Response to "Transexperiences"
I think the interview of Chen Zhen by Zhu Xian was very profound.
The discussion revolved around how leaving China for France in 1986
affected Chen Zhen's art and perspective on life.
Chen Zhen discussed how leaving China allowed him to break away from
all he had known – the Chinese culture, himself, and his
relationships. By not being fully integrated into Chinese or French
culture (or by being a part of both), Chen Zhen reached a
"transexperiential" state. It is a position where he can see the
conflicts and exchanges between these cultures, their similarities,
and transcend cultural paradigms of thought to reach a more global,
humanity-centered outlook. Chen Zhen is like a ghost that is "loosed"
from his cultural ties and previous perspectives. He can observe human
networks and society in a more objective, and also understanding way.
He "does not belong to anybody, yet [he] is in possession of
This manner of observing and absorbing things, of seeing networks
among culture and people, becomes Chen Zhen's stable approach to the
world. His attitude towards life (which feeds his art) is constant
amidst the physical changes around him. He quotes that even if we
travel ten thousand miles on the globe, "we should be able to move our
body with our heart remaining still." Chen Zhen means that he holds an
internal peace and attitude that is aloof from exterior surroundings.
I follow a similar life perspective with Chen Zhen. I was brought up
in Korea all my life, but always received an American education. I
rarely had Korean friends who went to Korean school and followed the
"average" Korean track in life. However, when I went to the US for my
university degree, I had immense culture shock. I was neither Korean
nor American. This sense of physical homelessness and loneliness made
me make "myself" (my interior) a home. Wherever I go, I am at peace,
because I am at home with my values and open outlook on life. My
belief in God contributes to this. An analogy would be the sea.
Although the exterior world may rain down on the surface or change
temperatures, the deep inner core of the sea remains constant and
peaceful. It is never changing. I think this way of thinking develops
when a physical home ceases to exist.