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Jan 10
“仪式”和“参与”——中国前卫的概念与方法

  参与生活是前卫艺术的核心命题,也正是因为这一要求,前卫艺术才批判整个艺术体制和社会体制。任何艺术作品,只有在满足了上述两个条件后,才能被纳入前卫的理论框架予以讨论。所以,无论我们讨论西方还是中国前卫艺术的发展,以同一理论条件为前提,有利于理清前卫艺术自身的发展脉络。中国前卫艺术在借鉴西方前卫艺术语言的同时也发展出了自己的特点,尤其是新世纪初十几年间,年轻的前卫艺术家用“参与式体验”的方法,不断拓展了前卫艺术融合生活和反思体制的批判向度。“参与式体验”并非当代前卫的原创方法,它在80年代就和前卫艺术的仪式性一同出现在中国前卫艺术家的创作中。经过三十年的发展,前卫的仪式感逐渐演变为非前卫的景观创作,而“参与式体验”从仅仅作为艺术家批判艺术体制的语言实验,发展成为艺术家融入社会、表达立场、触摸实在的基本艺术语言。

  一、中国语境中的前卫概念

  中国的“前卫”概念来自西方,同时又发展出了自己的一条叙事线索。八十年代的艺术语境中,“前卫”与“现代”是两个被相互混用的词汇,这一点在八九年“中国现代艺术展”中体现最为明显。“中国现代艺术展”被英译为“China/Avant-garde”,可见,在当时情况下,“现代艺术”和“前卫艺术”对于中国批评家来说是一回事。[1]这种情况也说明,八十年代的批评家还没有做好理论准备,无法从概念上区分“现代”与“前卫”的本质差异,对他们来说,“前卫”和“现代”更多代表一种非官方和激进性的立场。因此,在“现代艺术展”中,前卫的概念包含了各种具有本质差异的艺术样式,如表现主义、抽象艺术、行为艺术和装置艺术等。

  在九十年代,“前卫”的概念逐渐被“实验”所替代。用“实验”取代“前卫”的说辞,不但试图保留前卫艺术的非官方和激进性立场,而且还为“前卫”附加了更多媒介论色彩,从而“前卫”在九十年代被包括进了“实验”的概念之内。在90年代初,冯博一等人已在《中国实验艺术大事年表》中使用过“实验”概念。新世纪十年中,批评家进一步肯定了用实验艺术称谓九十年代当代艺术的说法。朱其将“媒介和美学实验”看作这段时间实验艺术的首要方面,在谈到前卫艺术的概念时,他认为:“严格地说,中国并不存在西方意义上的狭义的实验艺术、先锋派和前卫艺术,实际上,只能说是带有现代性、后现代性、后殖民性、以及亚洲新兴工业国家经验的精英艺术。”[2]否认中国存在前卫艺术源自对前卫艺术理论叙事的不明确,使用“实验”一词不仅能够避免“前卫”带来的理论困扰,而且还能更为安全地包容所有边缘化的艺术样式。巫鸿策划2002年首届广州三年展时使用的“实验”概念就部分出于这样的考虑,他认为“把‘前卫’(或译‘先锋’)这个术语应用到中国当代艺术上,是不断产生争议的焦点所在”。但是“前卫”具体产生过何种争议,我们在他的文章中无从寻找答案。巫鸿还借用波基奥利的观点区分了“实验艺术”与“前卫艺术”的关系,将前卫艺术解释为实验艺术的子范畴。至于什么艺术家算是实验艺术家,巫鸿给出的定义是“他(她)下决心把自己置于中国当代社会和艺术世界的边缘地带”,那么这位艺术家就是实验艺术家。[3]在这样的定义中我们可以发现,实验的概念并没有超越八十年代批评家有关前卫、现代的基本理解,反而简单化为一个公式,即只要是边缘的艺术,就是实验艺术。至少在现在看来,反思九十年代当代艺术的话语存在绕过“前卫”概念,直接进行媒介分析、风格分析,或者采用一个更大概念描述前卫艺术的做法。

  除上述方法外,新世纪初的当代艺术话语中还存在另一种直接讨论“前卫”概念的方法。这种话语首先承认中国存在类似西方的前卫艺术,其次认为中国前卫艺术在中国已获得或应该具有自己的某些特点,最后,他们有关前卫艺术的理论来源都以彼得·比格尔的《前卫理论》为基础。这类话语最为典型的两个代表是批评家高名潞和王南溟。高名潞在2005年策划“墙”展时,就已经回应了有关“实验艺术”的观点。他的大体意思是认为“实验艺术”无法描述中国当代艺术的状况,因为实验过于被动,主观方向不明确。但是,当代艺术重要的不是实验本身,而是实验的批判性方向。“前卫更适合中国当代艺术的‘当代性’价值。因为‘前卫’是有选择的,并具有方向明确的批判性。”[4]王南溟虽然没有特别批评实验艺术,却把矛头指向了更为宏大的“当代艺术”概念。他认为当代艺术的外延不断被延展,已经失去原有的功能,因此,他用更前卫艺术来替代当代艺术。[5]但是,王南溟的“更前卫”与美国批评家本雅明·布赫洛(Benjamin Buchloh)与豪·福斯特(Hal Foster)在二十世纪八十年代的“新前卫”理论有何理论关系,依然是一个有待比较的话题。[6]

  绕过“前卫”谈“实验”的方法,只能悬置“前卫”问题,而不能解决它。七十年代末以来的中西艺术碰撞事实已经表明,中国既具有西方概念上的前卫艺术,又具有不同于他们的前卫艺术,如何建立西方前卫艺术与中国前卫艺术的叙事,才是解决中国语境中“前卫”问题的根本。如果实验艺术就是当代艺术,那么我们认为前卫艺术只是当代艺术的一种具有意义的创作方向,它与其他自我边缘化、实验性的艺术有着本质区别。将当代艺术的性质完全等同于前卫,或将当代艺术等同于更前卫艺术,这些方法一来会限制当代艺术的外延,二来会阻碍前卫艺术作为独立的范畴与其他实验性艺术之间的对比分析。否定前卫的适用性,就否定了一种理解中国当代艺术的路径。将前卫艺术作为唯一的合法形式,就会落入权威主义的陷阱。秉持前卫的逻辑,就是要在当代艺术中建立一条独特的前卫艺术叙事,以此区别于现代艺术、后现代艺术或其他具有实验价值的艺术形式。

  二、“仪式”和“参与”的前卫性

  中国前卫艺术至少在八十年代就已上演了西方历史前卫和新前卫的核心命题。杜尚的现成品消解了艺术生产过程的一般顺序,从而冲击了艺术体制。但是,“小便池”的艺术语言仅具有一次的有效性,如果在此基础上继续推进体制批判,便是1968年之后新前卫的工作,布达艾尔(Marcel Broodthaers)对博物馆的观念式批判就是其中之一。八十年代厦门达达的艺术实践是历史前卫和新前卫的混合体,他们作品中既有杜尚“小便池”的顿悟感,又有布达艾尔和汉斯·哈克批判美术馆的具体行动。黄永砯在1987年的三件作品——《灰尘》、《厨房》和《削铅笔》——用禅宗的日常性,实践了前卫艺术如何取消艺术与生活边界的态度。厦门达达的两次集体活动——《发生在福建省美术馆的事件》和《拖走美术馆》——是专门针对美术馆体制的批判。同样是体制批判,如果我们以前卫的核心命题作为对比的前提,就会发现中西前卫之间的不同点。布达艾尔和汉斯·哈克更倾向于批判美术馆中潜在的商业运作模式,而厦门达达更偏重批判美术馆的政治性,以及它们在作品、观众和一般生活之间设立的屏障。因此,虽然厦门达达的实践在语言上具有西方前卫两个阶段的特征,但其探讨的问题却更偏向历史前卫,这部分源自中国当代艺术的初发性情境,也与中国当时还未进入消费社会有关。

  自前卫艺术发生后,语言的原创性问题就已经消失了,留下的只有上下文(context)。因此,就算厦门达达直接挪用了西方的艺术方法,当他们一旦发生在中国的上下文中,作品的意义就全然中国化了。几乎与厦门达达同时,中国前卫艺术还发展出了两种具有张力的创作方式:其一是仪式化[7];其二是参与式体验。“仪式化”和“参与式体验”分属两种截然不同的审美范畴,甚至相互抵触,因为前者指向崇高,后者指向祛魅,但是在特定的上下文中,两者都服务于前卫艺术批判体制与融合生活的基本诉求。自八十、九十年代以来,中国前卫艺术一直延着这样两条实践路径分头前进,彼此的主张并未出现较大冲突。在一个国家行政依然控制主要展示空间的时代,只要是自我边缘化的艺术,就自然具有反体制特征。这样独特的上下文使得中国前卫艺术的前二十年呈现为多种艺术形态和多种艺术语言的混合体。九十年代以媒介的先进性与否作为前卫艺术的评判标准,这也源自中国同样的上下文特征。实际上,自八十年代以来,前卫艺术内部就已出现了两种语言的分野。

