Li-E Chen

Interdisciplinary Artist and Director

(performance. visual. media arts.) 

Li-E Chen (b. in Chaozhou, China) moved to London in 1997. Her work in performance, site-specific, visual art and mixed media proposes a radically new way of developing experimental performance by using silence, nothingness, and 'thinking posture' as principles for a creative process that does not rely on narrative or representational meaning. Her recent works examine the nature of working on imperceptible territories and ‘the case of art that cannot be seen, heard, held, or perceived.' She conducted her first Imperceptible Series at the 12th Annual Deleuze & Guattari Studies Conference in July 2019 and current work of Proposition For 2019 - Present to begin her new process of art making, as part of her preparation for Residency Tours - Silent Opera, and development of Invisible Museum - I am a museum. 

Li-E was influenced by a diverse range of artists including

Robert Wilson, Tehching Hsieh, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Samuel Beckett. She also engaged extensively with contemporary philosophy and mathematics found in Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘rhizomatic thinking’, Gödel’s uncertainty and incompleteness theorems, and Wittgenstein’s propositional form. She received Grants for the Arts awards from the Arts Council England for Cloud Clock Love (2011-12), n-1 (2015-17) and One-Year R&D project: A Silent Opera on the Life and Art of Tehching Hsieh (2017-2018).  These works aimed to develop a new understandings of 'Nothingness' that did not reduce it to a lack or absence.  Other related works include, ‘Invisible/Visible’ (2003), ‘A performance of 0, 0, 0, n+1, n+1, etc.’ (2009), ‘I am your anti-matter’ (2011), 'Nothing Political' (2011), ‘24 Hours in dreams’ (2012) and ‘I declared, I am invisible now’ (2012).

Li-E developed her own aesthetic of silence through her recent One-Year R&D A Silent Opera on the Life and Art of Tehching Hsieh  which made possible through the supports by Arts Council England, Southbank Centre, Contemporary Political Theory Research Group - Royal Holloway, University of London, Tete-a-Tete Opera, Live Art Development Agency, Tehching Hsieh and The Robert Wilson Archives at the Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation in New York, and among others. Her artistic practice also have been influenced by her active participation in Improbable’s open space events, including its annual 'Devoted and Disgruntled: 'What Are We Going To Do About Theatre And Performing Arts?' facilitated by Phelim McDermott. Her second art book, 'n-1 Performance Life', was published in 2017, which was collected by The National Poetry Library Collection at the Southbank Centre, British Library in London, the Asian Art Archives in Hong Kong and among others. The Artbook edition was first presented during the public display of 'Universal Language' at Southbank Centre's Literature Festival 2017.


She received Distinctions for her BA Theatre Practice - Alternative Theatre at the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2004, and her MA Media Arts and Philosophy at the University of Greenwich in 2007, London. She was part of the National Theatre's Art of Regeneration supported by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in 2004-07, and worked as a digital designer and animator for theatre and opera productions in 2004-08. She also worked and trained as a Pharmaceutical Dispenser in 2009-14. In 2009 she began her independent open space experiments in performance, visual arts, site-specific and mixed media, pursuing her first solo artistic work, ‘n-1’, in 2015.  She developed her additional trainings in producing, directing and artistic leaderships through the Battersea Arts Centre, National Theatre, Young Vic, Royal Opera House, Improbable and Live Art Development Agency in London. She was a member of Studio Artist at ]Performance Space[, and is a member of Artistic Directors of the Future, Librettist Network, and Contemporary Political Theory Research Group at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Photo by Manuel Vason