The Bianwen Book: Images, Production, Action and Documents of Chen Chieh-Jen


TheCube Project Space is honored to present Chen Chieh-Jen’s solo exhibition The Bianwen Book: Images, Production, Action and Documents of Chen Chieh-Jen. The exhibition unfolds different dimensions of records of his artworks over the years in various forms, such as video installation and documents’ display. The Bianwen Book I was first shown in the 2014 Shanghai Biennale. Using evolvement of “Sujiang” and “Bianwen”, literary forms popular among common people during the Tang dynasty as reference, Chen Chieh-Jen reconstructed a “spatial book” where audiences could walk through. The “spatial book” consisted of conceived documents, referential context, symbolized objects, documented photographs, temporary cinema and many others, all derived from Chen’s filming/action and “re-write” method since 2002. Chris Dercon, Director of London Tate Modern, selected The Bianwen Book I as his most beloved work in 2014. Chris Dercon reviewed the work, saying the artist “creates an installation where pictures, texts, still and moving images, records and paintings, society and poetry came together as one.” [1] The Bianwen Book: Images, Production, Action and Documents of Chen Chieh-Jen in TheCube Project Space, will be a “reedited” version tailored specifically by the artist, taking into consideration both characteristics of the space, and intentions to continue the evolving spirit of “Sujiang” and “Bianwen”. Besides documents in the original version, Realm of Reverberations, originally presented as four-channel video will also be shown, but as a new edited and sound remixed single channel video. Furthermore, event documentary Realm of Reverberations Returns to Losheng will be presented in a single screening.

More than 70% of Losheng Sanatorium was forced down due to the relocation of Taipei Department of Rapid Transit Systems (DORTS) depot operation in Xinzhuang Dictrict to the property occupied by Losheng Sanatorium. Derived from the above incident, Realm of Reverberations utilized the following matters as filming context, the Losheng Sanatorium existed since Japanese colonization, both its’ remains and surrounding of its’ property area, as well as Losheng Preservation Movement that lasted for more than ten years. However, the artworks of Chen Chieh-Jen were never the representation of social issues or social interventions to repair ruptures. His artworks are actions of creating heterogeneous perception and making reverberations, surpassing binary or dialectical logic. The video featured four protagonists, old residents in Tree Planters, a young woman who has accompanied sanatorium residents since 2007 in Keeping Company, a hospice nurse from China who went through the Cultural Revolution in The Suspended Room, and a fictional political prisoner who travels through Taiwanese history from the Japanese colonial period to the present in Tracing Forward. Through the four diverse perspectives, Realm of Reverberations argues, even if the incidents seem to come to an end, is this “end” an absolute one? Or it is a point of discrepancy for multiple dialogical discussions and imagination. Simultaneously, Chen Chieh-Jen chose to screen a single channel video of 104 minutes where the duration doesn’t fit into viewing “rhythm” of contemporary art exhibition, the artist again attempts to re-question what really is the “temporal politics” of contemporary society.

In January 18th 2015, Realm of Reverberations had been shown in the form of quasi-ritualistic image theatre. A screening event entitled Realm of Reverberations Returns to Losheng, took place on Losheng Sanatorium’s hilltop and invited both the participations of Losheng’s residents and the public. With interwoven images, sound, discourses, theatre, cultural actions and various other art forms, as well as the evolving “site”, together these elements co-construct multiple conversations and points of discrepancy for discussions. These are Chen Chieh-Jen’s long term artistic practices since 2002. In TheCube Project Space, a special screening of documentary Realm of Reverberations Returns to Losheng will be held on January 9th 2016 and Chen Chieh-Jen will be present for a talk after the screening.

[1] Translation note: Mr. Chris Dercon’s review was translated from Chinese instead of the original quote in English.

Special Screening and artist talk |
Realm of Reverberations Returns to Losheng,  3-6pm, Sat., January 9th 2016

About the artist:

Chen Chieh-Jen

Born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Chen Chieh-jen currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. Chen employed extra-institutional underground exhibitions and guerrilla-style art actions to challenge Taiwan’s dominant political mechanisms during a period marked by the Cold War, anti-communist propaganda and martial law (1950 – 1987). After martial law ended, Chen ceased art activity for eight years. Returning to art in 1996, Chen started collaborating with local residents, unemployed laborers, day workers, migrant workers, foreign spouses, unemployed youth and social activists. They occupied factories owned by capitalists, slipped into areas cordoned off by the law and utilized discarded materials to build sets for his video productions. In order to visualize contemporary reality and a people’s history that was obscured by neo-liberalism, Chen embarked on a series of video projects in which he used strategies he calls “re-imagining, re-narrating, re-writing and re-connecting.”

Image caption:
A Diagram of Multiple Dialectics
(Image and text provided by  Chen Chieh-Jen)

The diagram is based on the taijitu (yin-yang symbol) taken from the founder of Neo-Confucian philosophy Zhou Dunyi’s (1017 – 1073) book Taiji Tushuo (太極圖說, Explanations of the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate), which blends concepts from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Chen Chieh-jen appropriated the taijitu, overlapping the separate sections representing yin and yang to create an image that is neither yin nor yang but rather implies naïve, idealistic, and materialist dialectics. These three dialectics invoke and contrast one another to form a multiple dialectic.

Artist | Chen Chieh-jen
Opening reception | 3-6pm, October 24, 2015
Date | October 24, 2015 – January 10, 2016 (Wed-Sun 2-8pm)

Special Screening and artist talk | 
Realm of Reverberations Returns to Losheng, 3-6pm, Sat., January 9, 2016

Venue | TheCube Project Space (2F, No 13, Aly 1, Ln 136, Sec 4, Roosevelt Rd, Taipei, Taiwan)

Organizer | TheCube Project Space
Space sponsor | Ministry of Culture
Exhibition sponsor | National Culture and Arts Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government

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