Elephant Magazine Showcase

Interviewer: Andrew Spyrou 2014-01-06

BACKGROUND

1. You have been working as an artist for over 20 years now. Could you please tell me a little about your background and the early days of practicing as an artist in China. What motivated your decision to become an artist, and how has the perception of ‘the artist’ as a member of Chinese society changed over your 20+ year career?

我出生于文革末期,八十年代读大学,学的是设计专业。八十年代的中国社会经历了很大的动荡和变迁,我自己很幸运地在20岁左右经历了那个时代,身在其中,又置身事外。我也经历了中国当代艺术从80,90年代“地下”的状态到2000后当代艺术家身份的合法化。曾经理想化带着“革命”的幻觉去反叛传统和体制,近几年又迅速地面临被官方艺术体制和泡沫化的艺术市场冲击。所以我们这年龄的一代人都是幸运又很不幸的,中国近30年快速变化的社会和环境,给每个人带来的冲击和影响,让艺术的影响力显得苍白无力。你还来不及好好去消化,却不知不觉自己已经步入中年。

2. I often feel that artists’ educations are more incidental that necessarily relevant to the rest of their careers, but I am interested in hearing whether your education in fashion design and oil painting in the Zhejiang Institute / Hangzhou had any bearing on your later video and photography work?

因为从小爱好绘画去考艺术类的学校,结果却阴错阳差考上丝绸学院并学习设计专业。那个年代中国的美术学院是相对比较封闭的,比如学习绘画的学生,很少被鼓励去接触别的技术。但是学习设计的经历却使我在以后的从事艺术的工作中不那么拘泥于表现手段和技术,因为我是一种“业余”的心态进入,反而更加开放,更能够轻松接受并转换于不同的艺术方式,包括同时转换于摄影,录像,装置等等不同形式的各种尝试。

THEMES / PROCESS

3. Viewer interaction appears to be a central part of your recent work. Few of your video installations are simply presented on a regular screen - most require at least a little more effort that watching a screen. The same is true of installations like ‘Summer 2009′ and ‘Tresspass’ where the viewers are immersed in the work and can have a different experience the work through a peephole. Could you tell me a bit about this?

所谓互动在你提到的这些作品里其实是观看方式的设置。这种需要多一点努力,改变一点习惯的观看方式,对我来说有时候是作品内容的一部份。比如“2009年夏天”和“Tresspass”,我是要把透视原理反过来使用,通常透视原理是用来在2D空间里表现3D假相,但是通过那个观察孔,同样在透视原理的作用下,3D空间被转换成2D假相。另外的例子是在“Exam”这个录像装置,那个观看录像的孔,似乎就真的成了偷看女孩闺房活动的“窥视口”。

4. How do you feel about working in multiple media? I was very impressed that all the works in Trespassing successfully worked together, and that its themes ran through all the works. As a multi-media artist, do you see it as a challenge to weave such themes across the various media, or can this sometimes be a struggle?

跨媒体的工作方式确实是一种有趣的挑战和挣扎,我努力摆脱惯性地去工作。这种工作方式有时候甚至给我的合作者(比如画廊)带来烦恼,因为表面上我的工作缺乏一贯性,缺乏辨识度,难以有效率地去介绍我到底在做些什么。但是我相信所谓的一贯性其实是一个艺术家很难摆脱并且需要去摆脱和拓宽自己的,我差不多习惯了在工作室同时处理完全不同的技术麻烦,和完全不同的技术人员合作,一边在拍摄或剪辑录像,一边在画画做雕塑或者和木工一起研究图纸,一边又到处打电话寻找一个编程高手讨论互动程序。。。有时候真是很乱很烦恼,但不这样也实在缺少乐趣。

