10 — 12.05, 16 — 19.05, 23 — 26.05, 30.05 — 01.06.2024

Hsu Che‑Yu Taipei-Amsterdam

Three Episodes of Mourning Exercises

visual arts / film

argos centre for audiovisual arts

Mandarin → NL, FR | €6 / €4

With his first solo exhibition in Belgium, Hsu Che-Yu presents a series of objects and works that together form an original landscape on the idea of mourning. The impressive triptych Three Episodes of Mourning Exercises takes centre stage, consisting of three of his latest video works and as many stories about loss. Zoo Hypothesis recounts the animal-to-animal mourning ritual created by zookeepers who trained animals to kneel and perform gestures of worship to commemorate animals that have died due to warfare. In Blank Photograph, the memories of a terrorist bomber are juxtaposed with his brother's suicide in the family home, presenting death as a tension between the individual and the collective. Finally, Gray Room is a tribute to the artist's deceased grandmother, recalling the experience of bodily perception in her house while contemplating death and memory from a material perspective. To produce his video works, Che-Yu works with the 3D scanning technique also used by the Taiwanese police to collect forensic evidence, identify fragmented or decomposing bodies and examine crime scenes. Multiple exercises in mourning that explore the representations, constructions and alienations of memory and death as an intimate event. A breathtaking experience.

“Hsu Che-Yu ingeniously amalgamates true tragedies of our world with technologies including animation and film to create compelling humanistic works.”
Han Nefkens Foundation - Loop Barcelona Video Art Production Award 2022

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Three Episodes of Mourning Exercises

Can we practise mourning? In what forms can we exercise the idea of mourning? For whom and what do we mourn? Be it sorrow or grief, when it comes to loss we want to pin down the unnamed ruins in mind –although it may be covered by a labyrinth of ideal and failure. Never was it so clear as when we once again heard a professional mourning girl at a traditional Taiwanese funeral. The sound of her wailing haunts the whole village – a clichéd mourning ritual that triggers a mix of projected emotions and sadness. We’ve been interested in the layers of fiction and reality since Hsu Che-Yu and I started working together. The performance of the funeral girl’s mourning song left us pondering how the exercise of mourning can be so fabricated and telling at the same time. Yet without looking for the answer in rituals, we looked for stories, stories that rupture the intimate feeling between the individual and the other: a writer and a performer rehearsing the gestural movements of war memorial ceremonies, an activist’s reenactment of his suicidal brother, and an artist’s double vision revealed in a sleepwalking trance.

  • Chen Wan-Yin

Chen Wan-Yin is a scriptwriter who has collaborated on several of Hsu Che-Yu’s works.

This exhibition features three works – Zoo Hypothesis, Blank Photograph and Gray Room– created with the use of 3-D scanning technologies: one for architectural purposes, the other to create model data of objects and living beings. The videos were made in collaboration with 3-D scanning teams to scan buildings, interior spaces, and the movements of characters within them. After collecting these two types of digital models, the images were extracted frame by frame, and were composed together in one scene.

Alongside those three video works, the exhibition features documents that explain the creative process behind Three Episodes of Mourning Exercises. The storyboard sketches are exhibited on the wall, while on a table opposite them the artist presents books and reading materials about the complex intertwining of hope and loss, with the addition of two pieces of footage found in Asian post-war archives (a wedding of two giant snakes in a temple and a funeral of a dead panda in a zoo). Three TV monitors in the space complement the exhibition, with works conjuring up the intimate relationship between the living and the dead. The sculptures are replicas of hands and legs from once-conjoined twin brothers from Taiwan. Screened on video, they are manipulated by a puppeteer as a contemplation of animated senses.

Zoo Hypothesis

Zoo Hypothesis revisits stories from Japanese colonial Taiwan where animals had a military symbolism, and the establishment of zoos was seen as part of modernisation. During the Pacific War, facilitated by Japan, some ceremonies to commemorate the dead at the front were held in zoos in Taiwan, and the animals were trained to perform certain gestures and movements to show grief. A zoo in Taiwan built during Japanese times was scanned to create Zoo Hypothesis. The video explores the relationship between horror and gesture, taxidermy and 3D models.

