Thursday, December 02, 2010

Chen Zhen's Interview with Himself by Cori Huang

Chen Zhen's interview with Zhu Xian (or rather, himself) focuses on
the idea of "transexperiences," as the artist refers to this idea of
crossing through many places and the experiences they entail. I find
it very interesting that many of the ideas Chen Zhen talks about, he
describes using Chinese terms. For instance, at the very beginning of
the interview he talks about his travels, referring to the traveling
as to "zou," the Chinese term for walk. However, as the artist
explains the term in Chinese has more implications than simply
walking, since it can be used as a general term for traveling and
experiencing in both a literal and spiritual sense. This sort of
synthesis of multicultural experiences seems to really inform Chen
Zhen's artistic decisions. In fact, he works with the idea of multiple
cultures in his 1995 piece Round Table.
Regarding Chen Zhen's 1995 piece Round Table, I think the idea of
networks is prevalent in the way the installation interacted with the
setting, namely the United Nations' building, and then with the
audience who would have their own preconceptions about the Chinese
round table. The interaction of a viewer and his or her ideas with
what the artist presents can create a dialogue that is more
interesting than either one alone. However, the artist states that "as
far as art is concerned, understanding is nonexistent," and so the
relationships that are created are not just about taking information
from the artwork, but also about the dialogue. Chen Zhen describes the
misunderstandings as creating "networks of relationships," which are
more interesting that simply understanding an idea. Although I find
this to be a very interesting point and relevant to the Round Table
installation, I think it makes it more difficult to create a network
of relationships if there is too much misunderstanding. If I hadn't
read about Chen Zhen's thoughts behind the Round Table piece, I may
not be as interested in it.

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