“Chen Qiang · Outside of Art” 2023 NYRCA Annual Solo Exhibition

Memory porcupine

Chen Qiang



Thinking about the years of life, it’s not really living, it’s living vividly in memories. The present life feels like a blank paper, tasteless to eat, and difficult to start writing. The immaculate whiteness can’t even be used as a tissue for the pains of life. So, let’s indulge in a memory today, so that the day won’t be wasted in idle talk.

Ten years ago, I was excited to return to Chongqing for the school anniversary. I stayed up all night and wrote a lengthy memoir of over ten thousand words. After all, it had only been a few years since I left Huangjuping. However, when I attended the anniversary in the unfamiliar new campus, I wandered around the school gate like a lost soul. Among my childhood classmates, only Wang Niandong and I returned. Each department and class had their own dinner parties, and even my wife, who accompanied me to the anniversary, found her group, while I could only pretend to be genuinely interested while staring at the alumni wall, repeatedly searching for my own name. By now, I could accurately recognize the names above, below, left, and right of my own name, and even those on the diagonals.

In the end, it was only when I returned to Huangjuping that I felt the sense of revisiting the old place. That evening, I went straight to the affiliated middle school. There was a promotional billboard for the school anniversary at the entrance of the Academy building. Surprisingly, my portrait was placed in the most prominent position on the wall. It was a picture of me with long hair, resembling an assassin from a period film. I quite liked this photo, and I suppose the designer also liked it, capturing the rebellious spirit of the affiliated middle school students. Initially, I wanted to take the sign of the middle school with me that day, but I later realized it was embedded in the wall and couldn’t be moved, so I gave up.

When I learned that the affiliated middle school was closing down, I was deeply saddened. After all, the best years of my growth were spent there.


The fleeting youth, the memories that slowly fade, and the gradually expanding body, are they still the same person? When examining one’s own memories, it feels like watching someone else’s movie.

Before attending the affiliated middle school, my parents said that if I got accepted into the Fine Arts affiliated middle school, they would buy me a guitar. I always had a music dream, sometimes even stronger than my passion for art. The Fine Arts school was a magical place where many dreams collided.

1994 was a golden year for rock music in China. That year, I passed the entrance exam for the affiliated middle school, but my family didn’t fulfill their promise to buy me a guitar. So, at school, I used my lunch money to buy a red cotton guitar for 95 yuan. During this time, I learned to play some popular songs from that era by following a guitar tutorial book called “Liu Chuan’s Guitar Tutorial.” However, this book didn’t have any rock songs, which frustrated me. Later, I met another student who was also taking the exam for the Fine Arts school, and he could play “Flower House Girl” on the guitar. This was great news for me. I would bring my guitar and hang out with him every day. Eventually, I found out that he had another guitar tutorial book by Liu Chuan, which included not only “Flower House Girl” but also songs like Black Panther’s “Take Care” and “Don’t Break My Heart.” This student friend even told us that if he got accepted into the Fine Arts school, he would join the band at the activity center. His words inspired me, so I tried to find him a lot of drawing materials, hoping that he would get accepted into the Fine Arts school.

Winter vacation arrived, and due to the financial gap caused by buying the guitar, I didn’t have money to buy a train ticket home. So, I reluctantly sold the guitar. Fortunately, I sold it at the original price. It was the only wooden guitar I ever bought for myself. The new semester began, and I returned to Huangjuping. Although I hadn’t played the guitar for a semester, I still remembered the chords. After settling into school, I went to find that student friend, but he had already left Huangjuping. I heard that he gave up on applying to the Fine Arts school. After a period of melancholy, I felt that I should get to know more people who play rock music. Once everything was back to normal after the start of the new semester, the school’s activity center started holding weekend dances. The weekend dances at the Fine Arts school were different from others. The music was played by bands formed by students from various departments. I went to see it once and it felt amazing. It was my first time experiencing a live performance, and it felt special. Even though they were playing music for ballroom dancing, the real notes drove me wild. During the intermission, they performed a cover of Cui Jian’s “Rock on the New Long March,” faithfully recreating the classic sound from TV. This was the kind of rock music I desired.

