秀给别人看,也秀给自己看。
Dec 16

马永峰


不存在与图像或理论无关的实在性概念。 ——霍金


There is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. ——Stephen William Hawking


杰夫•沃尔(Jeff Wall)通过摄影所进行的“情境排练”完全不同于亨利•卡蒂埃•布勒松的“决定性瞬间”,他的作品再观念化了摄影术发明初期对于绘画传统的借鉴,通过充满歧义、指向暧昧和触发叙事的电影式图像丰富了摄影作为当代艺术的复杂性。与此同时,杰夫•沃尔摄影中具有移情作用的戏剧性冲突,艺术史上的图像参照,类似纪实摄影的手法,对微妙细节的敏感性,电影制作式的拍摄以及广告灯箱的展示方式始终交织一起,目的只为对头脑中萦绕不去的瞬间和情境进行精心的还原和排练。



从70年代末到80年代初,杰夫•沃尔开始其艺术实践,从那时候开始,一群联系松散的艺术家逐渐围绕着他建立了后来被称之为“温哥华学派”的摄影团体,包括Rodney Graham , Ian Wallace等。1982年拍摄的作品《模仿者》标志着杰夫•沃尔电影式摄影风格的成熟, 这件作品反应了潜存在加拿大不同种族之间的社会冲突;1989年拍摄的《爆发》描述了亚裔制衣工厂中发生的劳资冲突和剥削;2015最新拍摄的作品《倾听者》则是从新闻报道中的人质事件获取灵感进行重新拍摄,以更加纪实的手法、不稳定的画面试图重现这一残酷的场景。


以上几件作品延续了杰夫•沃尔对于转瞬即逝的悬置情境的迷恋,同时也质疑了所谓的现实真实和摄影真实,艺术家挪用艺术史的图像(卡拉瓦乔、维拉斯贵支、德拉克洛瓦、马奈和葛饰北斋)和文学叙述传统(例如卡夫卡、三岛由纪夫和艾里森)重新建构了一种美学意义上的拟像真实。这种真实建立在艺术家融合了角色扮演、电影布景、团队制作和数字化后期制作之上,这种以“单帧电影”为特征的图像使得当代艺术的景观时间凝固在一种具有古典气质的舞台感之中,对情境的捕捉和重新排练从此深陷于这种景观时间之中。



当图像成为一种负担或者图像瘫痪在图像之中,整个图像事实上面临一种整体的失效,图像不再成为图像本身,而是自身在吞噬自己,将自己囚禁在数字化图像泛滥导致的美学疲倦之中。杰夫沃尔似乎却在逆流而上,飞蛾扑火一般的投入到将当代生活剧场和消费快照重新提炼、转化为绘画和文学传统的经典图像和形而上学的层面的思考。苏珊•桑塔格在她2003年的《关于他人的痛苦》一书之中提到杰夫沃尔1992年拍摄的《死亡士兵的谈话(想象1986年冬天一支红军巡逻队在阿富汗莫科尔附近遭伏击后的情景)》其思想深度和力量堪称楷模,这件作品显然受画家戈雅的启发,血腥的仪式和对话情境的排演将战争的恐怖和残忍推到极致,令人过目不忘。


当然这得益于杰夫•沃尔的深厚的艺术史和叙述文学的修养,1970年他的硕士毕业论文题目为《柏林达达和语境观念》,后来又专门从事马奈绘画研究,同时他还发表了很多研究其它观念艺术家的文章。同时在他的作品之中可以强烈地看到文学名著传统的影响,比如说他受美国黑人作家拉尔夫•艾里森小说《隐形人》影响创作的大幅摄影作品,该作品表现一名黑人男子在地下室埋头写作,虽然头上有上千盏电灯照明,但观众仍然能感觉到这位男子的孤独。通过舞台背景的搭建和人物表情、姿势的上百次排练和调整,杰夫•沃尔以一种类似苦行的导演方式固执的完成他的叙事性图像的创作,观众可以从他的静帧情境之中随意展开情节的书写,从而完成自我叙事的革命。


