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日常在诗意中冉冉升起

苏亚碧2010年裙子、镜子、刷子、梳子

日常在诗意中冉冉升起

——关于苏亚碧的艺术

文/罗菲

在许多人看来艺术似乎是“无用”的,然而艺术之所以还“有用”,就是因为艺术家为我们打开了一扇崭新的窗口,让我们从那些平凡得不能再平凡,琐碎得不能再琐碎的日常经验中看见另一层被遮蔽的现实:诗意现实。在那些表现诗意现实的艺术品中,它们往往提醒人们慢下来,凝视周遭并反馈给内心,内心再通过艺术这样的特定形式将其骚动不安的状况表现出来。

对心灵的表达是一些本土艺术家的共同关注,通过对心灵的描述和追问,艺术家完成了从手艺人到心灵守望者的升华。来自大理的艺术家苏亚碧即是其中一位心灵守望者。苏亚碧1998年毕业于云南艺术学院油画专业,自大学时期开始,苏亚碧着迷于描绘房间里的日常什物,如除尘用的毛刷、别针、衣柜、梳子、衣裙及梳妆台等家用物品。她以绘画和编织铁丝的方式为这些日常什物赋予个人化的情感和心智,编织起一层层诗意现实的薄纱。

苏亚碧绘画中的诗意,我理解是一种温和的漂泊感。那些画中的日常什物给人一种失重后在空中缓慢漂移,冉冉升起的印象。衣裙如梦游仙境,围巾如潮水涌出,别针总是不愿将最尖锐的那头藏起来。这样或那样的物品从抽屉和衣橱里出走,似乎要脱离既定秩序与中心格局,去寻求更加自由自在的状态。这一切都以某种温和的方式进行着,甚至以回忆的形式来描述它们的抗命状态,因为画面中总是出现相同的那几件与艺术家记忆深处有关的物品。它们从体制化的缺乏想象力的空间里挣脱出来,这种出游,即是抗命,即是漂泊。

因此我说那些什物都拥有了心智,成为对人存在状态的象征。在苏亚碧的艺术中,我看见人作为敞现诗意抗拒无意义的存在,人作为追求自由抗拒宿命的存在,人作为超越物质抗拒异化的存在。在这个层面上,艺术以看似“无用”的方式完成了“最为有用”的功效,即确信人作为精神性存在,并以此引起他人心灵的共鸣。

看苏亚碧的艺术,我们只需与她一道放慢脚步,凝视片刻,倾听内心。那一刻,日常在诗意中冉冉升起。

2014年10月16日夜

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日常诗境——苏亚碧的记忆空间

策展人:罗菲
艺术家:苏亚碧
艺术评论:廖雯
学术主持:孙国娟
展览开幕酒会:2014年11月8日晚上8点
展览日期:2014年11月8日至12月3日(周日闭馆)
展览地址:昆明市西坝路101号创库艺术社区,TCG诺地卡画廊
主办:TCG诺地卡画廊
协办:大理学院艺术学院
电话:0871-64114692
网址:www.tcgnordica.com

日常诗境──苏亚碧的记忆空间

文/廖雯

2002年夏天我去大理避暑,昆明的艺术家孙国娟说,大理下关,有个女孩儿叫苏亚碧,画得很有感觉,你去看看。以我的书本常识,凡以“下关”命名的地方,都是天然形成的水陆交通要道,想来大理的这个下关也不例外。而当我从昆明坐了几个小时长途汽车,终于站在大理下关,眼前的景象却无论如何与“下关”这个名字带给我的想象对接不上。

记忆里当年的下关镇,只是一大片零乱的简易楼群,在明丽的苍山洱海之间显得格外狼藉。苏亚碧带我在她居住的小镇穿梭,我习惯性地调动所有感官感受这个新地方。以我特别的好奇心和观看能力,经常可以看见别人看不见的东西,而这个没有任何审美归属感的小镇,几乎没有可以着眼的细节。

那时,大约苏亚碧刚毕业不久,和几个年轻的艺术家合租了电池厂的一间厂房画画。印象中这间厂房几乎是空的,几根粗糙的水泥柱子歪七扭八,满地剥落的白灰墙皮七零八落,凹凸不平的水泥地,凹陷处甚至还汪着水,曲曲折折废铁料焊起来的防盗窗,无情地将窗外的蓝天白云切成碎片……几个年轻人的画,没有明显的分界,靠墙地下一溜摆过去,色调昏暗。

