The Bearable and Bees, Zhe Chen


The Bearable (2007-2010) is Chen’s confessional photo-documentation of her self-harm history spanning half a decade.

Bees (2010-2012) features a collection of people who, faced with chaos, violence, alienation and irredeemable losses in life, feel propelled to leave physical traces and markings on their bodies, in order to testify and preserve a pure and sensitive mind from within. Besides 45 photographs, the project also compromises 40 groups of journals and letters exchanged between Zhe Chen and her subjects in the duration of two years.

The first glance of Zhe Chen‘s work conveys the idea of secrecy and sentiments, under which lies information awaiting exposure and recognition, like an index page pointing towards all the unanswered questions. The viewers will never be in direct communication with the people in the photographs, unfortunately. They can only see the images and read the words. What is the best way to summarize the reason for our existence? After all, we are only human. Zhe Chen feel responsible to be part of this dialogue.

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