In 1995 five hundred dock workers in Liverpool were fired for refusing to cross a picket line, sparking the Dockers’ dispute of the 1990s. In protest, when the Neptune Jade – a Mersey-loaded ship – set sail from England, dock workers across the globe refused to allow the ship to dock and unload its cargo – first at Oakland CA., then Vancouver, Canada and then Yokahoma and Kobe, Japan. The ship eventually sailed to Port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan where it was disbanded and sold.
Neptune Jade stands as a significant event in the dock workers’ struggle and of their international solidarity. In The Route, Chen re-presents history by interspersing archive film footage with new footage of a picket line staged by Dockers at Port of Kaohsiung. A symbolic connection between workers in Liverpool and Taiwan, the artist’s home, is created, echoing the Dockers’ phrase ‘The world is our picket line’.