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average(people, audience, villager) 普通(人, 观众,村民)

1.作为一个普通人,他连自己在这个社会需要什么他都不知道,那他怎么知道什么是当代艺术呢?

Just as a person, an ordinary person, he doesn’t even know what he needs in this society. How can he know what contemporary art is?

(摘自徐坦对谢南星的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Xie Nanxing)

Interviewed: Cao Lei

Time: Evening, January 31, 2007

Location: The blue building, SOHO New Town, Beijing

社会   society social 23

关系   relationship involved with 16

珠三角  Pearl River Delta 12

成长 长大   grew up    12

     love     11

年青   young     10

合作   collaboration  9

影响 (作用)  influence  9

普通人,观众,村民average (people, audience, villager)  7

环境   surrounding    11

自己    self    30

自我    myself     1

乌托邦  utopia   5

艺术圈  art circle   4

交流  communication    6

现实 现状 reality  (realism)    12

现实主义  reality  realism     2

国家   country   5+

   fast   3

招安 sold souls      1

独立  independence        6

个人()   individual  personal    12

中国   China  Chinese      10

西方  the West     4

情感qinggan)    emotion    10

感情(ganqing)    feeling      3

年代 时代 age   14

时尚 hippest fashion      7

流行  popular      5

周星驰  Stephen chow    1

都市  urban    1

政府 government    1

城市规划   urban planning     1

刺激    stimulate, excitement, stimulating     3

 

Source of keywords:

Q: Your works cut deeply into life in a direct fashion. Do you consider this intervention to be important? Is it an overriding characteristic of Chinese contemporary art or the art of the new generation?

A: We’ve heard a lot of discussions about the social aspect of contemporary art, but sometimes being social doesn’t necessarily mean making a piece of work to express his concerns about the society, or to emphasize the social pressure of the work’s concept, because it hasn’t really advanced social life. Maybe the artist has indeed cut into reality, but I’m looking forward to seeing the influence and dialogue to be more direct.

Q: I find your point very interesting, so you have a very positive attitude towards contemporary art.

A: I don’t mind artist being personal. Sometimes artists would try to isolate themselves from the society, and most of them have introverted personality, but I think there is room for other type of people or direction. Like Ou Ning and I, we do urban planning- and architecture-related projects, and we are even deeply involved with the residents in front of our camera, I think these are all interesting. So I think contemporary art should be more open and embracing. At the absence of an appropriate term to describe our works, we temporarily put up with ‘contemporary art’. But it might well be something else, [something freer] with a freer title.

Q: Let’s get back to the topic of engaging with other people, how do you see your relation when collaborating with someone else?

A: Gradually I come to realize that reality or realism is still powerful in China at present, and documenting is another focus and a way to approach the reality. It seems to me that European artists have already gone through the high speed economic development period. Chinese contemporary art was probably influenced by European conceptual art in the very beginning, but I think we are gradually developing our own expression and context, which fit better in this country and its social life. In the early days we saw a lot of tricks played with forms – typical western working method. But I think the changes in every country are different, artists of different countries respond and react differently to their social and artistic reality. I fully understand and appreciate the works of that German artist.

Q: How does the current social reality of China affect your art and Chinese contemporary art in general? What does it offer you? Does it obstruct you? How?

A: My generation doesn’t seem to like to go abroad, instead we prefer to spend time in our own cities or countries to observe. This is a time of drastic changes, and there are a myriad of information to stimulate your creation, that’s why I’m willing to stay in this city. The city has been accumulating and changing as I grew up, and I’m used to the speed and excitement of it. For me, it’s like a well deeply rooted in the residence. When we were making San Yuan Li and Dazhalan Project, we were more or less getting ourselves into sensitive topics such as demolition and forced eviction. Ideologically we were standing against government. We think these topics are about the development of the society. We have a difficult environment for this kind of artistic expression. In the early days of contemporary art we still find a kind of risking – the confrontation with government ideology, but today is a different story. How to put this……in old terms we said artists have sold their souls to the government. I think these days are witnessing the decrease of venturing spirit of that kind. Today’s venture is no longer the behaviouristic or conceptual ones, it’s rather about a way to probe deep into the core of the problems: the deeper and more difficult. This is a working method and direction chosen by the artists, and it’s the environment we are facing now.

Q: You are quite sensitive to the changes of contemporary art, and your experience and attention to them are rather unusual. Do you have other judgments towards contemporary art besides the change-focused one?

A: Let’s take my documentary Father for example. My father has been a sculptor for many years, after I have grown up, I started to looking for connection between me and his sculptures. I made a documentary on him, I documented how he made sculptures of Deng Xiaoping, and he traveled a lot of counties and towns and accepted larger and larger orders. Father is now making sculptures of Confucius, and there’s a large market for it currently. Although not a contemporary artist, he has a close tie with reality, and you can learn about the near future direction of the country from sculpture: Deng Xiaoping this year, Confucius the next, and the one after……all these are explicitly visible on the older generation of artists, you see the destiny of China and its development in their art, and how artists of that age compromise with daily life. They were more closely connected with reality than the younger contemporary artists. The real face of our society is better reflected by my father as an artist. I submitted the documentary on my father to Taipei Biennale.

Q: Why do you think that there’s insufficient love in Chinese contemporary art?

A: First there are social factors, which I just mentioned. We are living in a society without love, or one in which love is not advocated. This value is not proposed by the whole society. The education we had from the early years was only fake respect and fake love, so I don’t think art should take the blame – because the whole society is simply going into a wrong direction, the moral system is collapsing, I’m a little desperate in this regard. It’s not only in the art circle, but all walks of life. So sometimes I feel the reason of art‘s existence is to rub smooth the social cracks. As an artist, I will try my best in this direction, instead of producing more phony things.

Q: This is exactly the belief that is in short in this society, with consumerism culture and fashion prevailing. Do you think they have any influence on the value of our society?

A: Sure they do, both show biz and fashion industry have casted an influence on the younger generation and the society as a whole. In America and Europe, although show biz and entertainment occupy a certain portion of the whole culture, they also manage to preserve the traditional elements. For instance, New York has the hippest events, but there are also poetry reading sessions or traditional rock concerts every night. But China is simply moving too fast, rock is out-of-fashion now, people are more into electronic music, things get eliminated very fast, old stuff are despised. So I think this is rooted in the nature of Chinese people. We have gone through a lot of political campaigns so we are afraid of falling behind. As a result, we over-do a lot of things. It’s radical, really……and the communication with our time? It seems that artists have lost faith in the society, sometimes they even have no desire in creating art works. At the discovery of art’s helplessness and powerless against the society, they figure that it doesn’t really matter either you make this work or not, and they lack the desire of existence, a kind of boredom.

Q: What do you think should be an artist’s conscious to his/her social role? Do you really believe that art can function in the society? To which degree? Is this just a hope?

A: I believe as an artist, you can definitely have only limited and weak influence on the society, and it functions only within a small circle unless you really take advantage of all kinds of resources, be adventurous and work like an activist and not just an artist. I see myself mainly as a bridge, even I stop being an artist one day, maybe I can do something more intellectually stimulating? So it’s really about getting this role as a bridge more stable and focused.

Q: Last question: would you please offer us your statement as an artist? What are some of the key concepts of your artistic creation?

A: How should I put this……like the project I’m doing now, it’s a film called Who’s Utopia?. This is both an interrogative sentence and a simply statement. Utopia should be built by us in collaboration, or shall we say some of us do need a utopia. I think I’m the kind of person who still has this ‘utopia complex‘, I’m not into the dystopia thing. Although I can’t really see the future clearly, but there has always been a force pushing me forward towards Utopia. What’s more, it’s not impossible that, one day, I would ditch this identity as an artist in favor of that of an activist.

audience 观众[guan zhong]

以前艺术家创作的时候,都是说要自由——这本来就是自欺欺人的,艺术家一定有假想市场,我指的不一定是,但一定有假想观众,很多艺术家有自己假想顾客,就是想到的问题,不只是中国国外也是,只是没人承认,我就是把这事讲明了,没必要藏着、掖着,市场就是市场定做就是定做。以前这个定做是,哪个画得好、得好,我们就按照哪个画,我们就不动,不管别人怎么说我们就这样,因为这是市场,虽然没有点名说是和哪个顾客,哪个收藏家进行商量画面的内容,但实际这都已经是商量好的,所以不敢变化,现在我们就还不如和收藏家商量,没准还有变化,其实古代的画都是定做的,不管是私藏品还是其他,西方的更不用说了,教堂、宫廷,都是定做的,定做本身不一定束缚创造力,所以我觉得不妨一试怎么按照工厂方式法来

In the past, when artists talk about creating, they invariably mention freedom – which has always been self-deceiving. An artist must have an imaginary market – I don’t necessarily mean money, but he must have an imaginary audience. Many artists have their own imaginary customers, and think about money. It’s not only in China, but also abroad; only nobody wants to admit it. I just make it clear; there is no need to hide it, to tuck it in. Market is market; made to order is made to order. In the past, made to order means we do exactly like the one that does well, the one that sells well; we follow it exactly, no matter what others say, because this is the market. Even though we don’t spell out that the content of the painting was agreed upon between so-and-so customer and so-and-so collector, in fact it was all agreed upon and must be followed with exactness. So we did not dare to change. Now, it’s perhaps better to discuss with the collector, because, who knows, you might get to change a few things. Actually all ancient paintings were made to order, whether private or otherwise. Not to mention western paintings– churches, courts – all made to order. Being made to order itself doesn’t necessarily constrain creativity, so I think it might as well give it a try and see how things are done according to the way of factories.

(摘自徐坦对冯顺华的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Feng Shunhua)

Interviewed: Feng Shunhua

Time: Afternoon, January 30, 2007

Location: Digital Media Studio, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

made to order,  custom orders   11

观众 audience  6   ,

大众 public  9 

社会 social, society, sociality    21

媒体 media 10

媒介 medium   11

个人 personally, personal   11

美术馆 art museum, museum   6

古典  Classical  6

古典艺术 classical art  3

兴趣 interested, attention, interesting    22

创造性  1

自由 freedom    2

政治性politically  1

        hot   4

市场      market  29

关系      relationship 22

收藏家    collectors  5

        sell  7

       “do”, engage in    56

下(载)  download, downloading, downloaded   5

有用      useful  6

        money   16

中国      China   19

刺激      stimulation    11

Source of keywords:

Q: In your point of view, how to define an artist?

A: I think an ideal artist bears some relationship with his view on art and life. Personally, I believe that art should be useless. This is a basic belief; at least I think so. The highest –level art should be useless art. But with that said, we can go on to discuss other things. We can put what we’ve learned into use. The practical functions of art are all the same, whether social, political, market – it’s an abnormal mindset to take these as the basis of your understanding of art. Art is for art’s sake; nothing else.

Q: What’s your take on contemporary art?

A: Contemporary art is gradually turning into something of a microscope – taking every detail to magnify, and dissemble into all types of possibilities. It has become very extreme, or shortsighted in certain degree. That’s the situation. How interested am I in contemporary art? If I go to an art museum, it must be one about ancient art. Personally, I’m not that interested in the current contemporary art. I’d be more interested in technology or other developments. I’m pretty pessimistic about the development of art in the present age. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Q: Why?

A: Personality, I guess. I’ve seen exciting stuff, but they’re just so-so. I still prefer quieter things, which are ever-lasting like classical art. That’s more exciting to me.

Q: Then what do you think are the characteristics of contemporary art?

A: I don’t think I’m able to sum it up. If I had to, I’d say it’s pretty extreme, whether in its form of presentation or its desired goals – both appear to be very extreme. Of course, there are works in contemporary art that are stunning, or exciting, or works with long lasting meaning. No doubt about that; it’s just that they are really small in number. The masterpieces in classical art are the result of so many years’ accumulation; whereas most works of contemporary art seem particularly shortsighted. I participate frequently in contemporary art exhibitions; I have seen enough. So, if I go to a show, if I had the choice, I’d definitely go to a classical art exhibition. I don’t want to get anything. I just enjoy looking at classical art.

Q: Is the market an issue in creating art?

A: It’s a good thing for me. I kind of like it. Previously I never really thought about this market thing, and sometimes I even went against it. Now I think that was not the way to do it, because with the market so hot now, I feel it’s more interesting to take advantage of the market and do something. It’s better to make use of it rather than avoid or neglect it. In the past, when artists talk about creating, they invariably mention freedom – which has always been self-deceiving. An artist must have an imaginary market – I don’t necessarily mean money, but he must have an imaginary audience. Many artists have their own imaginary customers, and think about money. It’s not only in China, but also abroad; only nobody wants to admit it. I just make it clear; there is no need to hide it, to tuck it in. Market is market; made to order is made to order. In the past, made to order means we do exactly like the one that does well, the one that sells well; we follow it exactly, no matter what others say, because this is the market. Even though we don’t spell out that the content of the painting was agreed upon between so-and-so customer and so-and-so collector, in fact it was all agreed upon and must be followed with exactness. So we did not dare to change. Now, it’s perhaps better to discuss with the collector, because, who knows, you might get to change a few things. Actually all ancient paintings were made to order, whether private or otherwise. Not to mention western paintings– churches, courts – all made to order. Being made to order itself doesn’t necessarily constrain creativity, so I think it might as well give it a try and see how things are done according to the way of factories.

Q: What influence does the market have on your creativity?

A: It’s easy to make money, but custom orders for the market is only one of my projects. I have other projects too, such as media art projects, which have nothing to do with market concerns. So I have several directions, and market is only one of them.

Q: What kind of cultural symbol is useful to your art?

A: It’s like a filter. We all take in similar information – we go to the same websites for news – what kind of information attracts your attention? We go to museums, we read, we watch films – what’s being filtered out? What’s being kept? As for electronic games, that’s another filter. Whatever passed the filter and stayed are especially interesting. Electronic games are games first of all. I have been particularly interested in games ever since I was a child. These things are part of human nature; and not only humans, but all creatures, all animals love to play – provided that you play after filling your stomach. To be able to do something enjoyable once the hunger is satisfied is really a high state of ideal life, which I think is very natural. Playing game play is a very important thing for a child’s growing up. I have preserved this natural tendency, and ever since electronic games came out, I have felt it to be very natural. It’s a large toy, so there must be many different ways of playing, and many ideas came out; and then I thought wouldn’t it be fun if I could do something with it? So, starting from 1992 up till this day, my art pieces have basically centered on electronic games. This is such a filter; whatever is expressed through the medium of electronic games must have been sifted. Maybe some things like philosophy masterpieces and relatively sensitive and subtle emotional things are not suitable for such expression. But actions, images, sounds and rhythms – these coarse, more sensory things are more suitable for this medium, and that’s the rough-and ready filter I have been using over the years.

Q: So you make virtual things real – not only art, even contemporary culture is also heading towards this direction. Is this what drives you into such a role?

A: We are actually all sensory animals. All our pleasures, according to the idealists, are nothing but sensory stimulation; while according to the materialists, these things all exist. According to the idealists, everything is abstract. We all rely on our senses to feel this world. Of course, these senses can be real or false. Like now I see you here, but maybe you’re not here. I think our future world will develop more in the direction of the virtual. To put it simply, it’s similar to drugs. Like putting a [zinc tablet] CMOS chip in your body, and you might feel it to be a drug. Like you eat a piece of bread, but I tell you that it’s a fish, because I have injected you with this program; then how can you not believe it? There is no doubt that these things will be realized. Let me give you an extreme example: can you download a baby? You’d say, no. Because you wouldn’t think of just a baby, you would pat it on its head, talk to it and see it go to sleep at night – then how can you be sure about all this? Through language, touch and hearing? If we give you all of these, then you have it. We say “download a piano,” and nobody would believe us. But now, what’s the big deal with downloading a piano? We can even download an eighteenth-century piano from a famous concert hall, which is totally possible. You can download a piano even at work. Because it’s the sound of the piano that you want, not the wood which makes the piano, because you’re not a collector. As an audience, what you consume is the sound of the piano, and this sound is now digitized, so of course it can be downloaded. So, why can’t a baby be downloaded? You would think that this is creepy, and it’s impossible. This is about feeling. If you live in these feelings everyday, and receive stimulation from these feelings, this process will slowly guide the baby towards growth, going to school and returning from school, day in, day out, and you’ve lived like this for ten years… From this point of view, I think the whole world is quite sad.

Q: Does that mean many art organizations in the traditional sense of the word are declining in certain aspects?

A: Hard to say. But I have a personal wish: I wish that art museum can live on forever. Very likely, everything will be digitized in the future, but I hope art museum will still be there. I’m not talking about five or ten years from now… I’m talking about far, far into the future… about words, language, and so forth…

Q: Actually, either contemporary art or traditional art invariably involves commonly existing issues in the mundane society, are you interested in any of these issues?