  高名潞总结过行为艺术的四大仪式特征,他们分别为:1、“庆典”仪式。在这种仪式中,艺术家总是用身体、行为和道具与社会环境发生冲突;2、“布道”仪式。在这种艺术中,艺术家重在传达某种具有感染性的精神;3、“凭吊祭祀”仪式。在这种艺术中,艺术家的活动与古代祭祀或凭吊仪式有关;4、“宣传队”仪式。在这种艺术中,艺术家扮演群众“组织者”、先进文化的“宣传者”的角色。[8]在这四种归纳中,我们依然可以看出四种仪式之间的分裂,其具体体现在“庆典”仪式、“宣传队”仪式与其余两者的关系中。在“布道”和“凭吊祭祀”的仪式中,艺术家是唯一的参与者,他们像巫师一样在表演,目的就是要创造一种崇高、神秘的图像。但是“宣传队”和“庆典”仪式的目的恰恰是去崇高。在这样的仪式中,艺术家通常会通过与社会各个要素发生关系,引入他者的参与,或自己直接参与社会,以此来建立艺术与生活的直接关系。他们不再心怀宏大概念,也不去体会形而上精神,他者的反应和自我的体验就是作品本身。如果我们非要用仪式形容这种前卫路径,那么应称之为“祛魅的仪式”,而“布道”和“凭吊祭祀”的仪式是艺术的自我“复魅”。复魅的仪式不仅仅是行为艺术的专利,它在其它艺术中也同样存在。中国首届现代艺术展中,徐冰的《天书》俨然是一个文字的道场,而谷文达的水墨则更是水墨神秘“灵气”的再现,舒群和王广义的理性绘画像是教堂中的圣物,促使受众去体验崇。在行为艺术之外的仪式中,艺术家不再是仪式中的巫师,而是整个仪式情境的塑造者,他们的作品就是整个仪式本身。在这样的仪式场景中,艺术家身体虽然缺席了,但其精神依然试图引导观众的感受。

  艺术家参与社会的艺术实践先天具有前卫的特性。参与社会意味着艺术家必然突破艺术体制的规范,参与社会日常机制的运作,建立与他者之间的相互关系。山西“三步画室”采用知识分子“上山下乡”的方式,向农民展示艺术作品。在这个活动中,他们的作品形态虽然毫无前卫性可言,但是行动本身已经向前卫方向迈出了关键的一步。1986年“池社”强调的“浸入”观念也开始摆脱理性绘画的现代主义模式,转向前卫的语言实践。艺术家在八十和九十年代的参与式实践主要采取两种方式,他们或者将艺术作品强行置入社会环境,或者将社会中的他者拉入艺术作品。在这两种过程中,作品固然开放了自己的形式,但是其边界却仅仅为了艺术才被临时打开。张洹在1997年的作品《为水塘增高水位》中,被艺术拉入作品中的参与者仅是他者而已。九十年代新历史小组的“消毒”计划、朱发东的《寻人启事》等作品都是将艺术强行置入公共空间的一种尝试。艺术正是在这样的双向参与中具备了前卫的品质。

  九十年代的社会语境赋予具有仪式感的艺术以前卫的特征,但是由于仪式感依然属于现代主义的范畴,他们相信艺术负载情感的穿透力,迷恋神圣化的场域,因此,这就为其在新世纪十年迅速逃离社会空间,沦为崇高的“景观”埋下了伏笔。当艺术体制关闭了大门,艺术家被迫将实践转入社会公共空间、私人空间和自然空间,空间的独立性让他们无论做何表演,都具有一些前卫特征。与强调社会参与的艺术不同,仪式化的前卫艺术强调艺术家个人的独立性,常常以启蒙的姿态唤起观者的情感,利用身体或现成品的象征性表达既定的理念。马六明在九十年代充分利用了自己身体的象征性,不断在男人、女人的身份之间转换,最终碰触到了同性恋的话题。但是,身体的象征性随时都有被耗尽的可能,一旦外在动力不足,艺术家重复使用身体的有效性也就丧失了,马六明近期创作的绘画作品恰恰说明了其“身体”意义的耗尽。身体的仪式化容易耗尽自身,装置和现成品的仪式化则容易扩张为景观。九十年代发生在公寓中的装置作品已经具有了“拜物”性,艺术家相信“物”具有天启式的特性,但那时的“物”依然被限制在日常领域。可是,条件一旦成熟,艺术家随时都有可能将“物”给予崇高化,这样才能显示他对“物”的崇拜。九十年代中后期,那些微小但具体的物消失了,艺术家的“语言、形式、材料都显得‘国际化’了,而作品所讲述的故事也‘更典型’,失去了‘公寓艺术’的具体、私人和纪实的特点”,[9]于是艺术家生产景观的同时,彻底消失在了“物”之中。

  三、继续前卫——参与式体验的有效性

  新世纪十年里,中国前卫遇到了西方历史前卫同样的问题,昔日的前卫受到艺术体制的眷顾,从边缘走向中心。这其中的原因既可以归于日渐成熟的艺术经济,又可以归于老一代前卫们创新动力的消逝。原本被用来接近日常生活的装置和现成品艺术,如今已成为生产景观的手段。由于体制的包容性,那些位于体制外空间的艺术实践逐渐消失,仪式化的前卫艺术轻而易举被转移至美术馆,成为喃喃自语或娱乐他人的表演。九十年代的大部分前卫艺术得益于他们被迫活动的体制外空间,而当艺术体制一旦敞开大门,他们立刻成为各大美术馆的主角,最终,艺术的依然归于艺术,生活的依然归于生活,年轻时的波西米亚生活成为他们中年后进入体制的资本。

  但是,一部分前卫艺术家的逃离并没有阻止前卫前进的步伐,八、九十年代前卫的参与精神在新世纪当代艺术中依然持续发展。进入新世纪的十年,前卫的两种实践方式产生了本质性分化,我们称之为“参与式体验”的方式展现出前卫融合艺术与生活,反思体制的优势。强调参与式体验的艺术家在本质上拒绝任何固态化的展示空间,因此他们的作品常发生在与他人相关的社会空间中。从展示形态来看,这类作品一般只能以档案的形式进入美术馆。相比于此,面对艺术体制的包容性,仪式化的前卫却显示出他们的脆弱性,被迷恋的“物”和仪式的表演只要遇到合适的机会,随时可以转换实施空间,成为景观的塑造者。

  沿着艺术与生活的边界行走,并不断突破两者的界限正是参与式体验的基本态度。对于当代前卫而言,他们首先是参与一般社会劳动的个体,然后才是被写在标签上的作者。于是,他们在社会空间里的工作现场本身即是作品,或他们工作的文献最后演变成作品。在参与式体验中,艺术家的自我身份认同开始发生转变,他们将自己的工作贫民化和社会化,正如无关小组成员所认为的,他们“更是行动者,劳动者,是现实深处和意识形态上的工作者。”[10]参与意味着艺术家在具体社会空间、劳动关系中直接行动,艺术从此不再和一般社会劳动有等级之分。把艺术实践为日常工作,或把日常工作转换为艺术,这成为当代前卫参与社会和体验社会的重要方式。李燎以普通工人的身份应聘进入富士康工作,工作45天,用所得工资买到一个包含自己劳动时间的iPad Mini。在工作与赎回自己劳动成果的过程中,李燎打破了劳动者被资本主义生产物化的必然性,劳动者、劳动时间和产品在消费阶段部分地合二为一。刘成瑞的《修鞋铺》以个体手工劳动者的身份完成了自我赎回。这件作品向我们表明,恰恰是在最基本的劳动中,人才能保持自己的完整性,劳动行为本身完全由劳动者掌握住了。艺术也不再呈现为精神财富,而是成为可以直接对接大众的劳动。修鞋铺里不停置换的鱼成为作品与生命有关的扭结点,从而修鞋不仅是刘成瑞在赎回完整的自我,也是暂时性地拯救一条条生命。《修鞋铺》让前卫艺术再次回归技术性劳动,这种技术劳动是对在二维平面上傻瓜式反映现实的反叛,也是对部分当代艺术只动脑子不动手的彻底讽刺。李富春的艺术作品不像李燎和刘成瑞那样具有阶段性特征,而是寄生于他自己的日常工作。李富春把艺术作品与出售的商品捆绑在一起,强迫购买者在买到心仪的商品时,同时接受一些他们可能拒绝的东西,情况也可能相反,被捆绑的艺术作品如果是消费者所能接受的,这时消费者和艺术家就能达成交流的可能性。李富春的作品应是记录他日常销售工作的轨迹,从这个角度来讲,在“ON/OFF”展览现场摆放的静态纸箱,并没有完全呈现艺术家作品的核心意义。

