6 一月

Art Radar Asia

Posted on 02/01/2014

What are the best sources of information on China’s complex, vibrant contemporary culture? Curator and academic Rachel Marsden reveals her top tips.

With the ever growing flow of information flooding the internet, finding high quality information can be daunting, particularly when it comes to a subject as multifarious as Chinese art. Independent curator and academic Rachel Marsden gives her advice on where to find useful and up-to-date information on Chinese contemporary art and culture online.

Ai Weiwei, 'Map of China', 2006, ironwood (Tieli mu) from dismantled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) temples, 40 x 92.7 x 80 cm. Stockamp Tsai Collection. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Ai Weiwei, ‘Map of China’, 2006, ironwood (Tieli mu) from dismantled Qing dynasty (1644–1911) temples, 40 x 92.7 x 80 cm. Stockamp Tsai Collection. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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As the digital age progresses at a frenetic pace in what is China’s century, there is always the question of how to document and archive information and perspectives on Chinese contemporary art and culture. Moreover, there is the issue of how to share all this information, much of which is created in an instantaneous and somewhat fleeting way.

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This article is the first in a series looking into where to find information on Chinese contemporary art and culture digitally, online via your laptop, tablet or phone. Future articles will look at what is offered through video and film, personal blogs, the Twittersphere and Instagram, among other platforms.

1. Randian

Launched in 2010, Randian is a growing online magazine, professionally designed and articulately conceived, with a primary focus on fostering cultural debate on Chinese contemporary art, as well as video, architecture and design, both in China and across the rest of the world.

2. Uncut Talks

A sound or audio magazine that acts as an open platform presenting unmoderated conversations from China and around the world. Discussions revolve around some of the most challenging and provocative topics of our time, including contemporary art, social innovation, design, music and more. The project is a collaboration between artists Ma Yongfeng (Forget Art), Alessandro Rolandi and art critic Edward Sanderson.

Qiu Zhijie, "The Universe of Naming", installation view at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong.

Qiu Zhijie, “The Universe of Naming”, installation view at Spring Workshop, Hong Kong

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3. CAFA Art Info

An organisation based out of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. Taking a more journalistic and blog-style approach, CAFA Art Info promotes contemporary Chinese artists and art news whilst encouraging cultural debate in China and the rest of the world.

4. Blouin Art Info – China and Hong Kong

This online magazine provides the latest finger-on-the-pulse global news on contemporary art and culture now focussing on China and Hong Kong. Often information, articles, photo galleries and videos go online as the event is happening. Short and sharp presentation is provided daily.

5. Chinese Visual Culture

Find William Andrew Albano on Facebook and Twitter for a broad-based commentary on Chinese art and culture news from the neolithic to the present, and how Chinese culture is placed in the global domain.

Gao Brothers, 'Sense of Space - Wake', 2000, Photograph, 180 x 230 cm, in Between Spiritual and Material Spaces: the Photographic World of the Gao Brothers at Hua Gallery, Image courtesy the Hua Gallery.

Gao Brothers, ‘Sense of Space – Wake’, 2000, Photograph, 180 x 230 cm, in Between Spiritual and Material Spaces: the Photographic World of the Gao Brothers at Hua Gallery, Image courtesy the Hua Gallery

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6. Arts of China Consortium

Hosted by Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, this is an invaluable go-to website to find out about talks, conferences, symposia, events, grants and funding, and jobs in and relating to China and East Asia. It is intended to promote an understanding of Chinese art history whilst encouraging informal dialogue. The information is compiled largely by Nixi Cura, who runs the Arts of China course at Christie’s Education, London.

7. Curating Chinese Contemporary Network at CFCCA

A brand new initiative set up by the Centre For Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester (UK). The network aims to become an active collection of people working together to create projects and discuss relevant cultural ideas related to China today. Sign up to gain exclusive access to their dedicated network blog and research archive, and to be invited to future network and conference events across the United Kingdom. Network members are also invited to share any relevant information and current research to further extend the network.

8. Asian Cultural Council

Comprehensive e-newsletter that informs of cultural exchange happening between institutions in the United States and Asia regarding research, study and projects within Asian contexts. Not China specific but, like the CFCCA, the Asian Cultural Council wants to expand and create networks across the world.

9. ArtAsiaPacific blog

Run alongside ArtAsiaPacific’s print and online magazine, the blog presents further perspectives on art and culture from the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions. Although not China-focused, AAP’s online resource provides in-depth articles on the bigger players and forerunners in the scene.

10. Art-Ba-Ba

This is one of the most active Chinese art communities and forum websites used in China to share any information relating to Chinese contemporary art. Art-Ba-Ba includes short exhibition reviews, articles and open discussion. It is largely in Chinese, but more and more content is being added in English.

11. artlinkart

An ever-growing bilingual (English and Chinese) online database project for Chinese contemporary art that aims to build an extensive archive with accurate and subjective knowledge. You will find surface-level reference information that is less critically minded.

12. Chinatown Art Space

Run out of London, Chinatown Art Space is an organisation supporting British East Asian performing and visual arts. The regular e-newsletter delivers information about things happening in and around the Unite Kingdom with global partnerships.

13. Asian Contemporary Arts Consortium (ACAC) Newsletter

Run from San Francisco, ACAC aims to build audiences, promote and sustain interest in Asian contemporary arts and design in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and is also trying to place itself nationally and internationally. Their e-newsletter is another point of reference as to what art events and exhibitions are going on.

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Rachel Marsden

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Rachel Marsden is an independent curator, PhD researcher and writer in the field of contemporary Asian art, particularly Chinese contemporary art. Currently, she works at Manchester’s CFCCA and divides her time between the UK and China.

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23 七月

图片

被拓展的边界

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倪昆

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在观看以“行动”作为主要工作方式的马永峰的具体艺术实践时,一个模糊点在于其工作方向的多元性以及身份转变的多样性,来自“艺术/非艺术”的定义在此出现了重叠,而这也将是还原观看艺术家具体的工作实践时最值得去把玩体会的重要内容,需要特别注意的一点在于当前作为知识生产的艺术实践其形态及逻辑已迥异于以“视觉-图像”作为唯一合法身份存在的图像艺术,“文本-观念-逻辑”将构成文化重构的基础,“图像”则从之前的唯一性、排它性,转而沦为知识生产的平行体,进一步的追问可来自关于“艺术-语境”间的对话,哪部分的工作将触及艺术的文化生产本身,哪部分的工作将对话以消费主义为主要外部特征的图像化生产,这既是需要不断打破及进行自我清理的内容,也是艺术之生命力的直接体现。

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如果我们把时间作为线索来清理艺术家的工作,那么清晰可见的艺术家的实践存在这样的轨迹,2000年初期至2005年前后的,以录像艺术作为主要创作手段的实践,2005年至2008年前后的在西方国家的不定期驻留工作,2009年开始发起的以机构名义存在的艺术实践,以及由此为出发点而形成的包括“游击性/微干预/微介入”等关键词在内的“行动”。在这个粗放的清理中,存在着2个重要的转变时间点,其一在于2005年前后,艺术家以北京动物园为考察对象,以“系统观”的视角创作了一件整体作品,这也是艺术家从之前的来自单一媒介的思考走向强调逻辑与文本创作的例证。另外的一个重要时间点在于2009年,艺术家因为一些具体的缘由,开始以策划人、组织者或者说艺术小组的方式


进行跨界工作,同时发起成立艺术机构Forget Art,Forget = For + Get,当然它也是Forget自身,它既是态度,也是方法、立场。也是从这个阶段开始,艺术家的表达及对话视域在不断的进行自我拓展,“青年公寓交换”,“地点:龙泉洗浴”“保持一种业余性”,以及最近的“未剪辑”声音杂志。这些项目的存在已经远远的突破了原有的来自艺术的定义,艺术家在此成为了一个观察者,对话者,更是一个行动者。

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抛开艺术家在艺术实践时的来自策划者那部分的工作,艺术家当前的创作越来越强调艺术创作的在场感和介入感,某些具体的事件成为了他创作的新的起点,强调新,是因为这里面存在着一个方向问题,是去回应,还是以此现实为出发逻辑来展示由艺术家提供的“想象”,将会产生不同的艺术呈现和表达。至少在马永峰看来,从具体的社会性事件中抽离出来,以艺术家的想象来建构一种可改造的社会模式,是工作、是责任,更是艺术家可切实介入实施的关于未来社会重新建构的乌托邦实践。

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10 五月
China Residencies maintains a growing directory of residency offerings available to foreigners.
China Residencies maintains a growing directory of residency offerings available to foreigners.