A: Not interested at all. I really don’t have any interest at all regarding the so-called ethnic or national art. Art cannot cover these things, and it’s not the purpose of art, nor is it something art can achieve. Art can’t change anything. Instead of trying to change randomly with no success, one should rather just do one’s own thing, and solve one’s own problem. In terms of a piece of art work, just take care of that piece of work. That’s more interesting. You can have all kinds of excuses. Sociality? Eventually, this artist must be responsible for this single piece of work. We can talk about communication only under this premise. If you cannot even solve your own problems, how can you communicate with others?

auction 拍卖[pai mai]

1. 以前大家还关注怎么去制作一件好作品,关注学术;现在讨论的全是拍卖、拍卖价格的问题、市场问题。

Before, people would still care about how to produce good works and they would care about the academic side of things. Now, people talk about nothing but auctions, auction sale prices, and the market.

(摘自徐坦对卢昊的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Lu Hao)

 

Interviewed: Lu Sichen

Time: Afternoon, Jan. 30, 2007

Location: Fansi(Fancy) Restaurant, 4th Ring Road, Beijing

社会 social     18

市场 market    11

机构 institutions  organizations   11

边缘 periphery    7

居住 housing living          5

北京 Beijing        63

邻居 neighbors      5

符号 symbol      10

中国符号 China symbol     6

胡同 Hutong  alleys      10

国家    country    5

弱势群体   under-privileged groups     7

日本    Japan      6

热门  hot  3

老百姓 citizens residents 5

环境  context  13

拍卖  auction 8

价格  price, worth   5

价值  value  8

关系  relationship  21

人际关系  interpersonal relationship   2

拆迁  demolishing and rebuilding  3

西方  the West  4

建筑  building  9

位置  status  4

装修  decoration project interior decoration  3

  circle   1

Source of keywords:

Q: Could you please first comment on the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: This is quite a big question. I think contemporary art in China is now in a relatively good phase; it’s hot, and many institutions and collectors are very concerned contemporary art. Seen from this point, it’s a hot thing. But on the other hand, judging from the past two years, there have been very few really good works; so some people even think that we’ve reached the bottom point in contemporary Chinese art. This is rather difficult, because, for many artists, they really need to sell their works; while the social temptation is just too strong. Before, people would still care about how to produce good works and they would care about the academic side of things. Now, people talk about nothing but auctions, auction sale prices, and the market.

Q: Please describe what your art is mainly concerned with.

A: I think my work is mostly about the relationship between neighbors in residential quarters in old Beijing, the changes in the city, and learning about interpersonal relationship through the observation of these changes. There are so many artists in Beijing, but not many local professional artists. As a professional artist in Beijing, I‘m not saying I want to be an international artist. Living in Beijing, with all the surroundings, the neighbors in the Hutong alleys, the friends and relatives all around me, the street hawkers – all of these are sources of inspiration for my work. I have emotions towards all of them, so I see things under this context when working on my art.

Q: You care about relationship with the surroundings. Then, how is the interaction between your work and the audience?

A: I don’t even know. Even though I’ve worked so many years in Beijing, I feel that Beijing natives who have seen my work are quite few; the ones who really come to see my work are the persons in art circle. For example, when I do indoor or outdoor installation, the Beijing natives see them as decoration project. So I always feel like I’m doing decoration project whenever I start an installation piece. I have finished many related works in Beijing, but I think their impact has been limited.

Q: How do you think the West is regarding all these developments in contemporary Chinese art?

A: I’ve talked to some people about this. They feel that the present phenomenon is horrible. The price for art is very high, higher than what the market can take. It’s like a stock market.

Q: You’ve emphasized the close relationship with your surroundings. As an artist, what role do you play in the society?

A: Under-privileged group. All artists basically all belong to under-privileged groups. Maybe due to the recent market hype, or the higher prices at auctions, people have started to pay attention to artists, but nobody had any such concepts before. Contemporary art had no social status in the past, and it’s only because of the market prices in the past couple of years… People all care about one thing ultimately – how much [is it] does it worth? This is the level of artistic appreciation in China today.

Q: So, from your point of view, this society actually still has a very limited acceptance of contemporary art.

A: My feeling is that contemporary Chinese art, including the entire painting profession, has always occupied a decorative position in the Chinese society. A well-to-do family needs something to decorate their house, but the wealthy owners don’t know about the value of the art works, and they don’t need to know. They have the money; they can buy the paintings. So they hold the same right of speech as the artists. Other than that, they care about nothing. I think many people have gained various kinds of benefits from all this. Songzhuang is a typical example. It was previously a very poor village. Then some artists moved there, and the village leader gradually found out them. Then this thing became an event. Yet this leader was promoting art for his career gains. Now many private collectors and collecting organizations abroad have all gone there. And now that village has expanded its influence, and then this local leader became, overnight, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. When contemporary art links with certain things on the international level, it gets exciting. But do these people really care that much about culture? I think not.

I made a painting recently. I always find a topic interesting: “China symbol.” Many have debated on whether Chinese artists should deploy the “China symbol.” Its antithesis is the globalization symbol – I have no idea what that might be like; I only know of the concept. My feeling is that there is nothing wrong with the China Symbol. The Americans are flaunting their Symbol everyday, and nobody has any problem with that. Then why would you have problem with the Chinese using their own Symbol? I think I’m the kind of person who will take the China Symbol to the end. As a Chinese artist, what is your goal? To promote your own culture or to extinguish your own culture? That is the question. So I decide to do contemporary art using the most traditional Chinese methods. I painted a long scroll, about 50 meters in length, of the scenery along the Chang’an Boulevard in Beijing, recording each building alongside. The Chang’an Boulevard is about 15 kilometers in length, and I painted it at the scale of 1:300, so it turned out to be 50 meters. And at the same time, with the traditional way of ancient Chinese painting, I carved many seals, displaying the names of the Hutong alleys that have disappeared in Beijing. That is my latest work.

Q: And how did you turn it into an installation piece?

A: You can’t turn it into an installation. One of my installation pieces is one made in 2002 – a large sand table, about 100 meters; it’s roughly a model of the Second Ring Road in Beijing. I got this idea while looking at lots of apartment sales centers. They have all these models of high-rises, really beautifully made. So I made this sand table as a symbol for traps – a pit, a huge pit, where many people’s life-long savings are thrown in. I thought this trickery in the form of a sand table was really fun, so I made a sand table of the entire city of Beijing, because at that time Beijing was bidding for the 2008 Olympic Games.

In fact, I think that the government is using the “renovate and improve the citizens[living] housing conditionslogan to justify their massive scale of demolishing and rebuilding. I wrote a project plan once, in which I would evacuate all the residents from a certain Hutong alley and courtyard. I rent a building for them to stay in. Then I renovate their housing, without changing the exterior structures. And I would employ top interior designers to plan a new interior decoration. Then I invite all the residents back to their homes. So I think it is indeed possible to improve their living condition without changing their living habits. The method used by the government now is really assigned migration. In other words, the citizens are an under-privileged group. When they cannot face up to the government and the developers, they would have to move, far away. The government settles them by paying tens of thousands yuan as moving expenses, and thus throws them to the periphery of the city. I think a more ideal way of doing this is to do it as if it were a work of art – we find investors to invest some money, and then we change the living conditions of these courtyard residents completely. I used to have such a project proposal; it was something I really wanted to do at that time. If this work had been realized and had succeeded, then we’d be raising a question to the city planning committee. I thought that would be fun.

attitude 态度[tai du]

1.不是消极,无聊消极,可能是一种态度社会生活上的很多事情都是这种状态,和现状,可能带有自己判断,对社会、对生活判断,但并不是什么都没有、很消极的那种,不是活不下去了的那种。

It’s not negative. Being bored is not negative; perhaps it’s a state of being. Many things in this society are in this state, this current state. Maybe it has to do with your own judgment – on society, on life. But it’s not the state of nihility and negativity that make you not want to live anymore.

(摘自徐坦对刘仁华的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Liu Renhua)

 

2.你的态度是什么,我觉得这个时候你会用你的……比如说你是艺术家,或者你是作家,你会有你的语言方式来谈你的态度,而且我觉得不仅仅表明一个态度,因为我现在也听到很多……就是态度决定一切”,这其实很有问题态度决定一切就意味着所有的问题只要你举手或者不举手,那就是说回到一个公共……

On this issue, what exactly is your attitude? Whether you’re an artist, a writer, you would use your own language and your own way to present your attitude. And it’s not just a declaration of attitude, because I’ve been hearing a lot – about this “attitude decides everything” thing, which is actually full of problems itself. Because “attitude decides everything” means it all depends on whether you raise your hand or not on every issue. That means going back to a public

(摘自徐坦对汪关征的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Wang Guanzheng)

 

Interviewed: Liu Renhua

Time: Afternoon, Jan. 14, 2007

Location: Eudora Station Cafe, Beijing

生活      life live            15

低级趣味  vulgar taste  vulgar  5

自己      self  own           22

态度      attitude             6

社会      society  social       7

别人      others other people  other   5

接受      accept  take                6

大众      public                      14

大众审美  popular aesthetics            3

审美      aesthetics                    7

时尚      fashion                     15

消耗      drain (exhaust)               5

关系,联系, 关联  relationship relation related  connections   6

不同,不一样    different                      10

制度  system     1

     take  7 

     circle  6

     sell   5

发展   development develops  6

无聊   boring bored   5

商业   commercialization business  commercial  4

国外   foreign countries  4

中国   China  3

形象   images  5

 

Source of keywords:

Q: First of all, would you please generally talk about the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: I think there is a healthy trend of development, but there are also many problems. For example, commercialization has gone a bit too far. Consequently, people often don’t even think about what to do or how to do it, because of the influence of the market. Perhaps this commercialization leads to many problems in the quality of the work. But it’s also good – in time, people will reflect on this issue, reflect on how to do things. I don’t have much of an opinion on this. I haven’t really thought about it that much. Take the view on the system for example. There is nothing we can do about the system, because a lot of things are pre-existent; we don’t have a well-built mechanism of art as foreign countries. The existing system in China certainly has an impact on the development of art. Without certain organizations, such as foundations, artists here still depend on commercial activities. Artists in foreign countries can apply for the funds to maintain their creation. They don’t have to depend on selling their works. But the artists in China have to rely on his own works to meet his needs in creation, that is, he must sell his work in order to pay for the production fees of his next work of art. That is the problem.

Q: What kind of image do you want your work to present to people?

A: It varies from year to year. Maybe it’s more focused now, unlike the last few years, where you see different images, different outlook, like videos, etc… using many kinds of material, with all different concepts. But now I want to be more focused – what kind of work do I want to do in this one year? Installation, perhaps. Which means, your concerns are more focused, and you even consider letting go of some of the works; whereas previously you do whatever comes to your mind. Now you might not do something even if the idea comes up, because it might affect the overall image of your work. Sometimes, the strategic aspects will also be reckoned with. For example, a work of art will put aside when it’s completed. One year later, it takes effect. But sometimes, you start with a good feeling and then find the work losing its effect a year later. Put all your work aside, good or bad, wait for a year or two and check if they are still effective. If so, then it means they are related to your previous development.

A: Visual impact is certainly essential, but not that kind of strong outward impact deliberately made. I’m interested in a basic sensation that people see everyday but fail to perceive. It’s an impact through a different medium – perhaps volume, perhaps something else.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the relationship between your art and social reality?

A: I don’t know what kind of relationship it is. I’m only searching for a point of excitement. I get an idea only when I see or feel something that excites me; I don’t get ideas out of the blue. Maybe some people come up with an idea first and then realize it. But my work comes from something I see and think about. It’s never a rational process of making works of art.

Q: Then, are there any obstacles in the communication between your art and the public?

A: Yes, of course. But it’s not too bad, and I know what the reasons are. When you have a conversation with someone, you cannot communicate with each other due to totally different values. You still know what the other person is thinking, which is totally different from your own thinking, and vice versa. From the public‘s point of view, sometimes they see the work and feel good, feeling that they can take it, because contemporary art still contains something that is most explicit. No matter how art develops, how conceptual it becomes, the explicit visuality, like beauty, always exist. That will never change.

As with communicating with the public, television is what the public likes. I don’t think there is much worth viewing on TV; it’s all just bullshitting and awful. Of course I can watch it too, but I think it’s just vulgar taste. Perhaps the more vulgar is, the more attractive to most people.

Q: And this is the difference between popular and elite culture?

A: Nothing is elite. I don’t like such mentality of regarding himself as infallible.

Q: What sort of influence does Beijing have on your art.

A: Maybe the climate, and something else. Beijing is not a very pleasant city. It can be summed up in one word – dark, which is pretty bad due to the climate like sand storms, etc. Usually I don’t have to go out during the day, and you have nowhere to go at night, unlike some cities in the south, where you can walk around comfortably at night. You can’t do this in Beijing, all you can do is stay home during the day, and go to entertainment spots, like pubs and teahouses at night. Basically there is nowhere you can go to enjoy something natural. But I’ve gotten used to this; maybe it’s related to aesthetics. I’ve completely accepted this grayish, somber landscape. I don’t think it ugly – it’s even rather pretty sometimes. Beijing is faster in pace, and creates more stress compared to other cities. It has more fun here. There’s all sorts of people here; any kind of people can survive here. There exist good idea and bad idea. You can do anything you like. They can all co-exist. Perhaps this is the tradition or customs here.

Q: A lot of artists think too many exhibitions in Beijing, many of which are too superficial.

A: Right. I usually don’t go to exhibitions, except those by very close friends. I don’t go to any other exhibitions.

Q: What’s your view on the art organizations like museums of art?

A: Basically I don’t have any connections with them. That’s PR activities, not what we do.

Q: So you don’t think art should engage into society, into life?

A: It’s not that. Some artists do it that way, and it’s fine, just not my style.

Q: Then what do you think is the role of the artists in society?

A: Never thought about that. I don’t know what sort of role it is; I don’t know. I’m not different from other people, we’re the same. We are all doing our own work, with different ideas and subject-matters. Sometimes you feel you’re exhausting yourself, but everyone is the same. From close by, you see yourself doing something different from others; from afar, it’s all the same. You do certain things to maintain your level of energy, and then you keep draining it. You can’t live your life energetically every single day. It’s insignificant and boring most of the time.

Q: Many other artists also feel negative.

A: It’s not negative. Being bored is not negative; perhaps it’s a state of being. Many things in this society are in this state, this current state. Maybe it has to do with your own judgment – on society, on life. But it’s not the state of nihility and negativity that make you not want to live anymore.

For example, popular aesthetics, just like TV and movies, is just boring beyond words. But everybody likes it. That’s why it can exist. It’s something with an extremely vulgar taste, but people like vulgarity. You can’t run away from it no matter what.

Q: What do you think is the relation between fashion and art?

A: Fashion is more popular, more real-life, and more guiding. Mostly it’s about this guidance – guiding your life – about what is good. It’s a sort of guidepost, leading the public to develop towards the direction it sets. Ultimately there is something good leading the popular aesthetics, whereas art has no such attribute. It doesn’t have to have an impact on everyone. It works by itself. It has an impact on a minority of people. It doesn’t rely on the public.

art museum, museum 美术馆[mei shu guan]

不好说,我个人有一种愿望:总是希望美术馆这种东西永远存在下去。非常有可能的是,将来什么东西都数字化了,但希望美术馆还在,我想的不是以后五年十年发生的,我想的是很久以后的……文字、语言等……

Hard to say. But I have a personal wish: I wish that art museum can live on forever. Very likely, everything will be digitized in the future, but I hope art museum will still be there. I’m not talking about five or ten years from now… I’m talking about far, far into the future… about words, language, and so forth…

(摘自徐坦对冯顺华的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Feng Shunhua)

 

Interviewed: Feng Shunhua

Time: Afternoon, January 30, 2007

Location: Digital Media Studio, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing

made to order,  custom orders   11

观众 audience  6   ,

大众 public  9 

社会 social, society, sociality    21

媒体 media 10

媒介 medium   11

个人 personally, personal   11

美术馆 art museum, museum   6

古典  Classical  6

古典艺术 classical art  3

兴趣 interested, attention, interesting    22

创造性  1

自由 freedom    2

政治性politically  1

        hot   4

市场      market  29

关系      relationship 22

收藏家    collectors  5

        sell  7

       “do”, engage in    56

下(载)  download, downloading, downloaded   5

有用      useful  6

        money   16

中国      China   19

刺激      stimulation    11

Source of keywords:

Q: In your point of view, how to define an artist?

A: I think an ideal artist bears some relationship with his view on art and life. Personally, I believe that art should be useless. This is a basic belief; at least I think so. The highest –level art should be useless art. But with that said, we can go on to discuss other things. We can put what we’ve learned into use. The practical functions of art are all the same, whether social, political, market – it’s an abnormal mindset to take these as the basis of your understanding of art. Art is for art’s sake; nothing else.

