In January 2009, I returned to Taiwan for the one year anniversary of my Ah-Gong's passing. As an outsider returning to my homeland, everything was simultaneously foreign and familiar. I sought to reconnect with the spaces around me and in doing so, hoped to reconnect with my Ah-Gong.
Working primarily in digital photography, Vivian Pei-Wen Chen seeks to bring aspects of the world that we ordinarily fail to see into images as unbounded as they are precisely defined. The negative spaces words scarcely touch — the quiet, neglected crannies and vast hollows of big cities, the voids that open up in landscapes, and the slight but overwhelming gaps within dense crowds — are places her eye readily resides, and form the heart of her work. A passage on nothingness from the Tao Te Ching expresses for her how the sheer darkness existing where light does not is what allows her images to emerge: Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that allows the wheel to function. We mold clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that makes the vessel useful. We fashion wood for a house, but it is the emptiness inside that makes it livable. We work with the substantial, but the emptiness is what we use. Tao Te Ching: Chapter 11 by Lao Tzu