21st Century Leadership

Li-E Chen is one of the twenty participants in 21st Century Leadership (supported by Battersea Arts Centre, Watershed, and The Sage Gateshead)

Visit us and participate in our conversations via http://21stcenturyleadership.tumblr.com

I will be interviewing “invisible” leaders including curators, arts and cultural leaders, artists, arts managers, digital leaders, etc to investigate what it means to be “invisible” leaders.

Read Notes from the day in Gateshead-RISK, RESILIENCE, REVOLUTION

Read Phelim McDermott’s Provocation from Monday

My Journey of becoming “invisible” in a leadership role

Li-E Chen’s Leadership schedules AND POSTS

li-e-chen 21st Century Leadership 6 weeks challenge

Work very hard. Do something that I don’t yet know

Not to constrain by a vision 

To change all the time. I am changing now.

It turned out that 6 weeks challenge was creating a new project every week – it was out of my control.

Project 1: I declared, I am invisible now. (a photography and leadership experiment)

Project 2: I am invisible now (a new publication on the role of ‘invisible’ leadership)

Project 3: Breakfast-chat (a podcast ongoing international project)

Project 4: 24 Hours in Dreams (a campaign in inventing the future of art and culture)

Project 5: live stream and performance experiment

Project 6: online studio and open source platform experiment

I am invisible now

Li-E Chen’s quotes: -

“The biggest risk is to do something that no-one knows what and why you are doing.”

“Art is all about creating a situation, not any kind of situations, but a case of being open…”

“Your mind can change a situation, how? you change your mind.”

“I asked the leaders to become invisible and be a player rather than a leader.”

“Rejection gives me inspiration. When people reject me, I invent things or create situations out of rejection.”

“I will need to do more what I hate than what I love, because this will help me to do bigger things.”

“I don’t know if I have understood the word Vulnerability correctly but I am still learning what this means and how it relates to me and others. For me, it was the fear of facing rejection – but i became better dealing with rejection now. Whoever reject my ideas or proposals, rejections give me inspiration and motivation to invent and create.”

“My mind became ‘mouldy’, it was necessary in order to overcome challenges.”

“Working beyond your imagination.”

“After universities,  I had been given many opportunities to have a career working in an well-known international 3D animation company, BBC producing, teaching in university, and becoming a business women. But I finally still choose to work in the art and want to challenge the possibilities of creating and discovering things beyond our imaginations.”

“Work hard. Don’t work too hard.”

“Do you want to understand the secrets of human’s mind? This is like asking I want to see your brain or skull.”

“Don’t constrain by a vision, or the ‘things’.

“Make it real”

’24 hours in dreams’ at BAC


  1. Pingback: DandD7 - Dream of Trust | Li-E Chen

  2. Pingback: Interactive eBook Launch - I AM YOUR ANTI-MATTER | Li-E Chen

  3. I will deliver my speech in a perfect manner.

  4. I need to practice my speech.

  5. A leader/speaker said, “The less leader I am the better I will be.”

    A leader/speaker said, “Often when we lead we forgot to listen.”

  6. What if I create a situation that all leaders become invisible?

    Maybe I can create a leadership lab.

    I will invite all participants to declare “I am invisible now”.

  7. Phelim McDermott’s Provocation from Monday
    Being comfortable with being uncomfortable

    He said “…Well I think I would say it’s to model being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”, “…I stayed there longer than was comfortable. Slowly they realised I wasn’t coming out and amongst themselves started work on the scene…”

  8. Invitation:

    Would you like to participate in becoming “invisible”?


    Please take a picture of yourself and declaring “I am invisible now”

    I would like to curate a series of the 21st century participants’ and creators’ own photography via online platform. With these series, what you can help me to realize this project is to do simply taking a picture of yourself by declaring “I am invisible now.”

    Then, submit your photo to project@liechen.com with a bio or anything you want to introduce yourself.

    At the end, your participation will be presented it online or/and as an exhibition during the final presentation on 17th & 18th May.

  9. Submitted my invitation to 21st Century Leadership:

    Would you like to participate in becoming “invisible”?


    Please take a picture of yourself by declaring “I am invisible now” (you can choose to ask someone taking a picture of you when you make your declaration.)


    I would like to curate a series of photography on the 21st century participants/creators/leaders’ head shot photos. With these series, what you can help me to realize this project is to do simply taking a picture of yourself by declaring “I am invisible now.”

