Jul 2
Global Times | June 09, 2011 10:16
http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/660708/An-Absence-of-Art.aspx
By Lin Kan Hsuang

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Is something missing from your life – and do you know what it is? Nine artists unravel their understanding and interpretations of everyday 'absence' until July 3, at Alibi, a group exhibition at the Linda Gallery, 798 Art District in Beijing.

The Global Times spoke to curator Wang Yifei about how the artists interpreted the idea. First, she explained, absence can be viewed as a "general situation of apathy, loneliness and isolation." Alternatively, it might be about one's own absence from a preferable situation: an incessant yearning to escape a constant reality. Third, there's a doubt about our being, a "question mark over space and time."

By the entrance protrudes a branch on a spring. The artist, Yang Xinguang, was inspired by his experience climbing a mountain. To enter the gallery, visitors have to either push the branch away to clear a path or make a detour.

"The attitude of both accepting and escaping from the disturbance embodies our resistance against something that should have not shown up in our lives," Yang explained.

"Even if you've cleared the way and moved into the gallery, you may still be bothered by the branch bouncing back," Wang said, laughing. "Pretty annoying."

Transience

Inside, you'll find a wall stocked with hundreds of half-eggshells, inside each of which has been written dense and repetitive English vocabulary. Looking for Sense of Security is about artist Liu Ren's complicated feelings about the language as a required course in his past educational experience.

"I hoped to learn this international common language well, so as to be competitive enough, but I realized its importance too late. My alternative choice is to learn English by means of art," Liu said. "The English vocabulary represented within has been sublimated from being a mere communicative tool to a cultural feature."

Wang interpreted Looking for Sense of Security as being about an absence of both study and life. "The eggs originally bear life; now, a cultural media."

Another of Liu's works, Back to Ashes, an aluminum lunch box filled with eggshell debris, is more nihilistic.

"A living man can disappear in a blink, together with all his sentiments. Consequently, what he thinks important is no longer meaningful, just like the words in the shells. No matter how significant the messages were, time will at last dissolve all existing things," Liu explained.

Besides Liu's artworks, there are 10 oil paintings, five each by Sun Daliang and Shi Wenfei, Role, a video installation by Li Ming, Tian Yu's multi-material Shield Position and Li Wei's action-art video 22 min, 55 sec.

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Wu Xiaojun's work, based on Saddam Hussein's last words.

Forget about art

In a separate space with a white neon-light fascia is the Forget Art Fair, a specifically showcased "mini-fair" at the center of the gallery.

"It is a mini-sized art fair with only one booth," Wang said. "Which tries to extend the conception and function of traditional art fairs in a limited area.

"Contemporary Chinese art strongly requires the platform of commercial galleries. Forget Art Fair not only represents this status quo but attempts to blur the boundaries between commercial intervention and experimental presentation," she continued.

Forget Art is a group comprising several dynamic young artists. Based in Beijing since 2009, it has successfully participated in two exhibitions.

"We are trying to develop work which is not easy to categorize. With a strategy of 'urban nomad tactics,' we are attempting to redefine spaces and locations," said founder Ma Yongfeng.

Seven artworks are showcased at Forget's Linda exhibition, including Alessandro Rolandi's One, Huang Jia's January 2011 and February 2011, Ma Yongfeng's Transparency is Wrong, Wu Xiaojun's Don't be Afraid and Yang Jian's Want to Leave, using materials from oil-on-canvas and stainless steel to 3D animation, neon lights, synthetic glass and LEDs.

"Wu Xiaojun is an important figure in the conceptual photography movement of the 1990s, when he fabricated fictional cartoon figures and scenarios," art critic Carol Yinghua Lu said.

Lu was one of five judges at the recent Golden Lion Prize in the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy, and the only Chinese curator of the 2012 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea.

Wu's Don't be Afraid features a heart-shaped object from which blood vessels made of thin red-neon lights extends, shaping the letters of Saddam Hussein's last three words before his execution in December 2006 – and the title of the work.

"Since 2000, Wu has shifted the focus of his practice toward making site-specific neon-light installations, often involving texts and words, to comment on political and social events," Lu noted.

"Based on his previous experience as a news editor, Wu is able to place an event that has taken place or is happening, in a logical perspective and a larger historical context.

"Even though what motivates his creativity is always a single specific aspect of an event, the process of thinking in between, which originates from a humanistic viewpoint and sensitivity, has enriched his artworks and made them thought-provoking."
Jun 23
from ArtSlant,Posted by ArtSlant Team on 29-05
http://www.artslant.com/cn/articles/show/23594

forget art is a loose artist collective, based in Beijing, and initiated in 2009 by Chinese artist Ma Yongfeng. They focus on intervention-based work, often with a touch of the absurd, promoting small-scale, subtle disturbances in the fabric of society, which they describe as their "social micro-practice."