和同时代的摄影家相比,安德雷斯•古斯基的根治于德国传统的新客观主义摄影真实的再现和批判了后资本主义的消费景观,辛迪•雪曼的“扮演摄影”则从女性主义的视角审视了好莱坞电影之中女性角色的变化和身份的漂移。而杰夫•沃尔通过精心排练的情境和对微妙时刻的敏感把握,以对经典艺术图像的挪用和激发叙事性的画面不断的抵抗自我抵消的图像世界和数字影像的全球殖民。



杰夫•沃尔

2015年12月11日至1月23日


香港白立方的开放时间:

星期二至星期六上午11时至下午7 时

香港干诺道中 50 号

+852 2592 2000

whitecube.com/hongkong


Nov 15
自觉与重建——从延安木刻到无名者的实践
展览时间:2015年10月25日——2015年11月15日
展览地点:西安美术馆  3号展厅
策展人:  满  宇
空间叙事:王家浩
木刻文献:赵  敦
参展艺术家:东湖计划、马永峰&韩五洲&蔡东东、李公明&胡斌、李消非、李一凡、渠岩、王楚禹、徐坦、刘伟伟、隐彦
 
        延安木刻作为红色经典,我们对他的解读已经高度教条化了。这个展览试图从主体建构的角度,重新来看待延安木刻在那样一个时期中所起到的作用,当然更重要的是他所呈现出的与主体(解放)相关的悖论。这样的质疑是在当代的语境中,对问题深化的结果。这样的悖论延续到新的世纪,在目前的当代艺术的实践中,以新的姿态重新呈现。这个展览试图重新看待延安木刻在历史当中的诉求,理解延安文艺座谈会中对艺术的期待,以及他所产生的悖论,在现在的当代艺术实践中所带来的困惑。
        主体的认同必定带来审美上的征兆。“乡村洗剪吹”是主体认同失败的结果,对自身身份的否定、或者在当时的秩序中由于无法安置,试图在对时尚的模仿中重建自身而迷失的主体。而延安木刻是一次对主体的重新命名——无产阶级或革命(民族抗战)的主体。主体的认同也必定带来审美上的变化。延安木刻对艺术形式的改造,是基于一种重新建构的需要,这是朝向未来的艺术。现代性的入侵,导致传统主体的危机,不管是鲁迅的新木刻运动,还是三民主义、马克思主义,民族主义,都是试图生产新的主体性。
        但这样的一种普遍性的诉求在与个体偶然性的遭遇过程中,结构个人主体的上下文网络在这里被意识形态的暴力所覆盖了。延安文艺座谈会的讲话,倡导艺术与民众的链接,但这样的链接以一种由上而下的命令作用到个人身上,最初焕发的活力,随着时间的推移逐步堕落为教条,在以解放为诉求的主体实践中,讽刺性的倒转为一种奴役的美学。个人关于自身的知识生产,被大他者(秩序)欲望的满足所替代。
        在一个新的社会背景中,在面对资本、技术、生产、权力等多样的形态中,主体的身份、意识、表达重新被组织化了(比如网络儿童)。08年的全球经济动荡,激发了中国现实的矛盾,但这样的矛盾是全球资本主义自身症状的一部分。社会的危机或者经济的危机,实际是主体性的危机,是资本主义对于主体建构的危机。目前各种劳工运动、左翼话语,试图重新结构、解释激化的社会现实。通过这样的命名,重新组织新的主体感知,来激发行动与诉求。但这样的话语或者行动是否觉察到了现在结构主体的具体条件(发生了变化,或者这样的变化并没有改变基础性的条件)?或者主体并非简单的是个经济的主体(工资、房子、股票、保险)。也就是说,现在的各种话语(比如阶级话语,个人权利话语、国学、佛教等等)是阻挡了还是开启了未来的可能性?
        也许我们需要回到中国目前非常具体的情境中,通过乡建、城市、工厂、身体,来讨论如何理解或重建在这个语境下的主体。我们会面临怎样的困境,以及我们能够如何回应这样的困境。
 