The next afternoon, when they were rehearsing, I went to the activity center with a pack of cigarettes (even though I didn’t smoke myself). During a break, I handed cigarettes to the senior musicians and started chatting with them. At that time, Wu Bo showed me the greatest kindness, and that was the beginning of our friendship.

I remember that the windows on the second floor of the activity center faced the boys’ dormitory. In the latter part of the rehearsal, they played some popular songs at the time (to accompany the dance). As soon as the lead singer started singing, there was a chorus from the opposite building, one song after another, with voices echoing through the woods, never-ending.

After the rehearsal that day, Wu Bo and I sat on the stone bench in front of the student activity center and talked about many rock bands we both liked. At that time, listening to rock music was still quite rare in the overall environment. Rock was still considered alternative. Even in the Fine Arts school, many people only liked a few representative works of rock bands and didn’t take it too seriously, not really delving into it systematically. (Don’t be fooled by how now people easily share news about Dou Wei in their social circles, or how Tang Dynasty dominates the timeline. Back then, listening to rock music in the dormitory would be ridiculed by roommates, or even collectively shunned.) What touched me the most was that when we got excited talking about it, Wu Bo handed me the electric guitar he was playing and told me to take it back to my dormitory for practice. It was my first time touching an electric guitar. I carried it through the entire Fine Arts school to my dormitory and played it all night. I’m very grateful that my dormitory mates didn’t interfere with me that night. It seemed that during the years I played guitar in the dormitory, my roommates never interfered with me. On the contrary, there was a period when my roommate Zhou Haibo especially enjoyed falling asleep while listening to my guitar.

From the next day, I started rehearsing with Wu Bo and the others, and the activity center felt like our band’s home ground. I found out that the band was called “Impression Band.”

Wu Bo began teaching me how to play songs, how to play chords, practice finger placement, and learn music theory. That’s when I realized that those rock songs weren’t just played according to the notes in a book; they were played by ear, with some small arrangements. Later, I heard that the band’s drummer was going to graduate, so I called my classmate to learn how to play drums, but it didn’t last long before he quit.

Later, I found out that the original rock extravaganza at the Fine Arts school happened a few years ago, during the New Year’s concert in 1992. Many songs by Cui Jian and Hei Bao were performed, and it was this event that brought the independent spirit of rock to the Fine Arts school. Wu Bo played the guitar that year when he was still an applicant, and it was the first time “Rock on the New Long March” was performed at the Fine Arts school.

At that time, the Fine Arts school had a movie theater on the left side as you entered the main gate. In its final years, the theater was deemed unsafe and was demolished a few days after the 2000 school anniversary celebration.

The last movie I watched in that theater, and the only one I ever watched there, was “God of Gamblers.” It was the best movie-watching experience, probably in 1994. When Andy Lau revealed four Aces at the climax of the movie, the packed theater suddenly erupted. Everyone stood up and cheered, the atmosphere was more electrifying than when the national soccer team qualified for the World Cup. Some people threw their clothes, others hugged each other, and even some girls burst into tears, not hiding their excitement. The entire audience became immersed in the storyline, going crazy. This was the “crazy” Fine Arts school.

This kind of “craziness” also appeared during the “Three Colors Cup” football tournament. During my time at the Fine Arts school, it felt like the “Three Colors Cup” turned an art palace into a football club. Football always had a proud tradition at the Fine Arts school. The sculpture of the Fine Arts school winning the championship in the Chongqing Campus League at the school gate would momentarily confuse newcomers: Is this an art school or a sports school? Years later, when I met friends from the Fine Arts school, they still remembered who was from which department and their jersey numbers, but often forgot names and only remembered numbers.

During the football season, both male and female students in the whole school loved to skip dinner and go to the stadium to watch the games while eating. In the mid-1990s, the traditional strong teams were the Oil Painting Department, Sculpture Department, Faculty Team, and Attached Middle School. The champions usually came from these teams. The Oil Painting Department had the best awareness and teamwork, the Sculpture Department had the strongest and most competitive players, the Faculty Team had the best goalkeeper (if I remember correctly, it was Teacher Huangshan), and the Attached Middle School had the strongest coaching team with Principal Zhang Zheng and Teacher Huang Qin, who were skilled at tactics.

