Chen Chieh-jen. Empire borders I & II, Factory
Date: 8 March 2012 17:00 - 29 April 2012 17:00
A. Žmuidzinavičius creations and collections museum, V. Putvinskio St. 64, Kaunas
Chen Chieh-jen is Taiwan's most internationally recognized artist. Chen's artistic practice is fueled by an ongoing examination of hidden political powers and power relationships, in order to reflect upon today's neo-liberal empire built upon the alliance of nation and capital. Through art, Chen seeks to create an action that eliminates imperial consciousness.
The video Empire's Borders I is based on Chen's The Illegal Immigrant blog, and is divided into two segments of dramatized reportage. The first segment presents eight typical cases of Taiwanese applicants enduring a consular officer's abuse at AIT (American Institute Taiwan), and then being denied a nonimmigrant visa for inexplicable reasons. The second segment presents the stories of nine Mainland Chinese spouses immigrating to Taiwan on marriage visas, who, starting from their arrival interview at the airport, suffer all manners of discrimination and rigorous scrutiny from Taiwan's National Immigration Agency. Chen Chieh-jen compares these two situations to explore global hierarchies of border control policies, and the disciplinary tactics dominant countries deploy when dealing with people of other nations. The video also critiques the Taiwanese government's domineering attitude and use of Cold War ideologies in dealing with weaker individuals from other regions.
Empire borders I
Empire’s Borders II – Western Enterprises Inc is based on a number of documents the artist’s late father, a member of NSA, left behind which painted an intriguing picture of a life lived in cold-war secrecy. They hinted at the politics of an era when the CIA cooperated with Taiwan and trained the Anti-Communist National Salvation Army (NSA) on its long-abandoned mission to retake the Chinese mainland. Some of these objects are included here as photographic records: a list of soldiers who lost their lives in secret raids, personal belongings, an empty photo album, fragments of an autobiography Chen’s father wrote and his old army uniform. As Chen says, his father rarely talked about his work; the only fact he acknowledged was that his autobiography was fictional, written to show his loyalty to the state.
Empire borders II
In Factory, Chieh-jen invites former seamstresses from a closed textile factory back to the building to re-enact their work. Filmed without sound, the slow-moving images of workers exploring the abandoned space and at work constructing garments are intercut with archival footage of the factory at the height of its production. The result is at once a bittersweet portrait of the lasting personal bonds between labourers and a subtle critique of the social impact of shifting economic realities.
Curator Malin Barth.
Exhibition works: 08 03 2012 – 29 04 2012