令我惊异的是,这种审美系统被彻底粉碎的、令人尴尬的风景,在苏亚碧画的画中却是别样的美好。苏亚碧以私密的视角,触摸着日常的零散事物,室内的衣柜、床、灯泡、门锁、衣裙、围巾、雨伞、梳子、刷子、拖鞋、别针种种,以及透过防盗窗的铁栏,从内向外可见的烟筒、高压线、电视塔、楼房、汽车、水龙头等等,从外向内可见的女人内衣、牙缸、暖瓶、钟表、椅子等等,都被散漫地放在画面各处,造型、比例、颜色、位置,都不甚合理(有些几乎是飘在空中),却完整地笼罩在一种细腻、温情、朴素的情调之中。画面的色调似褪色的旧照片,偶然有节制地使用灰度单色的画面,也如上色老照片,笔触塑形模糊、平面、散漫,仿佛是漫不经心地抚摸过记忆里细碎的物件,任感觉雾一样地流淌,在平庸和琐碎的日常中,为营造出诗一般的境地。苏亚碧称这些作品为《记忆日常》:“一直想用视觉日记的方式记录我的生活片段、我所经历的场景,在画布上用极为节制的颜色来还原它们的松弛与朴素(苏亚碧语)”。

之后,苏亚碧开始用一种精细柔韧的金属线,编织她反复画了多年的日常事物,平面的笔触变成了立体的编织。“编织”是女人最熟悉的方式,女人的日常生活很多是编织出来的,用线编织衣物、用竹子编织用品,用情感编织爱。编织对于女人不仅是一种制做形式,而是一种生存方式。苏亚碧用金属丝编织的日常物象,视觉上空而眩,“实在”仿佛被抽空了,一根一根看得见、摸得着的闪亮的金属丝,依稀勾勒出的物件形象,分明又与日常相连。我想,这亦虚亦实的意象,更贴近苏亚碧心中的“记忆”,而编织的类似修行的过程,“还原我的许多记忆(苏亚碧语)”,也结进了她日常的心境。

其实,描绘和编织,对于苏亚碧来说,心绪与手感的对应关系是一样的。苏亚碧的一些描绘和编织混合的作品,视觉和感觉上都更加细腻和丰富。

看苏亚碧的作品,我心底常常弥漫起一种温暖的感动。在这个信息纷乱、价值混杂的时代,在那个最平庸的小镇最无奇的日常生活中,能够保持诗一样心境和观看能力的女人,心底肯定有一份超常的美好和敏感。

2014年9月于宋庄

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边想边写

薛滔的形式实验

薛滔作品《同胞》,2011年
薛滔作品《同胞》,2011年

薛滔的形式实验

文/罗菲

2000年后,实验艺术在云南的发展有两个重要节点,一个是2001年创库艺术社区在西坝路101号的成立,该社区由艺术家和艺术机构自发组织成立,成为中国最早的艺术社区之一。作为昆明的艺术文化中心,它极大促进了本地艺术家们的群体实验,本地艺术家与国际艺术家的协作以及艺术界与公众的交流。另一个是2005年至2006年的“江湖”系列艺术活动,该项目聚集了各地实验艺术家,以极其活跃的方式在各类场所开展艺术现场,融入大量民间娱乐和游戏精神,发展出极具市井气息和庆祝美学的先锋派样式。这两个节点都见证着本土艺术家们在实验精神上的自觉推进,为中国当代艺术的发生、发展提供了独特的考察价值。

创库初期是云南艺术家群体实验的首次集中爆发期,其中群展“体检”(2002)、“羊来了”(2002)和“影子”(2003)将本土70后艺术家的整体面貌向公众充分展现。随后他们以群体方式出现在上海、北京等地,云南新生代的艺术力量由此得到迅猛发展。薛滔作为这时期成长起来的实验艺术家、活动组织人,产生了非常重要的推动作用。

薛滔1975年生于云南大理,1994年在大理创办“红心社”艺术家群体,2005年在北京创建“候鸟天空”艺术空间,推动云南艺术家与各地的联络。2012年他从北京回到昆明,积极投入到推介本地新兴艺术家的工作中,为他们策划展览,撰写文章。作为活动组织人、策划人、联络人,他为云南艺术家所作的贡献已广为所知。