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SAN FRANCISCO — As interest in China grows, so does interest in its art scene. And while I’ve met countless artists in the US who have wanted to travel to China, the barriers to access remain high, due to language, culture, and cost.
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A New China Residency Initiative

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Last year, I wrote about residencies in China that are worth considering, but there are dozens more. China Residencies, a new nonprofit started by longtime China-based artists/art lovers Crystal Ruth Bell and Kira Simon-Kennedy, aims to help Western artists navigate the wide range of opportunities.

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“We think there are between 30 and 50 programs active right now,” wrote Simon-Kennedy in an email to Hyperallergic. Bell, who directed the residency program at Red Gate Gallery, saw that many of these residencies received little coverage outside of China.

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“Crystal started meeting with residency admins in 2010 to talk about the unique challenges of existing in China: residencies relied almost entirely on word-of-mouth to attract applicants, and sometimes had a difficult time filling spots with qualified artists. The lack of visibility also limited the amount of funding visiting artists and programs could receive,” she said.

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Bell and Simon-Kennedy are currently raising money on Indiegogo to fund the project, which includes a research trip throughout China to understand the wide variety of residency opportunities. Their directorycurrently lists 22 residencies, most of which are in Beijing, and they plan to add additional resources such as residency reviews and practical resources for China travelers. They’ll also be sharing their knowledge with existing projects like ResArtis and Residency Unlimited, who are supporting their work.

UNCUT TALKS: SoundCloud meets public radio meets China's art scene
UNCUT TALKS: SoundCloud meets public radio meets China’s art scene

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UNCUT TALKS: A New Audio Magazine from China

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Can’t travel to China just yet? Never fear. Around this same time, I was contacted by Beijing artist Ma Yongfeng about a new audio magazine he’s been producing with Hyperallergic contributor Alessandro Rolandi and arts writer Edward Sanderson. Consisting of unedited audio discussions uploaded to Soundcloud,UNCUT TALKS, as Ma writes on his blog, is a platform that “collects, and makes available for everyone to listen to, hours of conversations among interesting people in China and around the world on some of the most challenging and provocative topics of our time.”

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So far, the magazine includes some 30 interviews, with a wide variety of individuals from China’s art scene, conducted in both Chinese and English. Although translations are not yet available for the Chinese audio, the channel is a great way to bring some of the aesthetics and intimacy of audio recordings to an art world community that can seem dense and complex to outsiders.

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I’m excited about both projects and look forward to seeing how they move forward. Art fosters unique forms of dialogue that only seem more and more important given China’s increase presence on the world stage.

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“China is a very complicated place, and at times when the government of the People’s Republic clashes with other nations on countless topics, we think helping foster more dialogue on the citizen level through artistic exchange will lead to a greater mutual understanding,” Simon-Kennedy explained.

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21 四月

In a detailed description of the show “Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art” in Vancouver, Jennifer Hall writes about the works of Chinese artists Remon Wang, Ge Fei, Lin Zhen, Zhang Lehua, and Lu Yang. She also introduces the age of social media art and the censored internet environment of China it has stemmed from, in hopes of a strong beginning for this progressive and important new art form.

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“Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art” explores issues associated with the expansion and censorship of social media in modern life in China. The resulting collection of works is a heady cocktail of artistic stealth and political subterfuge.

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The messages of most of the art works in “Virtual Voices” are restrained, perhaps a little too subtle for audiences in Vancouver to grasp given the cultural context of the art — the exception being Remon Wang’s political cartoons. His colourful, eye-catching, comedic digital illustrations poke fun at official government responses to corrupt individuals, environmental issues and family tragedies.

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Wang’s works are openly critical of authority and as a result, can only be viewed online. An official, public exhibition would be virtually impossible, therefore, social media (via his Weibo accounts until they are found and blocked by censors) is his prime channel of distribution.

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But, does Wang’s work constitute “social media art”?

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The broad definition of social media art (SMA) is evolving, but generally it is accepted that SMA includes some online audience involvement and the development of social relationships. For example, an artist initiates a concept, launches it onto a social media platform and then tracks and documents the progress of the online responses.

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In an article published in Yishu’s May/June issue, An Xiao Mina, an American new media artist who has worked in China, in conversation with “Virtual Voices” curator Diana Freundl, noted that “social media art has a different character in China” (p.102) and that few Chinese artists and institutions have embraced the inclusion of audience participation in their art practice.

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One of the exhibited art works that fits the above definition of SMA is the Youth Apartment Exchange Program, a project by the Beijing-based collective, Forget Art. Using Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter), participants can arrange to temporarily swap homes. Online, then offline, relationships are developed and the participants are then asked to document their experiences online.

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This project quietly comments on the strict controls that regulate where Chinese citizens can live. Unfortunately, documentation of the participants’ virtual voices is missing. Snippets of online conversations (translated into English) and analysis (the dissent, the boredom, the disgust, the distrust and the delight) would draw the non-participating gallery visitor into a deeper understanding of the uniqueness of Chinese contemporary life and art.

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Ge Fei and Lin Zhen’s project involved commissioning a band to create several songs which they later distributed copyright-free via Chinese online music sharing platforms. While in Vancouver, the artists used similar platforms and social media (including Twitter, Facebook and other blogs banned in China) to share their music with online and offline audiences. But again the documentation of the interactive relationships was limited — making the social media event less accessible for non-participating observers.

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More text was needed to outline the social outcome of the online art event. Future exhibitions of SMA may require the art world to soften its reluctance to document and interpret art with words. If there is a reason to include more text on the walls of the white cube, it is the need for additional commentary about Chinese social media art — especially if the work is being viewed by Western audiences.

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Zhang Lehua addresses the reality of social media in China with a satirical commentary “Facebook Art Demo,” a video about the production of an official government-sanctioned Facebook.

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The instructor demonstrates how to create a Facebook page, starting with the slow application of lipstick. While reciting the text of a poem, he bends and kisses a page of a traditional folding scroll. Then, he elegantly brushes ink around the lipstick in a wide circle — in lonely isolation, he repeats the kiss and brushwork on each consecutive page. The end result is a bound, not wired or wireless, book of faceless faces. At its surface the video is hilarious but the inner message points at the continuing pressures on Chinese netizens to maintain anonymity.

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Also commenting on social media rather than using it as a medium, Lu Yang’s work, which includes skeletons hooked up with cyber wires, is also about power and control. Ironically, her work questions the potential advances of artificial intelligence and the worrying outcome if humans lose control of Web 3.0; technological advances that go beyond the clever applications of social media. Instead of directly criticizing the way in which humans try to control each other, Lu’s work comments of the worrying outcome if artificial intelligence is left unchecked to self-evolve and take control of humanity.

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This brave exhibition is one of the first of its kind; it breaks new ground and also establishes an important base-line of artistic responses by Chinese artists to social media, and ultimately China’s current censorship issues. A similar exhibition in five years will be an extraordinary witness of political progress (hopefully).

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Virtual Voices: Approaching Social Media and Art in China,” group exhibition.

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Charles H. Scott Gallery (Emily Carr University of Art and Design, 1399 Johnston Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada). June 6 – July 8, 2012.

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11 十一月

9月,本站译介过ARTINFO全球站的专题文章《全球100件“标志性”艺术作品(2007-2012)》,对近5年来的情况进行盘点:反响最大的艺术作品是哪些?在美术馆和画廊里展出的成千件艺术品中,哪些影响了艺术圈的话语?在令人眼花缭乱的当代艺术装置及如过眼云烟般的作品集群中间,又是哪些拥有持久的魅力?