    Then, submit your photo to project@liechen.com with a brief intro, bio and anything you want to introduce yourself.

    At the end, your photo and bio will be presented it online and/or as an exhibition during the final presentation on 17th & 18th May.

    This is one part of my experiments for my independent project, I hope you all can participate. I will send you an email of this invitation too.

    Thank you. Li


    I will also participate in this experiment.

    1. Take a picture of myself to declare “I am invisible now”

    2. Submit a photo to Li-E Chen project@liechen.com with a brief intro about who you are, what you want to do for your independent 21st century leadership and what you do you most enjoy in life? or anything.

  10. Pingback: 21st Century Leadership #21CL | Li-E Chen

  11. BEING INVISIBLE – Keeping your eyes open, your ears open and your heart open, so that you can really listen what it is going on around you.

  12. watching the Jazz artists interviews on PBS channel:

    Jazz – active, live, individual sound…
    keeping your eyes open, your ears open, and your heart opens
    young people – has real courage – take risk
    artists create new audience
    they felt they had the responsibility to push the music into the 21st century
    someone she/he has extra-ordinary gifts who would create new music that people have never heard or known it before – the future of music – not-known

    (i want to go to the Sage Gateshead and just be there to watch people rehearsal, take photos of the venues so that i can create an interactive architectural map for the leadership publication, and interviews people)

  13. Independent via organisational

    I am an independent.
    I am functioning as an organisation.
    I create multiple, imagine the multiple of “I”
    I disappears so that I can become multiple and become flexible to move around within the multiple of “I”
    I am facing the same artistic challenge that an organisations is facing, but may be an organisation is facing an artistic challenge that an independent is facing.
    I am searching for a structure, called “a structure of 3 on ‘nothing’”
    An organisation is facing an artistic challenge that an independent is facing. What is the artistic challenge that both are facing at the moment?

  14. If I have recorded correctly from the Sage Gateshead, a leader said, “There is no longer about the things, it is all about human relationship.”

    What she said has made me think that we often focus too much on our productions, artworks or the things that we want to get and achieved, then we create things called the boundary, which is like building the walls in front of you. We kind of forgot about the people who are next to you or around you, or the outside world.


    • Not to create any “walls”
      Not to create any boundary.
      Not to create a line that marks the limits of an area a dividing line.
      Not to create any limits
      Not to control

    • For me, the boundary I make is always feeling scared that I may have misunderstood something, or said or written something that getting people upset.

    • I see often arts organisations set their boundary wanting things to be perfect, which is actually limitation for the arts. I don’t know if they notice that or not. ??

  15. Re-visit a Task of 1 2 3 4 from Day one at the BAC

    Do more
    Working in an open environment where I engage closer relationship with people who I work with and develop a long-term community from a physical space to a virtual space. Open space independent collaboration

    Do less
    Less do everything by myself, even I can manage through my imagination to create multiple of virtual characters and use of the new technology to help me, but I want to work with people.

    Learn about
    the technical legal issues in international fundraising and open sources – as I am launching an event and would like to use this leadership to develop things that I do not know how to do.

    What to share
    can share my 10 years experience with all aspects of new technology, from digital design, technical to developing new media platforms which include professional digital publishing, create App for iPad or other digital platforms, and open source contents creation, or simply new media theory if it is an interest to anyone.

  16. Pingback: Independent Leadership Development | Li-E Chen

  17. get the list together (south bank curator, ace manager, etc) and send the email out.

  18. Need to put together questions for different people who I am going to interview.
    By doing that, “I will need to make myself visible.”

  19. Action on nothing, not-knowing – Preparaction has reached __, I declared I am invisible now. Duration – Action – Leadership

  20. Inventing the future of theatre through action art

    Action- actors – acting
    Action – leaders – leadership through actions
    Action – politicians – changing the society

    ACTION – is to be invisible – “take-no-action”

  21. A: Two main things that I am planning to share on 17 & 18 May

    1. Present my keynote – via live/online/print/live stream/campaigning via twitter 12-24 hours duration
    2. Durational – Leadership Lab – flexible – can be happen without being at a specific room but can be anywhere and anytime during the days. (TBC for more detail)

    B: If I do set up live stream, I will set up via my own computer and iPhone, and embed the live stream codes to the leadership blogs and Facebook perhaps.

