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Whence Do You Know the Happiness Of Fish?, 2015

installation view at Kunst Kraft Werk Leipzig


Commissioned by the Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig

Supported by the National Culture and Arts Foundation,

Umverteilen Foundation, and Studio44 Apartment

Photography by dotgain

Whence Do You Know the Happiness of Fish? was the first of Chang’s series of durational performance installations. The artist has since worked with a number of scientists and engineers to elaborate on the inter-relationships of consumption, industrial production, and the ecosystem. This particular work was a collaboration with biologist Andreas von Bresinsky from the aquaculture lab Fischwirtschaftsbetrieb, Germany. Together with Bresinsky, Chang constructed an indoor fish farm where he became an integral part of this artificially-created ecosystem for 14 days. Within the confined space, the artist survived only on what he was able to catch from the pool of farmed sturgeons. He was equipped with a fishing rod, a fishing float, and hooks. A workstation was set up on-site where he produced a series of drawings that reflected his mind in the confined environment of production. The title of the work derives from the ancient Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s story, where Zhuangzi and Huizi discuss the happiness of fish. Huizi questions Zhuangzi: ‘You’re not a fish. How do you know what fish enjoy?’ Zhuangzi replies: ‘Let’s go back to your original question. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy—so you already knew that I knew it when you asked the question.’

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TING-TONG CHANG

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