Blank Photograph

Blank Photograph is narrated by Yang Ru-Men, a Taiwanese farmer who once placed several bombs in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, in protest against Taiwan’s membership of the World Trade Organization. He was later convicted and spent years in prison, and went on to become a prominent figure in social movements for land justice. After Yang’s release from prison, his brother committed suicide in their living room; the reason for it is unknown. The narrative in the work combines Yang’s scripted voice-over and interview recordings about his thoughts behind his social activism. Yang was invited to reenact two scenes: the scene of his brother’s suicide and his bomb-testing practices on the seashore.

Gray Room

Gray Room uses a VR headset to take the audience on an intimate tour of a home. In the artist’s late grandmother’s house, fragmented childhood memories about nightmare, illusion and double vision contribute to the question: what apparatus or element constitutes our senses, feelings, emotions and memories? If, as Neuroexistentialists claim, the human body is regulated and controlled by its neuron system alone, what – if anything – is left when we talk about mourning?

The Unusual Death of a Mallard Video

Hsu Che-Yu’s great-grandmother worked in an animal laboratory for 30 years. Sometimes, she would take the laboratory animals home where they would become the childhood playmates of Hsu’s father. Hsu Che-Yu attempts to probe how the body / life is taken as part of the body of knowledge relying on real bodies and models, thus further exploring the relationship between death and digital simulation technology.

Rabbit 314

A glove puppetry performer reinvents and reenacts the movements of a dead rabbit, which ended its life in a laboratory. Rabbit 314 questions the manipulation and appropriation of animals by humans.  


The first Taiwanese conjoined twins underwent separation surgery in 1979. In order to prepare for the surgery, the hospital invited an artist to make a cast of the conjoined twins. A replica of this mould was made by Hsu Che-Yu.


Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, argos centre for visual arts
Three Episodes of Mourning Exercises is an exhibition by Hsu Che-Yu, created by Hsu Che-Yu (artist) and Chen Wan-Yin (scriptwriter)

Zoo Hypothesis
Video installation, 31min 33sec, 2023
Concept: Hsu Che-Yu | Screenwriter: Chen Wan-Yin | Performer: Wu Che-Sheng | Dramaturge: Chen Yi-Chun | Production manager: Chen Yung-Shuang | Taxidermist: Huang Wen-Chieh | Model: Yen Tsu-Wei | 3D scanning: Solid Memory - KIDEN Design | VFX: Wang Chien-Chao | Editor: Hsu Che-Yu
​​Supported by Theater der Welt & National Culture and Arts Foundation Taiwan

Gray Room
VR 360, 16min 06sec, 2022
Concept: Hsu Che-Yu | Screenwriter: Chen Wan-Yin | Producer: Chen Yung-Shuang | Voice-over: Yang Ru-Men | Technical advisor: Yeh Hsing-Jou | 3D scanning: Solid Memory - KIDEN Design | 4D views: IP Lab | VFX: Wang Chien-Chao | Editor: Hsu Che-Yu | Music: Wu Pei-Lin | VO recording: Pixelfly Digital Sound | Sound effect editor: Lin Yan-Rong | Sound project manager: Chou Sai-Wei 
Coproduced by Kaohsiung Film Archive VR FILM LAB & Han Nefkens Foundation

Blank Photograph
Video installation, 20min 29sec, 2022
Concept: Hsu Che-Yu | Screenwriter: Chen Wan-Yin | Interviewee and voice-over: Yang Ru-Men | Producer: Chen Yung-Shuang | Production assistant: Lin Tai-You | Director of photography: Chen Kuan-Yu | 1st assistant camera: Liang Shao-Wen | 2nd assistant camera: Sung Hsin | Sound engineer: Lin Yan-Rong | Boom operator: Li Yi-Shiou | Special effects: Lin Jia-Liang | 3D scanning: Solid Memory - KIDEN Design | 4D views: IP Lab | VFX: Wang Chien-Chao | Editor: Hsu Che-Yu | Foley artist: Gilles Marsalet | Sound editor, sound mixer and sound effects: Geoffrey Durcak | Color grader: François Engrand | Music: Sonic Deadhorse 
Produced by Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains

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