  22. Breakfast chat with the leaders at Southbank last week

  23. Had a dream last night, I was presenting my keynote… Imagination, duration, action art, inventing new theatre through a series of action – the action of not-knowing – action on nothing – keynote – nothing political – how to become an art and cultural minister?? – what is the difference between an artist and cultural leader? – BAC – speech start from the architect…

    • a space for provocation, a place to begin a conversation, a space for imagination, ….

      David Jubb April 2011

      “Our home is inside a large Victorian Town Hall with 80 different spaces. I think these “inappropriate” spaces unlock creativity in a way that formal arts building often struggle.”

      “By introducing greater levels of vulnerability in to the design and building process, the resulting risks have to be managed even more carefully. But by placing the risks in the hands of the users of the buildings, rather than a series of outside experts, we believe we end up with a better understanding of those risks ourselves and therefore better able to be creative in the space we have shaped.”

      “Great artists have consistently developed artistic approaches that seek to take more risks and reintroduce a more live and vulnerable quality in their work.”

      “So what can theatre buildings, producing companies and administrative frameworks learn from the artist’s art of being vulnerable? Put another way, are there methodologies that can be applied beyond the rehearsal room, to the way theatre is supported, housed and funded that could create a lasting environment which encourages risk-taking and vulnerability?”

      “Can we imagine what a systemic solution to being vulnerable might look like? One obvious answer is to develop support structures that are flexible and that can accommodate the independent mindset of an artist like Ze Celso; structures that can nurture the values at the heart of the artist’s work. Perhaps others ways to ask the same question are as follows: what does a national theatre for independent practice look like?; how can we create structures that enable independent visions to evolve in all of their glorious vulnerability?; and how can we provide the right balance of structure and flexibility to enable vulnerability as a quality of openness and susceptibility rather than one of weakness and defencelessness.”

  24. bring OPENNESS into any kind of working contexts including: my artistic challenge to the audience/public, producing work, curating work, management, designs, etc. Therefore, people’s expectation can be removed and begin from “0″.

  25. Created Ustream account for live stream

    Created SoundCloud account for interview recording –
    (record interview via iPhone plus SoundCloud via iPad)

    17 & 18 July – Leadership sharing
    Live stream via Ustream and SoundCloud.

  26. I planned to do this and that, but the opportunity in front of me now is this ______, need to use the most of it and invent more opportunities…..

  27. I always think about creating a situation where actions, interactions that happen.

  28. Non-direction – only open space – you enter the door – no-one is directing you where to go, but you figure it yourself. You just find your way.

  29. Theatre is tati… Rather than literature. Action is Tati… Music and dance are Tati…, theatre is too, e.g Beckett, Pinter, robert Wilson. See

  30. Durational Theatre -Knitting S. Beckett’s plays for a week.

  31. Leadership Lab – “I declare: I am invisible now”

    Submit via online

    Create an online platform where people can become part of my experiment in becoming “invisible”…

  32. Watershed – “Our approach is to do things ‘with’ people not ‘for’ people.”

  33. Interviewing “invisible” leaders through breakfast chat between may to June.

  34. ’If it didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent it’

    A collection of interviews exploring the creative impact of Watershed


    • “Confidence comes from working around like-minded people
      and being given space, enthusiasm and feedback to try out new ideas.”

      • Get the logistical support from Watershed, share my idea of Breakfast-Chat with the planning that i am thinking how to run, and the one year lab on ‘nothing’ that I am going to create.

        Find out about contracting in open sources platform – get all into details what I have researched so far, and what else…

        Get the tee and book launch information out. X 3 copies

  35. Create a book of my own work, Sharing my leadership and creative approach in Art making – for the publication that I am making – focus on my own works rather than outside other people’s works. Because it’ll be an endless task to write about other people works. But if I focus on my own, I value my own leadership approach as well as developing my works. “I declared: I am invisible now” it turns out that I want to write about my own leadership through the ‘binary operation’ (’1′ ’2′)

  36. Learning how to write my own term and conditions with the works that I am going to create, lead and produce!

    Learning how to speak better for public presentation and online broadcasting!

    All about communication…

    But, for the creative/artistic making, it is beyond the skills of communication.

  37. After reading Watershed’s site, I realised it is important to publish my own leadership approach rather than writing about other people’s leadership.

    This is because there are so much out there online or books that people can read about and find information. Each individuals have their own ways of leadership. People can find information online easily. In order to make something more valuable for readers and myself as a creator, one thing that people can’t find it is how I approach in the role of 21st Century Leadership.