  参与式体验是当代前卫触摸实在世界的必要方式。波德里亚曾就当代数字、信息构成的拟像时代的真实性提出过质疑,他甚至怀疑由媒介传递的伊拉克战争是否真实存在过。新世纪十年以来,我们社会的拟像化程度非但没有减弱,反而大大增强。移动设备与网络通讯的结合使每个人以很低的成本就可以获得、分享彼此的信息,从正面来讲,这种信息便捷化的渠道一定程度增强了公众的监督权利,但从反面来讲,它却造成公众对信息传递媒介的高度依赖。工具性依赖的结果是工具使用者轻易就会落入信息编写者的陷阱。相比以前,虽然接受者感知的信息增多了,但他们却离实在世界越来越远了。现在,他们的感知紧紧受控于信息始端的匿名主体。面对这种情况,前卫不再用作品塑造什么世界景观,不再盲信自己传递的就是真理。以自我为中心,与世界、他人产生物理性接触,这样的关系才是前卫们追求的实在世界。所以,当代前卫的体验不是主体在私人空间的冥想式体验,而是在与自然、与他人产生物理关系中的参与式体验。2012年萨子的《一棵树》徒步计划就是自我在实在世界中归乡的过程。在萨子的行走中,艺术存在于脚与大地接触的每一个瞬间。刘成瑞的作品《十年》向我们呈现出一种生命真实。对于刘成瑞来说,这件《十年》甚至不是艺术,“而是一项艰巨的生命项目”,这个项目将一直持续到作者生命结束。在《十年》中,艺术家与孩子的物理接触成为作品完成的必要条件,因此,所有即时通讯工具在艺术家和孩子的面对面关系中都显得苍白无力,艺术家和每一个孩子的生命在他们每一次见面中实实在在地“去存在”。

  面对不尽如意的社会现实,前卫所采取的策略与现代主义者产生了本质的区别,这在阿多诺与本雅明的争论中就已显露无疑。现代主义者大多同意阿多诺的策略,即艺术家在无法改变社会时,不如进入自我休眠的状态,维持艺术自律。本雅明的态度则不然,他认为艺术家应该成为新生活的组织者。前卫反对的就是艺术自律的口号,他们一直勇于在既存社会中建构一个迷你乌托邦,因此前卫的关键词不是自我“放逐”或自我“疏离”,而是在参与中“超越”当下。细胞小组2012年创作的《五一劳动集市》就是这样一个“以物易物”的迷你乌托邦。艺术家显然是这个事件的组织者,在整个活动中,他们实现了马克思的理想:共产主义社会是一个按需分配体制,剩余价值的生产最终消失了。以物易物、放心交易、集体晚餐,这些都构成了对当下社会现状的批判性超越。邓国谷的《帝国时代》是一个更大的乌托邦,它直接触动了整个既存的社会体制。至今,这个乌托邦依然存在,并在继续,它持续挑战着社会这个既定的体制。《帝国时代》的实验建筑和实验景观会让我们想起包豪斯的现代建筑实验,面对现在铺天盖地的包豪斯建筑,有谁还能怀疑乌托邦的力量呢?

  参与式体验是当代前卫最显著的方法论特征,前卫采用这种方式总是直接或间接地达到反体制的目的。可以说,前卫之于艺术的最大功能就是通过不断反思艺术体制,来扩大艺术的边界。因为体制不断显示出它的高度包容性,所以,前卫的反体制不会一蹴而就。老一代前卫的沉沦,就会唤起新一代前卫的崛起,西方前卫的发展如此,中国前卫也是如此。马永峰创建的Forget Art 和乌托邦小组让我们看到了当代前卫直接反思体制的行动方案。由于反感于当代那些“制造庞大‘视觉盛宴’”的艺术,Forget Art再一次把如何呈现艺术的问题提示出来。他们采取流动性和游击性战略,重新定义作品和展示空间的关系。在《龙泉洗浴》项目中,我们一般所见的那些为占领展出空间,给观众创造惊奇的作品消失了,取而代之的是一件件位于日常生活空间中的“日常物”。与Forget Art 类似,乌托邦小组的作品也充满流动性和游击性,他们清楚认识到了前卫艺术的目的“不是建立一个体制,而是对任何现有的体制进行质疑并提出更多自由的可能,这就注定它始终处在一种动态的探寻过程中。”[11]乌托邦小组的每一个项目都是针对某一个特定空间和社群的深度参与,参与的过程即是生产的过程,体验每个情境的特殊性成为他们创作的必要程序。乌托邦小组的《家庭美术馆》进一步深化了九十年代初公寓艺术的前卫性。九十年代初宋冬、朱金石等人将彼此的家转换为美术馆,在家里布置、展出作品。他们将展览阵地转入私人空间,大多出于无奈之举,作品放到公寓与放到美术馆之间的差别,除了空间之外,别无其他。因此,一旦条件成熟,这些公寓作品就会立刻转化成美术馆内正儿八经的装置。乌托邦小组的作品虽然基于私人空间和公共空间的转换关系,但是却不仅仅如此。他们反体制的态度是自觉性的。他们有意不去创作那些可以直接放入美术馆中的作品,即便是作品进入了美术馆,也只能是档案而已。乌托邦小组参与的私人空间不是自己的私人空间,而是他人的私人空间。所以,通过对他人空间进行干预、对新环境进行调研、与他人进行交流,达到对现实世界的切实认知成他们作品的主要方面,相比而言,九十年代初公寓艺术那种只是转换展出阵地的方式就显得过于简单,并且随时都有失败的危险。

  参与式体验打破了作品传达情感和转述象征的意义逻辑链条,它在本质上是现实主义的。前卫的现实主义不再追求镜像式地反映世界,而是通过艺术家事实上去感知世界和他人,从而和参与者分享自己的体验。所以,前卫传达的首先是物理存在的事实,然后才是事实之后的观念。前卫强调实际行动,选择前卫,往往意味着选择坚持,体验苦难,甚至拥抱一个乌托邦,所以,前卫终归是少数人的事业。



  [1]高名潞:《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》,中国人民大学出版社,2006年,第18页。

  [2]朱其:《90年代的观念艺术和艺术中的观念性》,巫鸿主编,《首届广州当代艺术三年展·重新解读:中国实验艺术十年(1990-2000)》,2002年。

  [3]巫鸿:《首届广州当代艺术三年展·重新解读:中国实验艺术十年(1990-2000)·导论》,2002年。

  [4]高名潞:《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》,中国人民大学出版社,2006年,第18页。

  [5]王南溟:《观念之后:艺术与批评》,湖南美术出版社,2006年,第175页。

  [6]有关新前卫的论述,可参考拙文《前卫理论的修正与推进》,《文艺研究》,2012年第8期;《作为反体制的新前卫》,《美术研究》,2012年第4期。

  [7]“仪式化”是高名潞先生用来形容中国行为艺术的一个术语,详见高名潞:《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》,中国人民大学出版社,2006年,第159页至第183页。笔者扩展了这个术语的用法,用它来描述具有仪式特征的装置和行为艺术。

  [8]高名潞:《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》,中国人民大学出版社,2006年,第178-182页。

  [9]高名潞:《墙:中国当代艺术的历史与边界》,中国人民大学出版社,2006年,第57页。

  [10]鲍栋、孙冬冬等:《No/Off——当代艺术中的自我组织》,世界图书出版公司,2013年,第284页。

  [11] 鲍栋、孙冬冬等:《No/Off——当代艺术中的自我组织》,世界图书出版公司,2013年,第172页。


  原文发表于《艺术当代》2013年第8期

Jun 21

Micro Intervention

Mi You

On a sunny May afternoon, a Chinese artist took a square in Bologna. The intervention with the title Micro Resistance in Bologna took place in Piazza Verdi, right in the heart of much Bologna University activities. From 4p.m. to 7p.m. the artist, Ma Yongfeng (founder, Forget Art collective), and a group of local volunteers used a significant part of the square as their base and worked together on a series of banners. The sun was burning hot. It ended when another planned protest was kicking start, where people gathered in the square around a van with DJs and MCs in it.

