In the great mountain ranges that exist all over China there are sacred areas that have been called Grotto Heavens since ancient times.
These Grotto Heavens are usually situated in natural caves. Unlike natural caves, however, they are distinguished by a unique characteristic, that is to say that since the 3rd century A.D. they have been considered as containers of hidden passages that enable pilgrims to transcend time and space.
In the nearly two thousand years of their existence, countless hermits have meditated in these dark caves, spending their entire life there, hoping to achieve transcendence. Emperors of different dynasties conducted complicated and mysterious rituals in these caves, communicating with the immortals from other worlds and asking for blessings.
To explore this cultural tradition and its unique time-space relationship, Taca started on a long-term photographic project. He reflects on the original concept of Grotto Heavens in the cave dwelling tradition of the ancients, more mundane uses as when they were used as places of refuge from a turbulent world, and on the amplified meaning they acquired as they were sanctified by religious doctrines and practices to become gateways to paradise separated from the present world.
Beyond the original concept of Grotto Heavens, Taca explores the way in which the concept was extended in the tombs of the Han dynasty. The Han dynasty tombs, which were usually located in real mountains and contained long and winding tomb tunnels just like those in caves, were excavated inside mountains. Taca is attracted to relics, to things that are situated between the light and the dark, connecting the worlds of life and death.
When Taca was exploring and photographing in dark caves or tomb tunnels, he felt that darkness itself was a substance and that it was precisely this intangible darkness that was the essential characteristic of Grotto Heavens as conduits to another world. The darkness reduces human perception, while at the same time it raises spiritual sensibility to another level, and makes it more sensitive. As Lao Tzu declared in the Dao De Jing, in some cases the differences between Being and Non-Being, or between Substance and Nothingness cease to exist.