The Bianwen Book I
December 6, 2016–January 15, 2017
Lin & Lin Gallery
No. 16, Dongfeng St
Bianwen was originally a written record of oral Buddhist teachings that arose after the religion spread from India to China. The teachings were adapted from esoteric Sutras by sujiang (folk recitation) monks who strove to spread Buddhism among ordinary people by chanting easy to understand stories. These chants and bianwen texts become very popular, and gradually shed their Buddhist character as they were developed into legends, novels, operas, music and other folk art forms to satisfy popular taste.
Chen Chieh-jen has always seen film making as an activity that can bring together dissidents or those who have been marginalized, an opportunity to freely investigate any topic, a means of breaking through existing barriers between professionals and amateurs, and an experiment in forming temporary, heterogeneous communities. Inspired by bianwen’s intercultural qualities, adaptability and the multiple forms it has assumed throughout history, Chen has reassembled his ten years of creating storyboards for his video artwork, documentary photographs, symbolic items, film clips, and temporary screening venues into an installation titled The Bianwen Book I. The installation is a contemporary, three-dimensional admix of video, writing, painting, installation art and film and theater sets.
Unlike sujiang chants and bianwen texts, Chen’s Bianwen book does not reinterpret, convert or rewrite canonical theories. Rather, it presents dissent through re-imagining and re-writing the narratives of people and events that are made invisible or difficult to define by bio-politics and the structure of the political economy.
Born in 1960 in Taoyuan, Taiwan, Chen Chieh-jen 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 (1950–87). After martial law ended, Chen ceased art activity for eight years and returned to art in 1996. He has held solo exhibitions at the Mudam Luxembourg; the Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Redcat art center in Los Angeles; the Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid; the Asia Society in New York; and the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. Group exhibitions include: the Venice Biennial, São Paulo Biennial, Lyon Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, etc.