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在读者的建议下,本站推出这一专题的中国当代艺术版。作品的提名方式与原专题相仿。提名人包括:欧美琳 (Madeleine O’Dea)(ARTINFO CHINA艺讯中国 主编,《Art+Auction》、《Modern Painters》亚洲区编辑),申舶良(ARTINFO CHINA艺讯中国 记者/资深翻译),严潇潇(ARTINFO CHINA艺讯中国 资深编辑/记者)。我们未像原专题那样打分排名,而选择更为客观晓畅的顺序:编年。此外,我们将时限拓至10年(2002-2012)——在这期间,艺术市场像个疯狂的政客,大起大落后,还幽灵般低徊不去。艺术实践随着更多公共关注和资金助力而更具雄心,在当下又经历着由“离心”转向“向心”的过程,自我实践与团体实践勃兴,溯源与重访之念萌动。国际交流、即时资讯和理论狂潮的海洋不断点亮和熄灭启示(有人在其中狂热地寻觅假肢),“可能性”在被发掘与穷尽间疲劳往复。如问:从我们选出的25件作品中能看出什么?或许,这份榜单更像是一声沉默。

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1. 卢杰《长征计划》(2002-)

10年前启动时称为“长征- 一个行走中的视觉展示”(总策划卢杰,执行策划邱志杰)的大型当代艺术和视觉文化的展 示、整理和讨论活动,在当年红军长征沿线二十个地点实施。对每个地点在长征中的意义、背景进行重访,举办形式新异的当代艺术展 览、现场创作、驻地文化观察、研讨会等,许多国内外重要艺术家、艺术实践者、当地居民乃至路人参与其中。如今风行的许多话题(如现场、动员、组织、教育、 驻留、替代性、干预、自治、协作、参与性、公共性、流动展览、关系美学、重访历史、多元文化等)在这个项目中都有过极好的触及。此后以‘长征计划’为名由 卢杰继续进行,这10年中,长征计划发展出“超级画廊”长征空间,其自身的线索却并未断裂,以《唐人街》、《KOREA 2018》、《胡志明小道》等项目不断持续。

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2. 刘野《温柔地杀我》(2002)

批评家朱朱将刘野的画作比作抒情诗:“篇幅精短,质地透明,情感温柔而深沉,经常是在喜剧式的、具有戏谑色彩的外衣之下,散发出甜蜜而感伤的调子……”,当甜蜜而虚幻、内省却荒诞的人生无可逃避,所有成熟都“不过是一个老去的童年”(耶胡达·阿米亥语),刘野的画成了一代人的最爱。2002年后,洛丽塔般的少女形象几乎成了刘野的个人符号,也是市场的宠儿。我们选择这幅《温柔地杀我》,以一种温柔又暴力的方式投射出种种隐喻,使我们思考与他人、与整个体系乃至整个世界的关系。此画被大量借用,比如曾作为左小祖咒《你知道东方在哪一边(下集)》的封面。

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3. 刘小东《三峡大移民》(2003)

现实主义,实地创作,对社会问题的观照,松弛而准确的笔触……谈及刘小东的艺术,这些都已成关键词。还有社会转型期的狂喜和伤痛,人们为寻求物质改善付出的精神代价——“三峡项目”可谓这些创作要素的早期集大成体。面对三峡的历史地理,进行中的大型工程,壮观的人口迁徙,刘小东的处理方式平静而坦然,拒绝耸人听闻的景观化。他着力表现中国人自身的悲哀与对快乐的寻求,现场的人、事与记忆、照片中的图像在他笔下微妙地作用。贾樟柯曾就此拍摄纪录片《东》,故事片《三峡好人》亦与此关系密切。

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4. 杨福东《竹林七贤》(2003-2007)

影片由五部分组成,沉寂、唯美的文人式画面,空灵的配乐,人物的迷惘、孤绝,身体、生死、欲望、无能……构成一种似曾相识的幻景,在戏剧性缺失的情节中隐隐弥漫。在(一)中,七个人物裸体出场,而后穿着自己的职业装在林中游荡;(二)在喧闹的上海,人们在公寓里,吃、喝,讨论欲望、生命与死亡;(三)回到乡村,以一个惊人的杀牛场面开始,牛是被牺牲的动物,也是片中七人似乎一直在寻找的,与土地有关的象征。(四)为七贤的化身构筑了一系列随意的场景:村里努力工作的渔夫,闲逛的一群旅行者。(五)令七个知识分子回到了上海,开始平庸的工作,在大厦中出席一个宴会,愈发超现实的氛围似乎在对城市生活的本质致歉——传统理想人格在当下的尴尬,现实与乌托邦理想之间的龃龉,在当下仍是道不尽的话题。

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5. 王光乐《寿漆》(2004-)

抽象绘画在近年来颇受欢迎,在实践中,对肌理、层次、材料、质感、时间等因素的执着多为所见。王光乐自2004年起持续进行的《寿漆》系列是其中翘楚。《寿漆》颇为悦目,却来自艺术家儿时有关丧葬的见闻:“老人会在一个微妙的时刻给自己准备一口棺材。他们在每年择日为自己的寿材刷一遍红红的大漆,一年一遍,幸运的话,可以为自己刷上几十遍……老人并不害怕,而是审慎――简直就不是给自己料理后事。”这个记忆与对绘画的思考发生碰撞:“我想就‘肌理’这个绘画因素作一些尝试。我在画布上一层层的涂上颜料,每一次覆盖都留出上一层的边缘,这样以便看出层数,有一些还用颜色的渐变来加强层数的分辨。一张画的结束是直到刷子无法落笔为止。”这种实践同样面向内心——“没有现成的答案,体验却是真切的:小时候的记忆告诉我有一件事情只能自己去独自面对,一个新的方法告诉我另一件事情我要独自去面对。”

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6. 宋冬《物尽其用》(2005)

《物尽其用》是宋冬和他的母亲赵湘源共同创作完成的超大型装置作品,由赵湘源毕生收集、保存的一万余件破旧、残缺或者未使用过的日常物品组成。这件作品在2005年底首次在北京亮相,随后陆续在韩国、德国、美国、英国等地展出,并在2011年(赵湘源逝世于2009年)以展览“穷人的智慧”(UCCA,北京)延续。赵湘源那一代人对物质缺乏的恐慌,导致了“物尽其用”的生活方式,然而,对宋冬这一代人来说,物质极大地丰富后,老一辈集体意识中的“持家法宝”成了生活的累赘,带来无用物质堆积的恐慌。不同的生活观念(及对美好生活的理解)产生深深的代沟,成为一个时代,一个快速变化的社会的缩影。个人的家庭史也隐现在其中。

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7. 徐震《8848-1.86》(2005)

2005年8月,徐震与队友登上海拔8848.13米高的珠穆朗玛峰峰项,并按徐震的身高1.86米把珠峰锯下一块运下山。2005年9月,徐震携这块与其同高的珠峰峰顶,以及所有锯山峰的相关录像、照片、文献、工具设备资料前往日本横滨三年展参展。2005年10月9日,中国国家测绘局发布珠峰新高度为8844.43米。珠峰真是被徐震锯短的吗???这在当时引起热烈的争议,尽管证据详尽充分,在这个PS发达的时代,许多人仍不相信此事属实,正如人们从来不去怀疑8848米的高度属实,这种相信与怀疑的关系成为徐震抛出的烟雾弹,搅起一个更大的迷局,令世界与认知,真实与虚构,权威与个体,证据与真相,信仰与玩笑等问题若流弹横飞。

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8. 刘韡《爱它、咬它》(2005-2007)

《爱它、咬它》等一系列作品,用狗咬胶造出伟大建筑(布达拉宫、古罗马竞技场、凯旋门、五角大楼等)的模型,这些建筑细节毕现,却扭曲塌陷,像贫民窟般堆积一处,用消遣时代的材料营造启示录般的氛围。刘韡希望唤起观众最本能的反应:“狗对于这个(材料),或人对于这些建筑,可能是一个很动物性的、很本能的反应……”,正如文化生产和历史制造都直接通向最根底的欲望。

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9. 顾德新《2006.09.02》(2006)

2009年,顾德新宣布退出艺术圈。作为中国当代艺术史上的重要角色,顾德新的影响可谓深远,他本人并未参与的大型回顾展“重要的不是肉”(UCCA,北京)是今年最重要的展事之一。《2006.09.02》是顾德新以“腐烂”为主题的作品中最具“标志性”的一件,压路机碾过成吨的苹果,一时间展厅内果香四溢。随着时间流逝,苹果慢慢腐烂、萎缩、变黑、消亡,展厅中的世界也渐生质变。让随之而来的阐释也都腐烂掉吧。

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10. 梁绍基《听蚕》(2006-2010)

