on chen jin's works
The Contemplation on Life
The traditional Chinese dictionary "Shuo Wen Jie Zi Zhu" defines the concept of reflection as the interaction of forms, thoughts and other aspects. More than 1500 days have passed since the destructive earthquake at 14:28:04 on May 12th, 2008. In this drastic moment of life and death, the author, as a survivor and inspector, has since been contemplating on how to capture this unique aspect of life through tiny details, particularly in the context of this time. Photographer Chen Jin presents to the world the calm of the statues of gods toppled down among the ruins, unaware of the unexpected catastrophe. Perhaps what makes idols is exactly this very special charm of tranquility and unawareness in the ways of the world. Chen Jin describes this special charm he has captured as “tranquility and Vairagya”, “the supernatural internal power”, for he has seen human beings in those manmade statues of gods. If the interpretation of Reflection is the intertwining of all forms, then aren’t the fallen statues the continuance of life and death? Thus, in the presentation of image and words, those statues of idols carved with wood and mud, have dissolved into metaphoric symbols of the circle of life. The reflection is the contemplation of life. From the warmth and hubbub of human life in the Teahouse, lively faces changing into fallen statues, the photographer reflects on the continuance of objects, life, death, and self. All life consists of is life and death, and in the images presented before us, Wen Chuan in 2008 was much more an Ashram of reflection than a graveyard of natural disaster.