The stranger:
… and while I blossomed all alone,
the world slumbered

(2018) * SMART Residency Programme

Julia Hountou

Curator of the Exhibition in Crochetan (Monthey, Switzerland)

During her residency in the Swiss town of Monthey, Chen discovered large boulders – some the size of houses – hidden in a near-by forest. Rivers of ice transported them down from the mountains over the centuries, and while the glaciers have receded, the boulders have remained. The boulders serve as monuments to the glaciers that once were – containers of time, made to rest in a place that does not belong to them. Chen photographed them, creating a sensitive, human meditation on the ebb-and-flow of nature and her personal response. 

Chen’s boulders exist at the edge of light: close to the lamps of the city, shaded by the forest. She captured them at dawn and at twilight, hours when the light is thin and time becomes muddled. The “The stranger… and while I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered” emerged. In its intimacy with the natural world and feeling for the divine, it calls to mind the poetry of the German Romantic Friedrich Hölderlin. It occupies a place of reverence, triggering a reappraisal of the unknown – and unseen – powers of nature.

* Rest of the name "When I blossomed all alone, the world slumbered” is from a verse of German poet Freidrick Holderlin, written in his tragedy "The Death of Empedocles” in 1798, The story is about  philosopher Empedocles jumping into the crater of Volcano Etna in the Ancient Greece.

在陈的创作中,这些巨石是时间的容载,也是阿尔卑斯山冰川的“纪念碑”,它们目睹了冰川的退化,而这种现象现在仍在继续。这些奇形怪状的大石块被冰川转移到那些本不属于它们的地方,在不稳定的平衡里栖息,在山谷、平原、城市的边缘的光里隐秘显现。萧伊选择在晨暮未醒和夜晚降临的时刻拍摄它们——当光线不明朗的时候,我们对时间的知觉也趋向混沌和永恒。 “当我孤独盛开时,世界还在沉睡”,艺术家在创作中无限接近弗里德里希·荷尔德林诗中的天地与自然的神性。光线的呼吸,正片的沉重与负片的轻盈,都试图提醒我们对时间与空间再一次的感知,在日常世界的逆转中,保持对不可见的自然力量的崇敬。

* 名字的诗句(“当我孤独盛开时,世界还在沉睡”)来自荷尔德林,于1798开始书写(未完成)的悲剧《恩培多克勒之死》,关于公元前5世纪古希腊哲学家恩培多克勒(Empedocles)跳入埃特纳火山口的故事。