梁绍基的创作非常缓慢,因为养蚕是他更主要的工作,他以蚕丝或与蚕有关的活动作为媒介来创作,并视其为一种修行——关乎时间、生命、自然,及其关联。声音装置《听蚕》(2006、2008、2010年三度实施)以活蚕、桑叶、麦克风、耳麦、录音机、篮子、木架等为材料,音同“听禅”,艺术家本人的阐释如下:“在自然态的蚕声中营造静悟之所,让你从谛听流水般、秋雨般食桑声、吐丝声、扑楞楞的蝶化声,在三时期声音中去感悟、其声音神袐、浩渺、悠远、将你带入‘空境’去沉思,返照本心实现自我救赎。”

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11. 孙原&彭禹《老人院》(2007)

十三个实际尺寸的仿真老人体,国籍、身份、表情各异,身穿军队、宗教、民族或职业正装,坐在电动轮椅上缓慢地活动,彼此相遇或遇到障碍时,会自动改变方向,一声不响地重复着来来往往的移动,形成一种冷漠的规律,仿佛在进行一种毫无沟通的、永不休止的碰撞游戏,逼真到令人战栗。笼罩当下世界的衰朽感从中可见,对多元文化交融的乐观论调也可谓犀利一击。

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12. 赵半狄《半狄时装秀》(2007)

赵半狄的《熊猫时装秀》一度被视作“炒作”与“恶俗”的代名词。在当年的新闻稿上,赵半狄写道:“作为一个中国人,我的身心遭遇着中国社会的激动、澎湃、幸福和焦灼。每时每刻……我的高级时装秀以中国社会中绝不可忽视的阶层,中国最鲜活的人物为角色,上演一场中国社会多种阶层、多种人物争奇斗艳的一幕。多少人物就有多少风景!”他以熊猫造型为贯穿元素,为中国社会个阶层人物(包括民工、房地产商、二奶、三陪、网络红人、腐败官员、股民、视频裸聊者、河南人等)设计夸张的时尚造型,并邀来潘石屹、芙蓉姐姐、杨二车娜姆等名人助阵T台。这件作品是“奥运年代”的缩影,那时,中国最是人心澎湃,当代艺术市场最疯狂。

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13. 贾蔼力 《苍白的不只是你》(2007)

《苍白的不只是你》是贾蔼力颇具代表性的大型三联作品,装置与绘画相结合。戴着防毒面具的男子站在废墟中央,背上长着一双黑色翅膀,远处一张空置的病床徐徐冒烟,画作前方悬着一张白色木椅子。刚劲的线条从画面中向外爆发,充满力量,满载死亡意象的视觉语言却处处暗示着绝望的叫喊。幻想中的末日废墟(印象来自中国东北地区被弃置的重工业区)投射着年青一代悲凉的心理景象——在经济飞速增长的当代,留给我们的一无所有。在2012年香港苏富比当代亚洲艺术春季拍卖会上,这件作品以550万港元成交(估价上限为380万港元),打破贾蔼力以往的优异纪录,也足见70后艺术家市场雄起。

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14. 蔡国强《北京奥运焰火》(2008)

火药是蔡国强的创作中最核心的元素。火药是中国的古老发明,在近代史与中国的尴尬关系却极是耐人寻味。除火药画和大型装置,大型户外焰火表演在这10年中已成为蔡国强的个人符号,他的足迹遍及全球,在各种大型展览、纪念、庆典、盛会等活动上发挥着这种古老材料的神奇魅力,如同古代典礼中“巫”的角色,以焰火实践同时触及自然与人类,历史与记忆,危险与控制之间的关系。2008年的北京奥运焰火令蔡国强的名字在中国无人不晓,这次表演的特别之处有二:一是沿着北京的中轴线,从永定门到鸟巢的29个“大脚印”,在代表不同历史文化的29个点上燃放,第29届奥运会一步一步走进北京,也代表古老的中国走近奥运会;二是当奥林匹克会旗在鸟巢升起的时候,在鸟巢和天安门用焰火打出一个五环旗图案,而在主火炬手点亮圣火的时候,鸟巢和居庸关长城上同时打出彩虹图案,表现出古今同步、跨越时空对话的概念。这次大型的焰火表演等于把开幕式带到了鸟巢以外的整个北京城,是以前的奥运会开幕式所无,也让这个开幕式成为全体市民可以欣赏的环境艺术作品。

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15. 林天苗《妈的!!!》(2008)

《妈的!!!》是林天苗在2008年创作的一组小型雕塑装置作品,以一种软硬可控、易于保存的新型材料(经过多次实验)作为创作的主体材质,并结合其以往作品中惯用的毛发、线团、丝绸等材料。作品的主体多以丰腴的中年女性躯体为主,“她们”的头颅被抽象化或者剔除,身体姿态各异,与周围存在物(动物或植物)的主客界限、性别界限、内与外的思辨界限、物种间的差异界限都被模糊打破,混生于一种暧昧的交错关系之中。“妈的”作为展览的主题,意指母体或母性存在的共性,它可以静态地表示具有阴性或雌性的人、物,也可以指一种给予、抚养的过程,“的”所指代的归属、附着、拥有的属性,还可以表示传承、继续的关系,这些都蕴涵着人们对母性的敬仰和感恩。日常生活中人们却随意亵渎神圣的母性,正如“妈的”也可能指代的贬义。这种微妙的双重性,赋予了作品更宽泛的解读空间。

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16. 邱志杰《南京长江大桥自杀现象干预计划》(2008-2009)

整个计划分为“庄子的镇静剂”(上海证大美术馆),“大桥、南京、天下”(新加坡泰勒版画院STPI),“破冰”(UCCA,北京),“偶像的黄昏”(世界文化宫,柏林)四部分,以艺术的方式介入社会现实,由多种形态、媒介的作品、准作品、非作品所构成,包括采集、创作、改编、合作等多种手段,“既是一个漫长的文化研究过程,也是一个庞大的文化生产计划”,亦是邱志杰“总体艺术”作品的典范。批评家朱朱在《“南京长江大桥”:邱志杰的两次书写》文中写道:“长江大桥从建成以来,官方纪录中已经有2000以上的人在那里自杀。 邱志杰决意以此点重新聚焦大桥主题,是以更富现实关怀的角度切入到这座具有意识形态纪念碑意义的建筑物。事实上,再没有什么比它成为自杀之地这个事实本身,更为绝妙地反讽了它在过去所扮演的那个共产主义乌托邦政治神话的美好化身,自杀者在这里所构成的一部微型的历史,与官方编撰的蒸蒸日上、与时俱进的社会主义史构成了强烈的反差,从另一方面而言,随着毛泽东时代的结束,大桥的政治象征功能和它在所承担的交通功能一起,正在逐渐地削弱、衰竭,而自杀者的身影如此频繁地现身于此处,无疑令我们加倍地震撼于信仰的幻灭、社会的动荡,以及生活的压抑和绝望。”

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17. 刘鼎《刘鼎的商店》(2008-)

“刘鼎的商店”运用了一个实用主义的经济模式──商店──来建立一个有关价值形成的思想生产和讨论的平台。“刘鼎的商店”开始于2008年夏天,以网上经营为主;与此同时,它不断寄居在各种与之相关的社会文化活动和展览语境中进行展示和销售。“刘鼎的商店”一方面不断地研发新的产品系列,通过对不同类型产品的定价、推广、销售和循环来探索、认识和讨论价值,特别是艺术的价值命题的复杂特征与本质,以及各种价值生成的规则、机制与政治。它同时也是一种表达政治见解和想像的艺术实践。到目前为止,“刘鼎的商店”已经发展了四个产品系列:“带回家实现你心目中的无价”、“艺术乌托邦的未来,我们的现实”、“对谈”和“友谊”。它触及了艺术的界定、艺术家的功能和权力、艺术品的界定、艺术世界中人际网络所孕育的思想和经济价值,其关心的并非是上述老问题在当今社会和历史语境中的复兴,而是思考如何用自己的实践再一次提出问题,进而建立起卓有成效的讨论。这个艺术项目将与其他艺术家对相似问题的思考一起成为当代艺术体制理论建构的实践样本。

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18. 曹斐《人民城寨》(2009)

