Oct 24


from KCET

For this week's guest editorial, Carlyn Aguilar offers her take on street art in Beijing, China, as a first-generation Mexican-American who grew up on the east side of Los Angeles. After living abroad for 10 years in London, Paris, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City, Aguilar realized that L.A. was where she wanted to be more than anywhere else.

She is currently a correspondent on Geoff Tuck's blog Notes On Looking. Carlyn received her BA in English from UCLA and her MA in Postmodernism: Literature and Contemporary Culture from the University of London. She also holds a postgraduate diploma from the London School of Journalism.

Right before leaving for China, several things were in my mind. First, the hearing of the mural ordinance had been postponed, so I witnessed the frustration of Los Angeles artists. Second, I went on a walking tour of the Arts District with the MCLA, led by Isabel Rojas-Williams, and couldn't believe that all of those incredible murals were made illegally. I also didn't realize how many international artists had come to L.A. to make murals here. That discovery made me realize how important L.A. is, not just in the world of contemporary art we find in galleries and museums, but also in the street.

I had seen Chinese artist Ma Yongfeng's work years ago at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and so I was excited to meet him and learn more about his work in Beijing. Fortunately, I was able to attend the opening of a group show he was in at the Iberia Center for Contemporary Art in Asia's biggest art district, 798 Art Zone.

Yongfeng first came to international attention with his video "The Swirl" in 2002, in which six koi fish are literally swirled around a washing machine for an entire 15-minute wash cycle. And when the water begins to drain, I can't help but hold my breath. It's a tense and powerful piece, which makes a strong statement about China and the Chinese.

However, Yongfeng told me that his work has completely changed since then. For example, in 2009 Yongfeng started Forget Art, an independent organization of ongoing projects that radically play with institutions and events (such as exhibitions, art fairs, and street performances) and become social interventions in daily life. His work now deals with the social realities that surround him in China.

Sensibility is Under Control (2012) by Ma Yongfeng  I Courtesy of the Artist
Sensibility is Under Control (2012) by Ma Yongfeng I Courtesy of the Artist


His piece in the exhibition "Bernard Controls Project" (2012) is a large spray painted stenciled graffiti on recycled cardboard that reads "SENSIBILITY IS UNDER CONTROL". The piece comes from a project that Beijing-based Italian artist Alessandro Rolandi started, in which he invites artists to "stage interventions" for a two month period at Bernard Controls Asia.

Yongfeng's statement was randomly generated from talks between the artist and employees. The signs are meant to be a reflection of the working environment and the strict procedures the workers abide by. The stenciled messages seem to act as a reinterpretation of Mao's propaganda from industrial and revolutionary times that would be painted on factory walls for workers to see.

But rather than brain washing, Yongfeng's subtle graffiti raises questions and creates creative thinking about the environment the employees are in. "People should start with low-level resistance by doing minor things that engage people around them," explained Yongfeng.

When we walked around Caochangdi, Beijing's up-and-coming art district nearby 798 Art Zone, Yongfeng took me to where he had tagged the walls in the area: "Sensibility is Under Control", "Action is Thinking" and "No Compromise". All three had already been painted over, yet the messages were still clear -- if not clearer.

Ma Yongfeng with 'Sensibility is Under Control' painted over | Photo by Daniel Lara
Ma Yongfeng with 'Sensibility is Under Control' painted over | Photo by Daniel Lara


'No Compromise' by Ma Yongfeng painted over I Photo by Daniel Lara
'No Compromise' by Ma Yongfeng painted over I Photo by Daniel Lara


Yongfeng admires the work of China's most famous dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who also lives in Caochangdi. As we walked down the street to Ai Weiwei's house and studio, surveillance cameras filmed our every move. This didn't bother Yongfeng, as he has learned to push the limit and fight against the rules and regulations that hold back citizens from freedom of expression.

Unfortunately, what I found in Yongfeng's work I could not find elsewhere in China's art scene. I noticed that most of the artworks were not challenging and hardly oppositional. But I also understood that the artists who dare speak their minds against the government are also putting themselves at risk.