这里要来讨论下身为实验艺术家的薛滔。作为艺术家,他自2000年以来始终采用报纸创作装置作品,其作品具有简练明朗的形式和厚重感,为报纸赋予了特别的陌生效果,我想这是艺术家在形式方面努力的结果。因此从形式实验的角度看,薛滔至少在三个层面展开了探索:有关时间的形式,有关能量的形式以及有关语言的形式。

首先看有关时间的形式。报纸作为发布信息,传播思想的媒体在全面进入数字时代的今天已日渐式微。在今天,信息发布与传播变得越来越自由,信息流的发生越加密集,以致难以留下可触摸可嗅到的信息本身:油墨里的文字与图像。报纸作为传统工业社会的三大媒介之一(另外两样是电视和广播),它是唯一使得信息可直观存留于时空中的媒介,这个社会所发生、宣传和思考的一切如确凿证据登记在报。薛滔的创作,正是对这些信息的证据进行重新塑造,将报纸拧成绳状,再根据不同的结构搭建、堆积成不同的物体,如“椅子”、“挂毯”、“核”、“柱”、“帐篷”、“鼎”等。这些物体并不具备实用性,并且随着时间的推移,它们会变得越加脆弱、泛黄、褪色甚至受到损毁。这些作品的物理生命及其刊登的信息将渐渐衰老,这是薛滔作品的时间性特质,是一种有关时间的形式实验。在这种形式面前,观众会产生一种有关“过去”的意识,有关“旧”的意识,有关“消亡”的意识。在数字时代,信息从不老去,也不会被损毁,只会下沉,所以才需要人们不断点赞。在薛滔的实验中,时间的形式在报纸这样有限的媒介上被充分证实其存在,以此唤起观众对物质世界“永远不变”的期盼。

薛滔通过长时间繁重密集的手工劳作,把报纸拧成捆,用铁丝铁架搭建框架,再将拧好的报纸牢牢包裹在结构上面。这种方式克服了观念艺术中那种简单挪用的智力游戏,他秉承了艺术这一古老行业中对双手的颂赞传统。这是艺术家区别于哲学家、科学家等其他角色的根本性体现:用双手制造形式及其意义。这在多位云南实验艺术家身上都有所体现,如和丽斌、张华、孙国娟、雷燕、苏亚碧等,他们注重双手对材料的塑造和双手留下的情感痕迹。薛滔双手对废旧报纸的处理方式也为平凡物赋予了一种恒定的能量,他对报纸的拧与捏,以至他的情感、意志都被双手塑造于作品的体感之中,这即是人们常说的有体温的作品,也是薛滔作品打动人的地方,犹如表现主义绘画留下的笔触。我认为这也是薛滔作品最独特也最有难度的地方:如何始终保留双手的能量在作品上?使那些本来就会变形脆弱的报纸不会因时间而减弱,这比绘画更难,因为绘画作为能量的痕迹已经在那里,而薛滔的装置是要想办法留住最初的那种能量。它有时更像雕塑,给人一种恒定的存在感。我认为他主要是通过对单件作品的结构处理以及空间展示方式上的处理,来唤起视觉上恒定的能量感。犹如极简主义大师封塔纳(Lucio Fontana)在画布上切割的那一刀,半个多世纪过去,仿佛作者刚刚撒手离去,画布始终饱满地绽放在那里。因此,如何用双手为平凡废旧物赋予一种恒定的能量,这是薛滔对能量的形式实验。

薛滔的学艺经历在70后艺术家中也具有代表性,他从传统学院艺术起步,学习色彩与造型,然后用现代主义理念与方法进行创作,之后进入全球化情境中的当代艺术,用个人化语言表达全球化语境中的艺术关切。薛滔的创作,从2000年至今,也呈现出这样一种从现代主义艺术向当代艺术的转向,从做一个《太阳》(2002)到做《一捆》(2008),即从再现/表现能力向个人语言能力的转向,从“像一个物体”到“是一个物体”的转向,从“像一件艺术品”到“是一件艺术品”的转向。由此,薛滔的艺术语言走得越加开放和个人化,以致近期多件作品不再是传统意义上的雕塑或者装置,而是一次次观念行动的结果,如每天撕碎报纸的《如来神掌》(2013)和舂出来的《国情咨文》(2012)。通过对语言的形式实验,薛滔扩展了自己的方法论,材料的可能性,观念和形式的力度,其成果令人赞叹。

