joshua Sofaer was Visiting Scholar in the Department of Chinese Literature at National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, at the invitation of Juan Chin and sponsored by ‘NCKU 90 and Beyond’.

Lucky Charms © Joshua Sofaer, 2023
Contributions © the individual contributors, 2023