当然在trespassing这个展览中作品的选择其实跨越了不同的年代,是很多年来不同方向的尝试的集合。有些是以前的作品复原,有些是最新制作。同时我挑选这些作品放在一起展览,一方面是有一些以前的作品,因为当时条件和环境的限制,都是出现在某个群展里,并且只展览了几天就被拆掉没有机会和条件再次展出(比如“上海的脸”,“鱼缸”等)。另一方面,虽然我很难用语言表述清楚所有这些作品放在一起展览在主题上的联系,但是凭我自己的感觉,它们放在一起展览是有必要并且能互相说明互相对话的。其实展览的主题在英文和中文是不同的,英文是“tresspassing”,中文是“不在此时”(“Not The Moment”),它们也是互相说明,一个关于空间,一个关于时间。

5. You are clearly very interested in space, and the spaces which we inhabit in the cities in which we live, something I am particularly interested in myself (I attach for you a recent article of mine on ‘Urban Interruptionism’ - your piece Xi-An Zoo Bus Stop could very well have been featured if I had known about it at the time!). Further, many of the pieces in Trespassing deal with the control which is imposed upon urban citizens. What is important to you about these ideas? Do you feel that the Chinese population questions the urban control, or do they take it for granted?

有时候我也这样想,规划一个城市是不是就是在研究人群控制的技术?并且作为城市人,我们已经完全习惯和完全依赖这种控制技术在生活?这不仅仅是发生在中国,它发生在全球所有的城市,只不过,很多事情在中国发生的时候,往往变本加厉的。也许是因为我生活在这个国家,切身体会,所以感觉更强烈而已?

我也很喜欢你文章中推荐的那种类型的作品(虽然英语不好没有全部看懂),以“艺术”的名义,在可能的范围,在现实的城市生活中捣蛋,给大家找些麻烦,让失控偶尔发生。《西安动物园车站》确实也有类似的企图。

6. Shanghai Face is also a powerful work, perhaps emphasising the noise and images we are constantly bombarded with in a city like Shanghai. Having recently moved here, I can immediately see the difference between Shanghai and other metropolises in the way that noise is more pervasive than elsewhere. Should we embrace these features of cities, or is your work a comment on these as failings that could be altered (or blown away, like in Let’s Puff!)?

1997年,因为我在一个杂志社上班做graphic design的工作,从杭州(离上海仅2小时的车程,一个有山有湖,安静悠闲的城市)搬到上海生活。我经常说,生活在上海这样的城市,是一件同时让人兴奋又沮丧的事。来到上海最开始的那几年,这种感觉尤其折磨人,不仅仅是城市景观和噪音的冲击,有时候甚至连呼吸都不适应和困难。但是大城市的这种特征在伤害你的感官的同时,又不可否认地有它的魅力,你会感受到那种类似身处风暴中心的兴奋和不安感觉,必须慢慢地去学会调整自己,学会身处繁杂环境又有办法让自己保持安静的心境和明锐观察力。我是几年之后才适应过来,渐渐开始结交新的朋友,开始新的工作。当然,那种城市生活的感受,也不可避免地在那时期的作品中有或多或少的体现。

我很少想要特意去强调作品的批评功能,很多事情发生的原动力非常强大,这种原动力甚至可能就埋藏在每个人包括我们自己身上,很难因为某些艺术作品微弱的批评声而停止脚步。但有时候我们可以把当代人异化的问题和感受放大摆出来,转化成更好玩的游戏或者自我调侃的东西。

7. Sleepwalking is a Therapy III was perhaps my favourite piece in the show - I found it incredibly impressive that a video could inspire such tension and unease in the viewer.
Pleasant Sensation Passing Through Flesh 1-3 is another brilliant yet quite shocking work. It is visually fascinating, yet quite frightening when it dawns on the viewer what they are looking at.
How important is the eliciting of emotion in your art, and do you want to elicit / inspire particular emotions?