This intervention invites different readings, as the intention of the artist was not explicitly expressed in the beginning. The following may provide possible access to it.

>>>Reading from an artistic point of view

The aesthetics question for the artist has always been, how to make an artistic intervention in the public open space, instead of making just another protest? (The latter is itself another challenge, since public spaces are strictly controlled in the artist’s home country.) The artist launched himself into the production of what he envisions as an intervention work without necessarily answering these questions. The production process took a more significant role than the end product, and this artificial stretching of production itself poses a series of questions to the dominant form of a protest in which the artist and the volunteers operate. Firstly, materiality of the banners in the protest came to question. The artists wanted to achieve a “rough” look (quote from conversations with the artist), and gathered cardboards and markers for production – which are of course essential for every protest. The “readiness” and “unworkedness” qualities appreciated in an aesthetics setting aligns, intentionally or unintentionally, with the common practice on the street. Moreover, the very much work-in-process presentation right in the square acquired a different dynamics than the preparation making of a protest normally conceived. The atelier was in the public space, and the process consisting of moments of discussion and inspiration as well frustration and undecideness was entirely to be spotted, and blatantly true. The posters they produced were laid on the ground, and constructed a big cloud of consciousness. The artists, volunteers and the passers-by in the square were engaged in an act, whose scores and lines hid underneath the process of making it. In the duration of the intervention, it was never clear what would become of this production, but this wouldn’t make the artistic process any less valid, for being part of it is already the most important thing for the artist. As if to make this narrative a bit clearer, the artist himself painted a slogan quoting Zizek, “is this a revolt without revolution?” It offered a meta-layer critique of the energy, resources and work accumulated in the protests without channeling them into meanings around the world, and in the immediate surrounding of the square. The artist, by acting and not revolting, thereby embodied this critique. By precisely staging it, acting it, but not really doing it, this reveals the affective quality of politics, it defamiliarises the normalised situation of a demonstration.

The artist’s relation to the volunteers and passers-by is ambiguous. He didn’t engage them confrontationally, for example, he didn’t go around and ask people for their reactions. He rather preferred it in a way as if nothing has happened, or it isn’t clear what has happened. This was indeed how one feels, when going back to the square later. The posters and banners were still lying on the ground. Some passers-by stopped to read them. And the relation was constructed in those moments when nobody knew. Yet exactly this ambiguity offers a moment of ethical trueness in the myriad relations between the artist, active participants and passive participants, in that none of the present parties powers over another, and instead is more or less susceptible to the other. There is even an ethical demand that urges the audience to look at his or her own position in an event of present day politics.

>>>Reading from a political point of view

The name of the performance/intervention is Micro Resistance, as the artist views the space as a ground of micro resistances. This approach resonates to a certain extent to the thinking of De Certeau, and is underlined by the resistance to formalize, institutionalize or stagnate oneself. At the site of the intervention, however, one is puzzled by the political project, or cultural project, or any project at all, of the “resistance”. If the politics of everyday were to be understood by heart, it would have to be understood and activated by everybody. The activation part was partially achieved by the process of reflection of the artistic work – though at first seeing not necessarily deemed as artistic work, yet a networking of those activated thinking is largely missing. If we look at artists as creative singularities, whose explicit ideas on politics and the world stay more or less in the comfort zones of discourse that are constructed by artists themselves, we could trust that these discourses will have little influence over real lives. It is general consensus anyway that art cannot change politics directly, in the same way that art cannot boost the level of GDP. The general hope lies in the power of art to light up imaginations, however winded the way it may be to find its articulations and henceforth actions. In this regard, we cannot pronounce the effects of the artwork, as we cannot estimate the consequences of the rustle of a butterfly’s wings.

One could, however, regard this constellation as a test site for the free-flow of antagonistic relations in the Mouffe and Laclau way. Indeed, when we think of a well staged public protest of any nature, we tend to leave the internal structure of the protesting body out of question precisely because it is usually regarded as a unifying integrity against a somehow dramatized, evil other. Yet when one is in the middle of it, questions of levels and alignment of motive necessarily arise: the protesting body is itself an antagonistic body and could only survive as such. In light of this, the temporary uplifting of any logic at all in the case of Ma Yongfeng’s Micro Resistance serves exactly the need for self-criticality, despite the fact that it didn’t quite launch itself in the political realm.

Nov 13
Voiceover Text

by Edward Sanderson

http://blog.escdotdot.com/2011/11/13/aspect-magazine-ma-yongfengs-the-swirl-2002/

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What we are watching here is a video work from 2002 entitled The Swirl by Chinese artist Ma Yongfeng. This 15 minute video is one of Ma’s very first works at a point where he was displaying an interest in using what might be seen as futile behaviours, as a means of pricking the fabric of reality, and questioning it’s assumptions. Ma has more recently become known for his minimal interventions in daily life and socially aware services, but at the point at which this video was produced, these interests were still nascent.

Well, I can’t ignore the video anymore, and that of course is its problematic – this traumatic activity which is presented to us – these fish which are due for quite a ride, as we will see.

As the commentator for this work, and ostensibly representative of it and of the artist, the unfolding of the piece makes it tempting to expound my own strong opinions about the treatment of animals, which could come into conflict with my respect for the artist. But neither Ma, nor—I guess—you, as the audience, will thank me for making such apologies. What’s done is done, and we (the audience as well as the artist) must deal with the consequences.


I have known Ma and his work for a few years now, and the work I have seen produced by him and which I have written about over that period initially has seemed formally very different from this early piece.

Ma now works less with video and more with events and situations. He aims to formalise a set of projects, which seek to work directly with social reality. He is, for instance, undertaking an ongoing project called forget art, an adaptable undertaking that takes many forms, including exhibitions, art fairs, interventions, online social networks, etc. but aims to play with these institutions and find new ways to turn them to social use.

How then does one get from these fish to an interest in working with the forms of society?

Taking a step back, what is happening in this video? Six live golden Koi fish have been placed in a top-loading washing machine and the washing cycle is set off. As an aside, the top-loading style of washing machine is a very common element in Chinese apartments – perhaps because this top-loading aspect saves space over their front-loading brethren.

So the wash cycle starts innocuously enough with the bright metal drum filling with water, the water falling from all sides to douse the fish. Once filled, the drum begins to turn clockwise, then anticlockwise agitating the water and the fish in the process. This continues, back and forth, for about 10 minutes. The water then drains out of the drum, leaving the fish high and dry on the metal base of the machine. Followed by a fade to black.

But such a cold description of the facts of this video leaves out the affective aspect of the action, both on the fish in their tormenting and violent situation, and on the audience with their feelings when placed in front of such an act by the artist.

It is probably best if I say at this point, that the fish were relatively unharmed after their washing, living out the rest of their natural lives with a friend of the artist’s.

So what causes an artist to undertake such an action on these helpless animals? What does it mean?

Ma’s other works of video and photography at that time were concerned with the place of “nature” in our understanding of the world, and nature’s place and use value in our attempts to understand the world through our depictions of it. This would appear as Ma’s own creations or by his filming of natural history museum dioramas and reconstructions, sometimes with subtle interventions and changes by the artist, sometimes simply re-presenting the facts in front of us. Equally these constructions—with their original didactic purposes and the artists own twisting of them—serve to point up the arbitrary and fake nature of the presentation, a nature which often blatantly ignores the real needs of the animals and plants contained therein, giving the presentation for the audience priority over any welfare issues.

The Swirl presents a demonstration of a completely man-made, machine-like setting in which nature is placed to face its fate. The piece’s apparent simplicity leads to some broad claims about its significance. Is it possible to see The Swirl as a piece of social criticism, or a commentary on the artist’s existence, as critic Dorothée Brill has suggested? Are these claims a step too far?

Symbolic meaning is a well-developed part of culture. Especially in the visual arts, objects and scenes are interpreted based on their symbolic status, various objects have deep and significant meanings developed over the course of centuries, which the enlightened viewer can piece together as a further layer of meaning for the image.