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As they work by and large outside of recognised gallery spaces, the creation and value of social space has become an important material for forget art. This keys into the long history of nomadism, with particular attention to the local experience in China and its mass population of migrant workers, as well as the international development of the itinerant white-collar worker. So in forget art’s “situations” ambivalence towards the fixed location comes through, feeding into their approach to production and presentation, and their feeling that sometimes it is necessary to "forget" in order to proceed. As Ma quips “That’s also why we don’t need any space – because we 'forget art,' why do we need any space to do this?!”

forget art made its first appearance at the Dragon Fountain Bathhouse in September of last year, with a group show inserting a collection of minimal works into a temporarily détourned bathhouse in Beijing’s Caochangdi Art Village.

The works appeared as small situations expanding on the idea of an artwork, but always with a standpoint somewhere between the object and the situation. The light touches of the pieces infused the rooms without overly asserting their presence or nature, with male and female areas open to all for a few hours only. At the time Ma explained to me that, “An ‘object’ is just this thing [indicating a cup], but if we draw a circle around it, it’s an expanded object, developed, and it becomes a situation. But we don’t want it to become bigger and bigger, we’re just in the middle, in-between.”

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This sensibility has laid the groundwork for forget art’s Guerrilla Living Syndrome (created by Ma Yongfeng, Yang Xinguang and Wu Xiaojun) that began last month. Guerrilla Living Syndrome will be a series of projects continuing to attend to these subtle displacements of spatial and social constructions but applying to wider forms of subject matter. As the name suggests, all the sub-projects will build up to a renegotiation of our social relations based on lived space.

A starting point for this new project is the effect of the Hukou system on life in China. A Hukou is a residence permit, which gives you rights in the area it applies to. While not preventing you from moving around, as it did in the past, a Hukou makes things like healthcare more convenient in its area; treatment for serious health issues can only be received in your Hukou.

Although certainly not as draconian as it used to be, the Hukou system represents a strong tie to a “home” area. The psychological and practical issues of accommodation outside of your area become an issue, so the first Guerrilla Living Syndrome project, Youth Apartment Exchange Project (YAEP), picks up on the issues of nomadism seen in the previous projects while providing practical accommodation possibilities for the participants. As Ma says: “People move many times in their lives, and there are also a lot of temporary spaces in the city – Starbucks, hotels, restaurants. We want all spaces to become temporary.”

On a practical level YAEP takes the form of a social website that allows participants to find others who want to exchange residences, and then to share the experience and stories behind the exchange back on the site. The site is not just for apartment swapping though -- anything can be shared through this open barter system forget art have constructed.

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One effect of this new system is to bring people together, promoting social interaction through exchange. Ma worries about the contemporary tendency of people to live their lives online, weakening real world social bonds. As Japan has its otaku, China has its zhainan (宅男) and shengnu (剩女), recognised as potential problems for the development of society. YAEP addresses this by providing an arena for real-world socialisation through the exchange format, in what Ma characterises as “from Facebook to face-to-face.”

When I put it to Ma that in practice exchanging apartments would perhaps not be easy for many people, he was pragmatic about the issues involved, and also pointed out the part traditional Confucian family values will play on participation. These emphasise your family as your top priority while those outside of it are seen as less important or trustworthy. This background will make exchange with strangers difficult for many people, so to begin with, the project will bring existing friends together to exchange with each other.

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These social barriers are what this project seeks to address with its interventions, which forget art see as a route to adjusting society as a whole: "Chinese civil society is not like Western civil society. [Chinese society] can be very cold and selfish… We want to make our projects the starting point to let people accept their value as a citizen, to care about strangers, to care about society, about social responsibility. This is not an art project: it’s a social thing."

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Reflecting the nomadic ways of life, YAEP represents alternative living practices, and although Ma recognises this is “a very utopian way of thinking about society in the future,” nevertheless he feels that taking a lesson from art practice can provide new possibilities in the wider field:

“In the art world we talk about alternative strategies, but we can expand this to everyday life. In the traditional Beijing hutongs we have shared toilets in every alley; it’s more sociable (but maybe less convenient). But modern life says that having a toilet in your house is the only acceptable value, but that way of thinking is very much like what Marcuse addresses in ‘One-Dimensional Man.’ We want this society to have many different values of living, not just one.”
Appropriately, this is a long-term project for forget art which they see lasting ten years (or more), and the results very much depend on circumstances; Ma is happy to leave that aspect of the project open: “China has a very sophisticated society, so the results of this are really unknown.”

Starting from the minimal roots of the Dragon Fountain Bathhouse project, Guerrilla Living Syndrome shows that the approach of forget art will always be subtle but with grand aspirations: “We want to make a very small change – to find that critical point, where we can try and get some more interesting things to appear.”

