Chen Zhe╱Bees & the Bearable

Chen Zhe╱Bees & the Bearable

By Chen Zhe
Published by Jiazazhi Press

This book is nominated as one of the best photobooks in Fotobookfestival Kassel 2016
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Size: 260mm × 210mm × 25mm
280 pages, 19+1 saddle-stitched booklets
75 color plates, 40 grayscale journals & letters
First Edition: 800
All are signed
Published in March 2016


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 Fotobookfestival Dummy Award 2014.


Chen Zhe is a photo-based artist born and based in Beijing, China. She received her BFA in Photography and Imaging from Art Center College of Design. Chen is the recipient of the Three Shadows Award, Lianzhou Festival Photographer of the Year Award, Inge Morath Award from the Magnum Foundation in 2011 and the Xitek New Talent Award in 2015. Her work has been included in public and private collections and exhibited internationally.

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