“人民城寨”是曹斐在3D虚拟网络游戏“第二人生(Second Life)”中建立的一个浓缩了几乎所有中国当代城市特征的虚拟城市,Jeuce黄忱在《曹斐:人民城寨》文中对其描述如下:“它是一系列高度自相矛盾的、相互整合的、充满揶揄与质疑的、同时散布极度娱乐和政治意识的新中国画境。在这座虚拟城市中,玩家可以巡航数字海洋,目睹摩天轮旋转之上的人民英雄纪念碑,俯视三峡水库淹没天安门主席台,翻越倾斜的东方明珠电视塔新图腾,纵身跳过围困在汹涌急流中的飞来寺,步行跨越茫茫荒凉的国有东北厂区,最后驻扎北京国家大剧院。同时,你们会看到庞大的喷射飞机滑越庞大的梯田、裂缝的中央商务区与巍峨的大型超市;珠江三角洲地区的水流入巨大的集装箱厕所,并且通过污水处理系统,最终流入海洋上浮动的毛泽东塑像中;而构成2008奥运会主场馆鸟巢将被汹涌的海水慢慢冲蚀磨损;漂浮在天空中的五星红旗散播着震耳欲聋的噪音,致使雷姆·库哈斯特设计的中央电视台新大楼彻底崩溃……”作为中国当下现实的一面镜像,它混杂了历史与记忆、当代与未来的各种白日梦般的符号,另一方面,它重新输入了对中国文化,社会学,建筑和经济等新的理解。“人民城寨”被誉为“数字时代的史诗”,触及中国当下现实问题的同时,也与曹斐在“第二人生”中的游戏化身China Tracy的体验密切相关,真实与虚拟,依赖与渴望,身体与灵魂,人性与乌托邦等问题都在其中获得新生。

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19. 艾未未《葵花籽》(2010)

“我是一件现成品,我的文化背景和政治情境都是现成品。中国是一件现成品。”——如今,艾未未的名字像一根中指,几乎处处“点石成金”,从2007年率领1001名中国观众前往卡塞尔的《童话》,到2009年对汶川遇难学生名单的调查及用各色书包组成的装置作品《她在这世界上开心地生活了七年》,从这些年间的重要建筑设计,到一系列的事件、言论,再到对社会媒体的出色运用,艾未未的每一作为都可谓“标志性”的。我们在此选择他2010年在泰特现代艺术馆涡轮大厅的上亿颗葵花籽(铺在地上厚达10厘米、总重约为150吨,是景德镇1600名工匠手工制作的陶瓷颗粒,枚枚不同),这件作品综合了艾未未的一些明确、直白,却稍嫌陈旧的主题与观念,不似其他作品有直指当下情境的即时力度,却几乎成了艾未未在全球的个人符号。

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20. 孙逊《21克》(2010)

同孙逊的其他实验动画作品一样,《21克》的所有画面都由手绘完成。在27分钟的时长内,黑白灰三色建构起一个旁系的世界(重组后的地球七大洲四大洋),与我们所处的这个“现实”世界具有某种并行不悖却又丝丝相联的关系。戴着黑色礼帽的魔术师(“合法的说谎者”)这个屡屡出现在孙逊作品中的形象,使历史的真实性话题再次被强调。正如艺术家多次阐释的,政治出于其与历史的接近而成为他作品中反复涉及的层面,而他真正所关注的是“何为真实”,而非政治本身。在他一贯的创作中,意识流一般的表达方式,对于在错综的历史背景下探讨根本问题这一模糊又艰巨的工作中,有着相当重要的方法论意义,让人随之逐一检验个人意识中的历史参照系,进而退出来,系统地考察自我存在的真实性。

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21. 胡向前《向前美术馆》(2010)

“我想象美术馆里堆满了东西,接下来就想象着艺术品如果都堆在人的脑子里会是什么样子?”——两个多世纪以来,美术馆以神圣的建筑及内在空间搜集人类文明发展的艺术精髓。现在,美术馆所具有的收藏、展示、传播、教育等职能使其本身拥有绝对的话语权的同时,背后也隐藏着种种问题。胡向前以自己的身体作为美术馆,在“开幕”当天向观众透过语言描述“展示”他头脑中的16件藏品(包括虚构的作品)。反思美术馆的价值体系和话语权的同时,也对当代艺术创作与言说的脱节(阐释的修辞术)进行讽刺。

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22. forget art地点:龙泉洗浴》(2010)

“forget art”是艺术家马永峰发起的一个独立机构,在城市的任意空间里展开一些无法确切定义的艺术活动。《地点:龙泉洗浴》是forget art早期“微干预”系列项目的典型。30余位艺术家的作品出现在草场地的公共澡堂“龙泉洗浴”中,观众却感到几乎什么都没有发生(一如日常生活下潜伏的诸般真实)——墙上的窥视孔,贴有诗人先贤的名字的更衣柜,被悄悄漂白的彩色毛巾,被涂成水磨石的水泥砖,被刻意放大的搓澡声,被指定为艺术作品而3小时后自动失效的澡堂现成物——与以往艺术家对空间的完全占据不同,《地点:龙泉洗浴》主张对空间进行一种极少主义式的(而非侵略式的)干预:“让这个空间本身还是原来的空间,或是空间之后的空间”。forget art延续这种“微弱的美学”,后来的实践更多地与当下的政治、经济现实发生关系,包括“微实践”、“微抵抗”等项目。马永峰认为当今世界重要的不是那些有着明确指导思想的大型运动,而是无数自发组织的、“微弱”的运动。

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23. 鄢醒《DADDY项目》(2010)

策展人、批评家卢迎华在《现实主义——评鄢醒》文中对这件作品的描述非常准确:“在这次令人心酸的呈现中,鄢醒面对着白墙站立,花了两个小时的时间讲述了他在单亲妈妈的照顾下成长的经历,向在场的观众袒露了自己曾经承受的家庭暴力、生活的巨大动荡感、来自家族的认同感及爱的缺失……开始这场讲述时,鄢醒把叙述的焦点放在了自己父亲的身上,甚至告诉我们父亲就在观众中;而随着他叙述的进行,我们才知道他所指的并非自己真正的父亲,而是一个他从未真实拥有、但无时不企盼的父亲形象。”戴章伦在《这是我的身体——鄢醒和他的讲述》文中则称:“如果我试图认定这样的行动是一种行为艺术(performance art)会陷入一种两难的悖论:一方面,很显然,艺术家选择讲述的一切都不是虚构的表演(performance)而是真实的呈现(present),因此,他选择朝向没有观众的那堵墙(为了确保讲述的真实性);另一方面,艺术家本人却又为自己至少设定了一位观众——他的父亲,在摄影机及所有观众的注视下,他的讲述变成了一种演出。也就是说,艺术家是以一种真实的方式在表演,他站在真实与虚构的镜像临界上,演出着自己的真实。”个体经验、身体、家庭史等元素在这“临界处”被重新激活,产生新的力量,也将“行为艺术”引向全新的维度。

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24. 安尼沃尔《有风无雨》(2011)

安尼沃尔是85前卫艺术的先驱者,同时也是一个不懈的革新者。2011年在站台中国的个展“有风无雨”汇集了他近年来的重要创作,这些作品延续了对纯粹的、基本形式的视觉表现的强烈爱好,对材质的细致探索,以及这些元素如何作用、联络,成为一个情感之旅。其中许多作品来自2008年以来的实验:让自然元素(天气和季节的实体和知觉感)真正参与到他的画作中,听凭自然力量造成改变。他把画布平放在院子里,用风作画,他让颜料从高空落下,让风把它们吹散,落在画布上,然后汇聚在一起形成一种特别的效果。工作室里有些画已经创作数月,他会一笔一笔把结构画出来,然后再拿到室外进行最后的创作。有时候所有元素搭配得完美无瑕,一个下午就能画完一张。有的则需要用1月的风来画,用4月的雨做最后的润色。策展人、批评家凯伦·史密斯(Karen Smith)称:“这些画作实现了某种‘绘画的炼金术’,艺术家在创作上的寻根之旅至此得以圆满。”

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25. 汪建伟《黄灯》(2011)

汪建伟用知识综合与跨学科的方法不断创造新的当代艺术语言,被称为“学习型艺术家”。他的艺术实践跨越录像、戏剧、多媒体、绘画、装置、行为艺术等,去年在UCCA进行的项目《黄灯》可谓其实践的集大成,综合了剧场模式、哲学式的质询、艺术的方法论和戏剧的偶然性。第一章节《用赝品等待》用八台投影仪从多角度投放影像,建立起一连串让观众产生不同体验的“视觉场”;第二章节《“我们知道我们在做什么……”》是由无数相互连接的篮球网和篮球组成的迷宫般的巨型装置;第三章节《内战》用一系列综合材料构成一个动力循环系统;第四章节《去十三楼的会议室看免费电影》中艺术家试图制造一个“物理上不可能存在的空间”。汪建伟亦以说话晦涩著称,他本人对“黄灯”作如此阐释:“黄灯同时面对两个正确性的敌人——对于绿灯正确性的终止;对于红灯正确性的否定,它在使双方的唯一性丧失的同时获得自身的位置——中间状态的合法。它既是干预也是中介,它使制约与延时成为可识别的‘硬物’。/‘黄灯’作为征兆,提供了另一种观看与理解事物的方式,我们企图建立一种矛盾与纠结的现场,一种使事物总是处于允许与禁止;主动与被动的途中状态,并通过反复的中断与修正,使现场成为无法融合、不可兼容的异质共同体?黄灯共同体?”

