Hangfeng Chen explores the potency of reappropriating archival materials (footage and image) with narratives to establish and question his position as a visual artist and filmmaker. He considers found archival materials as collective memories, while his own materials are personal memories. He collages the two as a method of thinking and storytelling: memories are often fragmented and incomplete, and collage is a means to speculate on how personal and collective memories could be interconnected. His research interests include 'exoticism', invasive species, Covid-19 and the absurdity of human exceptionalism. His work draws on archival materials from the pre-discovery Chinese voyages in the 15th century and the Dutch Golden Age to the found images of Neo-colonialism in Africa.
The research into the concept of 'exoticism' served as a catalyst for the ongoing project The Intertwined Dream. Herein, the filmmaker constructs a dream narrative that allows his consciousness to rove between the body of a chameleon and his own self. Navigating both childhood memories and recent experiences, the work moves from oceanic voyages to the Pre-discovery Map of Africa. Eventually, both the filmmaker and the viewer find themselves immersed in a trance-like state, amidst a collage of glitches interwoven with previously-encountered imagery. Using multilayered montage, animation, and aural storytelling, the project explores the interconnectedness among diverse historical temporalities.
Hangfeng Chen, originally from Shanghai, was born right after the cultural revolution, and grew up within an economically booming and fast changing society in China. He’s educated as a painter at the Shanghai Fine Art College, a self-taught graphic designer, and a filmmaker. Reappropriation has always been a method in his work, which made him move between fine arts and cinema, particularly in the field of papercut, collage, and animation.
Since 2017 he has been living and working between Shanghai and Amsterdam. His works have been shown and collected by various galleries and museums across the continents, including Rockbund Museum in Shanghai, SinArts gallery, Lissa Art Museum, Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, and the White Rabbit Museum in Sydney.
His films have been shown at CinemAsia in Amsterdam; MADATAC Festival in Madrid; N-Minutes Video Art Festival in Helsinki, and The 57th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (by MIACA program). His research during the master of film program is about how to treat moving image and sound as Collage, or Collage as a way of thinking and storytelling. He reappropriates and juxtaposes found footage with his own materials, in order to question the nuisances of human desire and control in a globalized environment.