PRINT February 2020


Tianzhuo Chen, ADAHA, 2014. Performance view, Bank, Shanghai, July 19, 2014. Photo: Zhuang Yan.

TIANZHUO CHEN’S PROJECTS and personae radiate a new animism: His chthonic protagonists carry ancient feelings, yet arrive like fresh symbols to our world. His performances—whether in theaters, museums, or nightclubs—are neo-Taoist hallucinations in which anarchy is joyfully permitted to take over, to override and overwrite the horrific banalities of the present. Chen invites the audience to wander through these spaces: to gaze, to daze, to, as in last year’s Trance, dance and meditate to hazy beats as they glide past diapered bodies. This immersive protocol is suffused with Chen’s own yearning for transcendence, that fiery demand to get beyond this body, along with the dread that maybe this is all we’ve really got.

Tianzhuo Chen, An Atypical Brain Damage, 2017. Performance view, Steirischer Herbst, Dom im Berg, Graz, Austria, October 12, 2017. Photo: Peiyu Shen.

Chen was born in Beijing in 1985, leaving in 2007 to pursue undergraduate and graduate art degrees in London. In the United Kingdom, he was exposed to the local

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