无名者:
        一是在社会的秩序中被遮蔽的人,或在秩序中无法被命名的人;二是个人的偶然性在与大他者(秩序)的遭遇中,被压抑而无法言说之症状。没有语言能表达的经验,各种精神障碍的人,焦虑的人,无聊或者始终处在无法满足状态的人;三是自己是自己的无名者。在无意识的层面上,个人的意识由于无法理解自身的欲望(自身的偶然性),在不断的对象(或日常情景的)迁移中,身不由己。这三个层面互为缠绕,结构为无名者的场域,艺术的实践为此工作。
May 14
LIVE AT
活的



Intelligentsia Gallery is thrilled to present Live At, a group project featuring Luan Xueyan, Garcia Frankowski, Zhu Liye, Wang Shuai, Kang Jing, Megumi Shimizu, Oliver Haidutschek , Dai Liang, Chen Xi, Liang Ban, Xin Yunpeng, Luo Wei, Li Meng, Alessandro Rolandi, Geng Xue, Li Binyuan, Shao Yinong, Jia Chun, Yu Bogong, Liu Chengrui, Zhao Xin, Jason Mena, Double Fly Art Center, Jin shan, Ma Yongfeng, Ophelia S. Chan, Hu Qingyan, Charlott Markus, USB Art Group, and Niko de la Faye

Live At is not a regular exhibition. It is a group project. In Live At to solely show is not the goal. The exhibition will take different forms in order to construct new conditions. Live At aims at exploring the relationship between art and social reality, art and space, art and the audience, art and the commonplace. 

Guest curated by Xia Yanguo, the exhibition invites more than thirty international artists to create 24-hour shows. Live At is not a simple objectification of art. Live At aims at engaging with the public establishing new relationships between the artist and the audience.  

A series of interviews will take place in different forms as artists engage with the audience, curator, and other artists with the intention of generating a dialogue and exploring the concepts behind the project. The resulting interviews will take form in a documentary about Live At, using the Internet as a platform for breaking through the limitations of time and space.  


Additionally, a Salon will take place every Sunday evening during the duration of the exhibition to discuss the concepts that fuel Live At.  

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This project wouldn’t have been possible without the unconditional support of volunteers and the press. Special Thanks go to Capital M for their continuous support of Intelligentsia Gallery, and ScopeArt Magazine that will be cooperating as media partner using their official WeChat account to promote and inform about ongoing events. 

At the end of the exhibition we will entrust ArtJeff (online auction) to auction all the works and the profit will go to artists and future non-profit events and exhibitions.

Live At Exhibition Schedule

2015. 4. 12: Luan Xueyan栾雪雁
2015. 4. 13: Garcia Frankowski
2015. 4. 14: Zhu Liye朱利页
2015. 4. 15: Wang Shuai王帅
2015. 4. 16: Kang Jing康靖
2015. 4. 17: Megumi Shimizu清水慧美
2015. 4. 18: Oliver Haidutschek 
2015. 4. 19: Dai Liang戴亮
2015. 4. 20: Chen Xi陈曦
2015. 4. 21: Liang Ban梁半
2015. 4. 22: Xin Yunpeng辛云鹏
2015. 4. 23: Luo Wei罗苇
2015. 4. 24: Li Meng 李萌
2015. 4. 25: Alessandro Rolandi
2015. 4. 26: Geng Xue耿雪
2015. 4. 27: Li Binyuan厉槟源
2015. 4. 28: Shao Yinong邵译农
2015. 4. 29: Jia Chun贾淳
2015. 4. 30: Yu Bogong于伯公
2015. 5. 1: Liu Chengrui刘成瑞
2015. 5. 2: Zhao Xin赵欣
2015. 5. 3: Jason Mena
2015. 5. 4: Double Fly Art Center双飞艺术中心
2015. 5. 5: Jin shan金闪
2015. 5. 6: Ma Yongfeng马永峰
2015. 5. 7: Ophelia S. Chan陈秀炜
2015. 5. 8: Hu Qingyan胡庆雁
2015. 5. 9: Charlott Markus
2015. 5. 10: USB Art Group USB艺术小组
2015. 5. 11: Niko de la Faye
2015. 5. 12: Liu Qiming 刘骐鸣
2015. 5. 13: Sebastian Alonso Bessonart
2015. 5. 14: Ren Zhitian 任芷田
2015. 5. 15: Ju Anqi 雎安奇
2015. 5. 16: Patty Chang


