Text by Darren Tesar

“If the center is indeed “the displacing of the question,” it is because the unnamable bottomless well whose sign the center was, has always been surnamed; the center as a sign of the hole that the book attempted to fill.” — Jacques Derrida

Within her photographic series “The Distance Between”, Wen-Li Chen presents us with something rather interesting: a series of images processed through the results of intimate interviews (companion text book not included in the submission) with her mother and grandmother that – only through a trust and a generosity that a familial exchange can permit – move us beyond an autobiographical impulse and, instead, toward a gauzy amalgamation of three unique individual women representing (knowingly or unknowingly) their understandings of each other from the vantage point of three very different social landscapes in Taiwanese history.

In other words (and echoic of Derrida), the survey is surnamed with her own, Chen. The strength of her presentation is equally dispersed between the processed images and the tangible taboo of destroying the source material. A source material that was torn, marred, and forced together - either through raw vivisection or cold repetition - into a reified experience of the divisive power of the photographic image: both as material and time. Ultimately, we witness the process of sacrifice akin to photography: images using/obsolescing images to be seen, again, as worthwhile and meaningful images.

10.05.2013 — 10.17.2013
Cupar Art Festival, Fife, UK

Glasgow School of Art Graduation Degree Show, Glasgow, UK

  1. Photography Book, 16.5x22.8x1 cm,
    29 images, 60pages, including text, mixed paper
  2. Q & A, Text Book, 10.5x13.7x3 cm,
    428pages, cutting inside
  3. Framed Photography Work, 42x29.7 cm


Medium into material and back into becoming another medium. Photography and the photograph bridge in their countless reflections, intentions and personal memories in order to bring something back, namely an impossible security in being a Taiwanese woman. A half-blood offspring of dying people (Kavalan) populated more by old amateur photographs than those living today.




︎ Photobooks
︎ Prints

︎︎︎ EN



Wen-Li Chen is a Taiwanese-born, Saint Paul-based interdisciplinary artist, arts administrator, and graphic designer. Wen-Li is moved to encounter and present intergeneration, dwelling, and inheritance through oblique poetics, vulnerable histories, enduring relationships, and personal experiences. Her artwork often takes the form of books, photo essays, photography, videos, found objects, and installations. Wen-Li has shown her works internationally and nationally.