Bees series

40 archival inkjet prints in Nielsen aluminum frames, 30 groups of texts

… if hurt, they breathe
Venom into their bite, cleave to the veins
And let the sting lie buried, and leave their lives
Behind them in the wound
- Virgil, The Georgics

In the aim of portraying the disquieted souls, the wounded bodies and the elusive link between the two, Chen Zhe continued to penetrate the psychological labyrinth by expanding her photographic observations with a collection of letters, dairy entries, online chat histories, quote fragments and scribbles that exchanged between the artist and her subjects.

蜜蜂 系列




Bees #065-01, 2010

… said the man softly with downcast eyes. He seemed to have an uncanny purchase on the drift of my thought.

"Let me be as frank as possible with you," the man spoke up, "Speaking frankly and speaking the truth are two different things entirely. Honesty is to truth as prow is to stern. Honesty appears first and truth appears last. The interval between varies in direct proportion to the size of ship. Within anything of size, truth takes a long time in coming. Sometimes it only manifests itself posthumously. Therefore, should I impart you with no truth at this juncture, that is through no fault of mine. Nor yours."

"The reason I called you all this way here was to set the ship in forward motion. You and I together shall move it forward. By discussing matters in all honesty, we shall proceed one step at a time closer to the truth."

Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase

Bees #012-01, 2010

Bees #010-02, 2010

Bees #009-01, 2010

Darkness. There's a lot I don't remember, or maybe I just don't have the nerve to. Deep down, what's there has always been there. It might be a bit childish to call it suicidality. But I'm not sure if that's darkness per se.

Self-harm. I have had experiences and I think about it occasionally still. But I always have my reservations towards it. Maybe it's because now my heart is not as pure anymore. When I look back on those days, nothing bad comes to mind. Self-harm is in fact rather uncomplicated. (That's how I understand it.)

Depression. Recently it has been brought to my attention that some of my friends are depressed. Whenever I talk about it with people around me, they always say stay away from it or don't ever be depressed. I think I know what it means to be depressed, like those times when I would just lie in my room purposelessly. I would have no desire to eat or open the window. I can still get into that mode pretty easily, especially when I go to bed.

(Illustration) It would look somewhat like this.

Bees #046-03, 2010

"What I want to do.
I cannot do.
I do what I hate.
Was I false to you?"

Bees #054-07, 2010

Bees #X12-18, 2010

…Yes, you are the same. I wonder what the rest of your life will be. Don't spoil it by renunciations. … Don't deceive yourself. Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. … There are moments when the odour of lilas blanc passes suddenly across me, and I have to live the strangest month of my life over again.

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Bees #029-09, 2010

Bees #086-10, 2011

I don’t write anything brutal or deathly anymore, not because I’m unable to, but because I’ve started to realize that I’d rather be crude than be extreme all the time. Extremity doesn’t make you seem cool. It’s a problem you have to deal with on your own. It’s a darkness you have to face alone when the entire world is asleep. Or it might just simply be an addiction.

Bees #063-01, 2010

As I cut myself deep, a wave of bewilderment swept over me. I understand perfectly - while focusing on the silky, creamy senses from my open skin - that this is human flesh I'm cutting. But this is also the flesh that can be used as food, the flesh that makes me hungry for more.

Like what Jean-Paul Sartre said: Remove existence from the self. Transpire the grease from time. Twist it hard, and wring it dry. It will make us pure and it will make us firm. So we could make clear precise notes like a saxophone.

Bees #042-01, 2010

Bees #020-05, 2010

I do not have a self. It hasn't been lost. I've simply never had one. I've always relied on imitation to survive. Without imitation, my world will cease to function.

I had always thought that my biggest enemy was myself. But I realized that maybe I modeled the defective self after other people. My biggest enemies are the others. My whole life is a competition between other people.

I’ve become envious of people I used to consider inferior and not worthy of my criticism. Yes. At least they live in the world as themselves. I despised them, only because people who held power and authority might have expressed contempt at them, and I merely imitated their ability to do so - just so I would feel elevated and superior. As for the real me, the real me… is no more than a deranged lunatic who clings to imitation to survive.

I can state fairly and squarely, that I wouldn’t be able to live for a second if I gave up imitation altogether. It’s the only thing I have faith in now. I am a frog, drenched in despair, gaping at the tiny piece of sky above my head. Whatever part of me is exposed in the sun, the whole world would see it. I am scared. I don’t want to be exposed, not even a little bit. I futilely try to escape to a corner somewhere, to a nice place that the sun has already abandoned. And there, I will swallow my last breath.

Bees #054-06, 2010

Bees #019-01, 2010

Bees #042-08, 2010

After my trip to Amsterdam, I feel like I have reconciled with myself. That one night, I became aware of how juvenile and bogus I had been. And I held on to that honesty I felt within. I had always had conversations with myself in my journal entries, tempting myself to change. It was in fact a painful process. I hope I could keep this calm perspective, this willingness to be friends with myself. I hope I can protect my nature, instead of distorting it. Now I always cry, but it is very different from before. I had been so repressed before that crying had lost its significance. I plan to accept everything that I had considered flawed in my character, and conserve it for the long run. I don’t need to be better. I just want to live the way I am. My sense might not allow me to be happy, but my sensibility undoubtedly can.

A letter from NO
April 26, 2012

Bees #018-01, 2010

Bees #002-01, 2010

…mysterious and strange…

This was the most secret, most profound agony I’d suffered and I assumed I’d never be able to share it with another; the agony was quite real, but as I realized with surprise at that instant (when I share it), it wasn’t the least bit sincere.

Orhan Pamuk, My Name Is Red


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