Edinburgh, 60th Edinburgh International Film Festival, Black Box, 2006
Goteborg, Museum of Art, Undercurrents, 2006
New York, Asia Society, Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW), 2006
Linz, OK Center for Contemporary Art, Biennale Cuvée, 2006
Madrid, LA_FABRICA, Chen Chieh-jen, 2005
Bristol, Arnolfini, The Storm is What We Call Progress, 2005
Auckland, Artspace, Slow Rushes for Auckland, 2005
Venice, Padiglione Italia, 51st Biennale di Venezia, The Experience of Art, 2005
Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2004 Taipei Biennial, Do You Believe in Reality?, 2004
Shanghai Art Museum, 2004 Shanghai Biennale, Techniques of the Visible, 2004
Lithuania, Vilnius, Contemporary Art Center, Slow Rushes - Takes on the Documentary Sensibility in Moving Images from Around Asia and the Pacific, 2004
Paris, Galerie Alain le Gaillard, Chen Chieh-jen, 2004
Taipei, IT Park Gallery, Factory, 2004
If we analyse the history of images we will find that the people and societies belonging to fringe regions were the first to be photographed. They were silent subjects who were observed, described and reported on by others. As an artist from a fringe region, I feel that perhaps we should talk about a 'history of the photographic subject' before speaking about any other kind of history of photography. This is why I want to 'rewrite,' using certain historical images as a starting point for retelling the story. - Chen Chieh-Jen in Echoes of the Image by Sergio Mah
Taipei-based Taiwanese artist Chen Chieh-jen works primarily in digital imaging and video installation. His artworks reexamine the narrative form and meaning of images through explorations of the relationships between image/power, filmer/filmed, memory/history, reality/artifice and blending/variation. In this manner, Chen Chieh-jen delves deeply into people and communities on the margins of contemporary life in an attempt to convey their living experiences and inner spiritual states.
In Factory, Chen took the history of the processed goods industry in Taiwan over the last 30 years as his starting point, exploring the internal realities of the island as a Third World land entering the era of globalization and its economic and social relationship with the world. As times changed, Taiwan's manufacturing sector readjusted its labor distribution: factories constantly moved offshore in search of cheap wages and workers were left unemployed. Unlike the factories, they could not relocate and linger on in a state of abandonment.
In this film, Chen invited unemployed women to return to the garment factory they had labored in for many years, to "work" again in the now derelict plant. Mixing government-produced, black-and-white historical footage with video from the current time and space, Factory presents silent, slow motion images in a manner approaching narrative form. The video gazes at the dust-smothered, abandoned objects of the factory and the expressions of the women laborers who have returned. The film revisits the derelict factory, and encompasses a dual sense of time, allowing the life experiences of these people on the margins of society to emerge in a silent manner. Through the language of art and in a documentary form, this film also attempts to explore new narrative possibilities for revealing the disappearing and the disappeared.
Adapted from an article by Amy Cheng
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