The Moviegoer : Agent Seven-Son-Flower — Chen Tong’s Project for a Revolution


Under private context, or in mysterious yet open imagination, the film trilogy of Chen Tong’s “Project for a Revolution in Hong Kong” can be understood as a “narrative” game using objects, human and space as narrative material and moving images as the narrative tool. And yet, Chen Tong’ “narrative” is in its own an inadvertent but intentional subversion of the idea of “traditional narrative.” In his solo exhibition “Agent Seven-Son-Flower”, the trilogy is combined with Chen Tong’s performative paintings and present a new round of reconstruction of the narrative space. In Shanghai, this “narrative space” transforms the somewhat reserved city of Guangzhou and the flamboyant city of Hong Kong into distant, fictional, symbolic existence, hanging afloat like lonely shadows, generating unspecified types of uncertainty.


The film trilogy is about a man carrying on a secret mission. He is forbidden to use any modern communication tool, but only methods such as distributing handwritten notes to complete his mission. The entire process circles around three intriguing key actions – writing, distributing, and erasing, also titles of the three respective films. As the fall edition in the Cinema Lovers series, there will also be a few “film still paintings” in the exhibition hall accompanying the screening, to illustrate a few important scenes in the film. “Agent Seven-Son-Flower” is not only the code for this mission, but also the code for his handlers and the flower plant on his windowsill when he sends out messages.


Chen Tong’s film work, like his literary work, is conceptually and intellectually tied to the French Nouveau Roman movement. It’s also a tribute to Alain Robbe-Grillet, who he worships. He even directly alludes to Robbe-Grillet’s Project for a Revolution in New York through intertextuality, as in the film, a secret note is hidden in one of a row of this Robbe-Grillet novel on a book shelf, when the handler recites a number, with his fingers sliding across book spines, and accurately opens one of them to find the note.


This fictional revolution started by some global radical communication cell might have been designed by Chen Tong himself. Why not? He adopted most of his political incorrectness from Robbe-Grillet, and some more from The Green Book of Gaddafi. He can never forget how Pierce retrieved his stopwatch. He thinks about Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter when he sees Vermeer’s paintings. The diaries he wrote in one of the islands of the Indian Ocean may or may not be connected to WeChat. The thing he is most interested in the best-selling book Small is Beautiful is the idea of Distributism. And when he talks about “tradition,” he is really talking about the rules that to this day still failed to fail…(Wrote by Chen Tong)


From Guangzhou to Shanghai, from the Libreria Borges to Hong Kong, the fictional ground for the revolution, the exhibition shows not only an imagination of a revolution on “world drawing paper”, but also includes an obscure channel toward the real world through his video and paintings. As a follow-up to Chen Tong’s project, the solo exhibition of “Agent Seven-Son-Flower” will force us to re-evaluate his efforts in various artistic areas.