梦游疗法III》运用了强制的观看方式,逼迫观众进入装置中不能后退,近距离地面对大屏幕观看大幅度运动/主视角拍摄的录像。而《快感穿过肉身1-3》很简单地把各种现在随处可见的日常用品——按摩椅扒掉了外皮,它们呈现的视觉效果常常令我自己都感到惊讶。

我并不太多去限定观众应该如何去理解作品或者应该到达某种特定情绪。没有观众的进入,艺术作品等于不存在,观众相当于作品的开关。艺术家工作的一部分的确是某种预谋,作品的安排预先设定观众将被唤起情绪,可能被打动,可能感到意外,或者激发理解甚至误解的欲望。但是艺术家不需要去控制和限定全部,因为观众是带着他和你不同的文化背景,生活经验和个人喜好进入的,在作品完成的现场,他们给作品带来更丰富的意义。

8. To what extent is Trespassing ‘China-specific’? Can the themes be directly translated to international urban environments, or are you presenting a commentary on the state of affairs in China?

我欢迎任何一种方向的评述,不担心任何评述会离作品太远。我个人的所有直觉,判断和算计,在我选择材料和媒体,选择符号和色彩,安排整个空间和决定每个作品的细节时候,都已经完成。我自己再用语言去限制作品的意义和解读方式,会不会显得多余?

9. To what extent do you think humour is important in art? Although many of your works deal with very serious contemporary subjects, some of them can also be taken as humorous. Do you find that humour can make light of the serious subjects you are dealing with, perhaps detracting from the message you may want to be conveying, or is humour a conscious way in which to allow people to engage with these subjects?

我觉得艺术作品充其量是貌似在处理非常严肃的当代议题。因为艺术实际上处理不了也解决不了大部分当代问题。所以幽默是很重要的解决无力感的方式。哈哈哈。。。

10. 922 Grains of Rice could be said to deal with both the obsessive statistical nature of our capitalist lifestyle, or the competition inherent in lives the world over - must art be political? I like the idea of Spring Story and see it as tastefully political, as it involves many participants. Do you feel that art with too forceful a political message is unnecessary?

艺术不是必须政治化,有很多时候是不知不觉地政治化,政治就在你的生活中无处不在没有办法回避,那么,在“政治”允许的范围内,就不需要故意回避了。

INSPIRATION / FURTHER

11. To what extent do you feel that you can be / have been defined by your art?

我是谁或者我是什么样的人,往往被“我做了什么,是怎样做的,怎样说的”所定义。但是说到底,什么是我,真的能够被定义吗?我做的那些所谓“艺术”真的有这个功能吗?只不过,如果生活要继续,必须还要继续学习怎样持续工作下去。

12. Are there any particular artists / movements that you feel you have been directly or indirectly inspired by?

这个我还不知道。何况我很少,也不太喜欢去学校当教师。

13. When you exhibit around the world, do you get different reactions to your work? How did the reactions to participating in the I Will Die project differ around the world?

在世界各地参加展览,会有很多不同的情况,有时候中国艺术家的作品被选择出现在国际展览中是一种国际化需要,有时候甚至是和艺术市场有关,当然也有非常多真正喜爱中国当代艺术的理解和支持者。可惜我的英语不太好,在国外和观众能够交流讨论的机会和程度都受到限制。
在《我会死的》的拍摄过程中,我最喜欢的部分,是每次我带着这个工作去各地旅行的时候,让我真正有机会到各种不同的场所,去和各种年龄,各种身份的普通人接触,合作,而不是仅仅像个游客。我给每个被拍摄者同样的这句台词“我会死的”,每个人用他自己的方式在我的镜头前表演,说出这句台词,差异表现在每个人在镜头前的表演,不同的宗教背景,不同的年龄层次,不同的性格趋向,乐观的,悲观的,有权有钱的,贫穷困苦的,傲慢自信的,谦卑羞涩的。。。我觉得每个同意参与的人,他们至少理解和认同了我的动机。“我会死的”这句话,真是一个很好的交流语言,让每个人一下子领悟到:原来我们都是完全平等的。

14. Finally, I MUST see What You Endure Can Not be Dispelled by Your Enduring. I have certainly felt similar to your protagonist on several days here in Shanghai!

耶! :)