So what can be said about these fish? Koi have value in Chinese tradition as symbols of abundance and prosperity. Traditional Chinese paintings will include Koi to represent these values within the overall symbolic schema they present. In neighbouring Japan, the meaning of Koi fish is slightly different, where they present an ideal of strength of purpose, and perseverance in adversity. A meaning that seems particularly appropriate to this artwork and a meaning the artist may well have been aware of when putting the fish into this predicament.

Does the washing machine have a symbolic meaning and value in itself, which when combined with the fish creates some new, composite symbolic value, designed to enlighten us as to the piece’s “higher” meaning? By placing them in a washing machine and subjecting the Koi to the swirling of the drum, what does that mean for this set of values?

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The round opening of the washing machine could be said to have some formal connection with a common way of framing scenes with wall openings in Chinese gardens. These openings take various shapes, but are all designed to provide a viewpoint out into the landscape which presents the scene as an aid for contemplation. The video work titled Beijing Zoological Garden, produced by Ma a couple of years after The Swirl, makes reference to this technique as the artist wanders the animal houses of the eponymous Zoo presenting the animals and spectators therein through this idealising, round vignette.

So, is it fair to make comparisons between the roles of Koi or these framing methods in the Chinese view of landscape, with Ma’s work? How about out modern interpretations of animals and landscapes, which we present in our museums and in our imagery?

In his works Ma seems to be picking up on these traditional tropes of the role of these animals and settings, while putting them in new contexts to play with their ultimate meanings when they come into contact with their audiences, a context which also alters with time and knowledge.

However once stepping beyond the highly codified set of symbols which make up the various cultural systems, symbolic value becomes something of a futile task, as the values become arbitrary and open to re-interpretation at any point. Any value can be read into anything – with a bit of effort. Indeed, artists have a tendency to reinterpret symbols, and twist meanings to reveal hidden factors within their assumed status. Ma Yongfeng in particular playfully questions many of these assumptions in his work, playing off the symbols against each other to open up the possibility of new meanings to appear.

In his latest works, where Ma has taken on the social aspect of art as his tool, although his intentions are sincere in his attempts to engage and create an effect on society, I cannot help but notice that in every case the subjects are not dealt with as hard and fast rules, but with a canny sense of humour which lightens the tone and prevents them from becoming too sterile.

So Ma’s fish may or may not mean abundance, and the washing machine may or may not refer to traditional scenery; the action may mean many things which we can read into the video from our position of safety away from the actual creation of the work, a point from which we can make judgements about the responsibility of the artist that perpetrated such an act.

The relatively simple set up in this video allows one to look beyond the reality of the situation and try to piece together some kind of symbolic meaning behind it. But the piece never makes it too easy to remain focused on one or the other, the reality or the symbol. The Koi’s predicament is never far from our minds – nor should it be if we have any sense of empathy in us. But then neither should the reality that this is just a video of an incident which took place almost ten years ago, and which can now be looked at with some perspective and from many other points of view besides the shock value that the activity immediately proposed.

Inevitably Ma’s work reflects aspects of the artist’s experiences and is an expression of his thoughts and ideas about the world. But how far one should go to create a symbol out of this very real action seen in the video? Keeping these two readings in process is important I think. Certainly the fish are being tormented. But equally they come to represent something beyond themselves in the process. Being able to keep those two readings in view perhaps can prevent lapsing into an essentialist reading of the piece as either a brutal mistreatment of animals or an aesthetic display divorced from real-world travails.

The Swirl forces me to never to forget the reality of the fishes’ dilemma, but at the same time to hold that reality as one amongst a number of readings of the work, which makes the work important as going beyond itself, to take on a wider significance within the artist’s work and in society at large.


First published November, 2011 in ASPECT Magazine.
Feb 27
来自《艺术界》LEAP    第六期 2010
文章: Edward Sanderson
翻译:杜可柯

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阚萱《 轻》,2009年录像装置箭厂空间

中国艺术界一个被人议论最多的特点就是其高度商业化的画廊体系。基本属于西方舶来品的画廊体系在过去十年迅速发展成熟,并成为中国艺术家和国际艺术界之间的重要连接点。不管怎样,画廊及其代表的商业体系主宰着中国艺术界,伴随它们成长的还有不同艺术区(包括北京的798和草场地,或者上海的M50),后者是国家认可并支持当代艺术经济文化实力的明确表现。

然而,这一发展似乎是以牺牲批判性参与和更大社会意义为代价的。如此庞大的产业化系统很有可能导致当代艺术整体停滞不前。当然,这种状况似乎是由于中国加入国际艺术界的时间尚短,虽然活跃,但仍比较稚嫩,即中国还没来得及发展起来一套具有自我批判意识的成熟的艺术体系。

但已有一批艺术家和机构在积极寻找出路。他们有意识地跨越艺术机构、作品和社会之间的界线,关注问题的同时把意义和边界拓展到新方向。他们在体系中的位置相对独立灵活,因此可以较为公正地对体制提出批判,而不至于招来任何致命的后果。某种层面上,他们的资本在于智力和社会含义,而不在财力,因此也拥有更多的回旋余地,可以坚持自身立场,对画廊、美术馆、艺术家或社会进行批评。

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2 0 0 9年陈昕鹏以帐篷为载体做的流动展览“凑和”

这些“空间” 尽管只有一部分是永久性的实体空间正在为现有体系增添对比区别和批评的方法论元素。这些个体或组织深知自己的活动与中国艺术界批判性较弱的部分之间应建立一种什么样的关系,因此针对目前艺术界及其所在社会的各种问题和争议,他们总是积极推进那些足以产生突破性进展的作品和行动。

虽然“另类”作为一个讨论出发点并无不当之处,但对于这些空间来说,称其为“另类”可能有失公允。“另类”常常让人想到“对抗”,但这些艺术家或策展人更多是从“补充”的角度来看待该问题。他们并不是单纯为了与众不同而选择“另类”,而是希望能以此超越他们所批判的对象,也许“另类”概念本身就处在批判之列。

比如,“另类”反对的并不一定是商业化本身,而是那些目前中国艺术界中比比皆是的毫无批判性的商业化模式。这些机构从某种程度上“补充”了看似已经非常僵化的画廊形式:无法呈现某些类型的作品,只允许特定渠道或形式的活动进入空间。“另类空间”普遍采用的一个策略是:表面上独立于画廊系统之外,但为了自身目的又与之保持某种联系;必要时自由出入于不同的艺术结构。很多情况下,他们根本不需要画廊、正式展览或传统艺术结构。他们不想积极地去“反对”谁,而是在介入和脱离之间按照自身信念开心地做着选择。针对令人窒息的系统和结构,他们的回应行动常常是微妙而隐蔽的。

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马永峰《 送给 K.S.的礼物》,2010年玻璃、霓虹灯和镇流器150 x 150 x 72厘米

举几个例子:家作坊通过小小的店面将艺术实践引入胡同语境,在社区里推动在本地的社会活动,从而将事件从日常活动中“提炼”出来。驴子当代艺术协会把艺术直接带到流动的公共空间,用移动模式对其进行重新定义。陈昕鹏去年以帐篷为载体的流动展览“凑和”(红盒子工作室策划)同样将艺术家的活动带到非艺术领域,旨在激发自主式展览和令人兴奋的创作实践。马永峰和他的forget art小组重访极少主义和观念艺术,以玩笑的手段挑战中国机构化的艺术模式,他们最近还在一个洗浴中心策划了一场展览。植村绘美在中国食品和农业现实的背景下展开讨论,从自身具体处境出发直面社会问题。

和这些艺术家、策展人谈话的过程中,一个反复出现的主题是他们如何通过艺术创作过程起到助推器和平台的作用他们的答案也暗示在现有机构和运作方法中,这一功能是很难或不可能找到的。而上述活动背后似乎潜藏着一种感觉:经过重新组织和自然化,如今的艺术越来越倾向于成为一个生产体系,和其他任何生产体系毫无二致,不具备丝毫特权。所以他们对商品化和商业化的系统力量保持警惕,对艺术不像前人那样满怀敬意,而只是将其作为选择性使用的领域之一。