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24 十月

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.”

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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.

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–Carlyn Aguilar

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13 十月

It’s about the “Commons” – Witnessing Occupy Movements and Street Demonstrations in ItalyArticle written by Boliang Shen (Beijing-based curator and journalist at Artinfo China). The article has been translated from Chinese into English by Fang Liu in June 2012. The original article of this slightly edited version appeared in Artinfo China, on 25th May 2012.

The ‘Occupy’ movement is not a carnival-style entertainment”, but on May 12th, at the Piazza Verdi next to the University of Bologna, what I saw looked just like that: students wearing costumes of ancient Roman generals, medieval knights or pirates (“These where actually students from the local university’s fraternities, probably celebrating their graduation”, editor’s note) and holding placards with creative slogans addressing different social and political issues gathered at the square under the sun, they drank beer, engaged in animated talks… when dawn drew near, a truck carrying a rock band drove across the square, following behind was a long procession formed by groups of students, smoke of fireworks lighted to herald the procession gradually spread and seethed in this old, red city known for its tradition of radical resistance. The “Global Strike Day” march had just began –  “in the eyes of the Chinese, this is a spectacle, another disguise under the protection of capitalism”, said the artist Zhou Xiaohu who was with me.

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At the time, I and four other artists and curators (i.e., Ma Yongfeng, Ni Kun, You Mi and Zhouu Xiahou) were invited by European Alternatives, a European civil society organization, to participate in the art exchange in Rome and Bologna as part of the Transeuropa Festival co-hosted by the European Alternatives and the Transeuropa Network, which took place in 14 cities across Europe.

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From the eruption of the global financial crisis in ’08 and ’09 to the outbreaks of “Arab Spring” and “Occupy Wall Street”, all kinds of occupations, protests, mobilizations and radical politics have been acting like flames spreading everywhere. Nevertheless, we can only get to know one another through smoke and phantoms. “Is your art against capitalism?” “Is your art anti-modernism?” – These have been the looking-for-comrades type of questions that we often encountered. I asked about the connections between the current radical movements in Italy and the Italian communism tradition started by Antonio Gramsci and Palmiro Togliatti, the student and worker movements in the ’60s and late ‘70s, radical authors we are familiar with such as Pier Paolo Pasolini or Dario Fo, and even the left-wing extremist group “Red Brigades” in the ‘70s. The answers I got in general were: “There are maybe a certain loose connections, but those are not important, we were very young or not yet born then. What’s happening now is primarily influenced by global trends.”

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On the other hand, it is not like the “May Revolt” of ’68 in France, as many people have understood – “a group of young people growing up after the war revolted against a prosperous society”. Italy is experiencing a serious financial and social crisis. The young people I met showed anxiety over employment after graduation, and expressed concerns over tax hikes and high suicide rate in this city. According to a BBC report, there was a “White Widows March” in Bologna the weekend before we arrived, husbands of the women in the march killed themselves under the burden of deep recession, many were business men – that reminded me of a passage mentioned in the “Capital”, which has often been ignored: do not blame individual capitalists, they are victims of capitalism too. Reports of infectious suicides were all over the place. This March, a craftsman burned himself to death in front of the local tax court. Two days before we arrived, Maurizio Cevenini, a beloved left wing party leader and former mayoral candidate in Bologna, threw himself off a council building. His funeral was held on 12th May, the whole town was in grief. Ma Yongfeng’s “micro-resistance” event scheduled for that morning at a square near the city council was moved to the afternoon on the same day at Piazza Verdi next to the University of Bologna.

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Back in China, movements of “micro-interventions”, “micro-practices” and “micro-resistance” had been well received. Would the effect and meaning of “micro” become difficult to execute or express anything in the mighty context Bologna, where people have been so agitated? Continuing the pattern of creating graffiti on site in Bernard Controls, Ma wrote sentences on recycled cardboards, scrolls of fabrics, flags of Italy and EU, some were with indefinite indications such as “Sensibility is Under Control”, “Action is Product” and “You Can Steal ‘Now’, but Future is In Our Hands”, some were reflections on radical demonstrations – “Do Not Let the Protest Become a Pollutant-Free Ethical Gesture”, “Is It a Revolt without Revolution?” and so on. He also interacted with the students, asked them to write down their thoughts. However, in the deluge of slogans and graffiti of Bologna, could their words be noticed and understood as delicate and firm heterogeneity? After the brief exchanges, would the students deviate somewhat from the radical way of thinking they have been used to for the thoughts written down by themselves?

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Lorenzo Marsili, co-director of European Alternatives, asked what if someone from a radical group challenges him? Ma Yongfeng replied: “I’ll ask him to explain his point of view in one sentence, then I’ll write that sentence on a cardboard and give it to him in exchange of the placard he is holding.” That was an interesting idea, but, no one came forward to challenge, and each group kept to itself. There were some minorities who could hardly blend in stood by and watched. A Chinese friend who studies in University of Bologna said: “Protests and demonstrations happen here almost everyday, they have become a way for the people here to participate in public life, express opinions and positions, or legal channels for criticisms, just like us Chinese tweet our complains online…”.

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I had a long conversation about the issue with Sara Saleri, a member of European Alternatives, who has studied semiology with Umberto Eco. She thought that the student march we saw should not be deemed as a typical example of the entire “Occupy” protests and street demonstrations happening in Italy. Those young people were simply expressing themselves, they were anxious over the future, but had limited understanding of the substantial problems of the society. She admitted that street protest as a legal public means has a long tradition. However, she stressed that at about the time when the financial crisis started, street movements began to have whole new forms and claims.

“Commons”, “common goods” are terms mentioned often in the above movements, but they are relatively new concepts to Chinese readers. The easier examples are “Wikimedia Commons” and “Pirate Parties International” (PPI). The latter, first appeared in Sweden in 2006, started by opposing corporate copyright law’s restrictions on online downloads and hindrances of circulation of knowledge, and supporting legalization of online resource sharing. Later it grew bigger and expanded to many countries. Its claims have also been extended, by advocating openness and transparency of online information, government transparency and protection of civil rights, establishing a freer civilization and opposing outdated patent laws and monopoly. “Online governing” is another trait of the parties, they take advantage of online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to allow party members exercise their rights, announce policies, collect opinions and eliminate hierarchy. Its political stance has thus been established. Last September, the Pirate Party in Germany took 9% of the vote in Berlin elections. It was allowed to enter Berlin Parliament for the first time in history. Some people consider that the inception of alternative governance model.

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It is necessary to mention that, one reason for “commons” to become a keyword is closely related to Elinor Olstrom’s brilliant research on the concept – which won her 2009 Nobel prize in economics. Her study rip the notion of the negative connotation derived from the well-known article “Tragedy of the Commons” by Garret Hardin in 1968. Also, I must mention the book “Commonwealth”, co-written by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, and “The Common in Revolt”, a collection of dialogues between Judith Revel and Antonio Negri. Both are important sources on “Commons” in Italy. This year, the Transeuropa Festival in Bologna held symposiums on issues of digital commons, co-working and co-housing, new chapter of European commons and immigration policies.