-- Edward Sanderson

(*Images: Kevin Cyr, Camper Bike, 2008.  Han Wuzhou, Sofa Cart, 2011. Courtesy of the artists and forget art.)
Jun 23
北京的林大艺术中心青年艺术家联展开幕

来自:ARTFORUM  http://artforum.com.cn/diary/3645
2011.06.13

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与往日没有特别不同,只是今天Gmail彻底打不开、马路上警车特别多,不过策展人王一妃表示展览标题不在场“只是一种巧合,并没有预先的设计;不在场其实源于我个人的一种状态,在人群之中总有一种不在其中的感觉。”对于一个85后年轻策展人的第一个展览,今天的开幕人气很旺,碰到了很多年轻艺术家和画廊同行,朱朱、Josef Ng、张一舟、王贝莉等多位中青年策展人也都来到“不在场”。

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一进画廊门口先被一根底部安有弹簧的树枝横向挡住, 看着现场观众如何“穿过” 杨心广的作品《有弹簧的树枝》而进去展厅,你可以看到面对无法选择的情况时,人们如何表现。有的人把它压下去,导致树枝反弹回来会打到后面的人;有的钻过去,有的把它抬起来再轻轻放下,而大部分人是绕过树枝进入展厅。在中国,我们太熟悉这种“怕惹麻烦,绕路而行”的感觉。杨心广站在树枝附近,顶着两个小尖犄角像个“小恶魔”看着大家,这是他和艺术家杨健为今天展览特意剃的发型,我问他为什么,杨心广说“你看我这样有点奇怪是吧?对了!我就是想让来的人看着不顺眼、不舒服”,这个直接、干预性很强的作品给人留下印象很深。

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进到展厅首先看到的是位于中间的一个“大白盒子”,这是“Forget Art Fair”的摊位,项目策划人马永峰热情给大家介绍:“这是一个迷你“巴塞尔”艺术博览会,这次空降到商业画廊的空间里,是脱离商业艺博会的一种尝试”。 当被问道:“那你这次选择在一个商业画廊里做这个作品到底能体现出与商业艺术博览会的什么不同呢”,他回答:“如果艺术家不和画廊合作,还可以和Forget Art Fair合作”。这次带来的5件作品都是看上去“不好卖的”,除了一幅油画,其它都是装置和录像作品(李山《One》,马永峰《透明是错误的》,吴小军《不要害怕》,杨健《想要离开》)。 马永峰还说“Forget Art Fair刚开始会和画廊合作,之后也计划在美术馆、非营利空间等不同场所展出,希望能探索出一种新的展出、销售模式”,马永峰在现场也充当起“销售总监”,给每位来宾介绍作品,如果再放一个桌子、加一个销售小姐,感觉上会更像艺博会现场;他打趣的说“我今天绝食一天,用饥饿证明我存在着”。林大画廊老板Linda女士听完马永峰的介绍后笑着说“真是为国争光啊!”。

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转过他的“白盒子”进到展厅深处,过道边凌乱地堆着一些人形硬纸片,前面空空的地上画有不规则的人形线条,好像犯罪现场,这是黎薇的作品《22分55秒》,现场的20位观众参与完成了这件作品,他们随意倒在地上铺着的硬纸版上,黎薇依照人形画下边缘线,再按照这个形状剪下来,他希望大家不要“正常躺下”,而是“想象你摔了一个大跟头跌倒或是死亡之后失去意识时的身体形态”,因为人在面临突如其来的打击时状态是非常不一样的。黎薇把从一个整体割裂出来的一个个人形纸板抱走、扔到墙角,再抱走、扔掉,最后一摞人形纸板堆满了墙角,而展厅的地板上留下的是空的“不在场”的人形线条,整个过程冷静而不煽情。有的观众走过时问“这可以踩么”,黎薇幽默的回答“这是地,当然可以踩”,由于颜料没有干,观众走来走去的同时也会破模糊、破坏掉之前画好的人形,脚印会越来越多。“我们每个人生活中都有一种惯性和既定的思维模式,看展览时也会有一些既定的观看模式,在我这儿您随便,”黎薇边说边去和朋友们打招呼去了。

当天黎薇这个现场作品引起一些讨论,无论你联想到什么事情,艺术家关注的核心是人与人之间的爱与温度,是对人与人之间的关系,没有大教条和口号,根源上都是在讲“人”的事。当代唐人艺术中心策展部负责人王贝莉边看作品边和我说“其实他的作品里也体现了一种关系美学,过程是重要的,而结果反倒不重要了”。

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田宇的装置作品《盾阵》矗立在黎薇作品旁边的角落里,乍看上去像是巷战时搭建的防御工程,一个巨型白色海胆浑身是刺不让靠近;作品全部由我们熟悉的九年义务制教育课本撕碎后拼接而成,艺术家说他想表现的是“这代人进入社会的进攻与防守”;突然响起的防空警报打破了展厅的安静,观众顺着声音可以找到李明专为这次展览创作的《婚礼》,每9分钟响起的防空警报和画面上结婚的场面交替产生了一种荒诞的感觉。史文飞和孙大量的油画布置得像舞台剧,在画廊出口的两边,大飞的作品是在一个“私人空间”里,布展上特意选取了这个半封闭的空间,光从一面墙上的小洞渗透进来,可以偷窥也可以走进去;孙大量的小画排成一溜躺在黑色的幕布上。

