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Chen Chieh-jen

Factory, Taiwan , 2003

Super 16 mm transferred to DVD, no sound, 30:50 min.

In the course of the sixties, cold war relationships and a cheap work force were combined to make Taiwan one of the world’s main centers of industrial manufacture. But in the nineties, Taiwan’s intensive industrial production began to extend beyond its own borders, into regions with an even cheaper work force. This transition led to the closure of numerous plants in the country, and the firing of their employees.

The film portrays the factory’s women employees, who were fired overnight without prior notice or any adequate compensation. The return of the women to the Lien Fu plant where they had worked for over twenty years, takes them back seven years to the closed-down factory.  The plant had been moved outside Taiwan’s borders, in consequence of a decision to seek out a suitable work force, and of advanced technology, leaving the devoted women employees stripped of their means of livelihood, and a region subjected to economic distress without any alternate employment.

The women who consented to return to the plant and hold the silent display of performance Art, did so in a mute protest and a display of powerlessness. Unlike others, these are the women who, by dint of their age, did not leave their families behind to head off to distant places in search of the income they require for their survival.

The ritual encounter between the women and the derelict structure awakens repressed memories and feelings, inducing the spectator to identify with them.

The artist incorporated into the film archive footage from the plant’s history at the peak of its prosperity in the sixties, when the Taiwan government recruited women for work there, making them the foundation for the nation’s pride at that time.  In an interview, Chen Chieh-Jen said:

"I intend not only to represent Taiwan's manufacturing history or a specific struggle of the past. More importantly, with a narration of images without sound, I hope to reflect on a derelict factory and female workers' life histories in a way that explores the essence of time and considers people who live in marginal areas, at the same time allowing their life experiences to reveal themselves in a silent manner."

The film was screened at the 2005 Venice Biennale.