Yi Chen completed a Bachelor of Chinese Literature and a Master in Philosophy in Fudan University, Shanghai, and received her PhD in Philosophy at Fudan in 2001, working on John Dewey, a founder of American Pragmatism. She accepted a position at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics where she taught ethics, however, three years later, she decided to resign and pursue a deeper understanding of the roots of Western philosophy: at first in the USA, where she studied Latin and Greek and earned a Master’s degree in Classics at the University of Arizona, then, at the University of Toronto in Canada, where she developed her methodology of non-metaphoric comparison while defending and receiving her second PhD, in Comparative Literature, through a juxtaposition of the Chinese Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei, and Paul Celan. In 2016-2017, after teaching in both Canada and Iceland, she held an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship hosted by the Max-Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main where she deepened the notion of "deceptive simplicity" which provides a conceptual link between Western and Eastern aesthetics. Most recently she held a three-year appointment as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bond University in Southeast Queensland, Australia (2017-2020). In her published work, she pursues questions of selfhood and encounter, expressed as relationality and shaped by an aesthetics that is often mislabeled as ethics instead. Her topics range from comparative literature to sustainability, the subtleties of Chinese philosophy, and Japanese aesthetics.
True Fictions: The Fictionalized Self as a Response to Apocalyptic Dislocations in the Art of Bada Shanren and Iris Häussler
When Friedrich Nietzsche exclaimed: “Wo ist der Wahnsinn mit dem ihr geimpft werden müsstet?“ he was not speaking of vaccination. On the contrary, his “impfen” is inoculation, like yoghurt, or like sourdough, an absolute transformation of substance; mad to the bone. Let us look to the 17th century Chinese painter Bada Shanren, a prince of a deposed dynasty, who saved his life by escaping into the role of an idiosyncratic outsider, speaking truth in hermetically ambiguous, indomitably alive brushwork; let us look at the fictitious biographies that contemporary German-Canadian installation artist Iris Häussler created, characters who express their fundamentally humane position through an “art” of compulsive everydayness. Both Bada Shanren and Häussler posit the secure familiarity of an increasingly fictionalized self against the incoherent world around them and their ritual, gestural incantations of art become a protective spell. And when I say, let us “look”, I mean this literally: My project seeks to transcend abstract conceptualisation through a methodology of “deep viewing” and non-metaphoric comparison, to facilitate collaborative discourse, and to arrive at a deeply personal understanding of the possibilities of art as a response to apocalypse; whether for an I, or for us.