经过刘任的作品《归于尘》,走出展厅。门外,是一大帮年轻艺术家热烈的声音。“我们所看到的真相未必为真相。但以不在场为证明,恰巧说明了某种潜在意义上的暗合。”

— 文/ 窦子

Jun 23
by Edward Sanderson
from ArtSlant http://www.artslant.com/cn/articles/show/23823

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Alibi
Group Exhibition
Linda Gallery Beijing
No.2 Jiu XianQiao Road, 798 Art District,
ChaoYang District, 100015 Beijing, China
2011 June 04 – 2011 July 03


“Alibi,” the title in English of this group show at Linda Gallery in Beijing’s 798 Art District, seems so much more evocative than the Chinese title (不在场), which the essay by curator Wang Yifei translates as “Being Absent.” Although the adherence to the title seems a little weak at times, this show presents artists working with an absence of some sort. That being a very broad subject, the results take many forms and directions and overall the show brings together an interesting selection of works with some standout pieces.

Unsurprisingly, given where we are, the curator’s text does not delve too far into any of the contemporary social realities of “being absent,” describing it in general terms as “like a conspiracy, an escape or a way of self-liberation.” To me this places the focus more on an individual’s agency in the matter and less on absence as a result of outside circumstances. The text also proposes that: “In the contemporary art field nowadays, many artists have established their independent and mature styles of expression without any limit to the subject material.” This statement seems somewhat disingenuous. The show opened on a particularly significant day, a fact that some of the exhibiting artists were obviously well aware of, but would have been unwise to attempt to deal with directly. But there is little point dwelling on such matters, as they simply reflect the facts of working in this environment, to which I recognise I am equally beholden as I can only obliquely refer to their meaning.

Stretching across the entrance to the gallery, a long tree branch attached to the wall by a spring forces visitors to divert around or push it aside to make their entry. This piece by Yang Xinguang abstracts an experience of hiking through woods, pushing aside branches to make your way, suggesting for the curator the activity of escape from one place to another. As simple as it is, the piece has a strong effect in its evocation of the thoughtless gesture of moving through an environment far from the controlled environment of the gallery space.

Wrapping around the main wall in front of this, Liu Ren’s Searching for a sense of security is a series of thin shelves carrying around 4,000 empty eggshells, inside each of which is handwritten vocabulary from the artist’s attempts to learn English. This mass of shells arranged in their rows are overwhelming in serial nature, their combined fragility, and the sheer amount of potential learning held on their inside surface. The shells hold their information so tentatively in the emptied casings that there is always the possibility of breakage and the loss of meaning.

Perhaps the most literal demonstration of “Being Absent” is Li Wei’s painted outlines of bodies on the floor – as if evidence of some mass killing. Painted in mustard-coloured oil paint just prior to the opening, these took several hours to dry, with the outlines becoming increasingly vague and disturbed by the steps of the visitors. Li commented that this process reflected the fact that there are certain events for which the evidence may disappear, but the memory will not.

In amongst all this an additional structure has been built, mimicking the booths that appear in art fairs around the world. This serves as the setting for Ma Yongfeng’s forget art fair that takes place within the gallery for the duration of the show. Ma is known for his critical and irreverent approach to art institutions and in this case he has followed the conventions of the international art fair circuit and created his own distinct sales space, acting as a show within “Alibi.” His curated show within a curated show perhaps marks the presence in their absence of curators themselves, hovering over their shows while attempting not to overshadow them (a delicate balancing act which only the best pull off).

Works inside Ma’s “fair” include the minimal white canvases of Huang Jia, who adds ridges of stitching to their featureless painted surfaces; Alessandro Rolandi’s unassuming bamboo cane made from polished stainless steel leans up against the corner of the space; and a nice work by Yang Jian of an old armchair supporting a semi-circular section of LED signage. This sign displays a continuous moving text announcing: “… Huang Lei, male, wants to leave – Chen Xiaoxia, female, wants to leave…” etc. For me this piece presented the most appropriate, sensitive and poetic response to the theme of the show. This scrolling sign arches above the absent human form in the armchair, announcing the rather sad and impotent longings of many people to simply – leave.

