Coexisting with Crisis? A third kind of slack farming season!
After the Explosion - Chen Han Sheng Solo Exhibition
In 2019, artist Chen Han Sheng held his third solo exhibition “After the Explosion” in Powen Gallery. Inspired by a noise barrier wall, his work tours the area between the Renda Industrial Park (Renwu Industrial Park and Dashe Industrial Park) and the Chingyun Temple in Dashe District to describe daily co-existence with crisis in Kaoshiung's agricultural industry and petrochemical industry.
A graduate of Taipei National University of the Arts Department of New Media Art, Chen Han Sheng began his solo exhibitions in 2016 with “Green & Gray” and “The Last Farm Boy.” The genesis of both exhibitions is in the agricultural livelihood of his family. His works are an analogy between the labor of art and the labor of farming and explored him as an artist and his relationship with his family.
Chen Han Sheng launched the “After the Explosion” from the Green Memorial Wall in Sanzhong Road, Ren Da Industrial Park. He observed and delved into the daily life of Dashe District both inside and outside of the noise barrier wall. In addition to labor, he also discussed the definition of another type of "slack farming.
Chen Han Sheng is adept at power equipment and traditional fiber crafts, which he demonstrated in his past solo exhibitions “Playful Objects” and “Symbiotic Seedlings”. In this exhibition, he used spring blossom artistry to reproduce plants commonly seen in the Dashe District. He combined them with motorized devices while using wood grain and hand-painted glaze porcelain to suggest the surrounding mountains in Dashe.
A green wall monument is installed in the display window outside the exhibition space. On the monument is a record of factory incidents such as unexplained gas leakage, wastewater discharge and machine explosion that spurred the construction of the explosion-proof wall. The exhibit, “After the Explosion”, is an imagery of the factory explosion scene in the year that the artist was born. In addition to the factory chimneys and oil storage tanks, embellishments from the door-god of Chingyun Temple are also part of the portrayal. The door-god of Dashe Chingyun Temple is drawn by Tsai Tsao-Ru, an important Tainan temple artist. Chen Han Sheng combined the images of cranes, lions and deer in the door-god figure to symbolize the connection between local beliefs and local industries. Stainless steel door panels commonly seen in households are combined in screen style to metaphorize isolation and obscurity associated with walls, which provide protection or perhaps to reduce the awareness of crisis?
The change in industrial structure has resulted into different types of farming slack in Dashe. One is the slack at the end of farming season, the other is a slack by abandoning farming. Craft is a way for Chen Han Sheng to examine contemporary art and labor production. Through his solo exhibition, he explored his relationship with his hometown and fulfilled a third kind of farming slack with his art.
After the Explosion not only echoes the current situation in Chen Han Sheng's hometown, but also the difficulties confronting the development of petrochemical industry and agriculture in Kaohsiung, which is the epitome of Taiwan's industrial transformation.