We can all remember that in 2011 Ai Weiwei was taken by the police and detained for three months. Nobody knew where he was or what was happening to him. Earlier that year the international community also saw him beaten and threatened after he created "Name List of Student Earthquake Victims Found by the Citizen Investigation" in 2008. Just by creating a list of the names of children who had died in the Sichuan earthquake and making it into public artworks and installations, the Chinese government decided to crackdown on his every action.

As I walked around looking for street art, I couldn't really find it, unless it was something commissioned. The walls near 798 Art Zone seemed artificial and an imitation of the West.

But as I hiked the Great Wall I did find some graffiti that spoke out against the government. I asked my Chinese friend why someone hadn't painted over it. She said that because we were in such a remote part of the Wall the officials probably hadn't even seen it.

Wall surrounding 798 Art Zone | Photo by Daniel Lara
Wall surrounding 798 Art Zone | Photo by Daniel Lara


When I got back to L.A. I couldn't help but think about the effects the mural moratorium had on our city. But I also noticed that artists were taking huge risks and still making murals illegally in the last ten years. I can't help but reflect back to the 1930s when David Alfaro Siqueiros, exiled from Mexico, dared to paint his opposition to Western imperialism on a wall in Olvera Street. In the center, there is an image of an indigenous man hanging from a cross with an American eagle peering down. In the corner, two revolutionaries aim their rifles at the national bird. City authorities immediately covered the mural and within a year whitewashed the infamous mural "América Tropical: Oppressed and Destroyed by Imperialism." In Jesus Treviño's documentary from 1971, Siqueiros explained, "América Tropical was a land of natives, of Indians, Creoles, of African-American men, all of the invariably persecuted and harassed by their respective governments."

Now we see the tables have turned, and Siqueiros' mural has been unveiled after conservation funded by the Getty and the City. A few days later the end of the mural moratorium began. Let's hope that the same will happen in China and that works by these dissident artists will also one day be resurrected. The Chicana in me is optimistic.

--Carlyn Aguilar

Sep 13







田霏宇 (Philip Tinari,尤伦斯当代艺术中心馆长)


2001年毕业于纽约视觉艺术学院,2001年受邀参加了首届横滨国际当代艺术双年展,2004年,受邀参加悉尼双年展。其作品被许多国际重要私人藏家、美术馆及艺术机构广泛收藏,诸如:瑞士著名藏家Uli Sigg,、瑞士银行、纽约的惠特尼和大都会美术馆、纽约国际摄影中心、洛杉矶盖缇美术馆、法国蓬皮杜现代美术馆、FNAC法国国家艺术收藏、伦敦维多利亚美术馆、新加坡美术馆、中国美术馆等等。

1976年生于山西,现居北京。曾在站台中国和英国ArtSway举办过个展,主要群展包括2006年在纽约PS1当代艺术中心举办的《13:中国当代录像》。其他主要展览的地点为洛杉矶当代美术馆、波恩美术馆、南安普顿大学美术馆、都灵Fondazione Sandrettore Rebaudengo和维也纳的Kunstverein Baden。马永峰的早期的艺术实践主要是录像和摄影,现在的作品更多是关于事件和情境,他的目标是发起一系列的自我组织化的项目,寻求直接和社会相关的实践。目前正在运作的一个持续性的项目叫作Forget Art,具有灵活多变的特征,包括展览、艺博会、游击性干预、社交媒体以及街头政治的应用等等,但是马的策略在于微妙的介入到机制之中,注入新的概念和方法,并将其运用到他的社会实践和抵抗之中。

1960生于北京。1980—1985年毕业于中央美术学院雕塑系,现在德国和北京两地生活,工作。个展:1991年史地勒画廊,多特蒙得,德国;1992年城市图书馆画廊, 埃森,德国;1993年海尔里西画廊,多特蒙得,德国;1994年城市画廊,保贝克城堡,埃森;1995年德国亚洲基金会;1997年格鲁伽公园,埃森;1998年马勒现代雕塑艺术博物馆,马勒,德国;1999年该思克森国立现代艺术博物馆,德国;1999年沙芬毫森现代艺术中心,瑞士。
近年群展包括:2002年,头,沙芬毫森现代艺术中心,瑞士;2003年,左手与右手,中德艺术展,大山子艺术区(DAD, 798工厂),北京;2003年,另一种现代性,犀锐艺术中心,北京;2003年,江画廊,亚特兰大,美国;2004年,罗达利俱乐部,伯林,波茨坦;2004年,大山子国际艺术节, 大子艺术区(DAD, 798工厂),北京;2004年,亚洲现代艺术展, 博洛尼亚现代艺术博物馆, 意大利;2004年,派对-苏州河,东廊画廊,上海;2004年,奇怪, 达事乐画廊,柏林,德国;2005年,重复,乔治亚洲当代艺术博物馆,美国;2005年,大山子国际艺术节, 大子艺术区(DAD, 798工厂),北京;2005年,透明的盒子,建外SOHO,北京。