(All images courtesy of Linda Gallery and the arist.)
May 23
On the Curatorship
论策展

作者: Boris Groys
翻译:杜可柯


策展人的工作是把艺术品放入展览空间。他和艺术家的不同之处在于艺术家拥有将之前未获得艺术品地位的物体变成艺术品的特权。在这种情况下,非艺术品正是通过被放到展览空间获取了艺术品的地位。杜尚把小便器拿出来展示,这时的他不是策展人,而是艺术家,因为他把小便器放到展览框架下展示的决定使小便器变成了艺术品。策展人没有这样的机会。策展人当然可以展示小便器,但他只能展示杜尚的小便器——也就是说,已经获得艺术品地位的小便器。策展人也可以展示一个没有签名、未被承认为艺术品的小便器,但这样的话,他所展示之物就只能用来说明某个时期欧洲设计的风格,为正式展出的艺术品提供“语境”,或完成其他附属使命。这个小便器绝对不可能获得艺术品的地位——展览结束后,它会回到原来的地方,而不能进入美术馆收藏。策展人可以展示,但他没有通过展示行为把非艺术变成艺术的点金魔力。按照目前通行的文化惯例,这种魔力只属于艺术家。

但事实并非从来如此。最初,艺术之所以成为艺术是由策展人,而不是艺术家决定的。第一批美术馆诞生于十九世纪初,经过整个十九世纪一百年的革命、战争、帝国主义侵略和对非欧洲文化的掠夺逐渐成熟。之前用于各类宗教仪式,装点掌权人士房间或展现个人财富的“美丽的”实用物品被收集到一起,并作为艺术品展示——即去除了功能性、独立的纯粹沉思对象。管理这些美术馆的策展人通过对传统宗教或权力偶像圣物的破坏“创造”了艺术,把这些象征性的偶像符号削减为单纯的艺术作品。艺术最初就“只是”艺术。这种如此所是的艺术品概念根植于欧洲启蒙运动传统。启蒙运动将所有宗教偶像通通视为“世俗之物”——艺术只是美丽的东西,只是艺术品。那么接下来的问题就是,为什么策展人会失去这种通过展览行为创造艺术的力量,为什么这种力量现在移交到了艺术家手里?

答案显而易见:杜尚展示小便器并不是像以前美术馆策展人所做的那样在破坏一个神圣偶像的价值;相反,他将一件批量生产的日常用品提升到了艺术品的位置。这样一来,展览在象征经济中的角色发生了改变。之前是借去除圣物的价值来生产艺术;如今是赋予俗物以价值来创造艺术。最早的偶像破坏变成偶像狂热(或图像狂热)。但这一象征经济图景中的转变早在十九世纪就已在当时的策展人和艺评家努力下启动。

每个展览都通过按照某一特定顺序引导观众观看来讲述故事;展览空间始终是一个叙述空间。传统意义上的美术馆讲述了艺术兴起以及后来取得胜利的故事。单件作品按年份记录这个故事——借此它们失去了之前的宗教或代表意义,转而获得新生。一旦美术馆成为新的膜拜之地,艺术家就开始专门针对美术馆工作:我们不再需要削减具有历史意义物品的价值以使其成为艺术。相反,全新的日常俗物开始排队要求被承认为艺术品,因为据说它们包含着艺术价值。这些物品没有前史;它们从未经过宗教或权力的合法化,至多只能将其视为“简单日常生活”的标志,价值也不确定。因此,它们被写入艺术史就意味着价值的赋予,而非消除。所以,美术馆也就从启蒙运动时期的偶像破坏之地变成浪漫的偶像狂热场所。把一个物品作为艺术品展示不再是对原物的亵渎,而是对其的圣化。当杜尚明确无误地让我们看到把普通物品标上艺术标签从而为原物添上光环的偶像狂热机制时,他不过是把这一转变引向其最终结论而已。

这些年来,现代艺术家开始强调艺术完全的独立性,不仅独立于其神圣的前历史,也独立于艺术史之外,因为任何将图像纳入故事的行为,任何为了阐明特定叙事对图像的挪用都是偶像破坏性质的,即便这个故事讲的是图像的胜利、转变或神化。按照现代艺术的传统,图像必须能为自己说话;必须能立即说服在它面前默默沉思的观众相信其自身价值。展示作品的环境应该缩减到白墙加上良好的照明就行。就连最肯定的话语、对作品最有利的展示都被认为是扭曲了艺术品本身的含义。结果,即便在杜尚之后,把任何物品当作艺术品展示的做法仍然暧昧性十足,既具备偶像狂热特质,又带有偶像破坏色彩。