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In Rome, posters advocating water as a common good are often seen, the campaign started last year based on nationwide queries made by two legal scholars of International University College of Turin. According to the result, most Italian considered that water should be deemed as a common good and managed by the people, so they oppose privatization of water.  Shortly after, on June 14 2011, the famous theatre Teatro Valle, built in the 18th century and located along the Pantheon and the Senate, was occupied (Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author” made its debut there). The theatre used to be managed by the ETI (Italian theatre association); then the ETI was closed and the theatre shot down due to high costs and decline of the industry. It was said that the theatre would be bought by a tycoon and converted into a restaurant. Therefore, workers of the arts and entertainment were mobilized through the internet to occupy the theatre, they claimed that culture is a common good, just like the water and the air, and the theatre shall be managed by the citizens. Now it has been almost one year now since the Teatro Valle was occupied, shows have been put on almost every night, performances are open to all citizens who pay as much as they wish. The occupiers and citizens ensure the quality of the performances through public assemblies – “We don’t need to vote, we listen to the reasons of those who say ‘No’.” The occupiers who accepted to be interviewed by me admitted that those were simply the first step of the occupation; they need to develop an alternative managing model of “common wealth theatre” in order to resolve financing and workers’ payment issues, and introduce the model to the government and citizens. For the time being, occupants still make their living from jobs outside of the theatre, they take turns to guard the theatre 24 hours a day, so the government wouldn’t have any chance to evict them – “the government does not even shut off the water and light, probably for fear of further intensifying the conflict…”. Similar occupations have erupted involving several other theatres in Rome and many cultural institutions across the country.

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In Rome, an audience asked about the current fever in China of building museums. Zhou Xiaohu replied frankly that “those are simply some art ‘houses’, and we do not benefit from them” – “But, I believe one day we will occupy those ‘houses’ as well.” Regarding the above-mentioned issue that whether the “alternative” art practices in China are part of the global “anti-capitalism” movement, Ma said that what is important in the world today is not movements with clear guiding ideology, but numerous “tenuous” movements that are organized voluntarily by the people.

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Afterwards I asked Sara Saleri and Gian Paolo Faella, PhD in History of Ideology at the University of Bologna, whether the movements of “commons” and “alternatives” are a direct revolt against capitalism, or just an improvement plan for the status quo. They admitted that opinions have been divided among participants, albeit those opinions derive from the desire for change. “Down with capitalism” is a political appeal belonging to a distant future. That is certainly too reserved in the eyes of a radical. Slavoj Žižek once said that if we try to improve capitalism inside the system, it would only extend the life of capital, the beast, and make modern states, “committees of administering common affairs of the entire capitalist class” even healthier. I also asked, if expanding the context of “commons” in which the backgrounds of members of co-governance and the circumstances are more complicated and diversified, will the model fail or end in disaster, like various communes or utopia in the past? Gian Paolo Faella considered it a very important question in the practice regarding “commons”, what resources could be “common wealth” shall be judged carefully – they shall be limited to resources on which the subsistence of all people rely and cultural resources shared by a community. To me, instead of establishing a country where everything is eventually a commons, the entire work regarding “commons” shall aim to the autonomy by the people on certain public resources, consequently make a government become a more idealized “limited government”.

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I am tired of asking questions that aim for “a clear direction” or “ the final goal”, which probably came from the habitual way of thinking imprinted on us by Leninism: a movement must have clear goals and plans designed by an authoritative figure or the highest commission, which would instruct the masses to strictly carry them out. Maybe we can bring up here the legacy of the German revolutionist Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin’s contemporary: contrary to Lenin’s favour of control and giving orders, Luxemburg emphasized the importance of disorder, noise and active, large-scale social events. She stressed the creativity and morale of each participant, deemed a revolution as “a complicated and organic process”, any division or intervention to the process would threaten the vitality of the organism as a whole – which are quite similar to “chaos” “complexity” and “self-organization”, concepts of modern science. Alexandra Kollontai, a Luxemburgist from the elite of the Soviet Bolshevik, also thought that to accomplish a revolution and create new forms of production is like riding on uncharted waters, therefore, action itself is superior then a blueprint or plans. She asked: “Can the smartest manager of a feudal estate invent early capitalism by himself?”. Similarly, without action, we should not expect the experts trained within the frameworks of capitalism and socialism be able to build a wonderful model for the future.

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(Special thanks to members of European Alternatives: Lorenzo Marsili, Luigi Galimberti Faussone, Sara Saleri, Gian Paolo Faella; occupiers of the Teatro Valle: Federica Giardini, Laura Verga, Emiliano Campagnola; James C. Scott, “Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed”; You Mi, Ni Kun, Ma Yongfeng, Zhou Xiaohu and his wife, Zhu He and Ou Ning who have helped me with the trip and this article.)

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25 八月
by An Xiao on August 24, 2012
from HYPERALLERGIC
“I want to feel the sun on my skin,” a slogan artist Ma Yongfeng pulled from conversations with workers at Bernard Controls Beijing.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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“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. ”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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).


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20 八月

by Luigi Galimberti Faussone

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What are the different types of cultural spaces in China and how are they managed? What is the artist’s role in the self-management of artistic production? What is the relationship between the artist and the transformation of the public space, the overpopulation and the exploitation of natural resources in China? How to define the artist’s role towards the public space?

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These and other related questions have been explored in occasion of the visit of five Chinese artists and curators to Italy, who had been invited by European Alternatives as part of the Transeuropa Festival 2012. Boliang Shen (curator and journalist, Beijing),Ma Yongfeng (artist, Beijing), Ni Kun (curator, Chongqing), You Mi (artist, curator and writer, Beijing) and Zhou Xiahou (artist, Shanghai) took part in a tour across the Italian towns of Rome, Prato and Bologna with the aim of opening a confrontation on the spaces of artistic expression and production between Europe and China.

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The first meeting took place on 9th May in Rome, at MACRO, one of the leading Italian contemporary art museums. The public roundtable has been moderated by European Alternative’s co-director, Lorenzo Marsili, with an opening address by Maria Alicata, curator at MACRO. The discussion focused on the issue of the rapid, as well as uncontrolled, urban development in China, which is causing physical and psychological displacement in many communities, which have been affected by such sudden changes in the Chinese landscape. Amongst the many interventions, the presentation of Organhaus’ activities by its founder and curator, Ni Kun, deserves particular attention. Organhaus is the first independent artist-run space in the urban conglomerate of Chongqing, a roughly 30 million people megalopolis in the region of Sichuan in Southwest China. Ni Kun has been running several projects involving the inhabitants of small villages, whose identities have been severely questioned by the displacement caused by the sprawling urbanization that affected Chinese countryside. The open engagement of the artist with public, vital issues showed how deeply and seriously the role of the artist might be played in contemporary China.

While in Rome, in addition to the public talk at MACRO, the Chinese artists and curators also engaged on informal meetings, such as the one with the occupants of the Teatro Valle. In particular, journalist and curator Boliang Shen and artist Ma Yongfeng exchanged practices and experiences on the management of spaces of cultural production by artists themselves, with a specific reference to the issue of the commons, on which the Teatro Valle Occupato is at the forefront in the European cultural context. Afterwards, all the participants moved to Prato, a town close to Florence, where they had the chance to visit the exhibition “Moving Image in China”, an extensive retrospective on Chinese video-art, hosted at the cutting edge Centro per l’arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci. The participants – and, in particular, the artist Zhou Xiahou, who is one of the pioneer of Chinese video-art and whose work was also featured in the exhibition – have been welcomed by Centro Pecci’s director, Marco Bazzini, who showed the group around the exhibition and with whom the group discussed many social and artistic issues, such as the relationship of the local art community with Prato’s Chinese inhabitants, who are estimated to account for almost a third of the town’s 180,000 residents.

The conclusive stage of the Chinese artists’ and curators’ tour in Italy took place in Bologna, during a busy weekend, full of Transeuropa Festival’s events. On Friday 11th May, a public talk was held at Teatrino Clandestino, Bologna’s renowned underground cultural venue, hosted by the curator Fiorenza Menni. In addition to the presence of the artists and curators from China, Elvira Vannini (curator and lecturer at NABA, Milan) and Luigi Galimberti Faussone, acting as moderator, joined the roundtable. This second talk switched the focus to the issue of alternatives and artist-run spaces, building up a confrontation with some more and less recent experiences in China and Europe, such as the well-established Beijing collective Forget Art, run by Ma Yongfeng, and the energetic, albeit curt, experience of MACAO‘s occupation of a skyscraper in the downtown of Milan, as told in the first-hand account of the the curator Elvira Vannini. On the following day, while the streets of Bologna were flooded with people, be they coming from the public funeral of a beloved local politician, who tragically committed suicide a few days before, or be they joining a fired up protest against the new government cuts to social spending, artist Ma Yongfeng staged a public intervention in Piazza Verdi, a central square in the university area. With the help of half a dozen volunteers, he went on writing slogans on banners and cardboards with red and black air spray painting. With these slogans, which mostly dealt with current, critical, social and political issues, Ma Yongfeng tried to engage the passers-by, as well as the protesters, in order to build up an extemporaneous transnational Sino-European dialogue on politics through art.

