Chinese artist's movie about Bay Area Occupy
James sez, "Chinese artist Li Chen embedded with the Bay Area Occupy movement and created this beautiful film that's also about the frailty of memory and language. 'I was there because I had never witnessed a protest before in my life,' she says in her artist's statement. "As a Chinese citizen, I spent many sleepless nights with hundreds of American protesters." The film is one of eight entries in Love of Sun, an online exhibit curated by Rachel Kennedy depicting California artists' visions of China -- and Chinese artists' visions of California."
What attracted me to the Occupy Movement was different than what attracted most of the people there. I was neither a protester, nor a photojournalist. I was there because I had never witnessed a protest before in my life. This was the first time I was tear-gassed, and the first time I was almost put into prison. These experiences drove me to the protest again and again. As a Chinese citizen, I spent many sleepless nights with hundreds of American protesters.
My background is filmmaking. Maybe this is the reason I recorded audio when I was taking photos. In my head, this piece would look like Chris Marker’s La Jetee. It should tell a story by using still photos, dialogue, and sound effects. The difference is that La Jetee is a fictional story made as planned, while mine is a documentary story unplanned.
There is an important reason I use still photos to tell this story. We can take out a single photo inside the piece, and it can represent another time and location. In these photos, we can see young couples falling asleep in the dark night inside a tent on a square they occupied; we can see a young man thrown down by the police; we can see a woman crying with sadness. We can say this is the Occupy Movement in America in 2011; we can also say this is Berkeley in the 70s; we can even say this is China, Middle East, Rio, or Istanbul in 2013. History is repeating itself everyday.