Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Gaze of Revolt: Chen Chieh-Jen's historical images and his aesthetic of horror

History has been lingchi-ed, that is, chopped and severed as human bodies. Violence is also gradually internalized, institutionalized and hidden. We do not see where we are and what was before us. We do not see the violence of history or that of the State either. That is the reason why we need to gaze at the images of horror and penetrate through them. Is the dark abyss of wounds not the very crack that we need to pass through so as to arrive at the state of full-realization and self-abandonment?

---Chen Chieh-Jen, About the Forms of My Works

"The trilogy of Lost Voice reaches at the pinnacle of the display of extreme horror. These pictures are based on a photo taken in 1946, during the Civil War period, when the Communist armies took Chongli, 90 miles northern to Zhang Jia Kou, and slaughtered the whole village. The lumps of corpses appear already like a scene in hell. The ecstasy displayed on the face of the self-masturbating and auto-mutilating figures, Chen Chieh-Jen as the models, in transport of joy, dancing on the lumps of corpses, looking back at us, pushes the exasperating painful scene to the extreme."

"We have to view these pictures as an epic, not of the heroes or victories, but of the fate of Chinese in the first half of the twentieth century. It is also an epic of the happenings of human psychic underneath the historical traumatic events. Through these historical photographic images, the histories of Chinese penalties and its residues, Chiang Kai-shek’s slaughtering the communist members during the Qingdang period, the massacres between the Communists and the Kuomintang armies during the Civil War, the Japanese’ colonial domination and manipulation over the Taiwanese, and the intra-ethnic slaughterings among the Taiwanese aboriginals, all re-emerge in front of the audience, but in a very ambiguous and phantasmal mode. The play of the spectatorship and the perverse jouissance make the scenes much crueler than the original historical photo-texts originally intended to be. The recurrence of the double motif in all these pictures seems to further suggest Chen Chieh-Jen’s interpretation of the Chinese-Taiwanese condition, or the splitting of the human psyche. Moreover, Chen Chieh-Jen placed himself in all these pictures, in various roles, as signatures of different identities, and multiplies the ambiguity of the subject position in these acts of violence."

"The Gaze of Revolt:Chen Chieh-Jen's historical images and his aesthetic of horror" by Joyce C. H. Liu

1 comment:

Mizzspontaneous said...

Is there anyway i can buy Gaze of Revolt in a book?