Tidal Relations

Sidi Chen

See it On Campus: Level 2

Visitor Info

Libby Leshgold Gallery

Award Recipient

Opus Art Supplies Graduation Award MFA – Honourable Mention

Sidi Chen

My MFA thesis project, Tidal Relations, came from my positionality and living experience as a Chinese queer diasporic person. During my study, I have implemented a combination of interdisciplinary research methodology, site-specific engagement, and traditional Chinese aesthetic, 留白 (dwelling in the blankness) – an embodiment of the collective agencies between the present and absent bodies – to interrogate how the distances and relationships between humans, ecosystems, and the planet Earth are navigated and negotiated through movements of the bodies in various scales that are anchored on the tidal movements.

Where I Am When I Land Between the Waves, ink, pastel, charcoal, water, oil, and pencil on raw canvas with mylar installation, 2023. Image Credit: Michael Love

In the thesis experience, I have shown two new projects: Where I Am When I Land Between the Waves (2023), a contemporary experiment on traditional Chinese Freehand style painting, and Mirage Raft (The Dreaming Talking Oyster) (2022-2023), a digital exploration of the interspecies trans-corporeality.

Where I Am When I Land Between the Waves is a summary of my research over the course of my MFA study. This project serves as a map to navigate and orient the internal landscape of the tidal lands as well as the relationships I have developed with the individuals, communities, and ecosystems on those tidal lands. While utilizing the dwelling in the blankness as the strategy to emphasize the collaborations on the canvas surface between the material interventions and my own, I vision this painting as an archive of the agencies and relations that have been distilled into the intuitions of the collective bodies.

Where I Am When I Land Between the Waves, detail views and reflection views in the mylar layer, 2023. Image Credit: Michael Love

I have also installed a mylar layer in this painting installation. The mylar layer not only added the watery reflections that interacted with the lines, wrinkles, and stains on the painting, but it also opened a new dimension for the viewers to engage in the navigation and orientation processes where the reflected images of the painting distorted as the viewers moved through the space. This experience further addressed the phenomenological inquiries of how movements impacted our experiences and relationships.

Mirage Raft (The Dream Talking Oyster), video still, 2022-2023

Mirage Raft (The Dream Talking Oyster) was designed to inquire about the kinesthetic connections between bodies in different species and times. With the help of TouchMe, a musical device that transfers physical connections into sounds, I have composed a musical soundtrack of the textures of the oyster and the caress of my hands on it. This soundtrack has then further acted as score and directed my body movement as a response and translation in the form of “body language”. Furthermore, by overlapping the three layers of the oyster, the music, and my body together in a projection installation, I want to create an ethereal effect of the images and the ambient sound to explore how digital media can present a cycle of dreams and realities and the transitions between two bodies, and ask the ontological question like Chuang Chou Dreaming of the Butterfly: Am I the embodiment of the oyster through an electronic transformation, or did the oyster have a digital phantom that haunted and transformed me?

Please enjoy the full video at the following link: https://www.sidichen.com/video/mirage-raft-dream-talking-oyster.

Due to the space limitation, only Mirage Raft (The Dream Talking Oyster) will be included in The Show at the Libby Leshgold Gallery.

Sidi Chen

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Sidi Chen is a traveling queer artist whose practice addresses the intersectionality of the body, community space, and the land. For the creative process, Chen empathizes the body as a unit of measurement, a vessel of relationships, a repository of experience, and an instrument for creativity. Through his interdisciplinary research crossing arts to science and social movements, Chen’s interested in how the embodied experience informs the relations and agencies of the bodies that are human, ecological, and planetary.

Chen graduated from the University of the Fraser Valley with BFA with the honor of distinction in 2018 and the Master of Fine Arts Program at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2023. Chen has participated in a wide range of residencies, exhibitions, performances, and projects in North America. Sidi Chen is currently working as a practicing artist, an independent arts administrator, and a community worker in the historical Chinatown, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, known as Vancouver, BC.

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