薛滔的艺术不止在形式实验上下功夫,在精神性(spirituality)、观念性、社会性和展示方式等层面也值得我们作进一步考察。这里之所以对形式实验稍加阐述,是因为中国当代艺术自上世纪九十年代以来,对现实问题的关注大过对形式问题的关注。并非对现实的介入比形式实验更次要(有时甚至更急迫),但我认为艺术的核心任务仍旧是对形式的更新,形式更新能让艺术对现实的介入变得更加敏感而锋锐。正因为此,薛滔的形式实验十分难能可贵。

薛滔作为2000年后云南重要的策展人和艺术家,从他那里我们可以窥探到中国当代艺术发展的独特境遇,本土当代艺术的活力以及作为艺术家的智慧与信念。

我把薛滔放在“云南当代艺术”的叙事逻辑里来介绍,不是因为他只是一位在云南活跃的艺术家和策展人,更不是因为他的作品有何种典型的云南特色,他的形式实验早已突破这些藩篱,他的作品早已在国内外重要双年展和艺博会上被介绍。正因为他多年在北京生活工作以及在国际上的展览经历,才促使我思考,他和那些有类似经历的艺术家会如何把外界的生存经验、文化碰撞和艺术探索带回到云南本土?他们的本土经验又如何被带入到全球化的当代艺术实践中?我看到,像薛滔这样的艺术家和他的同仁们,通过艺术实验、策划与写作,正在推动一轮地域性当代艺术的自主叙事,这将是中国当代艺术接下来十年甚至更长时间被关注的理由。

2014年6月29日

 

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English Posts 边想边写

A Clinical Report on Contemporary Society

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A Clinical Report on Contemporary Society

— On Zi Bai’s photo

By Luo Fei

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation. 
-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

In modern society, there are no longer any isolated landscapes. Even in the most remote places, one comes across distressing scenes like the one that occurred just a few days ago in the Artic, where the melting of sea ice due to global warming caused a number of polar bears to starve to death, leaving behind a scattering of blanket-like bodies. All natural spaces in the modern era have been transformed into sites of interchange between the natural, cultural and social spheres. Given this situation, we can use French theorist and film director Guy Debord’s term of “spectacle” to describe all that we see.

In his 1967 work “Society of the Spectacle,” Debord uses the concept of “spectacle” to explain that both the public and private domains of daily life have experienced a sort of existential crisis due to the development of capitalism in Europe. He believes that in the “society of the spectacle,” relationships between people and commodities have replaced those between people. Because in societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles – a perversion of what ought to be the case. In a mediatized age, mere appearances become our most authentic reality – people come to live for them. The “society of the spectacle” makes people’s lives barren and devoid of authenticity; it gradually causes people’s critical thinking abilities to wither away.

This more sociological conception of “spectacle” (景观) has also affected the way artists have come to think and speak about landscapes (which in Chinese are now even referred to with the same term, 景观). The idea of “landscape” has come to include not just natural scenery, but also man-made wonders. Particularly since the 1960s, this understanding of “景观 (spectacle/landscape)” has expanded the range of techniques and subject matter used by landscape photographers by prompting artists to reconsider their views on the way man relates to nature, to the urban environment, and to his fellow man.

Zi Bai’s photography presents us with just such a virtual yet nonetheless real landscape, echoing the society consisting of an immense accumulation of spectacles described by Debord.

Since 2007, Zi Bai has taken a great number of photos of the refuse in garbage collecting stations, first in his hometown of Xishuangbanna and later in Kunming, Shanghai and other cities. He worked for many years in an advertising agency, and his outstanding Photoshop design and editing skills provide an excellent technical background for his creative works. In these hundreds of photographs of collected materials, impressive, nearly suffocating scenes emerge from the densely piled accumulations of our spectacular society.

