Multidisciplinary artist Yin-Ju Chen’s practice spans the mediums of video, photography, drawing and installation, with an oeuvre featuring works that reflect a primary interest in the relationship between cosmic events and human behaviour. By combining sacred geometry, alchemical symbols and mandalas with horary astrology – the creation of horoscopes for the exact time of a major incident or occurrence – Chen reinterprets important historical events through a series of intricate, map-like drawings, continuing her investigation of the concept of power and its role and function in society.
In Liquidation Maps, 2014/2016, Chen re-examines political genocide and massacres in recent Asian histories. She has created intricately drawn star charts mapping the specific astrological permutations that correspond to five historical events: the Lesser Kinmen Massacre of 1987 (Taiwan), the Sook Ching Massacres of 1942 (Singapore), the Khmer Rouge genocide of 1975 (Cambodia), the massacres in East Timor of 1999, and the Gwangju Uprising of 1980 (South Korea). Tracing the cosmic cartography of the planets at the time these events were beginning to unfold, Chen’s drawings both map moments in time and point to the circular nature of time itself. In one chart, Chen draws from the personal horoscope of the Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. The horoscope eerily indicates the political and economic turmoil in Cambodia well before the full extent of the atrocities took place. By visually re-creating the horary astrological conditions at the time these events occurred, Chen traces the non-linear determinations of time, where human action is highly dependent upon the cosmos in which it is embedded.
For Chen, these astrological interactions reveal a consciousness of the universe (macro) that governs all human behaviour (micro) via preordained laws that exist beyond human rationalisation alone. By focusing on repeated acts of violence in human history, Chen asks whether cyclical time, rather than linear-progressive narratives of history, binds humanity to inescapable universal trajectories.
Recent solo exhibitions of Yin-Ju Chen’s works include ‘The Lemurian’, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester and KADIST Art Foundation, San Francisco
(2016); and ‘Action at a Distance – Yin-Ju Chen’, IT PARK, Taipei (2015). Selected group exhibitions that feature her work include ‘Interrupted Survey (Fractured
Modern Mythologies)’, Asia Culture Center, Gwangju (2015); ‘Social Factory’, 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); ‘The Invisible Hand: Curating as Gesture’, 2nd Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum Biennale, Beijing (2014).