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张怡《 可能接触》,2008年录像箭厂空间

这些方法和实践在国际艺术史语境下并不少见,其实等于梳理了西方艺术史各流派中有关艺术特权地位的一些基本问题。但这些艺术家超越传统之处就在于他们与中国具体环境间的关系在这方面他们的确富有原创性。在中国,上述实践算是相对比较新的艺术创作手法,在此背景下,也就有可能为将来的艺术活动带来新的可能性,而这些艺术家和他们的同辈们也需要对这样的可能性做出回应。这些可能性不仅针对现有系统,更以其非物质或非永久的行动在不“生产”的情况下赢得了空间。这些作品看上去是疏离的,所维系的
关系并不能完全归于某个特定目的。这种没有既定目标或预期结论的半成形行动通过避开一般政治活动(效果可疑)的常见形式带来了某种政治结果,在这样一个外表决定一切的环境下似乎尤其合适。而且,正如在其他地方的同类实践中可以看到的那样,此类行动要在通向生产的道路上被无限搁置其无效性永远处于一种引而待发的状态,但这种“搁置”和“无效性”又是保证行动可能性的关键所在。

上文列举的几个例子都是从本土化生产开始,这对于建立意义容量更大的艺术体系来说至关重要。这些“另类”空间的创作活动将目光对准系统内部可见的问题和缺陷,它们的存在对批判艺术观念及其传播方式不可或缺。实验和展示的新形式能够为艺术界带来更大的深度和更丰富的见解,除此以外,当我们遇到有关艺术及艺术体验场所等问题时,这些实验和新形式也能防止我们过度依赖极具局限性的少数视角。所谓“健康的艺术生态”必然支持这些多样化体验场所的成长,因为只有这样,才能建立足够的制衡机制,避免系统的某一个部门以偏概全,进而扭曲了艺术的视野和价值,而这 一点在我看来也是目前中国艺术圈亟待解决的问题。

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ChART 艺术观光项目之“新奇之旅”

http://leapleapleap.com/2011/01/%E9%9B%B6%E7%B1%BB%E7%A9%BA%E9%97%B4%EF%BC%8C%E5%8F%A6%E7%B1%BB%E7%AD%96%E7%95%A5/?lang=zh-hans

一月 31st, 2011
Posted in 第六期
Dec 2
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付晓东 严舒黎

《美术文献》2010年5期(总67期)主题词

主题:“自我组织”在2010
学术主持:付晓东  严舒黎

在我看来,艾未未的1亿粒葵花子在泰特的涡沦大厅开幕,标志着伟大的艺术家时代的终结。巨大的资金投入,顶级的世界美术馆平台,全世界密集的媒体聚光灯的闪烁下,终于迎来了这一伟大的标志性事件的到来。非常悬殊的是,黑桥或者环铁,60平方米甚至更小,暖气供应不足,无人问津,只有邻居嘘寒问暖,北京年轻艺术家刚刚结束不拆迁的欣喜,但对于如何挨过这个寒冷的冬天依然略有忧虑。这是同时存在在艺术界的现实。进入后经济危机时代,商业对于艺术的改造不断深化,资本流入到更能高效能地产生利益和传播的渠道,大巨头的经济效益历久不衰,但是可有可无的长尾效应在这里就被直接切割了。实验性艺术在本来就不获得市场份额的情况下,连平台都有丧失的危险。由于无法获得资本的分配,更多的艺术家自发地联合在一起。这就如同80年代受到政治体制压制的地下艺术一般,在商业系统的重压下,反抗者终于找到了自己的路。他们利用非美术馆空间,在民间、在野外、在浴室进行方方面面的游击战。艺术家的聚众式的自愿参与,松散的组织结构,平等的社交关系,无阶级差别,身份的多元化,现成品和装置艺术为主的作品形态,对参与艺术作品的无关好坏的价值论,崭新的游戏规则,都成了各个不同名目的组织团体的主要特征,这使多个年轻艺术家资源聚合式的作品成为了可能,从而一个人无法完成的项目诞生了,多突的、不同价值观的、N个指向的、密集思考点的项目开始出现,作品的署名已经不那么重要。整个当代艺术的生产方式在这个时候发生了深刻的转向,从定件式的、大资本投入的、伟大艺术家的单件作品的加工厂,变成了零散的、集合式的、集体的、匿名的、低成本的创意集合体。这一切的发生,都使得当下的艺术现状更有活力,也是最新迸发出的艺术生态下的源源不断的生产力。我并不知道这些在没有国家赞助的情况下,这些没有经济来源,无明确组织纲领,不指向市场的自我组织究竟会走向哪里,也许他们不会向欧美的艺术系统那样形成一个个艺术家主导的非赢利空间,也许他们会在某一天人困马乏的时候停止,也许有一天他们会走向他们现在所反对的权力系统的相同的一面,成为美术馆的下一波起义的胜利者。这一切无从知晓,只有等待历史,给我们答案。
                                                                    
——付晓东


正如在上一期主题中关于艺术小组的讨论中提到的,中国当代艺术发展二十多年,由艺术家自发组成的艺术创作团体、小组一直非常活跃,并在先锋艺术中占有重要地位。与上一期集中介绍的几个共同创作作品的艺术小组有所不同,本期想要介绍的是由艺术家组成的共同策划、讨论、实施艺术项目,并围绕项目来创作的“自我组织”,这些群体中,每个艺术家以个体创作者的身份进入,艺术家之间的关系相对更为松散和自由。八九十年代中国当代艺术发展初期,艺术家们的“自我组织”十分活跃,那时的艺术思潮云涌,艺术界讨论气息浓厚,这些艺术群体、组织的形成与这种思潮讨论的氛围和艺术媒介实验的兴趣和愿望有关。

进入二十一世纪,随着中国经济迅速发展和国际化,中国当代艺术也进入了快速市场化与国际化阶段,并在2006年到2008年之间出现井喷状态。海外拍卖高昂的行情、国际资本进入中国当代艺术,刺激了中国当代艺术市场。我们都还记得前几年各种不同来源的资本注入中国当代艺术的情形,各地美术馆的建立、双年展、三年展甚至大型艺博会的举办,大大小小外资、本土画廊的成立、马不停蹄的艺术展览和活动,当代艺术从未受到如此的礼遇和关注,却也从未被这么多新问题所束缚和困扰。面对市场的刺激,艺术作品作为商品的市场价值成为占有重要地位的价值判断,渗透到艺术生产、传播、接收机制的各个环节,影响无微不至,从艺术家个体创作到各种学术活动甚至美术馆收藏,让人惊异于资本的力量。而在这个被资本迅速吹大的气球背后,当代艺术独立、先锋精神受到了威胁,艺术的精神价值也被相对忽略。

2009年的经济危机让中国当代艺术回落到一个较为真实的状态,对之前的这个阶段存在的各种问题进行反思的声音也越来越多。艺术是什么?为什么需要艺术?艺术与社会的关系是什么?怎么创作、为什么创作、为谁创作等问题,重新被提出;当代艺术快速形成的目前的艺术机制、系统遭到了质疑,而这其中,由艺术家们组成的一些“自我组织”重新扮演了重要的先行角色,各种“自我组织”的艺术项目、活动、行为在2009年底到2010年非常地活跃,或者引发了更多的关注。无论是理性思考的结果也好,还是自发的意识也好,大部分这些“自我组织”的理念、实践、包括他们受到关注的原因,体现了艺术领域对中国当代艺术之前过热状态所做出的回应和反思。本期介绍了目前六个活跃的由艺术家“自我组织”而成的艺术群体和艺术项目,代表了这些回应和反思的几个方向和态度。

未知博物馆是一个上海年轻艺术家一起合作的创作团体,他们从2007年成立至今实施了冥想台项目、未知博物馆项目以及乌托邦房间项目。而“未知博物馆”这个名字本身传达了反思现有艺术价值生成机制、打开多元价值空间的理念,他们强调每个项目都是提问、讨论和行动的总和,是思考的过程,不是某种归纳或结果呈现。在冥想台项目中,这个过程存在于参与者自省和关照活动中,不倚赖于实体空间或机构的维持。在其“当我们谈论艺术时,我们在谈论什么”项目中,他们把艺术作品和生活品散置在同一空间里面,什么是生活品,什么艺术品,是展览、工作室,还是一个聊天场或冥想地,都界线不明。未知博物馆希望与其他精神领域,如社会学、哲学等之间的交流,为艺术提供一个精神上开放和展示平台。总体而言,未知博物馆这个群体的艺术项目是艺术家们之间互相讨论、理性思考的结果,涉及了对当代艺术的一些问题的反思,代表了现一阶段艺术家们对如何坚持艺术独立精神、注重艺术精神价值以及延展艺术边界和可能性、建立开放的艺术机制等问题重新进行学术思考的倾向。