    After reflecting this, I’ve decided to publish the book “I am invisible now” on my leadership, rather on other people’s leadership. I want to write something that people haven’t done it yet.

    I will write about how I am going to create for open sharing – specific emphasis in ‘incomplete’ works for others to complete and engage…

    I will write about my experiment how to become an ‘invisible’ leader in order to advance the role of leadership in 21st Century.

    I will write about my creative works in relate to invisible/visible, binary systematic structure of writing, anti-matter, etc.

    I will invite contributors if people want to share too.

    I will produce it as an interactive ebook.

  38. Li E Chen, 05/03/2012 at 1:40 PM
    Conversation with Victoria at the Watershed:


    Breakfast Chat:
    - talked about Breakfast Chat, about the image, it can be something more a direct link to about my work.
    - breakfast chat – imaging having breakfast with best friends and thinking about isolation about city, wanting to have more informal conversations… Invisible leaders over breakfast table.
    - another suggestion: about game, playground, Inventing creative rules or no rules… Breakfast chat on Sunday morning, not restrict time and people or what conversations might be.
    - structure think about it, what would this structure create a new language
    - keep it open, just breakfast chat.
    - geometry collaboration
    - what would I make/create? Don’t know yet, not limited to anything.

    Interactive ebook:
    - about the ebook can add sound recording of my writing which can engage the readers more. (because the voice makes different)

    -cross-over art forms collaboration – no-one can know everything, one can know something, but not everything. Sharing.
    - what it means to create cross-over art works beyond the level of ‘good idea’
    - trust, different art forms have different languages, working together with different languages give people more freedom to be creative.
    - talk about fear, still don’t quite understand yet what and why artists commit themselves to do something that put themselves in “risk” of loosing out of control.

    - residency – open – what would they like to present, endless possibilities, networks, knowledge and supports.
    -there are so much to learn, sharing knowledge and skills, support.
    -artists develop their works further
    - apply for the residency.
    - can work with anyone who you want, scientist, mathematicians, choreographers, etc, who do I want to work with to develop my project further?
    -not so much about the outcome or completed product (exploration, experiment, conversation, different kind of impact)
    -an open working space allow across different networks and conversations, new possibilities to emgerge without expected.
    - artists will not be given expectations…
    -dones’t have to be linear, can be multiple approaches.

    About 21CL:
    - 21CL give me opportunity to demonstrate, experiment and invent different approach in a more efficiently.
    - present the keynote to share my vision and leadership approach
    - do the 24 hours durational art campaign based on keynote via twitter online (performing live online: @aplacofaction @take-no-action)
    - see how people respond to it first, if people are supporting it, then I will go ahead to do the fundsraising campaign for making this happen through the
    One year durational lab (initial idea just about wanting challenge people’s perception on understandings of ‘nothing’, was really an invitation and creating an opportunity for people to participate in this work via online.)

  39. Working with something that is not possible.

  40. Basically, 1 and 2 is a structure operating around language structure, in inventing the something else from this binary operation.

  41. John Cage, Merce Cullingham, Robert Wilson, T T, Phelim M and Kurt Godel are all working with open structure (music, dance movement, opera, theatre, visual art, mathematical logic, etc)

    What about new media? Can I create kinds of new media platform…?

  42. In the afternoon, look at the Watershed’s Statement of commitments, and how I can develop and create my own so that I can communicate clearly and honestly to the public and online participants.

  43. Write out a clear role what it is…

  44. Daft Description

    The Monday Breakfast Chat
    Inventing the future of Art and Culture

    Informal light chat over Breakfast with artists, producers, directors, art and cultural leaders, or anyone who is working in the Art and Culture sector, and is interested in inventing the future of Art and Culture.

    - from all cities and places around the world.

    Created by Li-E Chen (London-based Chinese Interdisciplinary Artist)

    The Monday Breakfast Chat is part of Li-E Chen’s experiment into the role of ‘invisible’ leadership for her 21st Century Leadership, which is supported by Battersea Arts Centre (London), Watershed (Bristol), and The Sage Gateshead (Newcastle).

    • Light conversation over breakfast on Art and Culture

      STARTING from May 7th, stay tuned for more info : )

    • Conversation with Victoria at the Watershed:


      Breakfast Chat:
      - talked about Breakfast Chat, about the image, it can be something more a direct link to about my work.
      - breakfast chat – imaging having breakfast with best friends and thinking about isolation about city, wanting to have more informal conversations… Invisible leaders over breakfast table.
      - another suggestion: about game, playground, Inventing creative rules or no rules… Breakfast chat on Sunday morning, not restrict time and people or what conversations might be.
      - structure think about it, what would this structure create a new language
      - keep it open, just breakfast chat.
      - geometry collaboration
      - what would I make/create? Don’t know yet, not limited to anything.

