Lena Chen

Femina Non Grata

Lena Chen is a Chinese American writer and artist who explores identity, trauma, and sexuality through participatory performances, interactive installations, and confessional texts. Named a Progressive Women’s Voices fellow by Women’s Media Center and a “new feminist leader” by More Magazine, she has been featured in Glamour, VICE, CNN, and The New York Times and has spoken worldwide at Oxford, Yale, Stanford, and SXSW.

Using her own body and persona as her primary media, Chen's works are exercises in exhibitionistic vulnerability toeing the thin line between victimhood and survival, intimacy and isolation, empowerment and objectification.

One of the earliest documented victims of revenge porn and cyberstalking, Chen's experience with online misogyny received wide press attention. To address post-traumatic stress, she moved to Berlin and created an alternate identity as nude model "Elle Peril” (2012-2017). Through ritualized acts of undressing and posing for strangers, the durational performance was N attempt to reclaim agency over her body and personal narrative.

Her latest project, Heal Her (www.healherproject.com), spans six countries and brings together survivors of sexual trauma and gender-based violence through talking circles dedicated to storytelling, consciousness-raising, empathetic listening, and collective healing.

The participatory installation Cybopticon.life (2018) hires individuals to manufacture live-streamed performances for clients, exploring the commodification of digital identity and parallels to the gig economy, artistic labour, and sex work.

Chen holds a B.A. in sociology from Harvard University and is based between Berlin and Los Angeles.

[Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.]

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.