The 14th Factory’s Creative Minds: Movana Chen

Meet Movana Chen – the Hong Kong based artist behind Knitting Conversations.

Movana Chen will be at the space April 28 to May 14, Thursday to Sunday 12-6 pm. During these times, she will be collecting stories and inviting audiences to knit with her next to The Garlands.

Since 2004, Chen has been creating an ongoing project of knitting “magazine clothes” from shredded books and magazines. By rearranging and constructing new clothes out of shredded papers, Chen subverts the function of garments as a way to examine the traditional relationships between clothing and the media, consumption and commerce. Chen’s major ongoing international project, Knitting Conversations, invites the audience for hands-on participation in knitting sections of a tapestry made from the shredded pages of books relevant to a particular context or person, creating a cross-cultural, cross-border dialogue and embedded connection into the fabric of the work. Movana has held workshops and performances all over the world  — most recently in Istanbul, Moscow and Siberia — and her fabric art is in private and public collections internationally.


Movana Chen hiking Joshua Tree in California with her traveling bookshelf.

Movana and friends sharing stories, memories and history with Knitting Conversations

“Traveling Dress” Knitted and shredded Louis Vuitton catalogues displayed at the Louis Vuitton Time Capsule Exhibition in Hong Kong open through May 14, 2017

We sat down with Movana to discuss her collaboration with Simon Birch for The 14th Factory.

Q1. What attracted to you to collaborate with Simon on The 14th Factory?

I was really attracted by Simon’s project concept for The 14th Factory – that it is the artist’s studio where anything is admissible and the world is re-imaginable… and an opportunity for people of all ages to engage with one another, and to experience art in a new and exiting way. I am also interested in the historical relationship of the show to the thirteen factories in 18th century Guangzhou, which in their own way facilitated cultural exchange and indirectly contributed to the evolution of history (especially the history of Hong Kong). It is meaningful to me personally and as a theme to add to my ongoing project KNITerature: Knitting Conversations.

Q2. Some of the main themes in The 14th Factory are about transformation and connection, and moving beyond historical and personal boundaries.

How do you feel your work in the show relates to these themes?

My work Knitting Conversations in Time is an ongoing collaborative project I have been working on since 2011, weaving people’s stories from around the world. This connected piece crosses time, place, people, cultures, languages, identities, history and memories, and will become an on-site interactive installation and knitting workshop in The 14th Factory. Visitors will be invited to touch/walk sit on the knitted pieces, and will also be welcome to become part of the project by knitting together with other participants using shredded paper from books relating to the history of the Thirteen Factories of Canton, adding stories to the ongoing piece. The participants and I will be engaged in conversation while weaving in our hands a dialogue of the past and present, and also knitting a hope of future – where every individual and every culture is connected through these unique threads.

Q3. What does it mean for you to show your work in LA?

For me this is a really good moment to extend the concept of my work in LA – freedom of movement, of creating new opportunities for different cultures and identities and of beginning the communication between one another – especially with all the chaos going on the world today. The reconstructed paper pieces represent wishes transformed into cultural dialogues – it is a journey of weaving together people’s stories, cultures and history, and of opening up a two-way communication across time, place and creation. In time, everything is connected.