The participation of five Chinese artists and curators to the Transeuropa Festival 2012 lies within the broader project “Transnational Dialogues“, of which the next step is a research caravan across the towns of Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. This caravan, which is scheduled to take place in early October 2012, involves a large number of artists, researchers, curators and thinkers from China and Europe, who will engage in a research and production trip to map innovative cultural practices, foster new and existing relationships, document, and work towards a sustainable continuation of exchange between cultural innovators in both areas. These activities, as well as others that are in preparation, are part of European Alternatives’ efforts to go beyond the European context and to establish mutually fruitful partnerships between artists and spaces of artistic production, dialoguing and working together in Europe, China and South-East Asia.

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Articles in the press:

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“Non dimenticare lo spazio. Macro orientale, a Roma si discute di ruolo pubblico dell’artista e di spazi culturali in Cina” (on the talk at MACRO, Rome, 9th May 2012), Artribune (in Italian)
“Don’t forget space” (on the talk at MACRO, Rome, 9th May 2012), by Andrea Pira, China Files (in Italian)
“Seduti sui cuscini, tra Europa e Cina” (on the talk at Teatrino Clandestino, Bologna, 11th May 2012), by Gian Paolo Faella, Transeuropa Journal (in Italian)
“It’s about the Commons – Witnessing Occupy Movements and Street Demonstrations in Italy”, by Boliang Shen, ARTINFO China (in Mandarin)
“La Take the Square Parade invade le strade di Bologna!” (on the protests taking place next to Ma Yongfeng’s performance in Bologna, 12th May 2012), Univ-aut.org (in Italian)

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6 七月

di Gian Paolo Faella

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http://www.euroalter.com/IT/2012/seduti-sui-cuscini-tra-europa-e-cina/


Foto di Ruben Mir

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Due diversi tipi di curiosità sono protagonisti del dibattito che si svolge all’Atelier Sì, a Bologna, venerdì 11 maggio, sugli spazi dell’arte tra Europa e Cina, con la partecipazione di artisti e curatori italiani e cinesi. La curiosità ingenua del semplice incontro, forse non dissimile da quella che rese un giorno il Milione un best-seller, e una più ficcante e più avida, se non di risposte, di squarci sui grandi punti interrogativi che campeggiano in chi, specificamente, ha a cuore l’arte in un mondo che cambia. Un dibattito per pochi, sì, ma non per intimi, capace, cioè, di attrarre curiosi, intellettuali, forze vive della città che accoglie per alcuni giorni Ma Yongfeng, Ni Kun, You Mi, Zhou Xiaohu, Chen Xiaoying, Shen Boliang, nell’ambito delle iniziative del Transeuropa Festival.

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Così quando, con la benedizione della padrona di casa Fiorenza Menni, Luigi Galimberti pone agli artisti ospiti del Transeuropa Festival i suoi quesiti su quali siano in Cina gli spazi di produzione dell’arte, su come i curatori gestiscano lo spazio, sul rapporto che lì trapela tra pubblico e privato, si ha dapprima l’impressione di essere in un luogo di discussione per certi aspetti persino convenzionale, professionale, educato. Ma è il pubblico a irrompere: che cos’è lì l’arte, che cosa fate voi “artisti”, in sostanza? Così scopriamo che gli interlocutori del Sol Levante sono fondamentalmente degli intellettuali, anche se non è questa, forse, la parola a cui pensano. Ma Yongfeng va nelle fabbriche e propone il suo onirico piano industriale dipingendo dentro i capannoni e cantandole al bieco capitalismo a suon di vernice: Invest in contradiction. Scrive per chi lavora, raccontandone la quotidianità, proprio nei luoghi della sua fatica, della sua condanna, della sua resurrezione. Sensibility is under control, dipinge a caratteri cubitali in un deposito di materie prime o di semilavorati. Autocostituitosi autorità, cioè, ammonisce il padrone, il manager, il proprietario, facendo finta di parlare con quegli altri, gli operai: arte anche lì è soprattutto una grande finzione. Ni Kun, dal canto suo, costruisce un collettivo di artisti nelle campagne attorno a Chongqing, e lì intervista i contadini, proprio come un sociologo nell’Italia degli anni ’50. Lo scopo di queste attività non è di pubblicare – ci racconta – ma migliorare la vita delle persone. Un manierista, forse un alchimista, egli dunque non pubblica ciò che sa, anzi: egli conosce proprio perché non rende pubblico ciò che conosce. Questa è arte, signori: mostrare facendo.

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E ancora molte domande, e sullo sfondo naturalmente la politica, e il gusto, in fondo così europeo, di dare risposte più impertinenti delle domande stesse. Chi finanzia l’arte, in Cina? Non c’è bisogno di soldi per fare arte. Che differenze culturali ci sono nella concezione dell’arte tra Europa e Cina? Non ci sono differenze culturali, ci sono soprattutto differenze politiche, differenze di opinioni politiche; proprio per questo è positivo incontrarci, tuona You Mi, probabilmente la più realista del gruppo.

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E ancora, che cos’è un collettivo di artisti? Il collettivo è in Cina una pratica di resistenza come la intendiamo noi, con esperienze come Macao o il Teatro Valle? Sì e no. Forse, è difficile dirlo, il background è molto diverso. L’artista è principalmente un curatore.Certo, e se è per questo l’autore è come tale un editore, così come il politico è come tale principalmente un moderatore. La terra della Grande Moderazione, con i suoi lunghi, e soprattutto lenti fiumi, sembra volerci insegnare molto, ribattere colpo su colpo, e, senza alcuna difficoltà, stupirci.

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Abbiamo soprattutto progetti di lungo periodo. E perché? Perché le grandi trasformazioni che sta vivendo la Cina richiedono, per comprenderle, una immaginazione che guardi più avanti. C’è un rapporto – chiede ancora Elvira Vannini – tra le pratiche di ricerca alternative e il mercato dell’arte e, più in generale, con il sistema dell’arte? Non esiste un sistema dell’arte, in Cina, ma tanti micro-sistemi diversi.

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La Cina dunque non produce solo beni di consumo, e magari anche di bassa qualità, ma anche cultura, molta cultura, questo è il messaggio principale che ricaviamo dall’incontro. E per chi non lo sapesse, forse questa è già una notizia. Più che altro, nella giornata dell’11 maggio e non solo, prima ancora che produrre arte sembra produrre molta filosofia. Quella capacità, cioè, di dare risposte inaspettate, e di trasformare il mondo solo in quanto si osa prima tentare di comprenderlo. Gli spazi dell’arte, nelle parole che emergono più spesso, sembrano essere soprattutto spazi di riflessione, più che di lotta. Tuttavia appare estremamente difficile capire se ci sia una reale distinzione tra le due cose. Sia tra le città immense e caotiche, sia tra le infinite e povere campagne di quella terra che, paurosi, vorremmo ma spesso non riusciamo a conoscere, siamo portati a immaginare pochi, selezionati, spazi ampi per la civilizzazione e per il libero pensiero. Spazi per gli incontri, per offrire a chi passa solo per pochi giorni la propria verdura, per farsi consigliare un libro e rinforzare legami diversi dai semplici legami familiari e tradizionali. “Gli spazi dell’arte”, come li hanno chiamati gli organizzatori del singolare incontro. Forse, qui da noi, ci permetteremo di continuare a chiamarli anche spazi della politica. “Qui posso e non voglio, lì voglio e non posso, misero, manchevole, in entrambi i luoghi”, scriveva un tizio considerato molto europeo, se non che di fatto era africano, chiamato Agostino. Eppure noi europei, mai come oggi “miseri”, soprattutto di spirito, in Cina vogliamo e dobbiamo andare. Con la mente, con gli occhi, se non altro. Seduti su rossi cuscini dialoghiamo così per alcune ore, tra le corde che, attaccate ai muri, costituiscono la scenografia che più caratterizza quel teatro. Sotto quelle corde nessuna tensione, e soprattutto nessuna contrapposizione, ma solo il gusto perverso di riformulare le parole che riteniamo le più indicate a nominare le nostre passioni. L’appuntamento tra artisti e appassionati di arte, tra Europa e Cina, è per un prossimo incontro. Il dialogo – e non può che essere così – continua.

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