Li-E Chen

Interdisciplinary Artist and Director

Li-E Chen (b. in Chaozhou, China) moved to London in 1997. Her practice involves performance, visual and mixed-media arts, and uses silence, nothingness, and 'thinking postures' as principles for its creative process. She was influenced by artists such as Robert Wilson, Tehching Hsieh, John Cage, Merce Cunningham and Samuel Beckett, philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and mathematician Kurt Godel. She aims to make artworks that do not rely on narrative or representational meanings. Her recent work use propositional forms, inspired by Ludwig Wittgenstein, to explore the aesthetic of everyday life and art. She creates performances, public events, and publications, working both independently and collaboratively. Her most recent artworks came from her ACE-funded One Year R&D: A Silent Opera on the Life and Art of Tehching Hsieh (2017-2018). She collaborated with organisations and artists in the USA, Europe, and South America, held events at the Live Arts Development Agency, Southbank Centre and Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival, researched the Robert Wilson archives in New York.

Li-E is currently undertaking her artistic development through the Arts Council Emergency Response fund to carry out her 'Proposition For Self-Development 2020.' Her artistic practice has developed through her three self-managed Arts Council England Awards 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). Her work had also developed from her active participation in Improbable Theatre’s Open Space events in 2009 - 2015, including its annual 'Devoted and Disgruntled: 'What Are We Going To Do About Theatre And Performing Arts?' facilitated by Phelim McDermott. Her recent art publication, '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 Art-book edition was 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 Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2004, and her MA Media Arts and Philosophy at the University of Greenwich in 2007, London. Previously she worked and trained at the National Theatre's Art of Regeneration Programme 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. She received training and residency programmes provided by the Battersea Arts Centre, National Theatre, Young Vic, Royal Opera House, Improbable Theatre and Live Art Development Agency (London), and Centre for Chinese Contemporary Arts (Manchester). She was a member of ]Performance Space[ (UK), and Contemporary Political Theory Research Group at Royal Holloway, University of London.