In his “City Series 01,” under a dim sweep of thick clouds, billions of scarlet cans are heaped upon Tiananmen Square like the passionate masses that swarmed there during the Cultural Revolution era, waiting for their leader to appear. Here, what people cheer and worship is called “consumption,” and what they shout is: “Long live consumerism! Long live the Great Unity of consumers!” Zi Bai has created a scene of heathen idolatry; a fetishistic movement is on the rise, and in it brews the ecstasy and tumult of consumption.
“City Series 2,” “City Series 3,” and “City Series 4” are, respectively, images of the river below Shanghai – the Pearl of the Orient – filled with plastic water bottles, of roaring waves of beer cans swarming the feet of the American Statue of Liberty, and of drink cans piled high as mountains around the islands of Southeast Asia. In the equally inspiring piece “Men are Higher than Mountains,” discarded drink bottles are stacked like Himalayan peaks. Zi Bai uses these iconic scenes and landmarks to make the garbage seem even more vast, imposing and able to shock viewers, as well as to imbue his landscape photography with a Neo-Romantic character.

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In his “More? Less? (How Much?)” Series, Zi Bai uses a panning overhead shot to photograph densely packed bottle caps, drink bottles, cans or syringes, creating images that look like beautifully colored wallpaper. Among them two photographs are of bullets and grenades used during the Vietnam War when the Americans tried to block North Vietnamese and Chinese supply lines to South Vietnam by dropping massive quantities of explosives on the mysterious Ho Chi Minh Trail. Later on, these areas became sites for tourism, attracting large numbers of people who came to collect fallen ammunition. It’s said that every year there were people who died doing this. In 2008 and 2009, Zi Bai went to local recycling centers in those regions to photograph these discarded munitions.
Aesthetically speaking, Zi Bai tends to showcase his propensity for the shocking yet delicate. Admiring his works from a certain distance, they always arouse a feeling of delight. But behind this attractive exterior lies a brutal reality – billions of piles of garbage and the crushed carcasses of road kill (“Disappearing Landscape” series). These works are in fact composed out of human greed and vanity, and function as visual evidence of our inability to act as proper stewards of the earth.

According to recent survey data from the Department of Housing, more than a third of Chinese cities are now completely encircled by garbage, which has even begun to spread into the countryside. These “garbage-besieged cities” have also led to the rise of increasing numbers of cancer villages.

Zi Bai’s manner of critiquing our social condition is in some ways similar to the technique of clinical analysis. Society in his eyes is like a diseased behemoth that needs to consume and excrete in alarming quantities. In order to diagnose this behemoth’s condition, Zi Bai attentively wades through and examines its excrement, documenting, using photography as this monster’s lab test results: a clinical report on the condition of contemporary society. He helps us begin to notice that the bottles and plastic bags in our own hands and our concept of consumption are working together to further the spectacle of the garbage that surrounds our cities in ever-increasing piles.

Art, as visual documentation of an era, asks people to look beyond the world of appearances to the reality that exists below, and glimpse people’s greed. Art is a prophecy for this generation, calling on people to realize that if we don’t make any changes to our patterns of consumption or our manner of waste disposal, it will be the end of our world as we know it. Art is an expression of the human spirit: behind the billions of drink bottles there are billions of human beings with dry throats and dry souls. This is what I learned from Zi Bai’s clinical report on the state of contemporary society, of our horrifying society of the spectacle.

August 11, 2013
Translated by Becky Davis

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一份当代社会的临床报告——关于资佰的摄影

按:这篇文章是为2013年9月14日资佰在TCG诺地卡举办的个展“景观制造”而写的前言。

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一份当代社会的临床报告——关于资佰的摄影

文:罗菲

在现代生产条件无所不在的社会里,生活本身展现为景观(spectacle)的庞大堆聚。直接存在的一切都转化为一个表象(representation)。——居伊·德波(Guy-Ernest Debord)

在当代社会,再也不存在孤立的风景,即便在最遥远的地方,也有令人扼腕的景象发生。比如前两天在北极发现,因为地球变暖海冰融化,导致北极熊被饿死,只剩下如毛毯一样的躯体。风景在当代已转变为自然、文化和社会三者交融的处境。在这个处境中,我们可以用法国思想家兼先锋电影导演德波的“景观”(spectacle)一词来描述我们所看到的一切。

在1967年德波出版的《景观社会》(the Society of the Spectacle)中,他创造了“景观(Spectacle)”这个概念,来解释日常生活中的公私领域在欧洲资本主义发展过程中所导致的精神衰弱的问题。他认为“景观社会”所确立的人与商品关系,取代了人与人的关系。因为在现代生产条件无所不在的社会里,生活本身展现为景观的庞大堆聚,这是一种秩序颠倒后的表象。这个表象在媒体时代成为最真实的存在,人们为这个表象而活。“景观社会”导致人们的生活变得贫瘠,缺乏真实性,人的批判性思维逐渐萎缩。