The football season was also a showcase for male students at the Fine Arts school and a season of romance. The girls in the stands and cheerleading team were fearless in their cheers and slogans.

During the football season, the best business outside the Fine Arts school was the two bars, “Old Nest” and “Sunshine.” Old Nest had cheap drinks, and the owner was sociable. I remember that Zhang Yu’s first streaking incident started from Old Nest as the starting point. Our first off-campus band performance was also held there, and it was where my wife and I had our first date.


Things that disappear are often quickly forgotten. When everyone talks about the magical place “Transportation Tea House” where you can travel back in time, are they forgetting about the disappeared “Wangjiang Tea House”?

Wangjiang Tea House had a wide view, where you could truly see the Yangtze River. Although later on, more and taller buildings were constructed in front, the view of the Yangtze River remained visible. It was a suitable place for small group meetings. The tea was cheap, with floral tea costing 50 cents per cup, compressed tea at 40 cents, and plain water (boiled water) at 20 cents, and they even had a television. Transportation Tea House installed televisions later on, but Wangjiang Tea House always had one. During weekends, many students from the Fine Arts school gathered there to watch the Jia-A Football League matches. Sometimes, people also gathered to watch TV dramas. I watched the last few episodes of the 1998 version of “Water Margin” here.

Upstairs at Transportation Tea House, there were several rooms where friends stayed or activities were held. The “Transportation Tea House Studio” in those days, consisting of Zhang Yu, Zhang Wei, Chu Yun, and others, had their debut performance here. During that debut, Zhang Yu stripped naked, which resulted in a report to the school, leading to disciplinary action against him, as well as Chu Yun.

Huang Kui also lived upstairs for a period of time. During that time, I often went to find them to paint portrait oil paintings together. We liked sitting at the table in front of the television in Wangjiang Tea House, facing away from the TV. The volume of the television in the tea house was set quite high, so the people watching TV were facing us, and we could paint their portraits. During that time, we were obsessed with painting and occasionally played music. Wu Bo had already graduated and returned to Xichang. Huang Kui and I met Qiu Jiongjiong and formed a band called “PAIN.” The band stayed together until Qiu Jiongjiong left Huangjuping and Huang Kui graduated. We even participated in some performances. Our most impressive original song was “Power Plant, Power Plant, I Love You.” It was a genuine punk rock song, with Huang Kui on bass, me on guitar and vocals, and Qiu Jiongjiong on drums. During that time, we even had another drummer, a printmaking major polar bear.

During that time, we actually had very little time for rehearsals. We spent most of our time drinking tea at the tea house. It was only right before performances that we remembered to find a place to rehearse. The Fine Arts school no longer had weekend dances, and dancing was no longer popular, so there were basically no official bands left. However, the activity center was still available. So, I went to find Director Pan from the Student Affairs office, as he was in charge of the activity center. I always called him “Uncle Pan” because I had been hanging out at the activity center since my first year at the affiliated high school. He had a good impression of me, and whenever I asked to borrow the activity center, he readily gave me the keys. The most lacking equipment for rehearsals at that time was drumsticks. Qiu Jiongjiong played the drums vigorously, breaking all the drumsticks. He then went downstairs and broke off branches from the small trees at the entrance. After a rehearsal, the small trees at the entrance became like drumsticks.

PAIN band represented the Fine Arts school and participated in a performance at Jiefangbei Pacific Department Store. It was in the spring of 1998, and other bands from Sichuan International Studies University and Jian Academy also performed. When we arrived at Jiefangbei, the venue was already packed with people, which surprised us. After squeezing our way to the front of the stage, we realized we had forgotten to bring drumsticks. After some twists and turns in preparation, it was our turn to go on stage. We performed the song “Power Plant, Power Plant, I Love You” to let everyone know that our Fine Arts school had a power plant chimney that stood tall like a monument. The PAIN band gained quite a few fans from this performance, and the next day, rock musicians from other universities came to play music with us, discuss art, and even stayed in Huangjuping with us, hanging out together every day, talking and enjoying ourselves. Sometimes, tanks and armored vehicles would pass by on the streets of Huangjuping, and during that time, whenever we encountered them, we would shout loudly, follow them, and run alongside them. It was like meeting a ship coming from the opposite direction in the vast sea—an exciting and somewhat crazy experience.