Sep 10

九月蠢事 —— Conscious Folly 

九月蠢事鈥斺 <wbr>Conscious <wbr>Folly <wbr>2012青年策展人项目


展览地址:上海 静安区 奉贤路 50号B (近石门二路)





马永峰原本已经具有某种成熟的摄影和录像艺术家面貌,2009年他发起了一个以“游击性介入”项目为基础的机构——Forget Art, 而他也开始了另一种方式的个人创作。他一方面保持业余性的创作状态,施行了一批以情境为媒介的“微干预”项目;另一方面马永峰的活动关注整体环境,具有某种独立的社会性。经过反复试验,此次,他将在上午艺术空间这个独特的地下室,为不久前发生在北京的一次灾难创造一个纪念的形式。
姜鹏无时不在推敲着“语言、主体、权力”,谈话还没开始他就要先强调一番“我”的代表者,这样谈话才会生效,往往每一次的“我”都不尽相同。没人知道他颠覆语言的权力之后语言将是什么。姜鹏还是一个两岁孩子的爸爸,在陪同孩子认知学习这个世界的过程中他越发觉察到人的主体意志的形成与“囚禁”。展览上姜鹏设计了一款文字游戏《Word Search》,在能辨识某些单词的前提下进入游戏,search行为与知识的关系将在找到答案之后被怀疑。
Aug 25
by An Xiao on August 24, 2012

“I want to feel the sun on my skin,” a slogan artist Ma Yongfeng pulled from conversations with workers at Bernard Controls Beijing.

LOS ANGELES — The image of the Chinese manufacturing plant is quickly becoming a 21st century icon of production, just as the car plants of Fordism were in the 20th century and Victorian coal mines were during the Industrial Revolution. They’re frequently portrayed as sites of high efficiency, but rarely as spaces for art, humanity and wonder.

In 2010, Beijing-based Italian artist Alessandro Rolandi staged a series of interventions in a Beijing factory run by Frenchman Guillaume Bernard. These well-received interventions have now become a curated series of invitationals to local artists.

“After several intense and spontaneous conversations about the nature of work, capitalism, human development, corporate structure, radical art, future and creativity,” Rolandi explained over email. “I designed a program that invites every two months one artist/designer/architect/musician to intervene in the factory in a subtle but radical way to stimulate discussion, raise questions and confront the reality of work with a different angle, straight on the field, without any mediation.”

Determined that should be predominantly experimental in nature, Rolandi still drew a strong connection to his goal of tying the work to labor: “We invented a definition using enterprise language to give legitimacy to the project and make it understandable (at least its general nature) to people working in companies,” he noted. And so the name of the project was born: Social Sensibility R&D Program, situated at Bernard Controls Asia.

The work has become embedded in the, well, work of the factory. Take Ma Yongfeng‘s series of spray painted slogans. “The owner now uses his sentence sprayed on the wall ‘INVEST IN CONTRADICTION’ as the first thing to be discussed in  job-interviews with new employees,” Rolandi points out. “Workers and managers had mixed feelings about the tags and felt all in need to discuss them.”

The stencils themselves are re-interpretations of Chinese propaganda, lifted from conversations with workers and reflective of the strict systems of control.

Rolandi also noted the effort of Lulu Li to provide ambient music for workers. “Even in Europe in most factories, listening to music is now forbidden for various reasons, from safety to concentration, and here we tried with these small devices and rhytmic compositions from classical to experimental to noise (avoiding words, as they are proved to affect concentration),” he says. After a series of negotiations with floor managers, Li and Rolandi agreed to only play music on Fridays, at least for the moment.

There’s a tension to the idea that the artists, at the behest of top brass, can move around freely and explore interventions, while the workers themselves must remain in optimal flow under the strict rules enforced and determined by the very same management. The artists of the Social Sensibility R&D Program are not oblivious to this.