策展人不得不为艺术作品寻找位置,提供背景,铺设叙事,从而也就导致了作品的相对化。因此,现代艺术家开始谴责策展人,因为策展人的角色被认为是代表了展览实践中黑暗、危险、偶像破坏的一面,对于通过展示创造艺术的艺术家来说,无异于具有破坏力的幽灵:美术馆常常被比作墓地,策展人就是入殓师。借助此类伪装成机构批判的攻击,艺术家成功地赢得了公众的支持,因为人民大众不熟悉艺术史,甚至连听都不想听。公众希望直接面对单件作品,接受它们未经中介调和的冲击。公众坚信单件艺术作品具有独立的意义,而且认为这个意义就摆在他们眼前。策展人所做的所有中介工作都值得怀疑:他被看作是站在艺术作品与观众之间的那个人,偷偷操控着观众对作品的认知,意在卸除公众的权力。这就是为什么在大众眼里,艺术市场比美术馆更有趣。在市场上流通的艺术作品被单独隔离出来,去掉语境,没有经过任何策划,所以有机会更加纯粹地展现自身内在价值。结果,艺术市场成为了马克思所谓商品拜物教的极端例证,也就是说人人都相信价值内在于物品本身,价值是物品固有的属性。由此开启了策展人的苦难岁月——现代艺术的时代。尽管如此,策展人还是通过将这种趋势国际化安然度过了他们的贬黜期。

时至今日,我们仍然听到很多策展人说他们只有一个目标,那就是为单件作品提供最有利的展示环境。换句话说,最好的策展就是零策展或非策展。从这个角度来看,最好的解决方式是不对艺术品进行任何干涉,使观众能直接面对作品。然而,就此目标而言,哪怕久负盛名的白立方也有不尽人意之处。观众常常得到下述建议:把自己完全从作品所在的空间环境里抽离出来,全身心投入到沉思中,忘了世界,也忘了自己。只有在这种超越任何策划行为的条件下,观众与艺术品的接触才被认为是真实而且成功的。但另一个不争的事实是,如果艺术品不被展示,这种沉思也无从发生。吉奥乔•阿甘本曾经写道:“图像是一种存在,其本质是表象、可见性或外观。”但这一有关艺术品本质的定义并不足以保证某件具体作品的可见性。事实上,一件艺术作品无法仅凭自身定义展现自身并使观众进入沉思;它缺少必要的活力、能量和健康。艺术作品看上去似乎真是病恹恹地无助——观众必须被引导到作品面前,就像医护工作者引导看望的人来到病人的病床前一样。实际上,“策展人”(curator)与“治疗”(cure)在词源上相关并非巧合。策展就是治疗。策展的过程疗救了图像的无力症,治愈了它无力展现自身的痼疾。艺术品需要外在的帮助,需要借助展览和策展人变得可见。让害了病的图像恢复健康,让图像真正呈现并以最好的状态呈现,有如此效力的良药就是展览。就这方面而言,既然图像狂热依赖于看上去健康强壮的图像,那么策展实践在某种程度上就是图像狂热症的仆从。

但同时,策展活动对图像狂热症也有破坏作用,因为其治疗的人工痕迹不可能从观众眼前完全抹去。就此而言,尽管总体设计带有图像狂热倾向,策展工作仍然在无意间保持了偶像破坏之力。的确,策展是一种附加或一种“药”(pharmacon,按德里达用法[有“是药三分毒”的意思]),在治疗图像的同时也为图像带来疾患。策展和普遍意义上的艺术一样,不可避免地同时具有偶像(图像)狂热和偶像(图像)破坏两种倾向。但这一断言提出了一个问题:什么才是正确的策展实践?既然策展活动无法彻底隐蔽自身,策展的主要目标就必须是通过把策展工作变得直接可见,让自身视觉化。实际上,艺术就是由视觉化的意志构成并驱动。置身于艺术语境内部的策展实践不可能回避可见性的逻辑。策展工作的视觉化要求同时调动其偶像破坏的潜能。当然,当代偶像破坏行动的主要目标可以也应当是艺术自身,而不是宗教偶像。通过把艺术品放入一个受到控制的环境,放入由其他经过精心挑选的物品所构成的背景,最重要的是将其植入某段具体的叙事,策展人做出的是一个偶像破坏的姿态。如果这一姿态足够明了,策展工作就回到了其世俗的起点,经受住艺术向艺术宗教转变的考验,成为一种艺术无神论的表达。艺术物神化浪潮的发生地在美术馆之外,也就是说在策展人传统地盘之外。如今艺术品变成受人崇拜的偶像,不是因为在美术馆的展览,而是因为在艺术市场和大众媒体中的流通。在这种情况下,对艺术品的策划标志着向历史回归,把独立自足的艺术作品变回一种图示——这种图示的价值不内在于自身,而外在于一种历史叙事。

奥尔罕•帕慕克的小说《我的名字叫红》讲述了一群希望在一个偶像破坏的文化(十六世纪的土耳其)中为艺术谋求一席之地的艺术家的故事。这些细密画师受掌权人士委托,为书籍制作插画;之后这些书便进入政府或私人收藏。画师们不仅不断遭到希望禁止一切图像的激进伊斯兰教(偶像破坏)支持者迫害,还要跟文艺复兴时期的西方画家(主要是威尼斯画家)竞争,后者公开表明了他们对图像的热爱。但小说的主人公们并不赞同这种图像狂热,因为他们不相信图像具有独立性。所以,他们努力尝试找到一种方法,即能忠实于偶像破坏的立场,又不致取消艺术的领地。书中一位土耳其苏丹关于艺术的理论实际为当代策展实践提出了绝佳的建议:

脱离故事的插图最终会变成一个虚假的偶像。因为我们不可能相信一个缺席的故事,所以自然就会开始相信图像本身。这和古时候人们在中央神殿进行的偶像崇拜没什么两样,后来我们背负着安拉的祝福与和平的先知下令将其毁灭⋯⋯如果我相信(上天禁止)这些不信教者所做的一切,相信先知耶稣就是安拉本身⋯⋯只有那时,我才可能接受对人类形象纤毫毕现的描绘以及对此类图像的展示。你应该明白,最终,我们将开始不假思索地崇拜挂在墙上的任何图像,不是吗?

强烈的偶像破坏倾向和潮流在基督教西方自然也能找到,尤其是二十世纪现代艺术。的确,大部分现代艺术都是借由偶像破坏诞生的。实际上,前卫艺术以图像的受难代替了基督教中受难的图像。前卫艺术让传统绘画经受了各种折磨,令人首先想到中世纪绘画中圣徒接受的磨难。因此,图像在象征层面和实际层面上被锯断、切割、粉碎、钻孔、刺穿、拖进尘土,饱受嘲弄。历史上的前卫派反复使用偶像破坏的语言也就不足为奇:前卫艺术家说要拆毁传统,打破常规,破坏他们的艺术遗产,消灭一切旧价值。此处的偶像破坏姿态是一种艺术手段,与其说是为了消灭旧偶像,不如说是为了生产新图像——或者新符号和新偶像。我们偶像破坏的想象力经过基督教传统长期打磨,会毫不犹豫地从失败的图像中读取胜利,正如十字架上的基督这一图像所描绘的那样。实际上,此处的失败从一开始就是胜利。把偶像破坏作为一种生产模式让现代艺术获益匪浅。

的确,通观整个现代主义时期,无论哪个具有偶像破坏性质的图像,只要做出来挂上墙,或进入展览空间,都会变成另一个偶像。原因再清楚不过:现代艺术花了特别大的心思在反抗图像的解说和叙事功能上。这种反抗的结果映证了苏丹的预言。现代艺术希望去除所有外在杂质,对图像进行提纯,使图像自立自足——但这样做不过是巩固了占主导地位的图像狂热症。于是,偶像破坏屈从于偶像狂热:图像象征性的受难只不过加强了我们对它的信仰。

苏丹提出的更温和的偶像破坏策略——让图像回归图示——实际更有效。至少从马格利特以来,我们就已经知道,当我们看到烟斗的图像时,我们看的不是一支真正的烟斗,而是再现的图像。烟斗本身并不在场;相反,图像描绘了它的缺席。尽管如此,我们看一件艺术作品时,仍然倾向于相信眼前的东西就直接是“艺术”。我们把艺术品看作艺术的化身。艺术与非艺术的著名区分基本上被理解为艺术栖身并驱动的物品与艺术缺席的物品之间的区别。就这样,艺术作品变成了艺术的偶像,和宗教图像被认为是神栖居或驱动之物是一个道理。

另一方面,艺术无神论则意味着不把艺术作品看成艺术的化身,而只是艺术的记录、说明或能指。它们可以指涉艺术,但本身并不是艺术。自上世纪六十年代以来,许多艺术家都多多少少践行了这种策略。艺术项目、行为和行动经常被记录,再通过这一记录进入展览空间和美术馆展示。但这种记录文献仅仅指涉艺术,自身并不成其为艺术。此类文献常出现在艺术装置的框架下,旨在讲述某个项目或行动。按照传统手法制作的绘画、艺术品、照片或录像也可以放进这样的装置。这时候,艺术品失去了之前的艺术地位,而变成了文献,变成装置所讲述故事的图示说明。我们可以说,今天的艺术观众越来越频繁地遇到艺术文献,这些文献提供有关艺术作品(无论是艺术项目还是艺术行动)的信息,同时也强调了艺术作品的不在场。

但就连图示性和叙事性也已成功地进入了艺术殿堂,可是这并不意味着艺术无神论自动取得了胜利。即便艺术家失去了信仰,他“点石成金”的魔力并未随之消失,就好比天主教牧师失去信仰并不会使他所主持的宗教仪式失效。与此同时,装置本身被赋予了艺术的地位:装置已成为一种众人接受的艺术形式,而且在当代艺术中扮演着日趋重要的角色。所以,单个图像和物品丢掉的独立地位被整个装置给全盘赚了回来。1973年,马塞尔•布达埃尔(Marcel Broodthaers)在杜塞尔多夫美术馆展出他的《现代美术馆,鹰之部》时,在装置里每个物品旁边都加上了“这不是一件艺术品”的标签。但整个装置却合情合理地作为艺术品成立。