社会学意义上的“景观”(Spectacle)概念也影响到艺术家们对自然景观(landscape)的表达,被观看的对象不只是某种自然景色,更是人工营造的奇观。尤其自上世纪60年代后期以来,“景观”概念在摄影界扩展了风景摄影概念的内涵和外延,促使人们重新评估人与人、人与自然、人与城市的关系。

资佰的摄影正向我们呈现了这样一个虚拟却真实的风景,与德波所描述的庞大堆聚的景观社会遥相呼应。

资佰自2007年以来,在家乡西双版纳,后来在昆明上海等地的垃圾回收站拍摄了数量巨大的废品照片。他本人有在广告公司工作多年的经验,卓越的Photoshop改图绘图本领为他的创作提供了很好的技术支持。最终,在那些由上百幅素材拼合的摄影作品中,密集堆聚的庞大景观呈现出一个让人感到窒息的奇观景象。

在《城市系列01》中,昏黄的密云袭来,数以亿计的猩红色的罐头堆积在天安门广场上,仿佛文革年代云集在广场上热血沸腾的人民正在等候领袖出场。这里,人们欢呼崇拜的那位名叫“消费”,人们在齐呼:消费万岁!消费者大团结万岁!资佰营造了一个偶像崇拜的场景,一场酝酿着消费的狂喜与骚动的拜物教运动正在兴起。

《城市系列02》、《城市系列03》、《城市系列04》分别是关于上海东方明珠下满江的矿泉水瓶,美国自由女神脚下波涛汹涌的啤酒罐,和东南亚小岛周围堆聚如山的饮料罐子。在《山高人为峰》中,饮料瓶堆积如喜马拉雅山峰,同样让人叹为观止。资佰用这些带有标志性建筑的场景赋予垃圾以气势磅礴的震撼力,和风光摄影的伪浪漫品格。

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《多?少?》系列是资佰以俯视扫描的视角拍摄了密集的饮料瓶盖、瓶身、罐子或针筒,它们看上去像是色彩艳丽的墙纸。其中两张照片是子弹和手雷,它们是越战期间,美国为阻断北越和中国对南越的物资支持,在神秘的胡志明小道投下的大量弹药。后来该地成为旅游景点,引来大量民众搜寻弹药,据说每年都有人为此丧命。资佰在2008年和2009年前往该地回收站拍摄了这些被废弃的弹药。《多?少?》系列最新的一组,是用拍摄珠宝的方式为废弃的矿泉水瓶、电池、针筒等物件拍摄肖像,一种分别为圣的处理手法为消费品赋予了神圣的光辉。

在美学上,资佰倾向于向人们展示华丽、震撼和细腻的一面。在一定距离观赏下,它们往往令人感到愉悦。但在诱人的表象背后,是残酷的现实,是数以亿计的垃圾,和马路上被碾压的动物尸体(《逝山水》系列)。它们构成了人类贪婪、虚妄,以及人类作为地球管家角色渎职的图证。

据近期住建部的一项调查数据表明,目前中国有三分之一以上的城市被垃圾包围,并且蔓延到了农村。“垃圾围城”也导致越来越多癌症村的出现。

资佰对社会状况的批判,在某种程度上运用了近似临床分析的手法。社会在他眼里仿佛一头失去理智的巨兽,它的需求量和排泄量惊人。为了确诊这头巨兽的病情,资佰去到那些排泄物中仔细查考、拍摄,其摄影作品就是这头巨兽的化验单:一份当代社会的临床报告。他让我们开始注意到自己手中的饮料瓶、塑料袋,和我们的消费观念,正在共同堆砌城市周围日益扩张的垃圾景观。

艺术,作为这个世代的图证,叫人看见现实表象下的真实图景,和人心的贪婪。艺术作为这个世代的预言,叫人看见,如果我们在消费观念、垃圾处理方式等方面不作出任何改变,这便是末世的景象。艺术作为人类精神样式的表达,在数以亿计饮料瓶子的背后,是数以亿计人类干涸的喉咙和灵魂。这是我从资佰提供的当代社会临床报告单上看到的,触目惊心的景观社会。

2013年8月11日

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A Revival of Landscape Art

A Revival of Landscape Art

The Swedish artist Oscar Furbacken has worked intensively for six weeks (1/6-8/7 2013) as a summer artist-in-residence at TCG Nordica here in Kunming, China. In year 2000 he participated in a short artist’s exchange with the Yunnan Arts Institute in Kunming. He obtained his Master’s from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm 2011, after many years of contemporary art studies and with a practice much related to nature and landscape.

