I-Hsuen Chen: I am Leaving this City

I-Hsuen Chen

By William Kustiono

On Thursday, July 11th, Taiwanese artist I-Hsuen Chen held his first major exhibition, I am Leaving this City, at hpgrp GALLERY NEW YORK. This exhibition was sponsored by Ministry of Culture, R.O.C. (Taiwan). Chen received a MFA in Photography from Pratt Institute in 2012. Chen earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing before he pursued a Master in Fine Arts degree. While earning his bachelor’s, Chen showed great potential and passion for photography. After receiving his Marketing degree, he decided to continue pursue MFA in Photography. His work has been selected for the New York Photo Festival’s 2012 Invitational. He has received an award and was chosen as one of Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Photographers 2012.

Chen’s first major body of work is Nowhere in Taiwan. Chen hit the road like one of those road trip movies and he documented every single moment of his trip in his own homeland. Most of the images are taken in the vague areas between the urban and the rural areas. He took these images because he defines them as a series of symbols and traces of human activities in Taiwan.

During the exhibition, Chen presented his collectible photography to the audience. He briefly explained the description of his photos one by one. On the Nowhere in Taiwan, he explained that he took these pictures during his trip in Taiwan. His pictures are very alluring and mysterious. Somehow they attract the audience’s imaginative perception. One of the examples shown was a picture depicting a woman turning backwards. From the audience’s perspective Chen explained that she might be packing her stuff or perhaps she just stretching her back.

Nowhere in Taiwan

Another piece of his many works is In Between. Chen used his personal intimate memories accumulated from the two years he spent in the U.S. to make this book. Every single image “stadium” has been intentionally positioned in the book, making any faces or facial impressions invisible. This is one of the reasons why Chen likes to describe his work as a mysterious art. The audience is only able to peek at the abstract figures or ambiguous narrative elements leaving the audience curious about the images.

Chen also explained about the last two pieces of his works, Still Life Taiwan and Past in the Future. Still Life Taiwan describes about his photography journey in Taiwan. He observed and documented the sculpture shaped by Taiwan’s society and culture. Past in the Future, is his most recent project. He purposely added future dates to his photographs although they were taken from the past. Chen stated that he described and figured his future in a particularly lifestyle after leaving from New York.

At the end of the exhibition, Chen gave a little insight about his upcoming project. Currently, he is still brainstorming about the situation after he moves back to Taiwan. He is still trying to figure out how to expand his knowledge about photography in Taiwan. Perhaps, in the future he could be a great photographer or maybe a movie director. We wish him best luck in Taiwan and hope to see him again in the future.

Past in the future

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