In 1996, during the years when Huangjuping Video Hall was popular, the ticket sales at the Cultural Station’s video hall were always booming. So, Wu Bo went to talk to Uncle Pan about turning the student activity center into a screening hall to show art films. Director Pan, as always, readily agreed. As a result, the activity center became a dance hall on weekends and showed videos on other nights, allowing everyone to watch some legendary films.

The most memorable moments for me were the packed screenings. The first one was when we showed “Bin Xu.” The students at the Fine Arts school still longed for some classics. On that evening, before the 7 o’clock screening, the crowd packed the second floor of the activity center, and Wu Bo was busy telling me, “Be careful with so many people. We don’t want any mishaps.” Suddenly, I transformed into a security guard and helped maintain order. We ended up screening the film continuously for three days. Later, we found the Dutch version of “Van Gogh” in the library of the Fine Arts school. It was an English version without Chinese subtitles, and about half of the audience left during the intermission. Nevertheless, there were still many people, and we continued to screen it for three days. There was also a film called “The Wall.” Learning from the previous experience, we even found a version of this music film with Chinese subtitles. We played it repeatedly, and I can’t remember how many times exactly, but I recall that many classmates watched it more than twice.

Later, the activity center was used for graduation defenses, so the video hall was closed. In the second semester, Wu Bo began his graduation project and stopped running the video hall. But the band continued, and we even invited musicians from the recently returned MIDI Music School in Beijing to join us for two of Wu Bo’s solo concerts. During that time, we also organized a karaoke competition, and without any suspense, our band’s lead vocalist, Pu Yan, won the championship. During one of the performances, there was a small incident. When we were singing the chorus at a fast pace, suddenly the video machine’s connection failed, and there was no accompaniment or TV screen. The staff desperately tried to fix it, but Pu Yan remained calm and continued singing without accompaniment until just before the chorus finished, when the picture and music suddenly reappeared, perfectly in sync. The applause was thunderous, and there was no doubt about the champion. This incident became a fond story of the Fine Arts school for a long time.

These memories continued to revolve around music. In fact, discussing music in the Fine Arts school was quite fitting. The music we talked about was mostly rock music or sound art—these things were originally considered rebellious within the ranks of conventional music.

During those years, we not only played rock music at the Fine Arts school but also began exploring our own paths in sound art. Years later, I met Sun Wei, who was also a guitarist at the Fine Arts school. He was still doing music, and his music still seemed rooted in the aesthetics of the art system, including sound installations and visual elements derived from sound. Many years later, when we reminisced about those years we spent at the Fine Arts school with music as our guide, we realized how precious that “independent spirit” nurtured by the Fine Arts school was.


There’s a narrow alley called Xinjian Road in Huangjuping, bustling with people from different walks of life, including students, applicants, street vendors, and indigenous people. People come and go, and each semester brings a new group of individuals.

After leaving school, I lived in a 12-square-meter rented room on Xinjian Road. I still maintained the habit of listening to music and playing the guitar, leaving space for friends who loved music and art to come over and chat day and night. Those years brought me back to the time when I was an applicant. The nights in the rented room were filled with passionate discussions and heated arguments. But only as applicants, we shared a common goal: to get into the Fine Arts school. However, in that small room, the group of us engaged in endless conversations, lost sight of our goals, and had no idea what we could accomplish on the path of art. We wondered if the fire of art had burned out, while the sweltering heat of Chongqing confined us to a small room, feeling lost and frustrated like stray dogs.

A year after Zhang Guoping graduated, he returned from Beijing and brought with him an animation business. He came to find me on Xinjian Road, and I distributed the work to several friends who also lived there. We all worked diligently, and when it was time to eat, we would invite each other to have meals at the school cafeteria. Eating at the Fine Arts school was the most economical and suited our tastes. Staying up late became our shared routine, and we wouldn’t forget to shout loudly in the middle of the night to let each other know that we were still in an excited state. It felt the same as when we were applicants, with clear goals.

Next door to my house lived a street vendor, who would wake up early every morning to go to a private slaughterhouse to butcher pigs for others. While I stayed up late until the morning, I would hear him put on his rain boots and leave, signaling that it was time for me to sleep.