Q: What’s your take on contemporary art?

A: Contemporary art is gradually turning into something of a microscope – taking every detail to magnify, and dissemble into all types of possibilities. It has become very extreme, or shortsighted in certain degree. That’s the situation. How interested am I in contemporary art? If I go to an art museum, it must be one about ancient art. Personally, I’m not that interested in the current contemporary art. I’d be more interested in technology or other developments. I’m pretty pessimistic about the development of art in the present age. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Q: Why?

A: Personality, I guess. I’ve seen exciting stuff, but they’re just so-so. I still prefer quieter things, which are ever-lasting like classical art. That’s more exciting to me.

Q: Then what do you think are the characteristics of contemporary art?

A: I don’t think I’m able to sum it up. If I had to, I’d say it’s pretty extreme, whether in its form of presentation or its desired goals – both appear to be very extreme. Of course, there are works in contemporary art that are stunning, or exciting, or works with long lasting meaning. No doubt about that; it’s just that they are really small in number. The masterpieces in classical art are the result of so many years’ accumulation; whereas most works of contemporary art seem particularly shortsighted. I participate frequently in contemporary art exhibitions; I have seen enough. So, if I go to a show, if I had the choice, I’d definitely go to a classical art exhibition. I don’t want to get anything. I just enjoy looking at classical art.

Q: Is the market an issue in creating art?

A: It’s a good thing for me. I kind of like it. Previously I never really thought about this market thing, and sometimes I even went against it. Now I think that was not the way to do it, because with the market so hot now, I feel it’s more interesting to take advantage of the market and do something. It’s better to make use of it rather than avoid or neglect it. In the past, when artists talk about creating, they invariably mention freedom – which has always been self-deceiving. An artist must have an imaginary market – I don’t necessarily mean money, but he must have an imaginary audience. Many artists have their own imaginary customers, and think about money. It’s not only in China, but also abroad; only nobody wants to admit it. I just make it clear; there is no need to hide it, to tuck it in. Market is market; made to order is made to order. In the past, made to order means we do exactly like the one that does well, the one that sells well; we follow it exactly, no matter what others say, because this is the market. Even though we don’t spell out that the content of the painting was agreed upon between so-and-so customer and so-and-so collector, in fact it was all agreed upon and must be followed with exactness. So we did not dare to change. Now, it’s perhaps better to discuss with the collector, because, who knows, you might get to change a few things. Actually all ancient paintings were made to order, whether private or otherwise. Not to mention western paintings– churches, courts – all made to order. Being made to order itself doesn’t necessarily constrain creativity, so I think it might as well give it a try and see how things are done according to the way of factories.

Q: What influence does the market have on your creativity?

A: It’s easy to make money, but custom orders for the market is only one of my projects. I have other projects too, such as media art projects, which have nothing to do with market concerns. So I have several directions, and market is only one of them.

Q: What kind of cultural symbol is useful to your art?

A: It’s like a filter. We all take in similar information – we go to the same websites for news – what kind of information attracts your attention? We go to museums, we read, we watch films – what’s being filtered out? What’s being kept? As for electronic games, that’s another filter. Whatever passed the filter and stayed are especially interesting. Electronic games are games first of all. I have been particularly interested in games ever since I was a child. These things are part of human nature; and not only humans, but all creatures, all animals love to play – provided that you play after filling your stomach. To be able to do something enjoyable once the hunger is satisfied is really a high state of ideal life, which I think is very natural. Playing game play is a very important thing for a child’s growing up. I have preserved this natural tendency, and ever since electronic games came out, I have felt it to be very natural. It’s a large toy, so there must be many different ways of playing, and many ideas came out; and then I thought wouldn’t it be fun if I could do something with it? So, starting from 1992 up till this day, my art pieces have basically centered on electronic games. This is such a filter; whatever is expressed through the medium of electronic games must have been sifted. Maybe some things like philosophy masterpieces and relatively sensitive and subtle emotional things are not suitable for such expression. But actions, images, sounds and rhythms – these coarse, more sensory things are more suitable for this medium, and that’s the rough-and ready filter I have been using over the years.

Q: So you make virtual things real – not only art, even contemporary culture is also heading towards this direction. Is this what drives you into such a role?

A: We are actually all sensory animals. All our pleasures, according to the idealists, are nothing but sensory stimulation; while according to the materialists, these things all exist. According to the idealists, everything is abstract. We all rely on our senses to feel this world. Of course, these senses can be real or false. Like now I see you here, but maybe you’re not here. I think our future world will develop more in the direction of the virtual. To put it simply, it’s similar to drugs. Like putting a [zinc tablet] CMOS chip in your body, and you might feel it to be a drug. Like you eat a piece of bread, but I tell you that it’s a fish, because I have injected you with this program; then how can you not believe it? There is no doubt that these things will be realized. Let me give you an extreme example: can you download a baby? You’d say, no. Because you wouldn’t think of just a baby, you would pat it on its head, talk to it and see it go to sleep at night – then how can you be sure about all this? Through language, touch and hearing? If we give you all of these, then you have it. We say “download a piano,” and nobody would believe us. But now, what’s the big deal with downloading a piano? We can even download an eighteenth-century piano from a famous concert hall, which is totally possible. You can download a piano even at work. Because it’s the sound of the piano that you want, not the wood which makes the piano, because you’re not a collector. As an audience, what you consume is the sound of the piano, and this sound is now digitized, so of course it can be downloaded. So, why can’t a baby be downloaded? You would think that this is creepy, and it’s impossible. This is about feeling. If you live in these feelings everyday, and receive stimulation from these feelings, this process will slowly guide the baby towards growth, going to school and returning from school, day in, day out, and you’ve lived like this for ten years… From this point of view, I think the whole world is quite sad.

Q: Does that mean many art organizations in the traditional sense of the word are declining in certain aspects?

A: Hard to say. But I have a personal wish: I wish that art museum can live on forever. Very likely, everything will be digitized in the future, but I hope art museum will still be there. I’m not talking about five or ten years from now… I’m talking about far, far into the future… about words, language, and so forth…

Q: Actually, either contemporary art or traditional art invariably involves commonly existing issues in the mundane society, are you interested in any of these issues?

A: Not interested at all. I really don’t have any interest at all regarding the so-called ethnic or national art. Art cannot cover these things, and it’s not the purpose of art, nor is it something art can achieve. Art can’t change anything. Instead of trying to change randomly with no success, one should rather just do one’s own thing, and solve one’s own problem. In terms of a piece of art work, just take care of that piece of work. That’s more interesting. You can have all kinds of excuses. Sociality? Eventually, this artist must be responsible for this single piece of work. We can talk about communication only under this premise. If you cannot even solve your own problems, how can you communicate with others?

art circle 艺术圈[yi shu quan]

刚刚说的一个就是社会的原因,现在是一个没有、或者不提倡社会整个社会都不倡导这种价值观。我们从小受的教育是一种很虚假尊敬,我觉得这不是艺术的错误,因为整个社会的导向是错误的。整个社会道德也越来越崩溃,我对这方面真的是有点绝望了——不只是在艺术圈里面,其实社会的生活方方面面、都有所体现,所以我觉得,有时侯艺术的存在可能就是用来抚平这种裂痕吧!作为艺术家,我尽可能做的是去抚平裂痕,而不是去制造更多更虚假的东西。

First there are social factors, which I just mentioned. We are living in a society without love, or one in which love is not advocated. This value is not proposed by the whole society. The education we had from the early years was only fake respect and fake love, so I don’t think art should take the blame – because the whole society is simply going into a wrong direction, the moral system is collapsing, I’m a little desperate in this regard. It’s not only in the art circle, but all walks of life. So sometimes I feel the reason of art‘s existence is to rub smooth the social cracks. As an artist, I will try my best in this direction, instead of producing more phony things.

(摘自徐坦对曹蕾的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Cao Lei)

Interviewed: Cao Lei

Time: Evening, January 31, 2007

Location: The blue building, SOHO New Town, Beijing

社会   society social 23

关系   relationship involved with 16

珠三角  Pearl River Delta 12

成长 长大   grew up    12

     love     11

年青   young     10

合作   collaboration  9

影响 (作用)  influence  9

普通人,观众,村民average (people, audience, villager)  7

环境   surrounding    11

自己    self    30

自我    myself     1

乌托邦  utopia   5

艺术圈  art circle   4

交流  communication    6

现实 现状 reality  (realism)    12

现实主义  reality  realism     2

国家   country   5+

   fast   3

招安 sold souls      1

独立  independence        6

个人()   individual  personal    12

中国   China  Chinese      10

西方  the West     4

情感qinggan)    emotion    10

感情(ganqing)    feeling      3

年代 时代 age   14

时尚 hippest fashion      7

流行  popular      5

周星驰  Stephen chow    1

都市  urban    1

政府 government    1

城市规划   urban planning     1

刺激    stimulate, excitement, stimulating     3

 

Source of keywords:

Q: Your works cut deeply into life in a direct fashion. Do you consider this intervention to be important? Is it an overriding characteristic of Chinese contemporary art or the art of the new generation?

A: We’ve heard a lot of discussions about the social aspect of contemporary art, but sometimes being social doesn’t necessarily mean making a piece of work to express his concerns about the society, or to emphasize the social pressure of the work’s concept, because it hasn’t really advanced social life. Maybe the artist has indeed cut into reality, but I’m looking forward to seeing the influence and dialogue to be more direct.

Q: I find your point very interesting, so you have a very positive attitude towards contemporary art.

A: I don’t mind artist being personal. Sometimes artists would try to isolate themselves from the society, and most of them have introverted personality, but I think there is room for other type of people or direction. Like Ou Ning and I, we do urban planning- and architecture-related projects, and we are even deeply involved with the residents in front of our camera, I think these are all interesting. So I think contemporary art should be more open and embracing. At the absence of an appropriate term to describe our works, we temporarily put up with ‘contemporary art’. But it might well be something else, [something freer] with a freer title.

Q: Let’s get back to the topic of engaging with other people, how do you see your relation when collaborating with someone else?

A: Gradually I come to realize that reality or realism is still powerful in China at present, and documenting is another focus and a way to approach the reality. It seems to me that European artists have already gone through the high speed economic development period. Chinese contemporary art was probably influenced by European conceptual art in the very beginning, but I think we are gradually developing our own expression and context, which fit better in this country and its social life. In the early days we saw a lot of tricks played with forms – typical western working method. But I think the changes in every country are different, artists of different countries respond and react differently to their social and artistic reality. I fully understand and appreciate the works of that German artist.

Q: How does the current social reality of China affect your art and Chinese contemporary art in general? What does it offer you? Does it obstruct you? How?

A: My generation doesn’t seem to like to go abroad, instead we prefer to spend time in our own cities or countries to observe. This is a time of drastic changes, and there are a myriad of information to stimulate your creation, that’s why I’m willing to stay in this city. The city has been accumulating and changing as I grew up, and I’m used to the speed and excitement of it. For me, it’s like a well deeply rooted in the residence. When we were making San Yuan Li and Dazhalan Project, we were more or less getting ourselves into sensitive topics such as demolition and forced eviction. Ideologically we were standing against government. We think these topics are about the development of the society. We have a difficult environment for this kind of artistic expression. In the early days of contemporary art we still find a kind of risking – the confrontation with government ideology, but today is a different story. How to put this……in old terms we said artists have sold their souls to the government. I think these days are witnessing the decrease of venturing spirit of that kind. Today’s venture is no longer the behaviouristic or conceptual ones, it’s rather about a way to probe deep into the core of the problems: the deeper and more difficult. This is a working method and direction chosen by the artists, and it’s the environment we are facing now.

Q: You are quite sensitive to the changes of contemporary art, and your experience and attention to them are rather unusual. Do you have other judgments towards contemporary art besides the change-focused one?

A: Let’s take my documentary Father for example. My father has been a sculptor for many years, after I have grown up, I started to looking for connection between me and his sculptures. I made a documentary on him, I documented how he made sculptures of Deng Xiaoping, and he traveled a lot of counties and towns and accepted larger and larger orders. Father is now making sculptures of Confucius, and there’s a large market for it currently. Although not a contemporary artist, he has a close tie with reality, and you can learn about the near future direction of the country from sculpture: Deng Xiaoping this year, Confucius the next, and the one after……all these are explicitly visible on the older generation of artists, you see the destiny of China and its development in their art, and how artists of that age compromise with daily life. They were more closely connected with reality than the younger contemporary artists. The real face of our society is better reflected by my father as an artist. I submitted the documentary on my father to Taipei Biennale.

Q: Why do you think that there’s insufficient love in Chinese contemporary art?

A: First there are social factors, which I just mentioned. We are living in a society without love, or one in which love is not advocated. This value is not proposed by the whole society. The education we had from the early years was only fake respect and fake love, so I don’t think art should take the blame – because the whole society is simply going into a wrong direction, the moral system is collapsing, I’m a little desperate in this regard. It’s not only in the art circle, but all walks of life. So sometimes I feel the reason of art‘s existence is to rub smooth the social cracks. As an artist, I will try my best in this direction, instead of producing more phony things.

Q: This is exactly the belief that is in short in this society, with consumerism culture and fashion prevailing. Do you think they have any influence on the value of our society?

A: Sure they do, both show biz and fashion industry have casted an influence on the younger generation and the society as a whole. In America and Europe, although show biz and entertainment occupy a certain portion of the whole culture, they also manage to preserve the traditional elements. For instance, New York has the hippest events, but there are also poetry reading sessions or traditional rock concerts every night. But China is simply moving too fast, rock is out-of-fashion now, people are more into electronic music, things get eliminated very fast, old stuff are despised. So I think this is rooted in the nature of Chinese people. We have gone through a lot of political campaigns so we are afraid of falling behind. As a result, we over-do a lot of things. It’s radical, really……and the communication with our time? It seems that artists have lost faith in the society, sometimes they even have no desire in creating art works. At the discovery of art’s helplessness and powerless against the society, they figure that it doesn’t really matter either you make this work or not, and they lack the desire of existence, a kind of boredom.

Q: What do you think should be an artist’s conscious to his/her social role? Do you really believe that art can function in the society? To which degree? Is this just a hope?

A: I believe as an artist, you can definitely have only limited and weak influence on the society, and it functions only within a small circle unless you really take advantage of all kinds of resources, be adventurous and work like an activist and not just an artist. I see myself mainly as a bridge, even I stop being an artist one day, maybe I can do something more intellectually stimulating? So it’s really about getting this role as a bridge more stable and focused.

Q: Last question: would you please offer us your statement as an artist? What are some of the key concepts of your artistic creation?

A: How should I put this……like the project I’m doing now, it’s a film called Who’s Utopia?. This is both an interrogative sentence and a simply statement. Utopia should be built by us in collaboration, or shall we say some of us do need a utopia. I think I’m the kind of person who still has this ‘utopia complex‘, I’m not into the dystopia thing. Although I can’t really see the future clearly, but there has always been a force pushing me forward towards Utopia. What’s more, it’s not impossible that, one day, I would ditch this identity as an artist in favor of that of an activist.

angles 角度[jiao du]

批评城市是很安全的,无论从任何角度,把它骂得体无完肤,或者说把它说成狗屎都可以,因为非常安全,因为不涉及到任何,也不涉及到任何具体,所以说还能表明自己有批评态度,我觉得这是一种投机取巧方法,所以在这种状态下我拒绝以这样的方式来批评,因为这样的话就变成一种集体主义,表态运动。

it’s very safe to criticize the city, from whatever angles. You can criticize it fiercely or call it bullshit. Because it’s very safe, because it does not involve any people, nor anything concrete things, and at the same time it declares your critical stance. This, to me, is opportunistic way. So, in such contexts, I always refuse to criticize in this manner, because it turns into a collectivity, a way of proving your stance

(摘自徐坦对汪关征的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Wang Guanzheng)

Interviewed: Sun Jin, Peng Yao

Time: Noon, January 29, 2007

Location: Sun & Peng Studio, 798, Beijing

社会                   society  social  socially   24

反应                   reaction (feedback  response  respond)  8

(不)接受             accept  acceptance  (take in rejected)    7

普通(人,观众)       ordinary (people / audience)  general public  9

公众                   general public     2

观众                   audience(s)       22

关系                   relation  relationship  has something to do with  11

机制                   system  mechanism    8

机构                   organization      5

美术馆                 museum    8

独立 independence    2

政府  government    5

政治 political        3

自由 free            3

和谐社会  harmonious society    9

       do  make           40

       do  engage in tackle   1

中国      China  Chinese      31

西方      the West  western     19

发展      development  drifting     5

成功      success  successful     10

商业()  commercialization  commercial  commercially    4

游戏     game    4

舒服     comfortable   3

学术     academic  academics  academically    11

农民     farmer       5

强奸     rape  raped    2

通奸     adultery     2

生效     effectiveness   effective   2

市场     market  marketing    5

投机份子  opportunitists   1

Source of Keywords:

Q: You just mentioned the public perception of your works and the natural influence thereof, I have the feeling that most of your early works are not as socially-conscious as the newer ones.