《活的》(《LIVE AT》)  

展览题目: 《活的》

策 展 人: 夏彦国

艺 术 家 : 陈秀炜(香港),陈曦,戴亮,耿雪,胡庆雁,贾淳,金闪,康靖,厉槟源,李萌,梁半,刘成瑞,栾雪雁,罗苇,马永峰,清水慧美(日本),邵译农,双飞艺术中心,USB艺术小组,王帅,辛云鹏,于伯公,赵欣,朱利页, 刘骐鸣, Sebastian Alonso Bessonart,Ju Anqi 雎安奇, 任芷田, Patty Chang, Alessandro Rolandi (意大利),Charlott Markus(瑞典),Garcia Frankowski(美国、法国),Jason Mena(墨西哥),Oliver Haidutschek(奥地利),Niko De La Faye(法国)等。

开始时间: 2015.4.11

展览日期: 2014.4.11-5.17

展览地点: 北京市东城区文丞相胡同2号对面 ,智先画廊 


《活的》(LIVE AT)不是常规意义上的展览,它是一个集合型的展览项目,呈现并不是它的目的。通过一系列形式,建构了一种问题语境,它旨在探讨艺术与社会、空间、观众以及其他社会现实之间的关系。
此次项目由知名策展人夏彦国策划,共邀请了30+x位比较活跃的中外艺术家 。整个项目将持续一个月,策展人将为每位(组)艺术家策划单独的个展,展期为一天/24小时,正常情况每天下午四点开幕,特殊情况见当日海报 。
活的——每个作品不是简单的、对象化的“物品”,也即它不是为了表达而表达,不是为了展示而展示,也不是为了证明某种东西,而是为了交流,它们是“活的”——更多强调参与和互动。所以,整个项目,是为了交流而存在,它需要不同类型观众的参与。

除了概念上的“艺术作品”,每个艺术家单独的访谈也是整个项目的一部分,它将由艺术家本人或与他人(如观众、亲人、策展人、路人等)通过任何形式的对话,进一步讨论作品以及相关话题。最终所有访谈将汇聚成一个独立的纪录片,作为整个项目的一部分发布在国内和国际的网络平台上。某种意义上,通过网络,纪录片将是对现有时空局限性的一种突破或补充。

此外,展览期间的每周日晚上我们将举行艺术沙龙活动,讨论与展览相关的话题。

项目一开始便得到了一些志愿者的踊跃参与和媒体朋友们的关注和支持。其中《艺术客》杂志作为战略合作媒体,将借助其微信公共平台(微信订阅号scopeart),逐天跟踪报道;我们将独家委托“阿特姐夫”微拍(微信订阅号ArtJeff)拍卖所有参展作品。最终利润所得,我们将用于循环策划第二次展览以及支持其他非盈利艺术空间或个人的项目。

