In 2010, Chen I-Hsuen went to Pratt Institute in New York for MA. He studied in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in Fu Jen Catholic University but almost failed the photography course. After graduation, Chen worked in marketing for three years and decided to quit his job and go to New York for photography. This officially put a start to his art career. He continues to experiment the connections between images and art creation through exhibitions, residency, publications, and various media such as video creation, image installation, and performance art. His works has exhibited in various major art museums and alternative space in Taiwan, and was elected to be exhibited in international photo festivals, including New York Photo Festivals, Singapore International Photography Festival, Lianzhou Photo Festival, and Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival. In addition, his works are the permanent collection of Houston Museum of Fine Arts and Kadist Art Foundation.
These photos were taken between July and August of 2018 during my residency in Tsung-Yeh. I was driving in Tainan Xibei, searching for a subject for this project. I tried to follow the model of Nowhere in Taiwan and Still Life Analysis, that is, to find odd objects in the environment. I only started my journey when I noticed advertising boards built by bamboos…
It happened to be before the election, so most of the boards were portraits of election participants. Delicate lighting of the portraits allowed these large photos to shine like gods, but the only difference was that their hand gestures were either having their thumbs up or asking people for their votes. They stood at the intersections of the Chianan Plain along with people and the land.
What supported these large photos were mostly temporary bamboo racks linked by wires. Some were even attached to street lamps or utility poles to strengthen the structure and light up the boards at night time. On the bamboo scaffolds were vines that grew savagely because of humidity. The bamboos were connected to the soil and therefore, wild flowers and weeds also grew furiously upward. The shape of the bamboo structure was like a prophecy for local political and economic relationship: before the election, they support each other and grow together; after the election, the boards are once again the space for real estate or its original advertisements, or are torn down right away, or are left for weathering.
What’s worth mentioning is that typhoon and heavy rain struck during the photoshoot, and therefore, many bamboo scaffolds were tilted to one side by strong winds and seemed destroyed and no longer perfect, which were probably a scene the advertisers least willing to be seen.