A: (Sun) Actually all the materials come from the society, it’s just that some of them come from the relatively private aspect of social life, and some are better-known materials, such as news subjects, social topics. Actually all topics are social topics, it’s just that the attention they draw are of different levels. Also, I don’t think I would go with the idea that currently all subjects derive from the society, I think a lot of them can still find roots in ourselves, but when they are confronted with the society, you’ll need an appropriate translation and conversion system, and then you’ll end up choosing relatively typical materials. It seems to me that you just can’t take the problem separately.

(Peng) In the early days when we were young, our relation with the society are not so complicated, or, shall we say, we were not yet an integrated part of the society, therefore the works we did and the materials we used are not so socially-conscious. But I reckon that anything could be used as material, and you are going to engage in the society more and more as you grow up, eventually you’ll choose those materials in the society that interest you. So I don’t think that subject is the key issue here.

Q: A lot of your works in the exhibitions are focused on the relationship with the society. Do you perceive any differences in China and the West in terms of audience’s acceptance and feedback?

A: (Sun) Yes, but I think the differences were more typical a few years ago, before and around 2000. The opening-up of China was still in its early phase back then, and most people did not accept what is called contemporary art, they were too impatient when watching. Now there seems to be a unified consensus, western and Chinese audience are aware of this (Chinese) contemporary art thing, they know there is a bunch of people doing weird stuff, and their first reaction towards them are “Ah! Another performance art! “Thus art is reduced to a term, when someone puzzles over something; he would call it performance art. He has this category in his mind, and can group it, and then it’s easy for him to take in.

(Peng) At that time the West was more interested in the political confrontational aspect, it has something to do with the whole Chinese ideology. The country was not open enough back then, and biennale still didn’t emerge in Shanghai……all the western audiences would interpret your work from the political perspective. There were two kinds of Chinese audience, and this is particularly interesting, the first kind is artistically-informed people, or people somewhat related to art and culture; and the other kind is people who has no relationship whatsoever with culture. As it turned out, the culture-savvy part happened to find our works incomprehensible, they even made a lot of protests or accusation against them. On the other hand, those who have no relationship with art or culture, including policemen……one of my exhibitions was banned, and I chatted with many ordinary people like policemen and persons in Residents’ Committee, you know, ordinary people, they all went to see the exhibition and found it super interesting.

And now governments are organizing biennales, contemporary art has become a card in their hands, something that everyone can and should take advantage of. So it’s like a slogan, a presentation used to impress the international community, and here’s when the game with the official starts.

A: (Peng) In the ’90s, before 2000, when something happens, you can calm down to observe your surroundings, to perceive the changes of everybody in detail. But now, especially in recent years, the whole atmosphere in the art scene is volatile. It has become difficult for me to try to understand the changes outside, and the situation is complicated now……take our studio in 798 for example, this place is so touristy now, it’s hard to position yourself. But we do work here as of today. Now the government is into contemporary art too, a lot of opportunitists are into this, and there’s the gallery frenzy, a dozen of new galleries would turn up here every day. You also witness the price of Chinese contemporary art skyrocketing on the international market, I have the feeling that many artists have lost themselves, they have become less pure; in the old days, underground is underground, the artists make art, and that’s it. Nowadays everyone collaborates with everyone, and you participate in their game more frequently, the game is getting more and more complex, Stage Two!

Q: So do you think that general public has become better connoisseurs of contemporary art?

A: (Peng) I think maybe they do find it easier to accept, but what art offers them, on the contrary, has decreased. Back then they would try to understand why these people do what they’re doing, now they get themselves a concept, like I tell you this word, ‘performance art‘, they go ‘Ah, so this is performance art!’, and there it is. Something is missing for the general public, the minute they are given a safe explanation, they are deprived of the thinking process.

(Sun) There are actually two sides of the coin. For the artist, I think they are also trying to figure out what kind of audience they have. In the ’90s there was this cynic group, you may want to call them early [Chinese] contemporary artist, they were the enfant terrible, going to the extreme when rejected by the public. By now, however, many artists have come to realize that in order to play the enfant terrible card you need to first have the endorsement by the audience. So both sides were moving towards each other, when the two reach a point of coordination, by which I mean they can work together seamlessly and feel free at the same time, that’s what you may call the harmonious society. Back then reform and opening were everything, people would do anything for breakthrough. Things have changed, now the overall structure is fixed, it’s a matter of coordination. This is in synch with the general situation of the country, the concept of harmonious society has posed a big question to art as well. Of course every era has its own issues, but the issues we are facing now in a harmonious society is of not much difference with those in the western countries. This is because harmonious society is commonplace in the West, and artists there feel free and suffocated at the same time. This is gonna happen in China at some point in the future, we’ll see.

(Peng) For instance, I’m initially exciting upon learning that certain large foreign organization is coming to Beijing to open a museum, because it means there will finally be a decent museum showcasing contemporary art in Beijing and in China. But soon I come to realize the potential crisis; I don’t know whether this thing would do any good to Beijing and to Chinese contemporary art as a whole, will it help pushing the scene towards the good or bad, healthy or unhealthy direction? There are two sides to these things. What the foreign museums try to do is to port the whole prestigious western museum system to Beijing, but if you take a look at exhibitions in the West, you’ll see how the corrupted museum system stifles the whole art scene. This explains all the buzz about the whole lot of Chinese artists participating in the Venice Biennale that year; they witnessed the potential of Chinese contemporary art in the West. But is there really any potential? Granted, you can’t say there’s zero potential, but the point is westerners realized that they could find new possibilities in China, and these possibilities are potential, energy, frightening stuff. While in the West, the whole system has provided a, in Sun Yuan’s word, harmonious society for everybody, people have to play by the rules and to strive for breakthrough in between. After some time, everybody ends up playing tricks, for me this is really not the ideal way of life. So I think the western museum system‘s coming into China will be a double-edged sword for the artists. Wouldn’t you kill a lot of possibilities if you bring in something lifeless? It helps us to operate under the rules and procedure, that’s for sure, and of course an oft-heard criticism on Chinese artists or the whole Chinese art market by western museums is the lack of rules and procedure, but this is precisely the characteristic and charisma of China. I prefer a lifestyle with lots of accidents, if Chinese contemporary art is drifting towards a completely expected, accident-free direction, I think it’s time for the artists to think about what they can do to stimulate the scene.

Q: Economic changes will have an influence on art and the relation between artists and the audience, but there are a lot of artists seem to ignore the audience, aren’t there?

A: (Sun) This is about knowledge being in synch with the government, in other words, a harmonious society is the end result of a peaceful evolution process. Commercialization and the participation of economics contribute to the realization of a harmonious society. There are rules, economic rules, that you would want to follow and to refer to as a kind of artist who cares not only about yourself, but also about the audience. One can’t deny the fact that all people regard economical success as the measurement of success in general, even artists themselves, so do the audiences. It’s a point of reference. So economics actually works as the coordinator and thus triggers the peaceful evolution. I’ll say that artists and audiences are not the sole driving force of the harmonious society, there must be some other interfering factors. So how to maintain consistency? How to reach the same coordinated point? Economics is being used as a reference point in many cases.

(Peng) Market and academic studies call for different approaches. Marketing guys take care of the market, scholars take care of academic studies, so it won’t do any good to have people like us to talk about issues without our range.

(Sun) Sometimes people say ‘academic is itself’, I’m not sure I agree with them on that: do you think about the question of success when doing academic works? If the question crosses your mind, then there shall be a point of coordination somewhere. When all the factors are mixed together in the optimized proportion, it will appear to be something successful and will generate some momentum for your academic studies. Here, the word successful means not only commercial success, but success in every dimension. Without this all-dimentional success as the point of reference, academic studies will be of no direction or value – it has no coordinated platform. Actually academics all work on a platform, there is the standard for measuring success, which is effectiveness, [commercial-wise and academic-wise] effective commercially or academically. There’s a certain value in it.

Q: Do you care about the negative part in the audiences’ feedback?

A: (Sun) The audiencesfeedback are exactly the thing I care about.

(Peng) But it’s not important how they respond to our works, as long as there is response at all. We don’t really care whether they are positive or negative, we care about the fact that they do have reaction.

(Sun) Or shall we say the best case is that we have mixed response; rape mixed with adultery, if you will. Being raped and yet reaching orgasm, committing adultery but with a bit of passiveness, that’s a good mixture. I’m not into pure compulsory stuff, but reaction is a must.

Q: I think one of the major differences between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou is the different level of consciousness towards power. It’s the strongest in Beijing, weaker in Shanghai, and the weakest in Guangzhou. Do you have anything to say about this?

A: (Sun) I don’t particularly feel that way, this power thing you mentioned. I don’t know if there’s power or not, but the way I see it, power is of no relevance as long as you feel comfortable and happy. Because you are in the lower tiers of others’ power mechanism, you are not the top guy, you feel good being here, and you stay here, I think that’s enough. It’s not necessarily the same thing as the farmer‘s corporation, in which power is above everything, even daily meals are related to power, if you can’t get hold of this power, you are not able to survive……by power I mean a kind of dominate/subordinate relation, not necessarily political power.

(information/Internet) age 时代[shi dai]

我觉得信息时代是人类遇到的最的一个时代,是第一次给所谓的自由个人意志技术上提供了可能,在这之前,人类一直是在黑暗当中或者是在独木桥上,或者是在一个必由之路上,那么这个信息时代第一次让人有可能自己玩或者和愿意一起玩的人,这在过去是没有的,所以我觉得我们应该是很有兴致和很有机会进去这么一种状态,就是说它有几点是非常重要的:自由地表达个人方式。这听上去虽然很俗套,但是这个是很重要的事情,包括交流可能,包括把社会的力量重新地施以影响吸收运用可能,这是很了不起的一件事情。

I think the information age is the best time for human being so far. Before this, mankind was in the dark or on a chosen path, and now for the first time it provides technical possibilities for the so called freedom and individual will. You [can] may choose to play alone or with those whom you like to play with, which is hard to imagine before. I think everybody should be welcoming this new situation allowing free expression and individual approaches – sounds cliché but still very important. Things like new possibilities of communication, including the possibilities of reshaping, absorbing and utilizing the power of the society, are great things.

(摘自徐坦对艾东明的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Ai Dongming)

Interviewed: Ai Dongming

Time: Afternoon, January 31, 2007

Location: Ai’s place at Caochangdi, Beijing

    “do”  engage in   25

可能  maybe possibility impossible perhaps  may  21

社会  society  social   19

问题  problem question  17

兴趣  fascinated interested uninterested interest 12 

个人  individual  12

方式  ways approaches  10

市场  market  9

价值  value   7

政治的   political  1

国家     country  state  4

自由    freedom  free 7

个人表达 individual expression

地下 underground

民主    democratic  2

    circle   3

    money  5

时代  (information/Internet) age  5

    play   3

资金  capital  1

    poor poverty  4

弱智  retarded   2

    face  3

Source of keywords:

Q: What’s your understanding or impression about the current situation of contemporary art in China?

A: I wouldn’t pretend to know much. In spite of the fact that I’ve been living in Beijing all along and always partaking in curating, that we have the Chinese Art Archives & Warehouse, and make friends in the art circle, still I’m not sure I really understand it. Recent two years it seemed hot and bustling, but not very long before nobody apparently cared to take a look at it, so it feels to me more like a state of sudden ups and downs. Maybe put it this way: because contemporary art as a matter of fact has a quite short history [in China], and the modern life in China [this country] – although it did exist – was characterized to a great extent by political and economic patterns. In a highly institutionalized [environment] country as such, the freedom of individual expression, political background and living conditions, as well as the functions and possibilities of art and culture in the society, were basically limited, therefore the surfacing of the so called contemporary art in China didn’t occur until five or six years ago. Before that there were people doing a lot of things, but only in a semi-underground way – that is, it happened in a small circle, out of the sight of the public discourse, and its social impact was in fact also only limited to a small sphere. Once it surfaces, its major scene is in overseas exhibitions, foreign media or even in overseas auctions. It does look exciting somehow, but has nothing to do with the environment where the art originated, its social patterns and its meanings. Few people have tried to discuss and probe into these questions, so it’s still a strange structure. But we can’t say any structure is reasonable or not. Be it a tree, a vine, a ferocious beast, or a parasite, it each has its own reasons. Although Chinese contemporary art did not self-consciously try to build a connection with this society, it still somehow reflects a few problems of the past decades.

Q: What problems do you think it reflects?

A: The fundamental collapses of Chinese philosophy, aesthetics, ethics in the past decades, and the possibility of discussion is yet to be established for the new. Because this large scale or large part of the society is still denying, or disagreeing some basic facts, and debating of many problems in these areas is almost [out of the question] impossible. Democratic society is still a long way to go. There is much freedom in there, but it’s the freedom based on the collapse of the old, a freedom out of control, but proactive [one] freedom. The art is characterized by all these problems.

Q: What do you think of the public reception of contemporary art?

A: I don’t think there is real reception. It only becomes part of fashion. When magazines and newspapers talk about art, you see, they always miss the points, and are never capable of understanding it in any depth. I think it’s pathetic, somewhat like retarded. Chinese contemporary art is really acting [an under-developed] a retarded role. Of course there are pretty good artists, there are artists doing interesting stuff all along, but what they do and the way they do it never got acknowledged or understood by the mainstream society. Basically it’s all messed up.

Q: Do you think your curating activities could be of any help to this mess?

A:There are many exhibitions in China now, but hardly helping with anything and making any sense. They are just peddlers, the peddlers you see on streets where everybody hucksters the same thing and provoke and compete against one another. It’s designed completely for the market, and has nothing to do with art. All those exhibitions, and their curators – take a close look and you see few that are half decent, all with their evil and varied intentions. This in particular is what makes me look down upon Chinese academia and the intelligentsia. [The total shamelessness. The out-and-out and open shamelessness,] They don’t care for face, literally and openly declare that they don’t care for face, which is so rare even here and now. A Chinese old saying goes, poverty stifles ambition, which makes a very good point here. But it’s more than just being poor, those people are actually degenerate. Poverty is just an excuse.

Q: Since you mentioned market, please comment on the art market.

A:Anything can sell, and the exquisite thing as art is no exception. Art sells in that it decorates the [rich] homes of people with lots of money, so it becomes commodity, which is quite normal. The question is the percentage. I mean, in the whole cultural environment, is commodity the only role to play or not? Is it so fragile that once it becomes commodity, it can’t be anything else? I think that’s a major problem in Chinese contemporary art. The way I see it, it’s kind of funny, because it’s like that even the reason why you do art in the first place got changed, the reason and principles of your life got changed, and eventually transformed into some other value. Too much attention and discussions have been driven to the market – of course, if you are not an artist but a speculator, there’s nothing wrong with talking about market too much, but if you are someone still creating works, or if you got into art because you felt like to express yourself, or fascinated with certain ways of expression, instead of just money, capital or status, then there is something deeply wrong. Now it seems to me that everybody is talking about market, which is bothering me. From stock market to the pricing of brand names, there’s nothing to blame market itself about. You sell something for five cents of money, five thousand Yuan of money, or fifty thousand, and it’s fine. But behind this market, behind the pricing of a certain product, are other values diluted by this market price? This is a question.

Q: What interests you then?

A:Honestly, I’m not interested in anything in particular. I’m not particularly uninterested in commercial stuff or some other things. Really there are not too many things that interest me; perhaps I am passive. But generally speaking, art is a profession that I have some interest in. What interests me there is the people who are less utilitarian and more characteristic, and living some sorts of self-conscious lives. But what about now? You see no difference between [this art] people in this art circle and their neighbor who peddle. It becomes boring. But after all, I don’t really care, and concern. For example, this country lives or dies, I don’t really care either. It’s just that you asked me, like you ask me anything such as weather, windy or sandstorm comes, it’s something out of your control. It’s just what this country is.

Q: Say something about your blog.

A: Blog is fun. I will upload the pictures I took for you right away. I don’t know anything about my viewers, even though they are just a click away from me – this is what I feel so straightforward, so real and at the same time delusional, so I keep doing it.

Q: You mean it’s a way to communicate your own information.

A:I think the information age is the best time for human being so far. Before this, mankind was in the dark or on a chosen path, and now for the first time it provides technical possibilities for the so called freedom and individual will. You [can] may choose to play alone or with those whom you like to play with, which is hard to imagine before. I think everybody should be welcoming this new situation allowing free expression and individual approaches – sounds cliché but still very important. Things like new possibilities of communication, including the possibilities of reshaping, absorbing and utilizing the power of the society, are great things.

Q: Speaking of art, do you think there is a distinction between geographical center and margin?

