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Chen Chieh-jen

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Born in 1960, Taiwan, Chen Chieh-jen now lives and works in Taipei and is considered one of the leading artists in Taiwan. In the 1980s during the Cold War/ Martial law period in Taiwan, Chen carried out guerrilla-style performance and organized underground exhibitions that challenged the conservative art world and constrained society. After the lifting of martial law in 1987, he stopped creating art for eight years and resigned from his job in an animation studio. During this solitary period of his life he spent most of time reading books about history and pondering on how the experience of modernization internalized into individual and collective life. Chen then starts to trace back personal and familial history that connects to Taiwan’s modern history including the colonial past, the Cold War/ Martial Law period, and the neoliberal era of contemporary Taiwan.

In 1996 Chen created a genealogical project, Revolt in the Soul and Body 1900-1999, a body of work that revisited historical images of punishment and explored the history of the photographed subject. Since 2002 onwards Chen started to use film as a medium for art creation, creating his unique film aesthetics within a collaborative framework; Chen has formulated his own philosophy that stems from cultural-socio specificity. For instance, his idea of immaterial cinema was inspired by the role of Benshi during the period of Japanese colonization in Taiwan. Benshi is a narrator who comments and explains silent films during screening and who often brings in political message through using slang and dialect to criticize the colony. Having been influenced by the interpretation, audiences then have very different versions of films in mind. The subversive power of verbal interpretations and audio-visual impressions is described by Chen as immaterial cinema, and the concept is presented in many of his films.

Chen Chieh-jen, Realm of Reverberations, 2014

Chen has created nine films over the past decade including Lingchi – Echoes of a Historical Photograph (2002), Factory (2003), Bade Area (2005), The Route (2006) , Military Court and Prison (2007-08), Empires’ Borders (2008-2009) and Empire’s Borders : Western Enterprises, Inc., (2009-2010), Happiness Building (2012) and Realm of Reverberations (2014). In 2010 Chen presents his first solo exhibition in the UK, Chen Chieh-jen: Empire’s Borders : Western Enterprises, Inc., at the Chinese Arts Center (now Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art) which was curated by Marko Daniel. In 2014 he participated in Harmonious Society, a major exhibition organized by Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art at Asia Triennial Manchester. Chen Chieh-jen represented Taipei at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was selected for Artes Mundi 2010. His works have been internationally presented at Museo Nacional Centre de Arte Reina Sofia (2008), at MUDAM Luxembourg (Luxembourg), The 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale (2014): We Have Never Participated, OCAT (Shenzhen) . In 2009 he was awarded Taiwan’s prestigious National Award for Arts for outstanding cultural achievement.

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Chen Chieh-jen: Empire’s Borders II: Western Enterprises, Inc., 2010

Chen Chieh-jen at Harmonious Society, Asia Triennial Manchester, 2014

Chen Chieh-jen CV

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