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Bees & The Bearable.  Photographs and text by Chen Zhe.
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Bees & The Bearable.

Photographs and text by Chen Zhe.
Jiazazhi, Ningbo, China, 2016. In Chinese/English. 280 pp., 75 color plates, 40 grayscale journals & letters.

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2016 by:
Publisher's Description

Out of Print.

Second Printing of 800 copies.

Chen Zhe's first series, The Bearable (2007-2010), is a reflective documentation of her dark, though occasionally euphoric, history of self-inflicted harm. Chen continued to penetrate the psychological labyrinth of self-realisation in her subsequent project Bees (2010-2012). By expanding her photographic observations with a collection of letters, dairy entries, online chat histories, quote fragments and scribbles that she exchanged with her subjects, Chen searched after the possibility of “another way of telling" in the aim of portraying the disquieted souls, the wounded bodies and the elusive link between the two.

The book is Chen's closing statement of her long contemplation on the issue. Presented as a layered notebook which weaves in and out of images and texts, the publication restores Chen's practice as an ongoing process of exploration, discovery and research. What happens when actions that can jeopardize one's existence, such as hurting one's own body, in return serve the purpose of understanding the existence itself? Should we see it as a fluky escape, or a relief from the weight of modern life? While the individual response may differ, this book illustrates that there still lies psychological connectedness that undoubtedly link each of us together. Everything else follows from there.

Bees & The Bearable has been exhibited worldwide and won numerous awards such as Inge Morath Award, Three Shadows Photography Award, Flash Forward Emerging Photographer, Xitek New Talent Award and Photographer of the Year, Lianzhou Photography Festival. The project is also featured in TV documentaries produced by ARTE, France/Germany; NHK WORLD, Japan and Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, China. The publication Bees & The Bearable was awarded the Best Photobook of the Year by Kassel Fotobookfestival in 2016.

Chen Zhe (b.1989, Beijing) received her BFA in Photography and Imaging from Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. Her works will recently be featured in exhibitions at The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9), Queensland, Australia and Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan. Her works has been exhibited at OCAT Museum Xi’an, Xi’an (solo, 2018); CAFA Art Museum, Beijing (2017); The 11th Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai (2016); Power Station of Art, Shanghai (2016); Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2016); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); and Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing (2011).

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