A:I think not, especially not in this information age and Internet age. In fact this is for the first time that mankind has an opportunity and possibility to topple the traditional value system of central power. This possibility springs up suddenly after a long history of human struggle, and it’s such a great thing.

aesthetics 审美[shen mei]

可能气候、或别的都有点影响北京不是一个非常舒服城市,北京就是一个字,实在有点糟糕气候——风沙之类的;一般情况下白天不用出门,到晚上一闭眼就不知道到哪去了,不像南方的一些城市,还可以很舒服的在街上走走北京完全没有这种可能性,只能是白天在家里,晚上到娱乐场所酒吧茶馆等地方,想享受一个自然的东西基本上没有,但这种东西我还比较喜欢,可能和创作审美有一点关联,因为我已经接受了这种景象,已经完全接受了,也不觉得很,有时候还觉得挺漂亮的,北京节奏相对而言也可能点,压力上可能会比其它城市大一点,北京是一个比较好玩的地方,什么人都有,什么样都能在这生存,无论是好想法的或是烂想法的,做各种东西都可以,可以串在一起,可能有这个传统或者习惯

Maybe the climate, and something else. Beijing is not a very pleasant city. It can be summed up in one word – dark, which is pretty bad due to the climate like sand storms, etc. Usually I don’t have to go out during the day, and you have nowhere to go at night, unlike some cities in the south, where you can walk around comfortably at night. You can’t do this in Beijing, all you can do is stay home during the day, and go to entertainment spots, like pubs and teahouses at night. Basically there is nowhere you can go to enjoy something natural. But I’ve gotten used to this; maybe it’s related to aesthetics. I’ve completely accepted this grayish, somber landscape. I don’t think it ugly – it’s even rather pretty sometimes. Beijing is faster in pace, and creates more stress compared to other cities. It has more fun here. There’s all sorts of people here; any kind of people can survive here. There exist good idea and bad idea. You can do anything you like. They can all co-exist. Perhaps this is the tradition or customs here.

(摘自徐坦对刘仁华的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Liu Renhua)

Interviewed: Liu Renhua

Time: Afternoon, Jan. 14, 2007

Location: Eudora Station Cafe, Beijing

生活      life live            15

低级趣味  vulgar taste  vulgar  5

自己      self  own           22

态度      attitude             6

社会      society  social       7

别人      others other people  other   5

接受      accept  take                6

大众      public                      14

大众审美  popular aesthetics            3

审美      aesthetics                    7

时尚      fashion                     15

消耗      drain (exhaust)               5

关系,联系, 关联  relationship relation related  connections   6

不同,不一样    different                      10

制度  system     1

     take  7 

     circle  6

     sell   5

发展   development develops  6

无聊   boring bored   5

商业   commercialization business  commercial  4

国外   foreign countries  4

中国   China  3

形象   images  5

 

Source of keywords:

Q: First of all, would you please generally talk about the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: I think there is a healthy trend of development, but there are also many problems. For example, commercialization has gone a bit too far. Consequently, people often don’t even think about what to do or how to do it, because of the influence of the market. Perhaps this commercialization leads to many problems in the quality of the work. But it’s also good – in time, people will reflect on this issue, reflect on how to do things. I don’t have much of an opinion on this. I haven’t really thought about it that much. Take the view on the system for example. There is nothing we can do about the system, because a lot of things are pre-existent; we don’t have a well-built mechanism of art as foreign countries. The existing system in China certainly has an impact on the development of art. Without certain organizations, such as foundations, artists here still depend on commercial activities. Artists in foreign countries can apply for the funds to maintain their creation. They don’t have to depend on selling their works. But the artists in China have to rely on his own works to meet his needs in creation, that is, he must sell his work in order to pay for the production fees of his next work of art. That is the problem.

Q: What kind of image do you want your work to present to people?

A: It varies from year to year. Maybe it’s more focused now, unlike the last few years, where you see different images, different outlook, like videos, etc… using many kinds of material, with all different concepts. But now I want to be more focused – what kind of work do I want to do in this one year? Installation, perhaps. Which means, your concerns are more focused, and you even consider letting go of some of the works; whereas previously you do whatever comes to your mind. Now you might not do something even if the idea comes up, because it might affect the overall image of your work. Sometimes, the strategic aspects will also be reckoned with. For example, a work of art will put aside when it’s completed. One year later, it takes effect. But sometimes, you start with a good feeling and then find the work losing its effect a year later. Put all your work aside, good or bad, wait for a year or two and check if they are still effective. If so, then it means they are related to your previous development.

A: Visual impact is certainly essential, but not that kind of strong outward impact deliberately made. I’m interested in a basic sensation that people see everyday but fail to perceive. It’s an impact through a different medium – perhaps volume, perhaps something else.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the relationship between your art and social reality?

A: I don’t know what kind of relationship it is. I’m only searching for a point of excitement. I get an idea only when I see or feel something that excites me; I don’t get ideas out of the blue. Maybe some people come up with an idea first and then realize it. But my work comes from something I see and think about. It’s never a rational process of making works of art.

Q: Then, are there any obstacles in the communication between your art and the public?

A: Yes, of course. But it’s not too bad, and I know what the reasons are. When you have a conversation with someone, you cannot communicate with each other due to totally different values. You still know what the other person is thinking, which is totally different from your own thinking, and vice versa. From the public‘s point of view, sometimes they see the work and feel good, feeling that they can take it, because contemporary art still contains something that is most explicit. No matter how art develops, how conceptual it becomes, the explicit visuality, like beauty, always exist. That will never change.

As with communicating with the public, television is what the public likes. I don’t think there is much worth viewing on TV; it’s all just bullshitting and awful. Of course I can watch it too, but I think it’s just vulgar taste. Perhaps the more vulgar is, the more attractive to most people.

Q: And this is the difference between popular and elite culture?

A: Nothing is elite. I don’t like such mentality of regarding himself as infallible.

Q: What sort of influence does Beijing have on your art.

A: Maybe the climate, and something else. Beijing is not a very pleasant city. It can be summed up in one word – dark, which is pretty bad due to the climate like sand storms, etc. Usually I don’t have to go out during the day, and you have nowhere to go at night, unlike some cities in the south, where you can walk around comfortably at night. You can’t do this in Beijing, all you can do is stay home during the day, and go to entertainment spots, like pubs and teahouses at night. Basically there is nowhere you can go to enjoy something natural. But I’ve gotten used to this; maybe it’s related to aesthetics. I’ve completely accepted this grayish, somber landscape. I don’t think it ugly – it’s even rather pretty sometimes. Beijing is faster in pace, and creates more stress compared to other cities. It has more fun here. There’s all sorts of people here; any kind of people can survive here. There exist good idea and bad idea. You can do anything you like. They can all co-exist. Perhaps this is the tradition or customs here.

Q: A lot of artists think too many exhibitions in Beijing, many of which are too superficial.

A: Right. I usually don’t go to exhibitions, except those by very close friends. I don’t go to any other exhibitions.

Q: What’s your view on the art organizations like museums of art?

A: Basically I don’t have any connections with them. That’s PR activities, not what we do.

Q: So you don’t think art should engage into society, into life?

A: It’s not that. Some artists do it that way, and it’s fine, just not my style.

Q: Then what do you think is the role of the artists in society?

A: Never thought about that. I don’t know what sort of role it is; I don’t know. I’m not different from other people, we’re the same. We are all doing our own work, with different ideas and subject-matters. Sometimes you feel you’re exhausting yourself, but everyone is the same. From close by, you see yourself doing something different from others; from afar, it’s all the same. You do certain things to maintain your level of energy, and then you keep draining it. You can’t live your life energetically every single day. It’s insignificant and boring most of the time.

Q: Many other artists also feel negative.

A: It’s not negative. Being bored is not negative; perhaps it’s a state of being. Many things in this society are in this state, this current state. Maybe it has to do with your own judgment – on society, on life. But it’s not the state of nihility and negativity that make you not want to live anymore.

For example, popular aesthetics, just like TV and movies, is just boring beyond words. But everybody likes it. That’s why it can exist. It’s something with an extremely vulgar taste, but people like vulgarity. You can’t run away from it no matter what.

Q: What do you think is the relation between fashion and art?

A: Fashion is more popular, more real-life, and more guiding. Mostly it’s about this guidance – guiding your life – about what is good. It’s a sort of guidepost, leading the public to develop towards the direction it sets. Ultimately there is something good leading the popular aesthetics, whereas art has no such attribute. It doesn’t have to have an impact on everyone. It works by itself. It has an impact on a minority of people. It doesn’t rely on the public.

adultery 通奸[tong jian]

Q:你们在意那些对你们作品的反馈意见中的非议的东西吗?

A:(孙)其实我在意的就是观众反应

(彭)但是他们反应成什么样不重要,他一定反应就行了。我们不注重他们的反应赞扬批评,只注重他们反应

(孙)或者说这种东西最好混杂的,就是说既有强奸又有通奸嘛,如果说强奸它又有高潮了,而通奸却又带有被动性,就是它是很混杂的比较好,我不太赞成纯粹强迫的东西,但是一定要有反应

Q: Do you care about the negative part in the audiences’ feedback?

A: (Sun) The audiencesfeedback are exactly the thing I care about.

(Peng) But it’s not important how they respond to our works, as long as there is response at all. We don’t really care whether they are positive or negative, we care about the fact that they do have reaction.

(Sun) Or shall we say the best case is that we have mixed response; rape mixed with adultery, if you will. Being raped and yet reaching orgasm, committing adultery but with a bit of passiveness, that’s a good mixture. I’m not into pure compulsory stuff, but reaction is a must.

(摘自徐坦对孙晋、彭尧的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Sun Jin, Peng Yao)

Interviewed: Wang Guanzheng

Time: Noon, Feb. 3, 2007

Location: Grass Green 2607, SOHO Modern City, Beijing

 

 

 

整体  totality  total picture overall     12

集体(主义)  collectives collectivity   11

一致   homogeneity homogenous   7

时间  time period  period of time     15

社会  society  social  societal  26

个人   individual individualistic  30

经验  experience  13

公共  public  11

大众  public (populace)   15

倾向()  tendency inclination  7

语言  language   9

怀疑  doubt  suspicion   5

质疑  suspicion  question  questioning  10

方法   method way  17

方式   manner way  43

(有)问题   problem  questionable  issue  54

()   change become modification   8

状态   status   8

秩序   order   8

判断   judgment  judges   20

创造()   creative  creativity   4

知识(分子)   knowledge  intellectuals   11

明确()   clarify clarity clear   20

针对   focus    9

角度   angles    5

态度   attitude stance   9

身份   identity  22

后身份  post-identity  9

可能性 possibilities   14

话语    discourse    5

权力    power    5

实验    experiment   6

国家    nation    6

概念   concept

独立         independent      1

意识形态    ideology  ideologism     11

安全       safe  unsafe  safety    4

审批制度    censorship system    1

市场    market    8

传统    traditional   5

中国    China     31

      money   wealthy  2

机会    opportunity   8

诱惑   temptation    1

      post       33

关系   relationship  39

生存谋生   survive  living    4

商业的   commercial    2

Q: Could you please first talk about your view on the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: On a macro level, I think we are now in the middle of a process of development. And this is a process of undergoing a transition from seeing the total picture to getting to know individual artists and individual arts, a stage from which I feel we are still very far away. There are pros and cons when a country‘s contemporary art scene appears as a group. The good part is that it attracts more audience and more attention, and the negative part is that it can only appear as a totality. And that, to me, is a problem, which also points to the difference between traditional art and contemporary art. Think about it – over a decade ago, the image that Europe had about Chinese art was an overall impression. If we were to continue our insistence on this totality, it could end up replacing materials or images of one kind with those of another kind– for example, dragon, phoenix, bamboo, porcelain, silk were used in a certain period, which were, eventually, replaced by some other materials. This is the risk you have to take when you present yourself as a totality. I myself am frightened by collectives, because I used to serve in the military, and I lived together with over 60 persons for many years. I’m left with two aftereffects from that experience. The first one is my hatred for homogeneity. I think I’m naturally immune to all things homogenous, either internally or externally. Basically I think a positive view on homogeneity is itself questionable. The second one is my suspicion for collectives.

Q: What then should an artist focus on, in your opinion?

A: That would be different to each artist. For myself, what I’m interested in is, simply speaking, possibilities. Like I just said, my suspicion for the existing order, and if I question order, which includes any form of order: governmental order, societal order, knowledge order and rules, if you [think this way] take this attitude, then what we often discuss, insofar as   where art is now, is no longer important. What’s important is [how] the way you display your method of questioning such orders.

For instance, through the clarity of commercialization and ideology (we) can understand the society in the simplest way. These have become our internalized way of recognizing the world, i.e., the only Weltanschauung. For me, I call this “New Ideologism,” which is a perfect collusion between commercial standards and political standards. It has a monopoly on everything. In that case, I think the way that contemporary art judges the uncertainties, can hardly survive in such a language context. And what is most fatal, I believe, is that when an ethnic group wants maximum progress… The maximum lies in your demands for possibilities. And possibility can exist only in uncertain domains. When everything in this world is within your grasp, when it offers you no possibilities, do you think you still have creativity?

Q: In these exhibitions, do you care about the communication between your work and the audience?

A: As a matter of fact… this involves a lot of questions. The first one is what we discussed earlier: whether the public exists or not. We always talk about art and the public. But first of all, does the public exist? Take our talking for example, are you the public or am I the public? If you are and I’m not, then why? On the other hand, if I am and you’re not, then what is that based upon? If neither of us can find a clear basis, then we both are the public. Then it does not exist a kind of…The artist and the public are always form a special relationship. This is the first question, which in itself is very conceptual.

The second question is, if there really exists a relationship between the artist and the public, then in fact the public is not communicating directly with the artist. The public and the artist…If we are to discuss relationship, then we need to talk about the system that underlies the relationship. The first system is the education system. Yet our educational system does not support any education on contemporary art… And secondly, in China, strictly speaking, we do not have any art museums – all our museums are organizations that rent spaces in order to survive. And such spaces do not bear any responsibility to educate the public. Consequently, our media always interpret the art experiences as a kind of public voice. Now think about it, the principal relationship between the public and the artist is formed under such circumstances. As a matter of fact, the relationship is produced by these three different systems. If the systems cannot be established, then you can imagine what the relationship will be look like. The third question is that I don’t think there exist a stable relationship between artists and the public.

Q: Do you have any views on your living conditions?

A: Take our views on cities for example. Artists, intellectuals, and even architects, all talk about cities, but what makes it absurd is not the criticism on cities, but the way of criticizing cities that has become completely homogenous. Sometimes criticism on this city becomes very homogenous, without any characteristics and distinctions. What’s more interesting is, the language and method of criticism have become more homogenous. I’ve attended many symposia on cities, which are essentially “criticizing galas”. And suddenly I noticed two things here: first, it’s very safe to criticize the city, from whatever angles. You can criticize it fiercely or call it bullshit. Because it’s very safe, because it does not involve any people, nor anything concrete things, and at the same time it declares your critical stance. This, to me, is opportunistic way. So, in such contexts, I always refuse to criticize in this manner, because it turns into a collectivity, a way of proving your stance – if you don’t criticize, you’re not… So, now I think another question arises. To criticize cities, but why? The English word “Why?” What is your stance? I hope to see you speak in your own manner, instead of in a public manner, even though what you criticize is a public space. With such an attitude, I think you can have your own judgment on this city. As a matter of fact, to me, cities are man-made landscapes, a product of our Utopian spirit. Idealism and Fascism are on this line, this steel wire; in fact, our entire city is built on this steel fire, its Utopian spirit and Fascist inclination just have a little distance. On this issue, what exactly is your attitude? Whether you’re an artist, a writer, you would use your own language and your own way to present your attitude. And it’s not just a declaration of attitude, because I’ve been hearing a lot – about this “attitude decides everything” thing, which is actually full of problems itself. Because “attitude decides everything” means it all depends on whether you raise your hand or not on every issue. That means going back to a public… In fact, when I worked on “Production” in 1996, I did an investigation on this issue. Why did I go to a lot of sites and public spaces? Why did they sit there all day and listen to the others talking about themselves? They are in fact sharing a daily discourse. In other words, certain individuals have become unimportant in such voices, or that they think it unsafe, so that through this collective site and collective discourse, certain individualistic things are transformed into a public voice with some [attitude] tendency. Thus, everyone shares this safety of public discourse. It’s the same with different ways of living. I think, first of all, living is not a kind of conceptual living; you don’t have to be lured by some hidden temptation, or challenged by some hidden theory. You put your life on a certain hint, and this hint reveals your cultural attitude of some sort. I think this is quite obvious in Beijing, and this is realized concretely in dressing, cigarettes you smoke, eyeglasses you wear – they are all injected with some kind of cultural identity. And I think cultural identity is also lethal: sometimes your attitude is determined by your cultural identity; when you become satisfied with your representing certain cultural identity, you actually stop thinking any further… This is how I feel I am living.

