Taipei Fine Arts Museum °

No. 181, Sec. 3, Zhongshan N. Rd., Zhongshan Dist.
10461 Taipei City

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artist / participant

press release

Chen Chieh-jen was born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and graduated from a vocational high school for the arts. He currently lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan. Chen created a series of photographic and video projects that re-imagine, re-write and re-connect his experience of living in a marginalized region and the intrinsic spirit of Taiwanese society, as well as propose possible ways of subverting dominant neoliberal logic. In this exhibition it is intended to exhibit important works by Chen Chieh-jen from 1996 to the present, including his early computer-adapted work, the series Revolt in the Soul & Body 1900-1999, and video works comprising combinations of action, performance and installation: Lingchi – Echoes of a Historical Photograph (2002), Factory (2003), Bade Area (2005), The Route (2007-2008), Military Court and Prison, Empires' Borders I (2008-2009) and the new piece Empire's Borders II – Western Enterprises, Inc.

In 1980s, the Cold War/Martial Law period in Taiwan, Chen challenged the limits of expression under the Martial Law system and the conservative art establishment with guerrilla-style performance art and underground exhibitions.

After martial law was lifted in 1987, Chen stopped producing art for eight years. During this period he was supported by his brother who worked as a street vendor and started to examine his family history and the military court and prison, ordnance works, industrial areas and illegal shanty areas in the environment where he grew up. Chen also explored the trajectory of Taiwan's modern history; from colonial domination, the Cold War/Martial Law period, and Taiwan's time as a key base in global capitalist production; to its gradual transformation into a consumer society, entry into the neoliberal global infrastructure after the end of martial law, and variations in zeitgeist under Taiwan's status as a state of exception in international politics.

Chen Chieh-jen believes that years of domination and the current mainstream neoliberal discourse have either hidden or eliminated much of the social reality and historical context of Taiwan, and Taiwanese society has lost the ability to think about the future from the context of the past.

Resuming his artwork in 1996, Chen Chieh-jen began to combine experimental aesthetics with the unique poetic qualities of video to create possibilities for dialogue and connections with audiences around the world through working with local citizens. Chen emphasizes the use of visual art to suggest bodily memories, perceptions, elusive states of mind, and hard to articulate atmospheres related to ideological and political topics, especially those in this era of increasing neoliberal domination. His artwork is not only an act of resisting the historical amnesia that surrounds us, but is also about imagining new forms through which a "people's history" can be written and new possibilities through which a "democracy of diversity" can be achieved.

Chen Chieh-jen has held solo exhibitions at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Redcat art center in Los Angeles; the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid; the Asia Society in New York; and the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. Group exhibitions include: the Venice Biennale, Biennale de Lyon, São Paulo Art Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, Biennale of Sydney, Istanbul Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Gwangju Biennale, Shanghai Biennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane. Chen has also participated in photography festivals in Spain, Lisbon and Arles; and film festivals in London, Vancouver, Edinburgh and Rotterdam. Chen Chieh-jen was also the recipient of the Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation's National Award for Arts in 2009, and the Korean Gwangju Biennale Special Award in 2000.

Chen Chieh-Jen
On the Empire's Borders 1996-2010