“Our interventions must be conceived in order to interact with the physicality of the area and with the conceptual codification of the signs and of the different working sections,” Rolandi said. “Timing is also very important as precise schedules define the rhythm and the flows. ”

Beijing-based art critic Edward Sanderson, who visited the plant, had this to say about the space in a terrific review in Artslant:

This particular factory is unlike the cliché of a Chinese factory: you won’t find thousands of workers performing mundane and repetitive tasks over long conveyor belts in an airless hanger. This factory is relatively small, with about a hundred staff, of whom only twenty to thirty actually work on assembling the product. The work areas are also relatively discrete in terms of their interior design. Rolandi says it’s not an environment where you feel you have no way out, where everything is under surveillance. But at the same time, “No matter how you look at it, it’s still a factory.”

Sanderson goes on to explore Rolandi’s own initiation into the workers’ lives by undergoing the training procedures and entering the world of high-efficiency production, as well as some of the questions he wrestled with. It calls to mind some of the work done by Cao Fei with factory workers in southern China, where the majority of the manufacturing sector is concentrated. Her PRD Anti-Heroes and Whose Utopia project looked at types of similar work.

Unlike Sanderson, I’ve not seen the interventions in person, so I can’t comment on their merits per se. But seeing the videos and speaking with the artists, I find that what makes Social Sensibility interesting is Rolandi’s choice to invite artists to stage interventions in two-month phases. The in and out of the artists over time reflects the rhythms of factory life, and the diversity of perspectives allows for a certain freshness to each intervention.

The turnover of the creative people,” said Rolandi, “is designed to provide a constant tension around the next new ‘intruder’, his proposal and the way it will be received and dealt with, and prevent habit and comfort to settle in.”

The Social Sensibility R&D Program is an ongoing project at Bernard Controls Beijing (A2-1, Lidaxing Industrial Zone, No.15, Fourth JingHai Road, Economic & Technological Development Area, Beijing).

Aug 14


本月初在伊比利亚当代艺术中心开幕的展览“改变的力量!美学与可持续性的探索”便可视作为这幽灵提供受体的一次尝试。展览最初于2010年在柏林开幕,之后在欧、亚多个城市巡回,此番来京,又有几位本土艺术家加入其中。来自德国的策展人安德瑞妮•格勒(Adrienne Goehler)毕生作为德国政坛活跃人物,与德国绿党(Green Party)颇有过从,展览也便带上极浓的环保主义色彩——从约瑟夫•博伊斯于1982年与卡塞尔市民共同完成的《7000株橡树》到罗伯特•史密森在前工业用地实施的大地艺术作品《螺旋防波堤》,从柯内莉亚•黑塞-霍内格(Cornelia Hesse-Honegger)对核电站附近变异昆虫的考察,到松坂亚由美(Ayumi Matsuzaka)用自己的排泄物制作肥料,用这些肥料种植蔬菜,再吃掉这些蔬菜,而后再收集排泄物制作肥料的反复循环,再到The Yes Men“盗版”《纽约时报》,发布“伊拉克战争已结束”、“国家健康保险法案通过”等假新闻进行的社会干预,无不体现着绿党的四大理念:生态永继,草根民主,社会正义,世界和平。