本次活动官方微信订阅号为LiveArt,我们也将实时发布更多的活动细节和预告,敬请订阅和关注。

最后,感谢所有参与者——观众、志愿者、媒体、艺术爱好者。感谢“前门M餐厅”一直以来的支持。

附:智先画廊——位于文丞相胡同内,仅18平米,其实是非盈利项目空间。负责人为艺术家组合Garcia Frankowski,去年创办以来,他们曾举办了十几次个性鲜明的国际性交流项目展,并且通过与北京的艺术机构和艺术家的合作,积极活跃于北京的艺术现场。













May 23
Home

GUERRILLA INTERVENTION
by Ma Yongfeng 

Guerrilla intervention is a response tactic that deals specifically with a comprehensive and an invisible control that is present in a post-totalitarian society. It operates through the social media and the actual social mobilizations carried out by artists through forms of artistic expressions. It can be a daily “micro-resistence” carried out in a guerrilla fashion that is not confined within a specific time and place. It urges everyone to intervene in society in a “hobbyist”-style that each one finds meaningful, in the hope to render the controlling body defenseless. [Translation by Lei Chak Man]

Invest in Contradiction

On 25 and 26 April Ma Yongfeng realised the project ‘Invest in Contradiction’ in a French factory in Beijing. It was embedded in the context of ‘Social Sensibility Research & Development Program’, run by Alessandro Rolandi and Bernard Controls. The Social Sensibility R&D Program is a biennale innovative strategic project with the aim to bring artistic research and creativity in contact with the working environment. It is structured around the idea to orient the artists’ work towards developing sensibility among workers, managers and the steering committee of Bernard Controls. Every 3 months, the program invites a professional of the creative field to deliver a project (in any kind of media) whose goal is to help developing new possibilities of human action and interaction within the factory. The long-term intention is to establish partnerships and collaborations with academic, financial, artistic and political structures to explore all the further application of such a model to the field of industry, social research and education.

In Chinese industrial tradition, revolutionary quotes, generally from Mao’s poems, speeches or writings were often painted in large characters on the walls of the factories where millions of workers had to see them everyday. Ma Yongfeng re-interpreted this aspect of Chinese propaganda, creating 7 large graffitis in Bernard Controls Beijing.

The sentences were chosen from random conversations with the workers or the managers, picked from the panels of the working rules, or from the factory’s safety procedures and other similar sources. Each sentence explored an aspect of  life inside the working environment: the need to adapt to a strict control system, the human desire to evade and dream, the pression of efficiency and the humour to be able to deal with all this.

The walls of Bernard Controls Beijing hosted a new subtle form of propaganda, the artistic propaganda for independent and creative thinking.

For more information on this project follow the link.

Other Projects

Profile

Ma Yongfeng is a Chinese artist, activist and initiator of Forget Art based in Beijing. Forget Art is an interventional organisation. It is a series of situation-based alternative tactics in self-institutional forms, it is often mistaken for a regular art collective, it could also be one collective light action almost did not happen, an agency of radical social mobilization, a series of unconventional interviews, an effort of saving amateurism, an art fair with just one booth, or to explore all possibilities of completeness, an indeliberate social media art experiment, or it is the evolution of social practice from micro-intervention to micro-practice, from micro-practice to micro-resistance. Ma Yongfeng’s projects are spatialised and materialised in the street, in public squares or galleries.

Contact

Ma Yongfeng   马永峰
www.mayongfeng.com
myfstudio(at)gmail(dot)com
Forget Art / http://www.forgetart.org / mail@forgetart.org /
Uncut Talks / www.soundcloud.com/uncuttalks

[1] For more information on this project, please follow this link.
[2] For a video of this work, please follow this link.
This work was submitted by Ma Yongfeng on 18 February 2014.
Feb 20

内嵌图片 3


浮现

 

在社会干预、装置和参与性实践等领域探索数年之后,马永峰又回到摄影,回到白盒子般的展览空间,于是便有了这场在家里画廊举办的新作展。“悬空记”颇有意趣,出手不凡,他的艺术创作又开生面。

 

这些小小的银盐照片体现出一种观看的方式,当代问题及其搭建与中国传统文化之间的桥梁的需要在其中相遇,微妙无华,却足可生变。

 

