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Chenchenchen’s conceptual art

Last Updated on 2020/10/31

The Mercy of Not Killing is a series begun in 2016 with Chenchenchen’s performance at MING Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai: grabbing on to a beam, he hung ten meters high above the main floor of the museum, suspended in mid-air for about an hour (MONK 1.0).

The subsequent “Mercy of Not Killing 2.0” (MONK 2.0) was commissioned by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. It was conceived and directed by ccc in February 2017 in Wuxi. In a setup that seems to derive from a classical action movie, ten construction workers held on to the edges of a former water-tower as though about to fall to their deaths. A circling drone documented their plight. The dire, dystopian outlook of these works raises questions about common humanism and universal connection, voluntary compassion, and the suspension of brutality in everyday life.

The monumental performance was presented as an interactive multi-media installation at UCCA’s seminal group show “The New Normal: Art and China in 2017”. ccc will recreate a site-specific setup for his solo-show in Berlin, while also adding new works to the series.

chenchenchen - MONK 2.0
MONK 2.0

Artist Statement:

“‘The Mercy of Not Killing’ depicts an interpersonal relation that is easily
overlooked in nowadays society. It refers to a situation in which one individual restrains his will in various ways to avoid killing others around him. This mercy can be viewed as a joint positive power, generated by balancing a variety of forces that a human of modern society has to bear. A glamour of humanity beneath this social order will be ultimately unveiled. From its real life representations, the exhibited artworks are devoted to extract this delicate relationship for audiences to explore.” (Chenchenchen)

Chen himself performing at MING Museum Shanghai

Possible babies

Possible babies originated from ccc’s ongoing exploration into “successology” and “genealogy”, topics particularly relevant to Chinese culture. The series began in 2012 and comprises a variety of media such as manipulated photography, digital design, painting, sculpture and, most recently, the video-game “Find Chenchenchen and Kill Him”, which was developed in conjunction with the art-project space “Wyoming Project” in Beijing in 2017.

In an old-school virtual world reminiscent of the Counterstrike games of the early 2000s, the player interacts with ccc’s “possible babies”: the artist’s virtual offsprings, created in previous works.

Amongst the plethora of ccc-lookalikes, the gamer has to find ccc’s avatar —the father figure— and kill him. The uncanny scenario opens up a multitude of connotations and issues: patriarchy, hierarchy and incest, cultism and collective consciousness and what the artist describes as a narrative of “benign narcissism.” In conjunction with MONK, “Possible Babies” continues the motif of virtual death.

_Killing Chenchenchen_ Video Game_Still

POOR SCI-FI & Successology

Chenchenchen’s conceptual approach to art covers a wide range of media: digital art, performance, painting, sculpture, installation and music. While each individual project has its own unique themes and is carried out by distinct means of representation, ccc’s artworks meticulously assemble into his main conceptual framework of “Poor Sci-Fi”: a science-fiction devised from normal life rather than from a glamorous utopian vision. ccc regards “Poor Sci-Fi” as an experimental construct generated from our common fears and primitive desires. An additional clue to ccc’s long-term research is “successology”, the study of the concepts and meaning of genealogy, success and successorship
in the most literal sense of these words.

These terms are of specific relevance in today’s China, where the one-child policy was only abolished as recently as in 2015. “Successology” is also the focus of Chen’s current PhD project at Capital Normal University, Beijing.

CHENCHENCHEN | 陈陈陈 Biography


1987 — born in Hangzhou, lives & works in
Hangzhou & Beijing
2010 — B.A. in Mixed-Media Art, China
Academy of Art, Hangzhou
2012 — M.A. at the Studio of Total Art, School
of Inter-Media Art (SIMA), Hangzhou
Since 2014 — PhD-candidate at the
Department of Philosophy, Capital Normal
University, Beijing
2018 Chenchenchen: The Mercy of Not Killing, MO-Industries & Migrant Bird Space, Berlin
2018 Dragon Station, Yanqingli, Shanghai, China
2017 Possible Baby, Wyoming Project, Beijing, China
2016 The Mercy of Not Killing 1.0 (Performance), MING Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2014 Teaching and Learning, Art Museum of Nanjing University of Arts, Nanjing, China
2013 Zoology, Inna Contemporary Art Space, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
2010 Empire Pavilion of Successology, WUBEI Gallery, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China
2017 The New Normal: Art and China in 2017, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, China
2016 China Now, Oxo Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2015 Try It Again, <24ARTnaissance>, Today Art Museum, Beijing, China
2014 Wish You Were Here, ART SANYA, Sanya, China
2014 Aquaculture Plan for the Homo Sapiens, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, China
2013 Wish You Were Here, Documentary Academy Award of China, Beijing, China
2013 Wish You Were Here, Focus on the Future Talents of Art , Beijing, China
2013 Wish You Were Here, Polyphonic: 21 versions, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
2012 Empire Pavilion of Successology, Reading at Night, London, UK
2012 Empire Pavilion of Successology, 8090 Youth, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China

MO-INDUSTRIES is a POP-UP gallery and art agency with teammembers
in Singapore, Shanghai, Doha, Frankfurt and Berlin. Committed to
introducing exciting young artists and contemporary art from Asia to the
West and vice versa, MO sheds light on cultural traits and peculiarities. MO
continues to work on enlarging its global footprint, searching temporary
spaces for its shows with a main focus – thus far – on conceptual art, new
media art and photography.

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