  45. Evaluating the roles of producers/curators and artists.

    A bad relationship happens when:

    “What do you want from me?”
    “Do you want me to produce
    your works?”
    “What can you do to help me and make money?”
    “I can’t see if your works can sell or have any public interests.”
    “Can you make me success?”
    “Can you help me to become famous?”
    “I have no interest listening what you do.”
    “Who are you?”
    “I don’t have time for you. Go away.”
    “How can you make our venues to become more popular?”
    “Can you help us to bring more audience into our gallery?”
    “You just don’t fit in what we do.”
    “You are not good enough.”

    A great relationship happens when:

    “How are you doing?”
    “What is your works about?”
    “Is there anything that I can help with your work?”
    “I am really interested in what you say about this… can you explain it a bit more?”
    “That’s really interesting even this is not what I have thought about.”
    “I don’t really work in this way but it is really interesting to hear your ideas.”
    “This might be an interest to you.”
    “This is what we do… , and how we do…, for example, …”
    “Please contact me any time when you need any help or have any questions in the future.”
    “I look forward to hearing more how this develops.”
    “You can consider and try this…”
    “I am interested in works that are “outside the boxes”.”

  46. Main weakness – Media Relations – How to improve Public Relations:

    E.g. CCL – I am your anti-matter – project – public engagement – new understandings on ‘Nothing’ – if there were more budget, I would have been able to get professional to deliver the publicity for more media coverage.

    How to improve this situation:
    To do a second round e-book launch newsletter to be sent out in May 9th. In this launch, a new copy will be available for iPhone, plus a new updated version. To create different ways of engaging people using the same creative approach – “PERFORMING LIVE DURATION” – specific talking about the book “I am your anti-matter” itself. (perhaps a Wiki page or twitter page duration)

    How to Write a Brief for a Public Relations Consultant

    • Defining the problem and opportunity

      Problem face: lack of funds

      Opportunity: Performing live duration via social media engagement activity

      Strategy: Testing 2
      Printing the book and cutting them into pieces for cross-referencing with @______.

  47. Pingback: Evaluation – 21CL Independent projects | Li-E Chen

  48. I have decided I want knowledge rather than money.

  49. Becoming invisible – Luck – Nothing Political

  50. “A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems” Paul Erdos Note from Notes at Trafalgar Square London, 31 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4ER 10.30am, 30 may 2012 “A mathematician is a device for turning art and culture into theorems” Li-E Chen

    The theorems of art and culture is –
    Begin with this here at notes, here for breakfast, waiting to see who is going to turn up… I have a plan, but I also try not to work on the plan. I always start with nothing, nothing without an absence. I don’t like my own voice, so I am not speaking but I want to share with you the surface of this space, the space of starting with nothing. Click here to listen http://soundcloud.com/li-e-chen/the-theorems-of-art-and (10 mins)

  51. What do I do now? There are so many stories to tell, which one goes first?

    • Dealing with multiplicity – while working on five to six projects at the same time… and working with seven to ten different social media networks with my independent projects.


      Get Help from someone;

      Q&A recorded and written;

      Unpublished posts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… via Storify

      1. my work

      2. A letter – “An Appeal to art…”

      3. Breakfast-Chat action 1 and posted content

      4. Breakfast-Chat central story, what why who when…

      5. Story about ’24 Hours in Dreams’ – about the campaign…

      6. I declared, “I am invisible now.”

      7. I am invisible now.

      8. etc, etc, etc….

      Complete formal invitation and newsletter via mailchimp 1 – Campaign and 2- Breakfast-Chat;

      Publish all the Breakfast-Chat;

      Then, add Breakfast-Chat into Storify;

      Then, Publish all the stories via Storify;

      (Technical check Storify Links) Then, within a hour or on the same day, send out the mails;

      When would be the best time to do this??

  52. If the work involve sell, how and what do I do? Or shall it be always free if it’s involving many people’s creative input.

  53. GPC
    Creative Commons

  54. need to learn and remember all these licenses and the difference. – Need to find out what it is be best one for 1 year lab – maybe – http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    # to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
    # to Remix — to adapt the work
    # to make commercial use of the work


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