Q: Does the generalization of the Chinese art scene by those outside China have something to do with the situation in China now? And, apart from the external forces, does the strong similarity among artists actually have its internal reasons?

A: Well, actually I think, to me at least, this question… Like just now you wanted me to talk about my judgment on this thing at the present moment and what the basis of my judgment is. For example, sometimes we say a day is a long period of time, but that depends on specific events, such as brushing one’s teeth once, having a meal, which might take an hour. That is the relationship between time and events. But when something cultural is judged, or judged precisely, I think the time involved here is very long. Actually it’s like our show in 1997… all the way up to now. As you just said, this overall judgment on contemporary art in China, it’s still going on strong. I feel that this process takes more than ten years to finish; it might continue, because of the relationship between China and the world, such development…  So actually culture development is very very slow, especially in this country, where you see sometimes on the streets very fashionable cars and very fashionable cellphones, but many of our cultural institutions and regulations in fact date back to more than 20 years ago, without any modification in between. I’ll give you a simple example – films. Our censorship system on film has stayed virtually the same, and perhaps even more… Therefore, there is a large amount of things this society.. in fact, what have not changed do not show up, so what we do see are those that have changed. Then, seen from this angle, this society has in fact let certain things return to a basis where there are no such huge differences, which takes a very long time (to change). On the other hand, I think contemporary Chinese art is facing this same problem. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, when we were in the Netherlands, after the exhibition, I remember clearly, we felt shows of such large scale wouldn’t be happening ever again. Then, ten years later, to our great surprise, there are shows even more shocking than that one. There might be two factors at work here: the first one is that more countries, or more organizations, or more wealthy people have become interested in China, maybe then, partially… for instance, a certain genre of art, a certain foundation, started to get interested in the overall contemporary Chinese art. Now, due to the myth of China, more people and organizations have focused on China from various different angles. This might be another kind of change. Second, as more people get involved in this field, more artists would… they would make a relationship with it. This is a process that we must undergo; and I have noticed at the same time, that many artists have already started their work, who I think outnumber those of ten years ago.

addicted 瘾[yin]

1.比如说我明明不想选择像现在这种生活,但我可能就有现在这种生活,本来是排斥的,被动地接受了以后,就有,很,很矛盾

Also, like I haven’t chosen to live the life I’m having now, but I ended up like this anyway, so I was forced to accept something I rejected, after a while, I got addicted to it. This is just weird and contradictory.

(摘自徐坦对胡晓媛的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Hu Xiaoyuan)

Interviewed: Hu Xiaoyu

Time: Afternoon, February 1, 2007

Location: Dushixin Hai’an Yayuan, Futong Xi Da Jie, Beijing

     woman female  41

女性     female  32

女性主义   feminism  4

       man   24

男性      male  18

男性艺术家   male artists   8

社会    society  38

生活(活着)  life   living    lifestyle   33

个人   personal individual    21

感觉 (觉得)  feeling     21

兴趣    interest    10

不一样(不同)  different  difference   9

责任    responsibility  9

关系   relationship    7

生命   life    5

感情(ganqing)  emotion   3

情感(qinggan) emotion emotional   4

方式   way approaches   19

自己   self own personal   13

现实   reality   3

介入   intervention involvement   7

时政 political  1

自由 freedom 1

无聊   bored   3

空虚    empty (spiritually)   2

 addicted   2

打交道  deal with      3

有意思  interesting    8

没意思  out the meaning   5

刺激    stimulation  stimulated  2

Source of keywords:

Q: Talk about your life, society, and sociality.

A: Art and life do not necessarily have so many conflicts, and you don’t have to think of it as being logical and sensible. [A ] I feel that a lot of things should be allowed to evolve naturally so that they will straighten out in the best way. I think maybe the society is choosing marginal things, things in the outer limit of social norm. I started out rejecting the society. Granted, I myself am supposed to be rejected but the strange thing is, my role as an artist has probably prompted the society to pull me back from the margin. If I were in a profession in which people are required to frequently deal with the society, I might as well get filtered out. After you gain from the society, despite your unwillingness, [it's time] you are bound to take some responsibilities, which means compromise: I begin to move closer to the society, which, in turn, offers me more. But I’m not sure about the future. First I rejected the society, maybe I’m still rejecting it a little bit now, but it’s not rejecting me, this is really subtle relationship. What I don’t know is, if one day I start to embrace the society, would it reject me then? It’s hard to tell, everything is random. I’m especially afraid of having too much contact with the society. I never work with assistant, if I have an assistant does all the work, what’s the point of living? I have to be hands-on in order to figure out the meaning of my life during that period of time. I don’t have social skills and I fear dealing with people. I had depression a while ago. If I can choose my destiny at will, I think maybe nunnery is the best for me, but I can’t. Also, like I haven’t chosen to live the life I’m having now, but I ended up like this anyway, so I was forced to accept something I rejected, after a while, I got addicted to it. This is just weird and contradictory. But I believe everything will straighten themselves out in the end, so now I just try to go with the flow and be less sensitive, letting myself being pushed by other things. I try to be passive, just sitting at home waiting, and when something comes, I work with it as long as I like it. In the very beginning, making art was a way and reason of existence for me, I felt it’s more interesting than other things. Now that I have gained some recognition, you’ll need stimulation. Because your interest wears off during the process, so you need to be stimulated in order to extend it. It’s like a trajectory which will be extended by external intervention.

Q: [Market.]Does market have any influence on your artistic creation?

A: Not interested. If someone comes to me and offers to buy my stuff, I will have to consider whether I should sell or not, and that’s it. I haven’t studied the market systematically, and I don’t really care. I’m doing [okay] with my living state for now, and that’s enough.

Q: The object of your works.

A: I think they are directly connected to my personal emotion and feeling. A large portion of them share a lot of similar things, after all they are all done by myself. But the emotional sources of each work are complicated, it’s not a simple thread. Usually, when there’s a certain point in life that touches me deeply, I would create a work based on that experience. So it’s not something could be easily explained in words, what can be say for sure is that my art works are all related to my personal life. Sometimes I’m also quite puzzled, like a while ago a male friend questioned me, he thought a lot of “female artists” – of course I never call myself that – have a narrow range of concerns: emotion, pedigree, etc. We had some serious quarrel. Speaking of myself, most of my works derive from my own life experience. If you have to accuse me of that, the only reason I can think of is that I am female, so that I’m only concerned with, work on, and interested in those stuff, all the recognizable references in my works have their roots in my personal life. I didn’t think about these in the very beginning. I don’t know what’s going on with others, but I take a look at myself and I know what’s with me. A lot of male artists say that they don’t understand my works. Without having studied the history of Chinese feminism in details, I nevertheless think that women go through a lot of development and changes in a given period of time. For instance, me and my brother are all that’s in my mum‘s mind, children and husband are all that’s in my grandma’s mind, but I feel I don’t want kids now: I don’t even understand what life is about, how can I take the responsibility of have a child? I’ve been thinking what’s the meaning of life, this is perhaps a primary driving force of my art. There has to be meaning (in my works), so I keep searching for it every day. This is a male-centric society, female artists usually have normal and objective view on male ones; the opposite is rarely true, male artists always say they don’t understand our works, there is really no surprise here. Women always choose their ways of expression passively, as the range of their life experiences is limited, so the above judgment is unequally-based. Men‘s involvement in social, political and economic issues are much deeper than women, so of course they are confident in expressing their viewpoint. Women, for sure, are not confident and afraid to talk about those topics, they can only talk about themselves and their emotion. That’s why works by female artists tend to be more personal and intimate, thus difficult for men to understand. Many of my favourite Chinese female artists are very traditional, they have inherited a lot of fundamentally ‘Chinese‘ nature. The problem is not technique but what you are trying to communicate, whether you have a complete system of your own, and whether you manage to touch upon my heart. In most cases, these feelings exist only between women and are hard to describe with words. But I can feel them, they are too personal, detailed, and trivial, they are to be felt, not thought. The society is changing, there are currently many male artists (or non-artist men) paying attention to female approaches, they begin to think about those approaches they failed to understand before. I believe things will be a lot more [different] changes fifty years from now, maybe the demographic proportion would then be in favour of women, who would have more involvement in social life. When that day comes, we can expect the adjustment of social proportion or the right of ownership.

Q: The function of the artist?

A: I don’t have the sense of responsibility, don’t know how it feels to be functioning. But I’m sure a lot of people hope to function in the society, it’s about ambition. But what kind of function? That’s hard to tell. Artists have different way of expression, or shall we say different way of existencedifferent not only from the average people, but also from each other. Those whom I would consider good, who has touched me, are usually artists that base their works upon slices of personal life. From this aspect, I think all people are the same, the difference is that they have gone through different kind of life, thus coming out with different result.

accept, take 接受[jie shou]

可能气候、或别的都有点影响北京不是一个非常舒服城市,北京就是一个字,实在有点糟糕气候——风沙之类的;一般情况下白天不用出门,到晚上一闭眼就不知道到哪去了,不像南方的一些城市,还可以很舒服的在街上走走北京完全没有这种可能性,只能是白天在家里,晚上到娱乐场所酒吧茶馆等地方,想享受一个自然的东西基本上没有,但这种东西我还比较喜欢,可能和创作审美有一点关联,因为我已经接受了这种景象,已经完全接受了,也不觉得很,有时候还觉得挺漂亮的,北京节奏相对而言也可能点,压力上可能会比其它城市大一点,北京是一个比较好玩的地方,什么人都有,什么样都能在这生存,无论是好想法的或是烂想法的,做各种东西都可以,可以串在一起,可能有这个传统或者习惯

Maybe the climate, and something else. Beijing is not a very pleasant city. It can be summed up in one word – dark, which is pretty bad due to the climate like sand storms, etc. Usually I don’t have to go out during the day, and you have nowhere to go at night, unlike some cities in the south, where you can walk around comfortably at night. You can’t do this in Beijing, all you can do is stay home during the day, and go to entertainment spots, like pubs and teahouses at night. Basically there is nowhere you can go to enjoy something natural. But I’ve gotten used to this; maybe it’s related to aesthetics. I’ve completely accepted this grayish, somber landscape. I don’t think it ugly – it’s even rather pretty sometimes. Beijing is faster in pace, and creates more stress compared to other cities. It has more fun here. There’s all sorts of people here; any kind of people can survive here. There exist good idea and bad idea. You can do anything you like. They can all co-exist. Perhaps this is the tradition or customs here.

(摘自徐坦对刘仁华的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Liu Renhua)

Interviewed: Liu Renhua

Time: Afternoon, Jan. 14, 2007

Location: Eudora Station Cafe, Beijing

生活      life live            15

低级趣味  vulgar taste  vulgar  5

自己      self  own           22

态度      attitude             6

社会      society  social       7

别人      others other people  other   5

接受      accept  take                6

大众      public                      14

大众审美  popular aesthetics            3

审美      aesthetics                    7

时尚      fashion                     15

消耗      drain (exhaust)               5

关系,联系, 关联  relationship relation related  connections   6

不同,不一样    different                      10

制度  system     1

     take  7 

     circle  6

     sell   5

发展   development develops  6

无聊   boring bored   5

商业   commercialization business  commercial  4

国外   foreign countries  4

中国   China  3

形象   images  5

 

Source of keywords:

Q: First of all, would you please generally talk about the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: I think there is a healthy trend of development, but there are also many problems. For example, commercialization has gone a bit too far. Consequently, people often don’t even think about what to do or how to do it, because of the influence of the market. Perhaps this commercialization leads to many problems in the quality of the work. But it’s also good – in time, people will reflect on this issue, reflect on how to do things. I don’t have much of an opinion on this. I haven’t really thought about it that much. Take the view on the system for example. There is nothing we can do about the system, because a lot of things are pre-existent; we don’t have a well-built mechanism of art as foreign countries. The existing system in China certainly has an impact on the development of art. Without certain organizations, such as foundations, artists here still depend on commercial activities. Artists in foreign countries can apply for the funds to maintain their creation. They don’t have to depend on selling their works. But the artists in China have to rely on his own works to meet his needs in creation, that is, he must sell his work in order to pay for the production fees of his next work of art. That is the problem.

Q: What kind of image do you want your work to present to people?

A: It varies from year to year. Maybe it’s more focused now, unlike the last few years, where you see different images, different outlook, like videos, etc… using many kinds of material, with all different concepts. But now I want to be more focused – what kind of work do I want to do in this one year? Installation, perhaps. Which means, your concerns are more focused, and you even consider letting go of some of the works; whereas previously you do whatever comes to your mind. Now you might not do something even if the idea comes up, because it might affect the overall image of your work. Sometimes, the strategic aspects will also be reckoned with. For example, a work of art will put aside when it’s completed. One year later, it takes effect. But sometimes, you start with a good feeling and then find the work losing its effect a year later. Put all your work aside, good or bad, wait for a year or two and check if they are still effective. If so, then it means they are related to your previous development.

A: Visual impact is certainly essential, but not that kind of strong outward impact deliberately made. I’m interested in a basic sensation that people see everyday but fail to perceive. It’s an impact through a different medium – perhaps volume, perhaps something else.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the relationship between your art and social reality?

A: I don’t know what kind of relationship it is. I’m only searching for a point of excitement. I get an idea only when I see or feel something that excites me; I don’t get ideas out of the blue. Maybe some people come up with an idea first and then realize it. But my work comes from something I see and think about. It’s never a rational process of making works of art.

Q: Then, are there any obstacles in the communication between your art and the public?

A: Yes, of course. But it’s not too bad, and I know what the reasons are. When you have a conversation with someone, you cannot communicate with each other due to totally different values. You still know what the other person is thinking, which is totally different from your own thinking, and vice versa. From the public‘s point of view, sometimes they see the work and feel good, feeling that they can take it, because contemporary art still contains something that is most explicit. No matter how art develops, how conceptual it becomes, the explicit visuality, like beauty, always exist. That will never change.

As with communicating with the public, television is what the public likes. I don’t think there is much worth viewing on TV; it’s all just bullshitting and awful. Of course I can watch it too, but I think it’s just vulgar taste. Perhaps the more vulgar is, the more attractive to most people.

Q: And this is the difference between popular and elite culture?

A: Nothing is elite. I don’t like such mentality of regarding himself as infallible.

Q: What sort of influence does Beijing have on your art.

A: Maybe the climate, and something else. Beijing is not a very pleasant city. It can be summed up in one word – dark, which is pretty bad due to the climate like sand storms, etc. Usually I don’t have to go out during the day, and you have nowhere to go at night, unlike some cities in the south, where you can walk around comfortably at night. You can’t do this in Beijing, all you can do is stay home during the day, and go to entertainment spots, like pubs and teahouses at night. Basically there is nowhere you can go to enjoy something natural. But I’ve gotten used to this; maybe it’s related to aesthetics. I’ve completely accepted this grayish, somber landscape. I don’t think it ugly – it’s even rather pretty sometimes. Beijing is faster in pace, and creates more stress compared to other cities. It has more fun here. There’s all sorts of people here; any kind of people can survive here. There exist good idea and bad idea. You can do anything you like. They can all co-exist. Perhaps this is the tradition or customs here.

Q: A lot of artists think too many exhibitions in Beijing, many of which are too superficial.

A: Right. I usually don’t go to exhibitions, except those by very close friends. I don’t go to any other exhibitions.

Q: What’s your view on the art organizations like museums of art?

A: Basically I don’t have any connections with them. That’s PR activities, not what we do.

Q: So you don’t think art should engage into society, into life?

A: It’s not that. Some artists do it that way, and it’s fine, just not my style.

Q: Then what do you think is the role of the artists in society?

A: Never thought about that. I don’t know what sort of role it is; I don’t know. I’m not different from other people, we’re the same. We are all doing our own work, with different ideas and subject-matters. Sometimes you feel you’re exhausting yourself, but everyone is the same. From close by, you see yourself doing something different from others; from afar, it’s all the same. You do certain things to maintain your level of energy, and then you keep draining it. You can’t live your life energetically every single day. It’s insignificant and boring most of the time.

Q: Many other artists also feel negative.

A: It’s not negative. Being bored is not negative; perhaps it’s a state of being. Many things in this society are in this state, this current state. Maybe it has to do with your own judgment – on society, on life. But it’s not the state of nihility and negativity that make you not want to live anymore.

For example, popular aesthetics, just like TV and movies, is just boring beyond words. But everybody likes it. That’s why it can exist. It’s something with an extremely vulgar taste, but people like vulgarity. You can’t run away from it no matter what.

Q: What do you think is the relation between fashion and art?

