People and nature: Xuefeng Chen's cross-cultural garden

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Xuefeng Chen, a Chinese-born artist who settled in France in 2003, is currently constructing the installation ‘Bô – le jardin imaginaire’ in a disused quarry near Dijon. She has so far created six of the planned twenty-one sculptures which will populate the main arena of the open-air site. An art gallery without walls, it epitomises Chen’s view of her aesthetic and personal philosophy of going beyond boundaries.
Drawing on the transmedial, we provide, firstly, some historical and cultural context to her work by considering the long-established connections between Chinese gardens/landscapes and the arts, notably painting. As well as being a transnational artist in terms of her life trajectory, her works convey elements of both Western influences and Chinese culture and this is the focus of the remainder of the study. Correspondences between traditional Chinese gardens, in particular those created and enjoyed by the Chinese literati, may be detected and are integral to the artist’s principal objectives. Additionally, she creates a space that embodies the Chinese idea of 'you' (‘wandering’), a complex term denoting both physical and/or spiritual movement that expresses her playful nature, along with her eagerness to interact with others and to bring others into contact with each other, resulting in a freedom that transcends boundaries. Consequently, we propose that her imaginary garden provides a site and opportunity for cross-cultural encounters and ‘everyday multiculturalism’ (Ang 2001, Wise 2010, Watson and Saha 2012) that have social, cultural and aesthetic purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-135
Number of pages38
JournalIrish Journal of French Studies
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2022


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