这些影像被洗成很小的尺寸,略显无规则,取决于相纸的大小。影像很小,数量又相对繁多,使观者穿行于一次私密的体验,时间慢了下来:若要看尽所有的照片,我们需要贴得很近,花上几分钟。

 

初看这些尺寸各异的照片时,我就为它们所吸引。它们生出一种别样的观看韵律:参差错落,先交给观者一个全面的印象,再带领他细细地注视每一件作品。

 

这些照片被分成10组,我们可以在东方传统的哲学中找到最初的观看线索,然而,当我们尝试采用另一种批评的视角,透过西方思想的棱镜去观看时,也常常不无助益。

 

夏尔·波德莱尔在他那影响深远的《应和》诗中写道:

 

“自然是一庙堂,那里活的柱石

不时地传出模糊隐约的语音……

人穿过象征的丛林从那里经行,

树林望着他,投以熟稔的凝视。”

 

在此,波德莱尔造成了词语与事物、描写与被写的物之间的破裂。“通感”任性地使符号成为象征的替代,它不命名,却暗示。

 

马永峰的多数影像作品都来自有序的拍摄,如同对中国历史、艺术和哲学中的形式和主题的随兴探索(“自然”是其中的重要意象),但每组照片中的叙述和层次总会被一个出人意料的意象打破,这个意象的侵入开启了新的可能,产生新的关系,发现新的意味——无论观者还是艺术家本人,皆无法控制,无法预期。

 

马永峰将自己拍摄的照片与互联网上他人拍摄的照片相互混杂,显出更多无定与暧昧的意味。他同时作为照片的拍摄者和编选者,既将叙述空间重新布置,又对平行的时间重新编排,使新的、潜藏的意义浮现出来,成为可见。

作品的组织方式显出机敏的技艺,既非严格,又不重复:不依循任何预先设立的规则,而是以一种有机的方式不断变化着。

在这儿,我们遇到一种别样的准确,艺术家从未想要做到“太好”。没有必要润饰,也没有意图使任何事物超出它自身真实的存在:一种别样的情感发生着作用:即一个人找寻自己的内在生命与身边的外在世界之间的共鸣的需求。 

一股潜在的激流产生脉冲,终会为这种形式带来诗意。“悬空记”捕捉到这诗意的浮现,先于其成形、先于其被定义。

这是一种零度的影像,一种无意识的反照,可以溯源至马列维奇的“白方”或阿尔托的“复象”:一面无形之镜,存在并反照于“超然”,呼应着那有如物理学中物质与反物质一般的相互作用。

艺术家不让自己去描述作品,也不肯以教导的方式去展示,一旦这样做,一切便都将失去、死灭。“悬空”,意味
在浮现的一刻将其表明,在一个缥缈、隐约的中间地带,情感、形式与审美经验浑然一体,未曾分化。

“悬空记”巧妙地搭起一座桥,连通了传统中国艺术与当代艺术的语言。从拍摄到洗印,到汇集,到最终形成展览,马永峰的创作过程有如耶日•格洛托夫斯基“质朴戏剧”的著名训练方式:当一个人初次学唱一支佚名的古歌,他会以一种戏谑但准确的方式不断地摸索旋律的节奏和词语的发音,直到一种
飘然无定却极为鲜活的关系浮现。

因为他太过熟悉旋律,声音踌躇,却充溢着张力和欲望……他可以由此发现空间与时间如何被编排在节奏之中:来自山地的歌与来自平原的歌不是一种节奏,发声的方式也绝然不同。何人是它最早的歌者?火旁孤独的牧人?河
流之畔的舵工?怀抱孩子低吟的母亲?一切都在歌里。

格洛托夫斯基在其名篇《你是某人之子》中
,这种考古式的还原能使一个人以更加宽广的方式重新接触自己的本原、记忆、特性。马永峰的方式与此相仿,运用摄影和传统文化中的元素(石,水,竹,树),通过看似随意的元素进入集体无意识的深层,让我们感到无所依傍,他同时也放逐了自己。在这纤弱、微妙的感知层面,安全的专业性被抛弃,得到风险与潜能。

中国的文人画,女人的性器,原子弹的蘑菇云,它们之间有怎样的关系?或许我们该问自己“这些照片来自哪里?”来自马永峰,来自我们所有人?……还是来自别处?