It has been 18 years since I left Huangjuping, but almost every night, my dreams still take me back to the Fine Arts school. The shops next to the school are no longer there, but the shop owners have moved their businesses across the street, transforming them into supermarkets. Aunt Zhou, who operated the barbecue stall at night, relocated it near the market and expanded its size. Xinjian Road is no more, replaced by tall buildings where I can see identical structures on the opposite side. The walls of the Fine Arts school have become a graffiti haven for Chongqing tourists. The years I can’t go back to exist only in memories, like a drunken boar running wild in the forest of recollections.





He graduated from Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2002, Moving to New York in 2023。
He started experimental art creation in 2002. At 2005, Chen finished the film trilogy <Cut off>, <Stream cut>, <Heart sacrifice>, then he started creating more forms of Mashup arts, like performance music works <Heart voice> (2010), <September>(2011), <Twinkle>(2012), and two computer game art works, five independent animation art projects. There were two mashup media works being completed by Chen, named <Red girl smash art museums> and <Dream syndrome>, the two works including forms of computer games, animations, sculptures, plays, and picture books.














94年是中國的一個黃金的搖滾年,那一年我考起附中,家裏人也沒有兌現買吉他的承諾,在學校我用自己的飯錢買了一把95元的紅棉吉他。這期間自己跟著一本《劉傳吉他教學》學了些那時候的流行歌曲的彈唱,這本書裏根本沒有搖滾歌曲,這著實讓我很煩躁。後來認識一個考美院的考生,他會彈《花房姑娘》,這下好了,我每天抱著吉他去找他玩,後來知道他有另一本《劉傳吉他教學》,裏面不光有《花房姑娘》還有黑豹的《Take Care》《Don’t Break My Heart》等。這位考生朋友還告訴我們幾個,他如果考上了美院,就要去占領活動中心的樂隊。他說的話刺激著我,我也就想辦法給他找很多畫畫的資料,希望他能考上美院。




































2002年開始實驗藝術創作,2005年開始創作《割》三部曲《割離》《割流》《心祭》之後開始更多的藝術形式的混搭創作,三部曲《心聲音》2010《九月之聲》2011《看吧閃閃的聲音》2012(影像藝術,聲音藝術,行為藝術)就是這個時期完成的,在這之後完成獨立電子遊戲項目2個,獨立動畫項目5個,更多的是混搭媒介藝術項目,目前正在完成和進行中的項目有《小紅妹妹砸美術館》和《多夢症》(遊戲,動畫,雕塑,劇場,繪本)   《乳牙》以個人與家庭一起的創作項目,《公共空間的展開》系列創作等。先後被邀請於德國、新西蘭、法國做展覽和學術交流以及駐留創作。其作品被美國北卡州大學圖書館、哥倫比亞大學圖書館以及德國杜塞爾多夫城市文化局以及栗憲庭電影基金等國內外機構和個人收藏。

NYRCA Annual Projects “Outside of Art · Storytelling”

Grace Young

Humans always try to surpass the prison of time, stretching or compressing it to make life burst into brilliant sparks in the gaps of time. As we pass through the overt era of the pandemic, we marvel at the changes it has brought to our lives, and anxiously return to the covert era of the pandemic. We realize that the pandemic has never disappeared from human society, and people are changing the way they perceive and treat the world because of its overt or covert states. In the overt era of the pandemic, humans are more fragile and sensitive, especially artists.
If life itself is a gift of mysterious power, and time is only a phenomenon, and the past, present, or future is not a linear extension structure, then time is not an equal existence for different individuals. In the creation and interaction of art, our time fully demonstrates its elastic power.
When life becomes a work of art, and living becomes the essence of art, every aspect of life becomes irreplaceable and unique in your work. For example, the money-making activities necessary for survival, the various emotional experiences encountered in life, and the various events we encounter by chance or intentionally. Therefore, every story experienced by oneself is precious because of “truth + sincerity,” which is the reason why we launched this project.
We will present each artist’s unique story in stages, and each stage will be a separate exhibition.
Even though “the viewer is obsolete”.
NYRCA 年度項目《藝術之外·故事會》

楊 俊