A: Fashion is more popular, more real-life, and more guiding. Mostly it’s about this guidance – guiding your life – about what is good. It’s a sort of guidepost, leading the public to develop towards the direction it sets. Ultimately there is something good leading the popular aesthetics, whereas art has no such attribute. It doesn’t have to have an impact on everyone. It works by itself. It has an impact on a minority of people. It doesn’t rely on the public.

academic, academics,academically 学术[xue shu]

(彭)市场学术根本就是两回事,因为市场做市场的学术的有做学术的,所以你要我们搞这方面的人去谈那个也谈不了。

(孙)有时候“学术是学术”,我也不完全认同,在考虑学术的时候你会考虑成功的问题吗?当你考虑这个问题了就存在一个协调点了,所有的因素一起达到一个最佳分配比,它就以一个成功面貌出现了,它也会让你的学术一些动力,得到一些可应证的东西,这个成功不仅指商业上层面的,而是指各个层面上的成功,如果没有这个成功做参照的话,学术无所谓方向,无所谓价值,就是它没有统一平台学术实际上都有一个平台,它存在一个成功标准,就是生效商业上的和学术上生效,实际上都是产生一种价值的。

(Peng) Market and academic studies call for different approaches. Marketing guys take care of the market, scholars take care of academic studies, so it won’t do any good to have people like us to talk about issues without our range.

(Sun) Sometimes people say ‘academic is itself’, I’m not sure I agree with them on that: do you think about the question of success when doing academic works? If the question crosses your mind, then there shall be a point of coordination somewhere. When all the factors are mixed together in the optimized proportion, it will appear to be something successful and will generate some momentum for your academic studies. Here, the word successful means not only commercial success, but success in every dimension. Without this all-dimentional success as the point of reference, academic studies will be of no direction or value – it has no coordinated platform. Actually academics all work on a platform, there is the standard for measuring success, which is effectiveness, [commercial-wise and academic-wise] effective commercially or academically. There’s a certain value in it.

(摘自徐坦对孙晋、彭尧的访谈   Excerpt from Interview with Sun Jin, Peng Yao)

 

Interviewed: Wang Guanzheng

Time: Noon, Feb. 3, 2007

Location: Grass Green 2607, SOHO Modern City, Beijing

 

 

 

整体  totality  total picture overall     12

集体(主义)  collectives collectivity   11

一致   homogeneity homogenous   7

时间  time period  period of time     15

社会  society  social  societal  26

个人   individual individualistic  30

经验  experience  13

公共  public  11

大众  public (populace)   15

倾向()  tendency inclination  7

语言  language   9

怀疑  doubt  suspicion   5

质疑  suspicion  question  questioning  10

方法   method way  17

方式   manner way  43

(有)问题   problem  questionable  issue  54

()   change become modification   8

状态   status   8

秩序   order   8

判断   judgment  judges   20

创造()   creative  creativity   4

知识(分子)   knowledge  intellectuals   11

明确()   clarify clarity clear   20

针对   focus    9

角度   angles    5

态度   attitude stance   9

身份   identity  22

后身份  post-identity  9

可能性 possibilities   14

话语    discourse    5

权力    power    5

实验    experiment   6

国家    nation    6

概念   concept

独立         independent      1

意识形态    ideology  ideologism     11

安全       safe  unsafe  safety    4

审批制度    censorship system    1

市场    market    8

传统    traditional   5

中国    China     31

      money   wealthy  2

机会    opportunity   8

诱惑   temptation    1

      post       33

关系   relationship  39

生存谋生   survive  living    4

商业的   commercial    2

Q: Could you please first talk about your view on the current state of contemporary art in China?

A: On a macro level, I think we are now in the middle of a process of development. And this is a process of undergoing a transition from seeing the total picture to getting to know individual artists and individual arts, a stage from which I feel we are still very far away. There are pros and cons when a country‘s contemporary art scene appears as a group. The good part is that it attracts more audience and more attention, and the negative part is that it can only appear as a totality. And that, to me, is a problem, which also points to the difference between traditional art and contemporary art. Think about it – over a decade ago, the image that Europe had about Chinese art was an overall impression. If we were to continue our insistence on this totality, it could end up replacing materials or images of one kind with those of another kind– for example, dragon, phoenix, bamboo, porcelain, silk were used in a certain period, which were, eventually, replaced by some other materials. This is the risk you have to take when you present yourself as a totality. I myself am frightened by collectives, because I used to serve in the military, and I lived together with over 60 persons for many years. I’m left with two aftereffects from that experience. The first one is my hatred for homogeneity. I think I’m naturally immune to all things homogenous, either internally or externally. Basically I think a positive view on homogeneity is itself questionable. The second one is my suspicion for collectives.

Q: What then should an artist focus on, in your opinion?

A: That would be different to each artist. For myself, what I’m interested in is, simply speaking, possibilities. Like I just said, my suspicion for the existing order, and if I question order, which includes any form of order: governmental order, societal order, knowledge order and rules, if you [think this way] take this attitude, then what we often discuss, insofar as   where art is now, is no longer important. What’s important is [how] the way you display your method of questioning such orders.

For instance, through the clarity of commercialization and ideology (we) can understand the society in the simplest way. These have become our internalized way of recognizing the world, i.e., the only Weltanschauung. For me, I call this “New Ideologism,” which is a perfect collusion between commercial standards and political standards. It has a monopoly on everything. In that case, I think the way that contemporary art judges the uncertainties, can hardly survive in such a language context. And what is most fatal, I believe, is that when an ethnic group wants maximum progress… The maximum lies in your demands for possibilities. And possibility can exist only in uncertain domains. When everything in this world is within your grasp, when it offers you no possibilities, do you think you still have creativity?

Q: In these exhibitions, do you care about the communication between your work and the audience?

A: As a matter of fact… this involves a lot of questions. The first one is what we discussed earlier: whether the public exists or not. We always talk about art and the public. But first of all, does the public exist? Take our talking for example, are you the public or am I the public? If you are and I’m not, then why? On the other hand, if I am and you’re not, then what is that based upon? If neither of us can find a clear basis, then we both are the public. Then it does not exist a kind of…The artist and the public are always form a special relationship. This is the first question, which in itself is very conceptual.

The second question is, if there really exists a relationship between the artist and the public, then in fact the public is not communicating directly with the artist. The public and the artist…If we are to discuss relationship, then we need to talk about the system that underlies the relationship. The first system is the education system. Yet our educational system does not support any education on contemporary art… And secondly, in China, strictly speaking, we do not have any art museums – all our museums are organizations that rent spaces in order to survive. And such spaces do not bear any responsibility to educate the public. Consequently, our media always interpret the art experiences as a kind of public voice. Now think about it, the principal relationship between the public and the artist is formed under such circumstances. As a matter of fact, the relationship is produced by these three different systems. If the systems cannot be established, then you can imagine what the relationship will be look like. The third question is that I don’t think there exist a stable relationship between artists and the public.

Q: Do you have any views on your living conditions?

A: Take our views on cities for example. Artists, intellectuals, and even architects, all talk about cities, but what makes it absurd is not the criticism on cities, but the way of criticizing cities that has become completely homogenous. Sometimes criticism on this city becomes very homogenous, without any characteristics and distinctions. What’s more interesting is, the language and method of criticism have become more homogenous. I’ve attended many symposia on cities, which are essentially “criticizing galas”. And suddenly I noticed two things here: first, it’s very safe to criticize the city, from whatever angles. You can criticize it fiercely or call it bullshit. Because it’s very safe, because it does not involve any people, nor anything concrete things, and at the same time it declares your critical stance. This, to me, is opportunistic way. So, in such contexts, I always refuse to criticize in this manner, because it turns into a collectivity, a way of proving your stance – if you don’t criticize, you’re not… So, now I think another question arises. To criticize cities, but why? The English word “Why?” What is your stance? I hope to see you speak in your own manner, instead of in a public manner, even though what you criticize is a public space. With such an attitude, I think you can have your own judgment on this city. As a matter of fact, to me, cities are man-made landscapes, a product of our Utopian spirit. Idealism and Fascism are on this line, this steel wire; in fact, our entire city is built on this steel fire, its Utopian spirit and Fascist inclination just have a little distance. On this issue, what exactly is your attitude? Whether you’re an artist, a writer, you would use your own language and your own way to present your attitude. And it’s not just a declaration of attitude, because I’ve been hearing a lot – about this “attitude decides everything” thing, which is actually full of problems itself. Because “attitude decides everything” means it all depends on whether you raise your hand or not on every issue. That means going back to a public… In fact, when I worked on “Production” in 1996, I did an investigation on this issue. Why did I go to a lot of sites and public spaces? Why did they sit there all day and listen to the others talking about themselves? They are in fact sharing a daily discourse. In other words, certain individuals have become unimportant in such voices, or that they think it unsafe, so that through this collective site and collective discourse, certain individualistic things are transformed into a public voice with some [attitude] tendency. Thus, everyone shares this safety of public discourse. It’s the same with different ways of living. I think, first of all, living is not a kind of conceptual living; you don’t have to be lured by some hidden temptation, or challenged by some hidden theory. You put your life on a certain hint, and this hint reveals your cultural attitude of some sort. I think this is quite obvious in Beijing, and this is realized concretely in dressing, cigarettes you smoke, eyeglasses you wear – they are all injected with some kind of cultural identity. And I think cultural identity is also lethal: sometimes your attitude is determined by your cultural identity; when you become satisfied with your representing certain cultural identity, you actually stop thinking any further… This is how I feel I am living.

Q: Does the generalization of the Chinese art scene by those outside China have something to do with the situation in China now? And, apart from the external forces, does the strong similarity among artists actually have its internal reasons?

A: Well, actually I think, to me at least, this question… Like just now you wanted me to talk about my judgment on this thing at the present moment and what the basis of my judgment is. For example, sometimes we say a day is a long period of time, but that depends on specific events, such as brushing one’s teeth once, having a meal, which might take an hour. That is the relationship between time and events. But when something cultural is judged, or judged precisely, I think the time involved here is very long. Actually it’s like our show in 1997… all the way up to now. As you just said, this overall judgment on contemporary art in China, it’s still going on strong. I feel that this process takes more than ten years to finish; it might continue, because of the relationship between China and the world, such development…  So actually culture development is very very slow, especially in this country, where you see sometimes on the streets very fashionable cars and very fashionable cellphones, but many of our cultural institutions and regulations in fact date back to more than 20 years ago, without any modification in between. I’ll give you a simple example – films. Our censorship system on film has stayed virtually the same, and perhaps even more… Therefore, there is a large amount of things this society.. in fact, what have not changed do not show up, so what we do see are those that have changed. Then, seen from this angle, this society has in fact let certain things return to a basis where there are no such huge differences, which takes a very long time (to change). On the other hand, I think contemporary Chinese art is facing this same problem. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, when we were in the Netherlands, after the exhibition, I remember clearly, we felt shows of such large scale wouldn’t be happening ever again. Then, ten years later, to our great surprise, there are shows even more shocking than that one. There might be two factors at work here: the first one is that more countries, or more organizations, or more wealthy people have become interested in China, maybe then, partially… for instance, a certain genre of art, a certain foundation, started to get interested in the overall contemporary Chinese art. Now, due to the myth of China, more people and organizations have focused on China from various different angles. This might be another kind of change. Second, as more people get involved in this field, more artists would… they would make a relationship with it. This is a process that we must undergo; and I have noticed at the same time, that many artists have already started their work, who I think outnumber those of ten years ago.

爱[ai]love

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现在是一个没有、或者不提倡社会,整个社会都不倡导这种价值观。我们从小受的教育是一种很虚假尊敬,我觉得这不是艺术的错误,因为整个社会导向错误的。

We are living in a society without love, or one in which love is not advocated as social value judgment. The education we had from the early years was only fake respect and fake love, so I don’t think art should take the blame – because the whole society is simply going into a wrong direction.

(摘自徐坦对曹斐的访谈  Excerpt from Interview with Cao Fei)

采访对象:曹蕾

采访时间:2007131日下午

采访地点:于北京草场地艾家

 

 

社会  society social 23

关系 relationship involved with 16

珠三角  Pearl River Delta 12

成长 长大 grew up 12

love  11

young  10

合作  collaboration 9

影响 (作用) influence  9

普通人,观众,村民average (people, audience, villager)  7

环境 surrounding 11

自己 self 30

自我 myself 1

乌托邦 utopia 5

艺术圈 art circle 4

交流  communication 6

现实 现状 reality (realism) 12

现实主义 reality realism 2

国家  country 5+

fast 3

 

招安 sold souls 1

独立 independence 6

 

 

个人() individual personal 12

中国 China  Chinese  10

西方 the West 4

情感qinggan emotion 10

感情(ganqing) feeling 3

年代 时代 age 14

时尚 hippest fashion 7

流行 popular 5

周星驰 Stephen chow 1

都市 urban 1

政府 government 1

城市规划 urban planning 1

刺激 stimulate, excitement, stimulating 3

 

 

 

 

Q:你的作品,对生活的介入相当的直接和深入。那么我想问的是,你觉得它重要?你觉得直接介入生活是中国的当代艺术或者说青年一代的当代艺术非常重要的特性吗?

A:我们经常听到关于当代艺术社会性的讨论,但是有时候社会性不是说,一个艺术家做一个作品去表达他对社会关注, 或自身强调这个作品观念社会性压力,因为它没有真正对社会生活有所促进——或者他真的切入现实这个场景里面,但我希望能看到一些更直接作用和更直接的对话

Q我觉得你的观点是非常有意思的,就是说你对当代艺术的方向持一种非常积极的态度

A我不排斥艺术家很个人化的东西艺术家有时候会自己孤立社会大部分艺术家的性格是内向型但是我觉得应该有另外一些或更多一些方向,包括像我跟欧宁,做城市规划、或是搞建筑,我们甚至跟被拍摄区域的居民都有交互的关系我觉得这些都是非常有意思的所以我觉得当代艺术应该是更具开放性包容性因为我们没有一个归纳自己的工作暂时就只能归纳为“当代艺术”但可能是其它、或更自由的一种称呼

Q:回到刚才你和他人发生关系的方面你在跟人合作之中,是怎样看待这种关系

A:慢慢的我觉得有时候现实或者是现实主义中国如今还是一个强有力的东西记录也是一个关注点所在,是关注的一个方式我觉得欧洲艺术家好像已经过了经济高速发展时期中国当代艺术可能在开始的时候受了他们的观念艺术影响但是我觉得这几年,我们的艺术家慢慢地会找到跟自己社会生活、国家合适的一种表达方式、一种语境。我们早期会看到很多形式上的取巧——西方的工作方法但是我觉得每个国家的变化是不一样……不同国家的艺术家对他们的艺术现状和他们的社会现状直接反应和行动是不一样的我也很能理解和很欣赏那个德国艺术家的作品

Q:你觉得目前中国所处的环境,对当代艺术的创作,对于你创作的影响是什么?它为你提供了什么? 或者妨碍了什么?

A:我觉得像我这代人好像不太喜欢出去,而是花更多的时间在自己的城市或国家里面呆着、看着,因为是处于激烈变化的阶段。各种信息都可以是一种唤醒你去创作的关键因素,而不是说我需要去寻找创作的刺激,所以我愿意在这个城市。因为从我成长到现在它一直在积累、在变化,我已经习惯了这种速度刺激。我觉得它好像一口,离不开居住地。我们在做《三元里》跟在做《大栅栏》的时候,我们的作品在某种程度是敏感的,比如跟拆迁问题有关,跟政府相左,我们觉得这种题材是进入了发展方面的问题了。这种创作环境比较难,像早期的当代艺术,我们还能看到一种冒险——和意识形态的对抗,但是在今天——怎么说呢?以前我们说艺术家被招安,我觉得在今天这种冒险会更少,今天的冒险也不是当时的那种仅仅是行为上面的、或者观念上面的一种冒险,而是怎么进入问题的一种内壳, 当你进入得越可能会越。是艺术家自己决定的一种工作方式方向的。我觉得这就是创作的环境

Q:你对当代艺术的变化、你的体验和你的关注都是相当敏感的。这种敏感超出一般的人,另外除了对这种变化的感觉,你还有没有其它的一些判断?

A:比如我做《父亲》那个纪录片,我父亲做了很多年雕塑,但是我慢慢长大后,突然就会开始去寻找到我跟它的一个连接点。我拍了他的一个纪录片,这个纪录片拍了他做邓小平的像,去了很多订单接得一个比一个;我父亲现在做孔子像,全国飞来各种订单。我父亲不是搞当代艺术的,但是我的直觉是他跟现实紧密相关。从他做什么雕塑中你就能看到国家风向标志是什么,今年是邓小平,明年可能是孔子,后年可能就是……这些能迅速的在老一辈艺术家身上体验到,你能够发现整个中国发展的线索、命运,那个时代的一个艺人,他跟生命、生活妥协的过程,他们比所谓年轻的当代艺术家与现实的关系更加紧密。在父亲身上,更能真实地看到这个社会面貌,在台北双年展时,我做了一个我父亲的展览作为了我的参展作品。我拍他的那个纪录片

Q:你为什么觉得中国当代艺术缺少爱?

