Asia

Chen Chieh-Jen
Empire's Borders II-Passage

Empire’s Borders II – Passage and Empire’s Borders II – Workers are from the three-channel film installation Empire’s Borders II – Western Enterprise, Inc. (2010), which takes as its point of departure the political context of the 1950s and the Cold War, when American interests in Taiwan overlapped with the Chinese civil war. Cooperating with the Chinese Kuomintang, the American CIA established something called Western Enterprises, an agency whose main tasks included training an anti-Communist National Salvation Army (NSA) for a surprise attack on Communists in mainland China and establishing Taiwan as a base for anti-Communist operations in Southeast Asia. Narrated from the point of the view of the artist’s father, once a member of the NSA, the project interweaves personal experience with historical events. The restaged ruins of the old Western Enterprise base have a haunting atmosphere, silently recounting the complex history of Taiwanese-American relations in an era of global tensions and conflicts. 

One of the most established artists working in Taiwan today, Chen Chieh-Jen creates highly politically charged works that are deeply rooted in his homeland, examining the modern history of Taiwan within the larger context of globalization. Through the visual language of video and photography, he explores collective memories, perceptions, and historical constructions that are closely related to the recent rise of neoliberalism. The work resists the existing “logic” of history writing by looking into past events in depth. It also imagines and proposes new forms of history with democratic potential—histories that counter official ideologies and are actually written by the people.