Public Program

Screening & Talk: Discordant Harmony – Chen Chieh-jen, Chien-Hung Huang

6, Feb, 2015 (Fri) 15:00

Art Hall(B1)

Screening & Talk: Discordant Harmony – Chen Chieh-jen, Chien-Hung Huang

Art Sonje Center hosts Chen Chieh-jen’s Screening & Talk program to accompany Discordant Harmony. The screening of Chen’s Factory and Empire’s Borders I is to be followed by a consecutive artist talk with curator Chien-Hung Huang.


Chen Chieh-jen
2003, Super 16mm transferred to DVD, color, silent, 31 minutes 9 seconds, single channel, continuous loop
+ documentation

In 2002 Chen Chieh-jen met a group of female laborers who at one time worked at the Lien Fu Garment Factory and had been protesting continuously for six years. After a year-long association with these women, Chen filmed Factory in 2003. For his video Factory, Chen Chieh-jen asked the same workers he met in 2002 to return to the abandoned Lien Fu Garment Factory and reenact their duties. The video focuses on the expressions and gestures of these women as they work, juxtaposing this with clips from a government-produced, early black-and-white film promoting Taiwan’s flourishing industrial sector. The video also carefully examines items left in the factory which had been sitting idle for seven years waiting to be auctioned off. In the video, factory surfaces are coated with years of dust, the air is stagnant and filthy, and megaphones, loudspeakers, and banners left by workers staging a protest at the time of the plant’s closing are strewn about. Through these dual time frames of stagnation and flow suggested by discarded objects, the video indirectly projects the shared plight of immobility versus mobility experienced by many workers around the world.

Empire’s Borders I
2008-2009, 35mm transferred to DVD, color & b/w, sound, 26 minutes 50 seconds, single-channel, continuous loop
+ documentation

The inspiration for Empire’s Borders I came from Chen Chieh-jen’s experience applying for a U.S. non-immigrant visa after being invited to attend an art exhibition in New Orleans. During a visa interview at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Chen was accused of intending to remain in the United States illegally and his application was denied. U.S. citizens on the other hand, can enter Taiwan at any time without a visa. The video is composed of two parts. The first part narrates eight typical cases of Taiwanese citizens who applied for non-immigrant visas at AIT, were abused by consular officers and then denied for unknown reasons. The second presents the plight of eight Mainland Chinese who came to Taiwan to live with their Taiwanese spouses, and starts from airport immigration interviews and continues with various forms of scrutiny and discrimination they suffered at the hands of the Taiwanese National Immigration Agency. The contrasting examples presented in the video reflect today’s global stratification of power among sovereign nations, as well as the border control policies of stronger nations and their governance and discipline of citizens of weaker nations. The video also criticizes the Taiwanese government for entrenched Cold War ideologies and strategies used to administer less empowered individuals residing in other regions.

Chen Chieh-jen was born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and 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 his artistic activity for eight years. Returning to art in 1996, he began collaborating with local residents, unemployed labourers, 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”.

6, Feb, 2015 (Fri) 15:00
Art Hall(B1)
Chen Chieh-jen, Chien-Hung Huang
Hosted by
독일문화원, 스페이스 포 컨템포러리 아트㈜
Sponsored by
대만 국가문화예술기금회, 아트선재센터, 춘지문화기금회