by Maria Sofou
Zhe Chen is a fine art photographer from Beijing, China whose work has been exhibited in multiple galleries in New York, France, India, China and more. Chen’s photographs mainly discuss the issue of self-harm: her first project, The Bearable, is a confessional photo-journal of her self-harm history, while her second, Bees, is a documentation of self-inflicting activities of others. Bees includes a series of powerful photographs so raw and honest that the viewer may feel uncomfortable watching – behind Chen’s lens the pain unfolds and some people’s most intimate struggle unveils.
She writes: “To jeopardize existence for existence itself: ‘Bees’ recorded a marginalized group of people in China, who, faced with chaos, violence, alienation and irredeemable losses in life, feels propelled to leave physical traces and markings on their bodies, in order to preserve and corroborate a pure and sensitive mind from within… I intend my photographs to inquire upon society’s prejudice and preconception towards this community, and not to become illustrations or pictorial evidence for the topic at hand: every subject is an individual, not just ‘one of them’– his or her life cannot be predicted or dictated by any constructed social code or notion. Not everyone is strong, some are just naturally more sensitive. When the dust settles, some wave their hands and walk away, and others soak it up and digest it. When they feel weak, the bees come up with a rather alternative solution to carry them through the hardships.”
See some of her Bees work: