Bees and the Bearable by Chen Zhe

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Chen Zhe’s first series, The Bearable (2007-2010), is a reflective documentation of her dark, though occasionally euphoric, history of self-inflicted harm. Chen continued to penetrate the psychological labyrinth of self-realisation in her subsequent project Bees (2010-2012). By expanding her photographic observations with a collection of letters, dairy entries, online chat histories, quote fragments and scribbles that she exchanged with her subjects, Chen searched after the possibility of “another way of telling” in the aim of portraying the disquieted souls, the wounded bodies and the elusive link between the two.

The book is Chen’s closing statement of her long contemplation on the issue. Presented as a layered notebook which weaves in and out of images and texts, the publication restores Chen’s practice as an ongoing process of exploration, discovery and research. What happens when actions that can jeopardize one’s existence, such as hurting one’s own body, in return serve the purpose of understanding the existence itself? Should we see it as a fluky escape, or a relief from the weight of modern life? While the individual response may differ, this book illustrates that there still lies psychological connectedness that undoubtedly link each of us together. Everything else follows from there.

This book is shortlisted in Unseen Dummy Award 2014, and won Kassel Fotobookfestival The Best Book Award 2016.

Size: 260mm × 210mm × 25mm
280 pages, 19+1 saddle-stitched booklets
75 color plates, 40 grayscale journals & letters
First edition second printing: 800
Published in September 2018


Additional information

Weight 1200 g
Dimensions 35 × 29 × 6 cm


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