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Rooftop, 2018-2019, three-channel video 6.1  sounds multimedia installation, HD, 13 min 35 sec (loop). Courtesy of the artist. Music and Sound Design: SHENG.



Rooftop, 2018-2019, three-channel video 6.1  sounds multimedia installation, HD, 13 min 35 sec (loop). Courtesy of the artist. Music and Sound Design: SHENG.



Rooftop, 2018-2019, three-channel video 6.1  sounds multimedia installation, HD, 13 min 35 sec (loop). Courtesy of the artist. Music and Sound Design: SHENG.




Chu ChunTeng

The Second Genre: The Sub-history of Wildlife Trade



Yunnan’s Tengchong, the city is known for its production of jadeite and the practice of stone gambling, which refers to betting on the value of raw jadeite stones because it is impossible to determine a jadeite stone’s worth before it is cut open and polished.

Since China does not have any jadeite mines, the country relies on importing the precious stone from Burma, rendering Tengchong a crucial geographical gateway for jadeite import, export as well as jadeite processing businesses in China and giving birth to the local culture of stone gambling.

In 2018, I arrived at this border city, and my first impression of it was its innumerous stone processing factories and jadeite products everywhere in the city. A seemingly ordinary stone can be processed and turned into a precious, valuable piece of jadeite jewelry. The frenzy demonstrated by the locals and tourists towards the raw jadeite stones made me wonder about the significance and meaning of a stone.

One of the most eye-catching event for me in Tengchong was that thousands of people would gather at a certain site to dig jadeite in the city’s historic town. In the past few years, urban renewal plans have been carried out; and whenever an old building was torn down, thousands of people would come afterwards and hope to find some of the leftover jadeite thrown away and buried at the site since the Ming and Qing dynasties. The incessant hammering created countless deep holes on the ground, in which hundreds of people would still be digging inside. It was a surreal scene reminiscent of an archaeological site. These people dig as if all their future hopes relied on this never-ending action.

The organizer of this artist residency is the largest real estate developer in Yunnan, and the residency venue locates in its latest development project. Upon arrival at the venue, my entire body was conquered by the comfortable atmosphere that this neighborhood of villas was immersed in.

Nevertheless, as my stay unfolded, a sense of unrealness and detachment grew stronger and stronger. It was until one day that I encountered the cleaning maid whose job was to clean the display house that this feeling vanished. The cleaning lady’s job was to keep everything immaculate, and therefore, no one knew the display in the house better than her. However, she was not allowed to sit or leave any traces of her existence in the house. This encounter immediately pulled me back into reality. I had been living in a dream-like world constructed and maintained by others, she was simply a passenger trapped inside of it.

My three-week stay in Tengchong put me through a journey of traversing through a parallel universe charged with desires. I was also torn by the unignorable conflicts and contradictions between reality and future, which pushed me into a vortex similar to the life of the jadeite miners who have been stuck in a cycle of digging, waiting and digging again.

Profile

Born in 1982 in Taipei, Taiwan, Chu ChunTeng received his M.F.A. from Goldsmith University of London (2010). He made a number of feature films and participated in international film festivals while in college. Upon receiving B.A. in film, he shifted toward installation and video. Chu is deeply concerned with the dilemma of individuals in the social hierarchy and political conflicts of modern society. He has exhibited extensively, including the Taipei Biennial 2014, Kunsthaus Essen, Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum, Glasgow Center for Contemporary Arts, and Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2013 Chu founded a co-working art space “Polymer” in Taipei, which promotes interdisciplinary art practices and artistic experiments, and served as its first executive director until 2016.