“The vessel of nature”, Stella Chen (2015), performance and ceramics
Taiwanese born painter, printmaker and ceramicist, Stella Chen is serious about her craft/(s). When asked if she has a preparation ritual before a performance, Chen explained, in real-time, as she is currently preparing for an exhibition opening (6pm, Sunday 27th September) for IDENTIFY (27th to 30th September at Monster Mouse Studios, Marrickville);
I am actually on a detox program to prepare my body for the performance. As a performance artist, it is only ethical for me to utilise my body in its best form without any distraction, especially food. There were four full days without any solid food, and then I allow myself to consume some plain biscuits.
Although this seems particularly disciplined and insular, Chen follows a classic Chinese epistemology, whereby ‘each person’s self-awareness was based upon a holistic understanding of the world, which was structured as an interactive relationship between humanity and nature (tianren heyi 天人合一)’ (Stanford 2014). Here Chen understands ‘nature’ as “our bodies as vessels for the food we consume. In its purest form, food comes from the earth and embodies all its goodness and imperfections. We become what we eat; our bodies are vessels that contain nature itself” (Chen 2015). Refer again to the mentioned epistemology and suddenly an exploration of food consumption is the perfect anecdote for a philosophy where, ‘the unity of all cosmic beings was seen in terms of the organismic and dynamic wholeness of nature and society’ (Stanford 2014). Chen summarises this as ‘how we go about our lives, our interaction with nature and in particular our sources of food, forms the very essence of our being’.
IDENTIFY merges printmaking and ceramics in an expanded field, featuring, installations, audio-visual, 2D and 3D prints and Chen’s performance, The Vessel of Nature. Chen will be introduced at the official opening of IDENTIFY by Michael Kempson, Director of Cicada Press and Course Convenor of Printmaking University of New South Wales Art & Design, Sunday 27th September at 6pm. Chen was also recently selected and shown at Gaffa for the Yen Female Art Award 2015. See this link for further details;
Stanford Encyclopeadea of philosophy 2014, The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, accessed 19 September 2015, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/chinese-epistemology/