和未知博物馆的学理倾向相较而言,绿校和三分钟小组则体现了一种在专业化、市场化、资本化的艺术生产机制掌控之外的艺术生态,它们是野生的、草根的、个人化的、平等的、自由的、活泼的创作状态。其中绿校作为一个网络社团性质的群体,以blog为平台,任何从事艺术创作的年轻人都可以在这个平台上发布自己的作品并交流,发布成员既有专业美术院校的在读生和毕业生,也有完全业余的未受过正规美术教育的艺术爱好者。网络平台特有的自由、开放、不设门槛、没有艺术家与爱好者身份差异的理想状态,使得这个平台充满了新鲜的活力,也使得他们的艺术作品保有了艺术最初的那份冲动、激情、快乐、理想主义。相较于绿校更具社会广泛性的平台而言,三分钟小组则是代表了文艺圈80后年轻艺术家的创作状态和理念,他们借助豆瓣小组等网络平台和朋友圈子,进行圈子内的交流、创作,但这个圈子也有各个不同领域的录像艺术爱好者。在这里,创作不是为进入某个主题展览,某个画廊销售,或是期待某种学术价值、市场价值认同,而是个体的自我认同、互相认同的一种形式,是一种好玩的生活状态。不需要面目严肃学术性讨论、批评,保持派对式的交流方式,不涉及理论争论或是价值判断是三分钟小组活动的特色。每次由抽签产生出题人,并围绕出题人所出的主题来进行创作,使得他们的创作像是一次次集体交出的练习作业,他们彼此互为观众和读者。也许有人会因这种松散的、内部交流式的、没有学术讨论的小组形式产生的作品所具有的力量进行质疑,但是,在不涉及任何商业利益、也没有理论争论、没有专业或业余之分的组织形式之下,也确实给年轻的艺术家们开辟了一个在现有被各种资本力量、学术权力占据的艺术机构体制之外的、相对自由独立的展示与创作平台,并给予他们通过艺术自娱自乐、享受创作快乐的权利。

雄黄社和forget art是两个有趣的“自我组织”,他们由艺术家组成,有明确的纲领和宗旨,但他们主要以策划艺术项目的方式,邀请其他艺术家们围绕这些项目来进行创作。他们项目有着更为明确的艺术理念和态度。雄黄社的“骄傲”、“天涯”等项目的实施,不在正式的艺术空间机构展出,没有固定的展示场所,没有展览时间限制,甚至作为策展方,他们放弃了参展艺术家作品的知晓权和判断权,让艺术家自由参加,自己负责作品。他们所做的系列项目,很明显是对目前当代艺术有组织机构、有商业或学术目的、有策展机制的艺术展览方式、艺术机制的逆向而行,探讨在这个机制之外的艺术的可能性。forget art小组的项目的策划理念正如这个小组的名字一样,“忘记艺术,或也有可能得到艺术”,除了在“龙泉洗浴”项目中和雄黄社同样对现有艺术的界定、艺术边界的可能性、艺术与社会的关系等问题作出了思考,forget art小组还针对当代艺术在快速市场化的这个阶段出现的许多好大喜功的、刺激感官的、材质与精神上都很铺张浪费的艺术作品提出了质疑,forget art强调一种对生活的微干预、极少主义、低调、节制的美学观。

“每个人的东湖”艺术计划是由武汉的艺术家李巨川和李郁发起的,缘起于一个知名企业在武汉东湖风景区建造大型地产项目的社会事件,由于这一行为很可能将圈去东湖很大一部分湖岸与水面,甚至可能填掉一部分水面,这一地产项目引发武汉市民对于东湖前途的关注。“每个人的东湖”艺术计划在这一背景下提出,通过网络平台以及朋友的口口相传,这个艺术计划对任何人都开放,只要不做有损于环境的作品。在发起人的访谈中,他们提到这个艺术计划的重点“并不在于创作艺术,而是以艺术活动的方式来展开一次共同的行动”。发起人认为“艺术的方式虽然并不是要解决现实的问题,而是可以使现实的问题,现实的种种冲突和困境显示出来。这也是一种抵抗”。“能不能通过艺术活动创造一个讨论公共议题的空间,以及在各种政治和经济权力所构造出的城市空间中,每个个体能不能通过一种有想像力的方式创造出自己所需的空间?”是“每个人的东湖”艺术计划思考的问题。这个艺术计划其实已经超出了艺术问题的探讨,而指向了艺术与社会的关系、艺术作用社会等问题的探讨,甚至其实也超出了这些问题的探讨,而直指社会问题。“每个人的东湖”艺术计划本不是一个以艺术为目的的计划,但它的出现在当代艺术领域消费主义盛行的时代,提示了艺术家“牛虻”精神的重要性。

除了上述提到的“自我组织”之外,其实同期活跃和受到关注的还有很多其他的由艺术家自发而成的艺术群体、组织、项目、展览,比如反对拆迁的暖冬计划,比如Waza小组发起的“社会青年”等系列艺术项目等等。这些艺术家们的“自我组织”虽然不同,但他们都在比如打破身份,催发艺术与其他艺术领域以及社会领域的交流,建立一个开放的精神平台;反思现有的艺术传播、展示、接收以及价值评判机制;保护艺术独立精神和批判精神等方面做出了努力。这些“自我组织”的出现和活动在某种意义上表达了艺术家们在当代艺术商业化现状中对独立艺术精神的根本诉求。

——严舒黎
2010年10月


Self-Organization in 2010
Academic Hosts: FU Xiaodong  YAN Shuli


In my view, the opening of the exhibition by Ai weiwei with his 100 million sunflower seeds at the turbine hall of Tate Modern marked the end of the era for great artists. Large sum of funds input, top of the art musuem, the focus of worldwide medias, all together finally ushered in the arrival of the great symbolic event. In sharp contrast with it, most artists’ studios in Black Bridge art zone or Railway art zone of Beijing only have 60 square metres or even smaller which are short of heating supply and only visited by the neighbors. For the young artists in Beijing, although the happy mood of not having to be removed again are not over, they begin to worry about how to suvive from this cold winter. These are two realities existed in the same art field. When the post-economic crisis era comes, the reform of the art by the commerce has been deepened and capitals inflow to the channels which can bring interests and spread more effectively. Economic benefits brought by the Big Man never decline while the “useless” long-tail effect here are directly being cutted off. In this situation, experimental arts encountered with the danger of losing all their platforms while have little market before. Since unable to obtain capital allocation, more artists spontaneously united together. Just like the situation of the underground art throttled by the political systems in 1980s, these new risers finally found their own way under the oppress of the commercial systems. They launched many guerrilla warfares at non-art musuem space, the public space, the urban or even the bathroom. Voluntary participation and loose structure, equal social relations and the same class, diversity of identities and main styles of installtaiton art and readymade art , non-judge on the works and establishing some new rules, all these are the main characters of these various organizations with different names. These characters makes it possible for many young artists to do some “putting all the resource together” works. It also leads to many projects which can not completed by only one person and the project with conflicting values, different directions and plenty of thinking points. The signature is not important any more. All the mode of production for Contempoary arts deeply changed, from the processing factory to do one great artist’s one ordered piece of work with large capital input to the separated, collecitve, anonymous and low-cost creative unite. All these makes contempoary art more active and turn to be the powerful productive force for the new art ecology. I have no idea that what is the future of these self organiztions without the support of the country, the commerial resource, even any fixed orgainzation and market relation. Perhapes they will not establish non-profit organizations dominated by the artists as what they do in the Euramerican art systems. Perhapes they will finally stop when they feel tired. Perhaps they will go to the same side of the system that they object to now and turn to be the new victor of the art musuem. We don’t know anything about that now. All we have to do is waiting for the history to give us an answer.

By FU Xiaodong


As was mentioned about the artistic group in the discussion of the previous issue, within these twenty or more years of China’s contemporary artistic development, the artistic troupes and groups organized spontaneously by the artists themselves have always been extremely active and occupy an important proportion in the avant-garde. Different from the artistic groups that create one piece of work together, which serves as the main focus of the previous theme, this issue mainly introduces the self-organizations by the artists who devise, discuss and carry out artistic projects, and create individual works of various kinds according to the projects. In these organizations, every artists enters as an individual creator, thus the relationship between the artists is relatively loose and free.

At the beginning of China’s contemporary artistic development in the 1980s and 1990s, self-organizations by the artists presented a rather active appearance. During that time, the artistic ideological trends surged in large numbers, and the art circles were saturated with discussions. The establishment of those artistic troupes and groups had a great deal to do with the artistic discussion ambience as well as the experimental interest and wish of the artistic media.