 

雅克·莫诺在《偶然与必然》一书中说,转变最初是偶然的,然而,当它进入一个活的有机体中,便会经过数十亿次的复制和转译,进入必然。“悬空记”正处在偶然与必然之间,而唯有通过这样一种“张力—潜力”,过去与当下在转瞬之间相会,未来的剧变之种得以破土。

 

也许,马永峰暗示着我们可以由社会性或政治性的视角解读这些影像。这是中国的文人和画家对抗现状的传统方式,远离城市,将自然作为隐迹的所在和象征的源泉,他们会通过自己的艺术表达对政权的不满。明末画家石涛在他有名的“野草图”中描绘过一条野草丛生的道路。

 

他想说,纵使一条道路本是为了方便人们经行,丛生的野草却可以将它覆满,毁掉它的功用:同样,当贪官蠹役们过多地介入人们的生活,生活就会变得难以忍受。石涛在画上的自题很是简约:“杂然生道中”。

 

马永峰希望“悬空记”能使我们慢下来,避开外面世界的迅疾和残酷,静静站立,细细聆听。他邀请我们重新构造自己的内心风景,滋养生变的潜能,直到恰切的时刻,犹如半尊佛头,浮现于边际。

 

李山,北京,2014

申舶良/



EMERGENCE

 

With this new exhibition at Jiali Gallery, after several years of inquiries in the field of social intervention, installation and participatory practice, Ma Yongfeng simultaneously, comes back to photography and back to the white box. The way he does it, with the “Suspending” series marks an interesting and pivotal phase of his artistic expression.

 

These small gelatin silver photographs embody a way to look, in which contemporary issues and the need to build a bridge with Chinese traditional culture meet in a discreet but transformative way.

 

The images have been printed in small formats, slightly irregular, whose range is dictated by the size of the vintage paper.The small size and the relatively large number of images lead the viewer through an intimate experience during which time slows down: to see all the pictures we need to get close and to spend several minutes.

 

I was attracted since the beginning by this sequence of pictures whose size is slightly different .They create an interesting rhythm for the eye to watch: an irregular alternation which gives the viewer a first overall feeling and then leads him to carefully pay attention to every single piece.   

 

The pictures are divided in 10 series, and although the first references that come up when we look at them could be found in the tradition of Eastern philosophy, we can also read them through the prism of another critical thought, a Western one this time.

 

Charles Baudelaire, in his seminal poem “Correspondences” states :

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

 

Baudelaire caused here a rupture between the word and the thing, between the act of transcribing and the object recorded. The “correspondences” are arbitrarily turning the signs into symbolic substitutes that do not name but suggest.

 

Most of Ma Yongfeng images taken one by one, seem informal inquiries into forms and motives of Chinese history, art and philosophy, (with nature as a key metaphorical element) but their narrative and hierarchy are disrupted in each series, by an unexpected element whose intrusion opens the possibility to make new associations and find new meanings which cannot be controlled or predicted anymore: nor by the artist, neither by the viewer.

 

The fact that Ma chose to put together pictures he took by himself and others taken from internet archives increases the sense of indeterminacy and ambiguity;being both photographer and photo-editor he operates a juxtaposition between the relocation of narrative space and the re-appropriation of parallel time which bring new hidden meaning visible on the surface.  

