Goodbye Little Factory Three-channel video installation, 10’00”, 2012

I-Chun Chen

The small OEM (original equipment manufacture) production lines that Chieh-Jen Chen grew up with represent an important stage in the process of globalization. Frequently running in private homes, with machinery operated by family members in their living rooms, OEMs are nonetheless a step along from cottage industry: the production process may be human and personal, but they are retailed under the impersonal brand name of the company that buys them up.

For Taiwan, the days of OEM, when Chen’s family ran a production line in their home, were also days of hope. The end of military rule brought new contact with the outside world and economic boom, and the bit-part played by OEM production echoed a more general feeling that individuals were contributing to something bigger in the development of their country.

But the Chen family’s little plant, like thousands of others throughout the country, has since closed down. Manufacture that had shifted to East Asia from Europe moved on again to Africa, and other “less developed” economies where human labour is cheap. Taiwan is presented with the challenges of the next stage of development: freedom from the drudgery of factory work and perhaps the devastation of unemployment.

‘Goodbye, Little Factory’ is a triptych of endlessly scrolling images of OEM facilities that Chen filmed to record the dying days of this form of industry. Their mechanical whirring and thuds are combined with simple childish notes to produce something between a soothing lullaby tinged with Chen’s fond childhood memories, and a requiem.

Other artworks

Last event

La friche la belle de mai
41 Rue Jobin
F-13003 Marseille
France