In the 21st century, with the rapid development and internationalization of China’s economy, its contemporary art stepped into a phase of rapid commercialization and internationalization and exposed itself in a state of blowing out between the year 2006 and 2008. The high auction price together with international capital came into China’s contemporary art, stimulating our contemporary art market. As far as we could recall, in the past few years, capital from various sources flooded into our contemporary art; art galleries were established everywhere; people held biennales, triennials and even big art fairs. In the face of the establishment of those large or small art galleries from home and abroad, and the nonstop art exhibitions and activities, our contemporary art had never encountered courtesy and attention like this, nor had it been restricted and troubled by so many new problems. Stimulated by the market, the market value of the artistic works which presented themselves as commodities turned out to be an important yardstick of value and the discourse of power, and penetrated every section of the mechanism such as artistic production, communication and reception. It exerted so great an influence that people marveled at the power of capital from the individual creation of the artists to various academic activities and even to the collections of the art galleries. Nevertheless, right behind this balloon blown up rapidly by capital, the independence of contemporary art as well as the spirit of avant-garde had been greatly threatened. Meanwhile, the spiritual value of art and its social meaning were relatively ignored.

In 2009, due to its economic crisis, China’s contemporary art went back to a relatively true state, and more and more people began to reflect on those various problems existing in the previous period. Inquires such as “what is art”, “why do we need art”, “what is the relationship between art and society”, and “how to create, why to create and for whom to create art” were raised again. Different kinds of artistic mechanisms and systems of contemporary art formed rapidly were questioned, in which several self-organizations by the artists played an important vanguard role over again. Artistic projects, activities and behaviors of various self-organizations became extremely active at the end of 2009 and the year 2010, which aroused more attention. Most of the ideas and practices of these self-organizations, as well as the reasons of catching public attention, whether they came out of the result of rational thinking or spontaneous consciousness, concealed the reflection on the superheat towards China’s contemporary art in the previous period. This issue introduces six current active artistic groups and projects by the artists, which represent several directions and attitudes towards the response and reflection mentioned above.

Unknown Museum Group is a creation group co-worked by the young artists in Shanghai, who carry out projects such as meditation stage, unknown museum and utopian house. And the name Unknown Museum Group itself delivers the idea to reflect on the current artistic value production mechanism and open the pluralistic value space. The artists emphasize that every project is the sum to raise questions, to discuss and to put into action, and it is a process to think instead of a certain induction or presentation of some result. The process of the meditation stage project exists in the self-reflection and self-concern of the participants, rather than depend on the maintenance of real space or mechanisms. Also in their “when we talk about art, what exactly are we talking about” project, they scattered the artistic woks and living goods, the boundary between which is rather obscure, in a certain space, and it is up to the viewer to judge what objects belong to the living goods or artistic works, and to decide whether this space is a place to chat or to meditate. Unknown Museum Group also expects to communicate with some other spiritual fields such as sociology and philosophy, so as to provide a stage to open and demonstrate one’s mind. Generally speaking, the artistic projects of this group is the result of the mutual discussion and rational thinking of the artists, and involved the reflection on some important problems of contemporary art while representing the tendency of current artists to do the academic thinking again on those problems such as how to maintain the dependent spirit of art, pay attention to the spiritual value of art, extend the artistic boundary and its possibilities, as well as to establish open artistic mechanisms.

Compared with the theoretical tendency of Unknown Museum Group, Lvxiao.com(green school) and Three Minute Group embody an artistic ecology beyond the control of the specialized, commercialized, and capitalized artistic production mechanism. They represent a creation state which is wild, plebeian, individual, equal, free and active. As an internet group, Lvxiao.com(green school) sets blog as a stage where any young man who does artistic works could post his own piece of work and communicate with others, and who can be an undergraduate or graduate from the art institutes, or a total amateur art-lover who never receives any standard art education. The unique ideal state of this internet stage which is free, open, unrestricted and without identity difference between an artist and an amateur endows it with brilliant vigor, and keeps the original impulse, passion, happiness or idealism in their artistic works. Compared with the social universality of the stage in Lvxiao.com(green school), Three Minutes Group represents the creation state and ideas of the young artists of the art circle who were born in the 1980s, and who, by making use of internet stage such as douban group and their friends, communicate and do artistic works within their circle. Still, the group has people of various kinds and video art lovers from different fields. Creation here does not aim to enter certain thematic exhibitions or the selling of some galleries, or to expect the realization of some academic or market value, but serves as a form for the individual’s self-recognition and mutual identification, and an interesting living state. It doesn’t need any serious academic discussion or criticism, nor does it involve any theoretical argument or value judgment; its characteristic is to keep a frolic and merry communicative fashion like that in a party. In every activity, the person who would be the one to set the theme is decided by drawing lots. The participants then create their works according to the theme, thus their works look more like the assignments handed in every time by the whole group, in which they could be audiences as well as readers. Someone would probably question the power of these works produced by such a group which is loose, inter-communicative and without any academic discussion. However, such kind of group which doesn’t involve any commercial interest, which has no theoretical argument and no boundary between an artist and an amateur, does establish a creation stage which is relatively free and dependent beyond the current artistic mechanism which is occupied by the fights among various kinds of capital and academic powers, and endows the young artists the rights to amuse themselves, and to enjoy the happiness of creating through art.

As two interesting self-organizations, Xionghuang Group and Forget art Group are composed by artists. With clear guiding principles and objects, they mainly invite other artists to create works according to the projects conducted by them, and their projects bear much clearer artistic ideas and attitudes. Such projects as Pride and The End of the Earth by Xionghuang Group are not exhibited in formal artistic institutes, nor do they have fixed exhibition places or time limits. Even the conductors themselves give up the rights to know and judge the list of woks by the artists, and make the artists to participate freely and be in charge of their own works. Obviously, the series of projects they conducted go right in opposite with the art exhibition forms and mechanisms of current contemporary art which has certain organizations, commercial or academic purposes and curation mechanisms. Just as its name suggests, Forget art Group bears the same conducting idea, which is to forget art, or perhaps for getting art. Besides its thinking in its project Longquan Scouring Bath on problems like the definition of contemporary art, the possibility of artistic boundary and the relationship between art and society, which Xionghuang Group considered as well, Forget art Group also questions those artistic works which crave for ambition in greatness, stimulus to the sense organs, extravagance and wastefulness in both material and spirit in this period of contemporary art’s fast commercialization. It emphasizes an aesthetic attitude of slight interference, minimum, low profile and temperance in life. In a sense, the artists in Forget art Group could be regarded as the advocators in contemporary art field to practice thrift and protect environment in art.

Due to a social event in which a well-known enterprise decided to build a large-scale estate project in the East Lake Scenic Spot of Wuhan, the architects Li Juchuan and the artist Li Yu in Wuhan launched Everybody’s East Lake Art Project. If accomplished, this estate project is vey likely to occupy a large part of the shore and water surface of the East Lake, or even stuff a part of the lake. Thus, it arouses the attention of the Wuhan citizens to care about the future of the East Lake. Proposed under this background and delivered through internet and friends, this art project is open to anyone as long as he does not produce any piece of work to do damage to the environment. In the interview of the initiators, they mention that the point of the art project is not to create artistic works, but to launch a common activity in the form of art. They believe that though the form of art does not aim to solve problems in reality, but it can expose the real problems, conflicts and plights, which is also a kind of resistance. The question that whether a certain space to discuss public issues could be created through artistic activities, or whether every individual could create a place he needs in a city which is constructed by various political and economic powers, needs thinking by everyone in this Everybody’s East Lake Art Project. Actually, this art project is right beyond the discussion of art, but points to those questions like the relationship between art and society, and the influence that art exerts on society. To be specific, it even goes beyond the questions above, and points to the social problems. Not being a project with an aim for art, Everybody’s East Lake Art Project appears in the era when consumerism is prevalent in the artistic field, and calls attention to the importance of the spirit of the gadfly in the artists.

Apart from the self-organizations mentioned above, there exist many other artistic groups, organizations, projects and exhibitions spontaneously conducted by artists who remain to be active and catch a lot of attention in this period, such as Social Youth, the series of projects launched by Waza Group. Though different, the self-organizations attempt to build an open spiritual stage which breaks the difference between professionals, and professional and non-professionals, and to stimulate the communication between art and other artistic fields and social fields; which reflect on current artistic communication, exhibition, reception and value judgment; and which make efforts to protect the independent spirit and critical spirit of art.The birth and activities of these self-organizations in a sense implicate the basic appeal to the independent artistic spirit in current commercialize art.

By Yan Shuli
October 2010

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