Shu Lea Cheang

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  • Paris, France, French Republic


  • Shu Lea Cheang is a Taiwanese multimedia art pioneer who works in film, net art, participatory impromptu multi-player performance, video, and installation. Some of Cheang’s main concerns are feminist and queer politics, and the body and sex in the technological age. While working as a socially engaged media activist in New York City through the 1980’s and 1990’s, often with Paper Tiger TV, Cheang evolved into a Net- and Media artist of note. This US based period of her work cumulated in the seminal Net-art piece ‘BRANDON’ (1998-1999), the first ever Guggenheim Museum’s web art commission. Cheang has made two theatrical feature films: ‘Fresh Kill’, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1994 and was included in Whitney Biennale (New York) in 1995; and ‘I.K.U.’, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. Pushing beyond her earlier preoccupations with the Net and Cyberpunk as seen in her early film projects, she now focuses on the Bionet. Here, the artist explores freeing the body from gender norms, the manipulations and greed of the Bio-Technological Complex and the state’s control and surveillance. Since moving to Europe in 2000, Cheang has been staging large scale collaborative performance and installation art projects and her focus has shifted to the digital commons and open bandwidths, with the projects ‘Kingdom of Privacy’ (a collaboration with Armin Medosch and Yukiko Shikata, 2002), Burn (2003), and ‘Garlic=Rich Air’ (supported by the Lyn Blumenthal Memorial Fund, 2002-03).  Other notable recent works include the ‘Locker Baby’ project (2001–12) in three parts: ‘Baby Play’ (2001, exhibited at NTT[ICC], Tokyo), ‘Baby Love’ (2005, exhibited at Palais de Tokyo, Paris), and ‘Baby Work’ (ZERO1 Biennial 2012, San Jose). ‘UKI’ (2009-), a sequel to ‘I.K.U.’, was realized as a viral performance and viral game (2009-16).  From homesteading cyberspace in the 1990s, to her current retreat to the post-crash BioNet zone, Cheang takes on viral love and bio hacking in her current cycle of works. In 2017 she released her third feature, ‘FLUIDØ’, at the Berlinale Film festival, and is currently developing ‘Unborn0x9’, an open hardware hack project with ultrasound echo-stethoscopes, and ‘UKI, cinema interrupted’, with a Dicréam grant in France. Cheang earned a Master of Arts degree in Cinema Studies, at New York University (1979) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, at National Taiwan University (1976). Leading a deliberately nomadic lifestyle, Shu Lea Cheang currently divides her time between Paris and Berlin.



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