Koan. Xiaoyi Chen. PJB Editions. 2014

By Daniel Espinoza

The debut book by Xiaoyi Chen (b. 1992, Sichuan), a young Chinese artist who focuses her practice on the combination of photography and printmaking, is a good example of the current trends in photography, since it blends different techniques and represents a comprehensive exploration of a singular topic concerning the artist.


Using black ink photo-etching and printing these images on different Japanese papers, the meditative and pensive mood that pervades this work is an invitation to reflect about the essence of things, to look beyond the superficial and to explore diverse meanings.


In Zen Buddhism “Koan” refers to a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution used to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment, and it is from this concept that Xiaoyi seeks to open up the territory of the pre-verbal and liberate things from their given names, exploring in this way the basic forms of the universe and migrating the focus towards intuition rather than analytical thinking.


Considering this, I think that the book effectively achieves its goal, since the design, sequence of images and bookbinding provide the adequate structure to disconnect from the meaning of the represented things, and immerse into a world of reflection and visual perceptions.


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