鲍里斯•格罗伊斯(Boris Groys)在《项目之孤独(The Loneliness of the Project)》一文中指出,在过去的20年里,占据艺术舞台中心的并非艺术作品(artwork),而是艺术项目(art project)。我们的注意力从完成的“艺术产品”转向那不以结果为导向的“艺术项目中的生活”,展览也不再聚焦于作为审美静观对象的艺术作品,而是展示对艺术项目的记录(documentation,或称文献)。我们所见的,依然是艺术惯用的媒介:绘画、摄影、录像和装置,其功能却由“表现”转为“记录”,并严重依赖文字说明——“不再有真正可见和可呈现的艺术,艺术都是缺席或隐藏的”。文中还谈到记录的过程总是会导致记录本身与被记录之事件的不一致,并将僵死的、官僚化的档案和记录视为鲜活的生活/生命之敌,或生活/生命的“遗容面模(dead mask)”,这也是“改变的力量!”一类展览面对的困境或僵局——比如乌苏拉•舒尔茨-多恩堡(Ursula Schulz-Dornburg)在自然/文化史层面对小麦的多样性进行的调研,丰饶的生命历史和富杂的调研过程不得不缩影为一墙照片和几株小麦标本。古德隆•F•韦德洛克(Gudrun F. Widlok)的项目打破富有的西方人给贫困的非洲人施舍的经济关系,在《收养(Adopted)》中,与家庭脱离联系的欧洲人被非洲教父收养——整个项目由艺术家的假想变为小有影响的现实的行动过程长期而微妙,却只能被浓缩在一个充满照片、档案、书信和地图的静止的办公室空间之内。詹尼弗•阿罗拉&吉勒莫•卡萨迪利亚(Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla)对特定地区的生态史进行的考察被剪辑为很短的录像作品,飘浮、随机的影像是否是对一个项目乃至一个地区的现实的有效、负责的呈现,也是许多同类作品遭遇的争议所在。

同时,在全球化的广阔环境中,这些记录是我们与其所记录的现实之间的唯一纽带。我们没有机会去经历如此庞杂的现实情境,逐一验证这些记录的确切性和真实性,而只能凭着直觉来选择是否“相信”。其中,完美、专业、个人化的记录方式都更易被视作艺术家精心编排的结果,比如奥拉维尔•埃利亚松(Olafur Eliasson)使两个非洲黑人小孩坐在粗壮的树枝上,幸福地手捧他以节约能源之名制作的“小太阳”,便颇有摆拍和殖民视角之嫌。杨少斌基于矿业调查项目的作品《X-后视盲区》在当年也曾被讥为“艺术煤老板”。反之,漫不经心的拍摄/剪辑方式和默默无闻的处世风格也成为提升项目“真诚度”的当代策略。

在启蒙时代,一个知识分子有能力去亲自验证几乎所有的科学新发现,科学与理性和经验的联系密切而健康。如今,就普通人而言,验证每一种新的发现和自然科学观念都需要极为特殊的知识、技术、设备、资源、时间、人力和财力,科学便更多与非理性、直觉和信仰相关。环保主义如今也面对这种“相信”之难,“地球一小时”和“垃圾分类”等主流公益项目的合理性不断遭受质疑,甚至“全球变暖”也被一些学者斥为惊天骗局,是科学家与“利益集团社会”联手所为——我们手无证据,或只靠主观的“相信”与否来选择站队,或对一切都持孤绝的怀疑主义。在当代,我们身处的世界重又成为不可知的,成为专业人士和利益集团独享的秘密,如格罗伊斯在《真诚之生产(The Production of Sincerity)》中所言:“在从前我们有自然与上帝之处,如今我们有设计和阴谋论。”——在不可证实的时代,环保主义也自无法幸免于关乎设计和阴谋论的信任危机。马永峰在京郊伯纳德控制设备工厂进行的涂鸦“Sensibility Is Under Control(感觉在控制之下)”被置于展厅末端的院子里,极好地道出这种呈现/认知遭遇的当代尴尬,笼罩着每一件作品。

展览的英/德文标题并非“改变的力量”,而是“Examples to Follow”,即“可供追随的个案”。策展人认为,在哥本哈根与坎昆举行的气候峰会(“除了妥协什么都没有达成”)体现了官方的无能,个人的行动力便显得尤为紧要,上述困境便也不再是止步牌。展览重视当代涌现的、自发的“可持续”项目经验,作为我们可借鉴于生活的种种微模式,并抵消“环保主义”与“可持续”两词长期遭受的滥用和政治正确化之名——无论这些项目能否树立典范,或是作为临时的解决方案,或仅为一种干预,唤起观者对某问题的重视。“改变的力量!”不保证一个更好的未来(“更好的未来”是质疑一切替代性实践的必杀术),甚至原创性也不再是必要的条件——莎拉•刘易森与杰•布朗(Sarah Lewison & Jay Brown)那稍嫌小清新的作品《呼吸(BREATHE)》便毫不掩饰对玛塔-克拉克(Matta-Clark)“新鲜空气车”的模仿——或许,对策展人来说,这所有项目都可简单视作对约瑟夫•博伊斯《7000株橡树》个案之理念的模仿和追随。

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