Asian Father – Chen Chin-lien, Chiayi

Artist: Hou Chun-Ming
painting | acrylic on cardboard | 2000x1170mm | 2014

Since 2008, Hou Chun-ming has been exploring relationships with “fathers” in different cities across Asia as part of his Asian Father project. Hou has been guiding his participants gradually, inviting them to dismantle figurative symbols representing their fathers through questionnaires, writing and doodles. He then reconstructs participants’ images of their fathers with these symbols, returning the converted images and prompting them to respond anew to the unpacked memories of their fathers. As a guide to his participants throughout this ritualistic procedure, Hou unearths the microcosmic essence of “the Asian father” by seeking out the symbols of the participants’ fathers. When memory is mixed with the present, the original image of the father begins to change as symbols are converted and reinterpreted, and life experience is transmuted into myth. Following the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, the disintegration of patriarchal Fascism gave Hou a niche to launch desiring machines. His early works, such as Pleasure Tableaux and Searching Gods, pushed the line between art and erotica. He challenged patriarchal law and struck out against the Fascist elements inherent in capitalist society. However, the entwined relationship between Hou’s artistic creation and life experiences brought upon a depressive breakdown, prompting him to spend six, seven years writing and painting mandalas, which transformed this period of psychological distress into a new mode of artistic creation. Asian Fathers is a product of this self-healing process. Through self-deconstruction, Hou takes part in the relationship between his interviewees and their fathers as an artist. The image of the father is no longer tied to the family structure. It sublimates into a symbol of identity, allegory or self-realization.


The 10th Shanghai Biennale - Social Factory | 2014.11.23 - 2015.03.31 | Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum(Shanghai, China)