Tate Modern Film

Chen Chieh-jen: Factory and The Route

Two mid-age Taiwanese women stand on top of a table on an abandoned garment factory, surrounded by sewing machines and boxes. They hold an empty jacket, gloomily looking to the camera.

Chen Chieh-jen Factory 2003, film still. Courtesy the artist

See a striking pairing of two of the artist's political short films

The Chen Chieh-jen: Reverberations series opens with two of the artist's socially-engaged short works. These films use re-enactment and revisionism to revisit histories of labour struggles.


Factory captures a group of women workers reenacting their duties in an abandoned garment factory where they had formerly been employed. The work was made after many industries were moved abroad to reduce personnel costs and workers laid off unlawfully, without severance or pension payments.

Intercut with clips appropriated from propaganda ads, Factory scrutinises the expressions and gestures of the women as they work, as well as the sculptural assemblies of dusty tables, chairs and other objects lingering in the space.

The Route

The Route stages a fictional strike action. It was inspired by the dispute between Liverpool dockers and their employer Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC) from 1995 to 1998. This historical incident disrupted the local sea-trade.

The dockers refused to cross a picket line in support of colleagues who were laid off without proper cause, leaving the Neptune Jade, a Mersey ship, unloaded. A campaign of global solidarity mounted, and the cargo-laden ship was blacklisted for two years before the dockers of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, who knew nothing of the campaign, came to its rescue.


Factory, Taiwan 2003, Super 16 mm transferred to digital video, colour, silent, 31 min
The Route, Taiwan 2006, 35 mm, black and white, silent, 17 min

close up of a woman looking into the needle of a sewing machine. her hands are holding the fabric as she inspects the thread.

Chen Chieh-jen Factory 2003, film still. Courtesy the artist

a huge pile of abandoned wooden desks and chairs, all broken on top of each other.

Chen Chieh-jen Factory 2003, film still. Courtesy the artist

black and white image of a harbour cut off by a metal fence. there's a sign stretched across the fence which shows a portion of a man's face

Chen Chieh-jen The Route 2006, film still. Courtesy the artist

The Chen Chieh-jen: Reverberations series is presented in partnership with Taiwan Film Festival UK

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

6 March 2020 at 19.00–20.30

Supported by

Related events