Tianzhuo Chen: The Dust

The Dust (2021)presents a performance that situates farming tools and ceremonial objects as the primary protagonists, while humans remain noticeably absent. The artist’s lens shifts from the water-powered prayer wheels in Cuogao Village to the celestial burial ground at Damu Temple, telling a story from the beginning of life, evolution, and blooming desires to perishing bodies, through shots of farming and ceremonial relics.

The video takes on a Sisyphean quality — the tools and relics of worship symbolize the hardships through which humans atone for original sin. A performance without the presence of human figures therefore has no social order. Romances, fights, and disasters never exist, and the only events that take place are those deriving from the original source of everything.

“In the beginning / there is dust // no generations / no future / no past / an endless geographic land of micro-meshing / limitless webs of merging / leaking / interweaving / coexistence of the multiples / aimless / careless / needless / thoughtless / there is nothing to remain / nothing to hang on to/nothing to be grasped / nothing to protect or be protected // everything is free / everything is flowing / everything is there for the taken / there is no such species / called ‘human’ / but only the prayers’everlasting dreams / flowing into the heart of the earth // centre of a thousand worlds / as temporal beings / the heart of the earth / first inflamed / then glazed / objects float in a sensual ether / mountains give its name to the river / river tattoos its glory onto the body of the rocks / gold for touch / silver for sound / crystal for tears / azure stones for the contingent death // the ultra-violet-era is running from afar / it runs to the delta / passes the blue moon / over the chains of mountains / out to the seven seas / enters the void / then everything falls // ancient spirits of the land / drinking their blood as sweet wine / chewing their flesh as divine delicacy / swallowing their agony into pre-historical memories / while the ancient spirits are awakening from their liquid sleep / the dusk of these astral bodies becomes their dawn / a fundamentally alien form of life / now burning into the colour of the infinite dusts / from the act of killing // they are the forgotten beings / with their forgotten memories / being forgotten in the middle of the forgetting / only appear in disappearing // turning(breathing) / turning(breathing) / turning(breathing) / turning(breathing) / turning(breathing) // as slow diamonds within an infinite perishable return / of suffering / the mystic organ that grinds the silver wind / penetrated by the forgotten memories of the unknown / until everything falls // into that infinite return/where dream has poured/with its most vivid transference / reincarnation of the dead / the living / and everything in between / beholds the incessant dusts of flesh and bones / returning to the burned ground // multiple livings within multiple deaths / trembling twilight sweeps away the remains / skies echoes skies / earth touches earth / on the naked land where grow the naked lives / the fable may only be written / when the beginning is no longer a beginning / in fact / there was no beginning / but the dust // dear souls”- Chen Tianzhuo 


About the Artist

Tianzhuo Chen was born in 1985, and he currently lives and works in Beijing, China. After graduating from Central Saint Martins in London, he received his master’s degree in fine art from the Chelsea College of Arts in London.

Chen skillfully works between the artistic disciplines of installation, performance, video, painting, and photography, but he also creates events that require the participation of viewers or other people, such as underground parties, theater performances, or more precisely constructed ritual sites, to realize their transformation into dreamworlds. He assimilates elements and symbols from religion (e.g., Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and shamanism), subcultures (e.g., cult followings, drag shows, and raves), popular culture (e.g., cartoons, hip hop, and electronic music), and dance (e.g., butoh and vogueing) into his work, in the hopes that the viewer or participant will transcend the surface state of the body and spirit through that ambience and achieve what the artist calls a “state of madness.”

Recent solo exhibitions include “Trance” (M Woods Museum, Beijing, 2019), “GHOST” (Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur, 2017), “Ishvara” (Long March Space, Beijing, 2016), “Chen Tianzhuo” (chi K11 Art Museum, Shanghai, 2016), and “Tianzhuo Chen” (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015).



33EMYBW is a Shanghai-based producer and visual artist. She draws inspiration from modern dance music, ethnic music, and rich visuals, distilling multiple conceptual elements into characteristic bass rhythms and surprising experimental sound design. In 2018, her album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was named one of the best electronic albums of the year on Bandcamp, and received praise from producers and DJs such as Kode9, Desto, Akito, and 8ulentina. In 2019, she participated in Nyege Nyege (Kampala) and the opening of the Warehouse Project (Manchester), curated by Aphex Twin. That same year, her third album Arthropods premiered at Unsound Festival (Krakow). The new album, released on SVBKVLT, continued her previous explorations of post-humanity and evolution, and experimented with rhythms over longer timeframes. Resident Advisor and FACT Magazine named Arthropods one of the best albums of the year, and FACT Magazine also called it one of the hundred best albums of the decade. She has worked with artists including Weirdcore, Marija Bozinovska Jones, Aisha Devi, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Forrest Gander. 33EMYBW has also participated in important music festivals and interdisciplinary collaborations, including the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), SXSW (Austin), as well as CTM (Berlin), Soft Centre (Sydney), and Recombinant (San Francisco) in 2019.

In 2019, she curated DONG, a project that re-envisions Dong culture through field surveys, music, publications, and exhibitions. She fused the traditional songs of the Dong people of Guizhou into her sound design, and the release of her album DONG2 on Merrie Records attracted attention for its novel reshaping of traditional culture.


About the Crew List

Director: Tianzhuo Chen

Music: 33EMYBW

CGI: Cattin Tsai, Tianzhuo Chen

Text: Oxi Peng, Tianzhuo Chen

Editor & VFX: Ren Xingxing

Management: Guan Yun, Ren Xingxing

Camera: Yu Hao, Li Kaiqiang

Spicially thanks:

Khanpo Dawaghatso

Master Sun

Sihu Monastery

Kharnang Monastery

The Sky Burial Platform of Redeng Temple

The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.