A:刚刚说的一个就是社会的原因,现在是一个没有、或者不提倡社会整个社会都不倡导这种价值观。我们从小受的教育是一种很虚假尊敬,我觉得这不是艺术的错误,因为整个社会的导向是错误的。整个社会道德也越来越崩溃,我对这方面真的是有点绝望——不只是在艺术圈里面,其实社会的生活方方面面、都有所体现,所以我觉得,有时侯艺术的存在可能就是用来抚平这种裂痕吧!作为艺术家,我尽可能做的是去抚平裂痕,而不是去制造更多更虚假的东西。

Q:我们这个社会缺乏这样一种信念。而现在充斥的是消费的文化和时尚,你觉得它们对我们社会的这种价值有没有什么影响?

A:我觉得肯定会有影响娱乐业时尚影响到了年青一代和整个社会。比如我去美国或者欧洲,它们娱乐时尚的文化虽然都有一定的比例,但是它们很多还是保留了最传统的部分文化,在纽约,它有最时尚的活动,但是每天晚上也还有诗歌朗诵或者传统摇滚,而中国的变化太了,今天中国摇滚已经时尚了,玩的是另一种电子音乐了,淘汰的机制特别,对的东西及其厌恶。所以我觉得,对于中国,这是本性。或是因为经历了很多运动,害怕落后,就会把所有的东西都做得有过之而无不及,我觉得倒挺彻底的……同时代交流?艺术家好像已经丧失了对社会信任,甚至有时候连一些创作欲望都没有了,他们也发现了艺术对这个社会无力感。无力,没有力量,没有帮助,他们觉得做了这个作品跟没有做这个作品的反应一样的,丧失了存在愿望,一种厌倦

Q:你觉得一个艺术家对自己社会角色的意识应该是怎样的?另外,你相信艺术在社会里能起到作用吗?能够起到多大的作用?这仅仅只是一种希望?还是你真的相信这种功能、

A:我相信这种角色,但是我觉得作为艺术家,这种影响绝对是有限的、是很无力的,是很小范围里面的影响,除非是很有效地动用各方面的资源,或者要特别富于冒险行动性、富于社会行动性,而不是单从艺术角度出发的行动性。我觉得我的角色是,尽可能地作为一个桥梁——甚至哪天如果不做艺术,是不是可以做其他事情,能够更直接地刺激到我的想法?就是我尽可能地把这个桥梁的角色做得更稳定、更明确

Q:最后,通过我们刚才的谈话,你可以总结一下自己的创作主要针对的是什么吗?请简单地提出比较关键性的一些观点、观念。

A:怎么说呢?比方说我现在做的项目,是一个影片,叫《谁的乌托邦?》,这是一个问句也是一种陈述句。乌托邦是要我们共同建造——或者说某一部分人确实还是需要乌托邦的,我觉得我自己就还是有一种乌托邦情结,我不是反乌托邦份子,虽然对这个前景不是非常地明确,但是总有一种力量在推进我,我就是按这个方向去走的。还有——就是说有一天,如果……仅仅是艺术的话,我是可以抛弃艺术家身份,而去做一些更有直接行动性的事情的,这是有可能的。

 

采访对象:曹蕾

采访时间:2007131日下午

采访地点:于北京草场地艾家

社会 society social 23

关系 relationship involved with 16

珠三角 Pearl River Delta 12

成长 长大 grew up 12

love 11

young 10

合作 collaboration 9

影响 (作用) influence 9

普通人,观众,村民average (people, audience, villager) 7

环境 surrounding 11

自己 self 30

自我 myself 1

乌托邦 utopia 5

艺术圈 art circle 4

交流 communication 6

现实 现状 reality (realism) 12

现实主义 reality realism 2

国家 country 5+

fast 3

招安 sold souls 1

独立 independence 6

个人() individual personal 12

中国 China Chinese 10

西方 the West 4

情感qinggan emotion 10

感情(ganqing) feeling 3

年代 时代 age 14

时尚 hippest fashion 7

流行 popular 5

周星驰 Stephen chow 1

都市 urban 1

政府 government 1

城市规划 urban planning 1

刺激 stimulate, excitement, stimulating 3

Q:你的作品,对生活的介入相当的直接和深入。那么我想问的是,你觉得它重要?你觉得直接介入生活是中国的当代艺术或者说青年一代的当代艺术非常重要的特性吗?

A:我们经常听到关于当代艺术社会性的讨论,但是有时候社会性不是说,一个艺术家做一个作品去表达他对社会关注, 或自身强调这个作品观念社会性压力,因为它没有真正对社会生活有所促进——或者他真的切入现实这个场景里面,但我希望能看到一些更直接作用和更直接的对话

Q我觉得你的观点是非常有意思的,就是说你对当代艺术的方向持一种非常积极的态度

A我不排斥艺术家很个人化的东西艺术家有时候会自己孤立社会大部分艺术家的性格是内向型但是我觉得应该有另外一些或更多一些方向,包括像我跟欧宁,做城市规划、或是搞建筑,我们甚至跟被拍摄区域的居民都有交互的关系我觉得这些都是非常有意思的所以我觉得当代艺术应该是更具开放性包容性因为我们没有一个归纳自己的工作暂时就只能归纳为“当代艺术”但可能是其它、或更自由的一种称呼

Q:回到刚才你和他人发生关系的方面你在跟人合作之中,是怎样看待这种关系

A:慢慢的我觉得有时候现实或者是现实主义中国如今还是一个强有力的东西记录也是一个关注点所在,是关注的一个方式我觉得欧洲艺术家好像已经过了经济高速发展时期中国当代艺术可能在开始的时候受了他们的观念艺术影响但是我觉得这几年,我们的艺术家慢慢地会找到跟自己社会生活、国家合适的一种表达方式、一种语境。我们早期会看到很多形式上的取巧——西方的工作方法但是我觉得每个国家的变化是不一样……不同国家的艺术家对他们的艺术现状和他们的社会现状直接反应和行动是不一样的我也很能理解和很欣赏那个德国艺术家的作品

Q:你觉得目前中国所处的环境,对当代艺术的创作,对于你创作的影响是什么?它为你提供了什么? 或者妨碍了什么?

A:我觉得像我这代人好像不太喜欢出去,而是花更多的时间在自己的城市或国家里面呆着、看着,因为是处于激烈变化的阶段。各种信息都可以是一种唤醒你去创作的关键因素,而不是说我需要去寻找创作的刺激,所以我愿意在这个城市。因为从我成长到现在它一直在积累、在变化,我已经习惯了这种速度刺激。我觉得它好像一口,离不开居住地。我们在做《三元里》跟在做《大栅栏》的时候,我们的作品在某种程度是敏感的,比如跟拆迁问题有关,跟政府相左,我们觉得这种题材是进入了发展方面的问题了。这种创作环境比较难,像早期的当代艺术,我们还能看到一种冒险——和意识形态的对抗,但是在今天——怎么说呢?以前我们说艺术家被招安,我觉得在今天这种冒险会更少,今天的冒险也不是当时的那种仅仅是行为上面的、或者观念上面的一种冒险,而是怎么进入问题的一种内壳, 当你进入得越可能会越。是艺术家自己决定的一种工作方式方向的。我觉得这就是创作的环境

Q:你对当代艺术的变化、你的体验和你的关注都是相当敏感的。这种敏感超出一般的人,另外除了对这种变化的感觉,你还有没有其它的一些判断?

A:比如我做《父亲》那个纪录片,我父亲做了很多年雕塑,但是我慢慢长大后,突然就会开始去寻找到我跟它的一个连接点。我拍了他的一个纪录片,这个纪录片拍了他做邓小平的像,去了很多订单接得一个比一个;我父亲现在做孔子像,全国飞来各种订单。我父亲不是搞当代艺术的,但是我的直觉是他跟现实紧密相关。从他做什么雕塑中你就能看到国家风向标志是什么,今年是邓小平,明年可能是孔子,后年可能就是……这些能迅速的在老一辈艺术家身上体验到,你能够发现整个中国发展的线索、命运,那个时代的一个艺人,他跟生命、生活妥协的过程,他们比所谓年轻的当代艺术家与现实的关系更加紧密。在父亲身上,更能真实地看到这个社会面貌,在台北双年展时,我做了一个我父亲的展览作为了我的参展作品。我拍他的那个纪录片

Q:你为什么觉得中国当代艺术缺少爱?

A:刚刚说的一个就是社会的原因,现在是一个没有、或者不提倡社会整个社会都不倡导这种价值观。我们从小受的教育是一种很虚假尊敬,我觉得这不是艺术的错误,因为整个社会的导向是错误的。整个社会道德也越来越崩溃,我对这方面真的是有点绝望——不只是在艺术圈里面,其实社会的生活方方面面、都有所体现,所以我觉得,有时侯艺术的存在可能就是用来抚平这种裂痕吧!作为艺术家,我尽可能做的是去抚平裂痕,而不是去制造更多更虚假的东西。

Q:我们这个社会缺乏这样一种信念。而现在充斥的是消费的文化和时尚,你觉得它们对我们社会的这种价值有没有什么影响?

A:我觉得肯定会有影响娱乐业时尚影响到了年青一代和整个社会。比如我去美国或者欧洲,它们娱乐时尚的文化虽然都有一定的比例,但是它们很多还是保留了最传统的部分文化,在纽约,它有最时尚的活动,但是每天晚上也还有诗歌朗诵或者传统摇滚,而中国的变化太了,今天中国摇滚已经时尚了,玩的是另一种电子音乐了,淘汰的机制特别,对的东西及其厌恶。所以我觉得,对于中国,这是本性。或是因为经历了很多运动,害怕落后,就会把所有的东西都做得有过之而无不及,我觉得倒挺彻底的……同时代交流?艺术家好像已经丧失了对社会信任,甚至有时候连一些创作欲望都没有了,他们也发现了艺术对这个社会无力感。无力,没有力量,没有帮助,他们觉得做了这个作品跟没有做这个作品的反应一样的,丧失了存在愿望,一种厌倦

Q:你觉得一个艺术家对自己社会角色的意识应该是怎样的?另外,你相信艺术在社会里能起到作用吗?能够起到多大的作用?这仅仅只是一种希望?还是你真的相信这种功能、

A:我相信这种角色,但是我觉得作为艺术家,这种影响绝对是有限的、是很无力的,是很小范围里面的影响,除非是很有效地动用各方面的资源,或者要特别富于冒险行动性、富于社会行动性,而不是单从艺术角度出发的行动性。我觉得我的角色是,尽可能地作为一个桥梁——甚至哪天如果不做艺术,是不是可以做其他事情,能够更直接地刺激到我的想法?就是我尽可能地把这个桥梁的角色做得更稳定、更明确

Q:最后,通过我们刚才的谈话,你可以总结一下自己的创作主要针对的是什么吗?请简单地提出比较关键性的一些观点、观念。

A:怎么说呢?比方说我现在做的项目,是一个影片,叫《谁的乌托邦?》,这是一个问句也是一种陈述句。乌托邦是要我们共同建造——或者说某一部分人确实还是需要乌托邦的,我觉得我自己就还是有一种乌托邦情结,我不是反乌托邦份子,虽然对这个前景不是非常地明确,但是总有一种力量在推进我,我就是按这个方向去走的。还有——就是说有一天,如果……仅仅是艺术的话,我是可以抛弃艺术家身份,而去做一些更有直接行动性的事情的,这是有可能的。

按摩[an mo] massage

This movie requires Flash Player 9

在这里,人觉得比较塌实,这里不像徐家汇和南京西路,物质诱惑特别多,每天要逛街按摩做脸,很多活动要

People are down to earth here. Different from Xujiahui or Nanjing West Road,   whick is full of material distractions, where you do shopping, massage or facial every day.

(摘自徐坦对秦晋的访谈 Excerpt from Interview with Qin Jin

采访对象:秦晋张江某IT公司职员)

采访时间:2006816

生活气息 (sense of)living life 6

公司 company 7

do make 10

商业 business 3

far remote 6

new 3

car 3

创业 entrepreneurship 3

按摩 massage 1

做脸 facial 1

打扮 dress 2

国际 international 2

外来人 non-natives 2

辛苦 hardworking 2

别墅 villa 2

发展 develop 2

circl 2

活动 activity 1

house apartment 2

逛街 shopping 1

经济实力 economical strength 2

媒体 media 2

市场 market 2

销售 sell 1

环境 surrounding 2

 

张江是个工作的地方,它是开发区,Zhangjiang is a place for working. It is a development zone after all.

冠以开发区的名头,让人感觉是创业的地方,The title itself feels like a place of entrepreneurship,

辛苦的地方,不是生活的地方,a place of hardworking instead of living.

没有生活气息商业和各方面都不方便,There is no sense of living here.Inconvenient commercially and in all other ways.

地铁晚了回不来,除非自己有,You have to be back early to take the subway, unless you have your car.

即使自己有也要开很,Even with a car you have to drive a long distance.

张江这边有很多别墅,In Zhangjiang there are many villas.

除非以后年纪大了,达到一定的程度,有了相当的经济实力,可以来住这里的别墅

But we could not afford them unless we become quite well off in future.

现在看来不大可能住这边。Now it seems totally impossible to live here.

上班确实要,It’s indeed a long way to go to work.

一开始认为很,后来和上海的朋友聊天,But later I talked to my native friends

发现他们从小就是这么的,and found them commute like this since childhood.

比如,他们有可能家住张江,而学校却在复旦大学那边,For example, they could live in Zhangjiang, but go to school near Fudan University,

因为都要读好学校,for they prefer good schools.

每天要在路上2-3个小时,从很小开始,Since they were little they have been spent 2 to 3 hours in commuting per day.

所以我现在觉得不算太,So now I think it’s not that far away.

就近工作当然好,Of couse it would be perfect to work nearby,

但是没有那么两全其美的事,but that is too good to be true.

 

这是一个让人比较能够集中思想的地方,But this is a place for people to easily concentrate.

在这里,人觉得比较塌实,People are down to earth here.

这里不象徐家汇南京西路物质诱惑特别多 Different from Xujiahui or Nanjing West Road,   whick is full of material distractions

每天要逛街按摩做脸,很多活动,where you do shopping, massage or facial every day.Plenty of things to do.

在这边,你来公司上班,无论是大公司国际公司,还是小公司,Here you come to work, no matter in a big international company or a small one,

这份事的时候,你可以专注地去,you can concentrate on your job.

这边的人的气质,这边有很多外来的人,The character of people here, among whom many are non-natives,

整个这里的气氛,小区的气氛,工业园的环境,让人觉得清,and the overall phenomenon of the zone are refreshing,

不会让人觉得太浮华,是工作的好地方。Not showy. A great place for work.

 

女孩子都有两种理想生活,Each girl has two ideal life styles.

一是她羡慕的;另一是她想得到的,One is what she is envious of, the other is what she wants.

当然这两种都不是她现在所拥有的,Of course neither is what she is having.

作为羡慕的方式,女孩子大都喜欢呆在大城市,As for the admiring, girls perfer big cities.

时间,穿的打扮得美,不太劳累的事情,Have spare time, dress themselves gorgeously, and do easy job.

这是一种生活方式,基本上可以随心所欲,It’s a life they can do basically whatever they want,

又可以照顾家庭,又能够自己的事情。can take care of their family and have their own career as well.

这就是她们比较羡慕的方式。This is the life girls envious of.

如果走运的话,能这样生活最好。It would be perfect if they are lucky enough to live such a life.

另外的方式,就是比较接近自己经过努力就能到的,The other is a life they can possibly access through effort.

首先有个,再有,a life with a home, their own apartment and car,

有稳定的公司工作, a stable position in company,

还有很好的一朋友家庭和睦。plus a group of friends and happy family life.

 

如果媒体市场销售工作,If you work with media, marketing or sales,

就需要在商业工作,you need to work in a business field,

能够接受很多和工作相关的外界刺激,accessable to lots of outside incentives related with your work,

比如广告,各种各样广告形式,such as advertisements in various forms.

还有各种业态总是最先出现在商业。And new business trends always initiate in the business zone.

但是如果你IT制造业或是其他,But if you do IT, manufacture or others.

在张江则是最好的,这边的配备也是很好的。Zhangjiang would be an ideal place, with all the neat facilities.

 

第一, ,代表着不方便,1. remote, which means inconvenience,

2,很积极, 2. highly active,

3,活力,在这个地方总能看到公司,3. energetic. We can always see new companies,

的人从全国各地,世界各地来此创业,and entrepreneurs are coming from all over the country or even the world,

4, 发展 。4. developing.

 

關於 / about

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