此处,在当代艺术领域日益重要的独立策展人开始发挥作用。说到底,独立策展人做的事就是当代艺术家做的事。独立策展人全世界到处跑,组织可与艺术装置相比的展览——两者具有可比性是因为这些展览是个体策划项目、决定和行动的结果。在这些展览/装置中呈现的艺术作品起到了记录一个策展项目的作用。但这些策展项目绝不患图像狂热症;它们不以颂扬图像的独立价值为目标。

2003年,第五十届威尼斯双年展上由Molly Nesbit, Hans- Ulrich Obrist和Rirkrit Tiravanija共同策划的“乌托邦站”便是很好一例。围绕这个项目的批评和公共讨论主要强调了乌托邦这一概念是否仍然具有相关性;策展人提出的乌托邦理想是否真应被认为如此等问题。但对我来说,一个带有明显偶像破坏倾向的策展项目能够进入历史最悠久的国际艺术大展这一事实似乎比上述考量更加重要。说它带有偶像破坏倾向是因为展览把艺术品当成图示和文献来用,用以寻找一个社会乌托邦,而没有强调作品的独立价值。这种方式与俄国经典前卫艺术激进的偶像破坏做法一致,后者也把艺术视为文献,记录了对“新人”和“新生活”的寻找过程。但最重要的一点还在于,“乌托邦站”是一个策展项目,而非艺术项目。这就意味着我们无法向其分配艺术价值,因而也不能借此使其偶像破坏姿态失效。但我们仍然可以认为,该项目是对乌托邦概念的妄用,因为展览把乌托邦的概念审美化,并将其置于一种精英主义的艺术语境内。同样,我们也可以说该项目是对艺术的妄用:艺术变成了策展人乌托邦理想的图解工具。因此,在上述两种情况下,观众都必须面对某种歪曲——无论是艺术造成的妄用,还是对艺术的妄用。但此处,妄用不过是偶像破坏的另一种说法。

独立策展人是极端世俗化的艺术家。说他是艺术家,因为他做了一个艺术家应做的所有工作。但他是一名失去了艺术家光环的艺术家,他没有魔力,不能对物品进行艺术的加冕。他不以艺术之名使用物品(包括艺术品),相反,他滥用物品,妄用物品,亵渎物品。但也正是因为如此,独立策展人的形象才这么具有吸引力,才对今日之艺术这么重要。当代策展人继承了现代艺术家的衣钵,但在他身上没有前人身上那魔法般的变形。他是艺术家,但他不信神,是“正常”得不能再正常的人。策展人是艺术的亵渎、世俗化和妄用的代理人。你当然可以说,独立策展人和之前的博物馆策展人一样,不得不依靠艺术市场,甚至对市场起到奠基作用。一件艺术品在美术馆里展出或频繁现身于独立策展人在各地组织的临时展览之后,其价值都会增加——所以,图像狂热的倾向和过去一样占了上风。你可以去理解和承认这种图像狂热——也可以选择不。

一件艺术品的市场价值并不完全契合它的叙事或历史价值。艺术品传统的“美术馆价值”和它在艺术市场上的价值从来就是两回事。一件艺术品可以做得赏心悦目,让人产生占有的欲望,但同时不具备任何历史相关性,因此与美术馆的叙事毫无联系。反过来:很多艺术品也许看似难以理解,对大众而言枯燥无味,但却在美术馆占有一席之地,因为它们“从历史角度来看是新的”或者至少与某一特定时期“相关”,所以能够被用来说明某一类型的艺术史。美术馆里的艺术品是“死的”这种广为传播的看法可以按下述认识来理解:美术馆里的艺术品失去了偶像的地位,不再是“活的”、受人崇拜的异教偶像。美术馆的偶像破坏姿态正是由这种将“活的”偶像变成“死的”艺术史图示之行为组成。因此,我们可以说,传统的美术馆策展人一直对图像做双重妄用,而且与独立策展人所做的毫无二致。一方面,美术馆里的图像被审美化,转换成艺术;另一方面,这些图像又被贬低为艺术史的图示说明,从而被剥夺了原来的艺术地位。

这种对图像的双重妄用,这种二度反复的偶像破坏姿态只是在最近才开始明确,因为独立策展人不再只关注经典艺术史,而开始讲述各自不同而且互相矛盾的故事。另外,这些故事开始通过临时展览(自身带有时间限制)呈现,同时由一些不完整且常常晦涩难懂的文献记录。本身已是双重妄用的策展项目制作展览画册,只能产生更进一步的妄用。然而,艺术作品只有作为这种多重妄用的结果才能变得可见。图像无法独立为自身的存在清场,正如海德格尔在《艺术作品的起源》中所述,其原始的可见性将被“艺术产业”搅浑并遮蔽。使艺术品变得可见的更多是此类妄用本身。
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