Yin-Ju Chen

<i>Transactions</i>, 2008, HD video, 7 minutes, 42 seconds. Courtesy of the artist.-圖片

Transactions, 2008, HD video, 7 minutes, 42 seconds. Courtesy of the artist.

In the short video Transactions (2008), a Taiwanese mother’s hands are seen sewing clothing with great skill, an effort she undertakes to finance her daughter’s studies in the United States. The daughter is Yin-Ju Chen, whose work interprets social power and history through cosmological systems. In this early film, she is heard speaking on the phone with her mother to coordinate a credit card bill from the distant country where she pursues her studies thanks to her mother’s relentless hard work. But the conversation is not animated by gratitude, nor by intimacy, but by the primacy of numbers and a pragmatism that connects the mother and daughter across a great physical distance only by dry contractual or logistical obligations. In the coldness of such an encounter, we might perceive the extractive logic of the US, the world of women who give beyond exhaustion, or the reduction of family duty to machinic automation. But the film itself is also an act of love that recuperates the relationship between the daughter and the mother, and a testament to the hardship that love must always conquer. The daughter might be spending the money on art school, but the wisdom of the laboring hands keeps the accounts. Finally, the artist behind the camera completes the totality of the transaction by registering money as trivial compared to debts that are infinite.