 

Technically wise, we observe that composition is neither strict, nor repetitive: it does not follow any pre-established rule, and, instead it changes continuously in an organic way.Here another form of accuracy is searched, one in which the artist is not trying to do anything “too well”. There is no need to re-touch, and no attempt to fake that whatsoever element is more than what it really is: a different form of sensibility is at work: it is the need to find a resonance somewhere between one’s inner life and the outside world close by.

 

An hidden current generates an impulse that will eventually take the form a poetic gesture,the “Suspending” series capture the emergence of this poetic gesture before it takes form, before it is defined.

 

It is a zero-degree of the image, an unconscious reflection whose references can be traced back to Malevich’s white square as to Artaud’s definition of the “double”: an invisible mirror that exists and reflects from “beyond”, echoing the kind of interaction we know in physics between matter and anti-matter.

 

The artist restrains himself from describing it, or representing it didactically because then it would be gone, dead.To suspend it, instead, means to testify it while it appears, in a sort of “limbo” zone where emotion, aesthetic experience and form are still undifferentiated.

 

The “suspending” series is also an interesting way to cast a bridge between the language of traditional Chinese art and the contemporary one.In the whole process of shooting, developing the images and putting them together for this exhibition, Ma’s process reminds a famous exercise Jerzy Grotowski used in his Poor Theater training:when a person is trying to learn and sing an old anonymous popular song from the past for the first time, he is constantly searching in a playful but accurate way, for the rhythm of the melody and the sound of the words, until an uncertain but extremely lively connection appears.

 

Because he knows the melody too well, the voice is hesitant but full of tension and desire….in this way the person can discover how space and time are codified in the rhythm: it will be different if it is a song from the mountain or from the plain, as the voice will come out differently. Who sang this song for the first time? Was it a shepherd alone by the fireplace or a rower along the river, or a mother to a child? All the information are in the song.

 

Through this archaeological regression, Grotowski explains in a well known article called “Tu est le fils de quelq’un” (You are someone’s son), it is possible to get in touch again with one’s own origin, memory and identity in a larger sense. Ma Yongfeng operates in a similar way, using the photographic medium and the symbolic elements of traditional culture, (the stone, the water, the bamboo, the trees) and the apparently random elements  to dig inside the collective unconscious and make us lose our grip at the same time as he lets go of his own. On this fragile and subtle level of perception, the safety of expertise is abandoned for risk and potentiality.

 

What is the connection between Chinese metaphorical landscapes, a woman’s sex and nuclear mushrooms? Maybe we should ask ourselves “where do these pictures come from?”Are they coming from MA or from all of us?...or from somewhere else?

 

Jacques Monod in his book “Le hasard et la necessite’” (Chance and necessity), says that the initial event, the transformation, is a matter of chance, then once this event is inscribed in a living organism, it is replicated and translated billions of times and enters the field of necessity. Suspending exists right between chance and necessity and only in this kind of tension-potential, in which the past and the present touch each other briefly, the seeds of a future radical transformation can grow.

 

That is what Ma Yongfeng seems to suggest if we try to read these images from a socially and politically engaged point of view.The way Chinese intellectuals and artists traditionally challenged the status quo, was to leave the city and to find in nature both a physical refuge and a source of symbolic elements that they would use in their art to send a message to the power. In his famous painting “Wild Grass”, Shi Tao, the famous artist born towards the end of the Ming dynasty, depicts a road overgrown with wild grass.

 

He express the fact that even if roads are supposed to be convenient for people to walk along, wild grass can grow over a road and destroy its usefulness: in the same way when corrupted officials interfere too much with people’s lives, existence becomes

unbearable. Shi Tao wrote a simple inscription on the painting “They all grow in the middle of the road” .

 

With Suspending Ma Yongfeng suggests to us we should slow down and step aside from the speed and brutality of the outside world and stand still and listen carefully. He invites us to re-invent our inner landscapes and cultivate the potential for change until the right occasion, like the half-head of the Buddha, will emerge from the border.

 

Alessandro Rolandi, Beijing 2014

 

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