Chen Qiulin’s work About Chen is an extension of the artist’s iconic performance and installation piece Tofu - 100 Chinese Surnames, 2004. The latter was a large scale installation of the most common Chinese surnames spelled out in tofu letters along a newly built road running through Sichuan countryside. The work contrasts Chinese ancient traditions through scripture, family names and the medium tofu, set amidst the historically lush and untouched Sichuan countryside, with the smooth, fast and intangible hardness of new infrastructure. The sculpted family names are common throughout China, evoking ordinary Chinese people; a point further stressed by the medium because of its widespread use as basic Chinese ingredient. The road - photographed by Chen without beginning or end in sight, seems to catapult the letters - the common Chinese, towards an undefined and possibly more stringent future.
About Chen recalls the original work in situ by focusing on the decomposition of a single tofu letter, filmed in time lapse, and once more poses the question whether contemporary changes within China create a society of opportunity or a society of loss. Chen’s work investigated Chinese traditions and history and its current role and is deeply concerned with China’s rapid and often destructive urbanisation.
Chen Qiulin lives and works in Chengdu and Beijing, China.