From early on, Oscar has been deeply influenced by Naturalism and Romanticism in Western landscape painting and captivated by the grandiose beauty of the natural world. As a contemporary artist though, he has purposefully moved beyond pure Romanticism, using macro lenses to photograph moss, fungi and other botanical elements in ways that make them appear to take on the characteristics of landscape paintings. Since then, he has developed clever works in a variety of media (such as drawings, sculptures, photographs and video recordings) embedding them in different types of public spaces.

RISING_in-church-performance03Oscar consciously acquires the ingredients of the Romantic Western landscape, emphasizing the expressiveness of sunlight, the dynamism of his subjects, and the dream-like atmospheres. But it is within microcosms and miniatures that he embeds all this. Take the piece “RISING” from the 2010 solo exhibition that marked his graduation from the Royal Institute of Art. This 13-meter wide and 2-meter high acrylic painting installation depicting some scaled up moss and lichens found on the forest ground, is built to create a “space within the space.” Accompanied by lighting effects that changed every ten seconds, the piece was swathed in mysterious shocks of color that fully immersed the viewer in its spectacle. Before this vast, fairytale-like magnified world, reality became extraordinary, and spectators became no more than insects. The same work was later shown in the Katarina Church of Stockholm, juxtaposed to a darker painting depicting fungi on rotten wood. Enhanced by a performance of unveiling organized during Easter Mass the work commented and re-interpreted the Resurrection. In this specific context “RISING” became a spiritual event, an altarpiece on the possibility of a new life after death. Here, the landscape transcends a merely decorative function entering the realm of symbolic meaning.

Oscar seems particularly attentive to the way in which the subject of his work is influenced by the shifting of context, a sensitivity that was probably awaken by his childhood experience of cultures when immigrating to France with his parents. Here in Kunming, he has composed three groups of bronze sculptures entitled “Life Spills.” In these works, leftover bronze scraps from a nearby sculpture factory were given a proper polishing and presented on smooth, dark-colored glass. Through a meticulously chosen lighting, the pile of mottled scrap metal is endowed with the Zen-like appearance of Taihu stone, a type of garden stone frequently used in classical Chinese gardens. It also goes by the name of “porous stone.” Commonly used in rockeries, it is a type of karst limestone that, due to years of weathering, is extremely varied in form and possesses exquisite carbonates. Often quite large in size, this type of rock was typically arranged in the parks, gardens and other outdoor areas of the imperial family for people to admire. In a similar way the metal spills that were originally discarded by their workmen have now, under the attention of the artist, come alive into miniature landscapes. In contemporary China, this sort of landscape full of Zen and classical influences has all but ceased to exist as the country hurtles down the road of industrialization. Oscar’s work thereby invites the viewer to recall an older forms of landscape known in China as “shanshui (mountain and river)” paintings.

LandscapeReflected_03wIn ancient China, there was no such thing as landscape painting as we know it today – but the shanshui ink-paintings were common, a technique developed in the Sui Dynasty (AD 581-618). The biggest difference between the two art forms is the manner in which they are meant to be viewed. Shanshui paintings invite the eye to wander freely across their expanse. Using a form of cavalier perspective, in which diverse aspects of time and physical places may freely coexist within the same image, including different seasons. It’s a rather sophisticated approach to perspective, in which the focal point shifts as if slowly lowered from a mountain peak by parachute. So when Western painting centers on the reproduction of reality, Chinese shanshui paintings are mostly concerned with the abstract ideals of human experience. Western landscape traces out a history of art, whereas traditional Chinese landscape painting contains a history of ideas. The logic of this wandering mode of observation from the shanshui tradition, is evoked again as we watch Oscar’s video series entitled “Close Studies”. In this intriguing project he seamlessly fuses the magnified world of low-lying ground plants with everyday Stockholm life. These two parallel worlds are both full of poetic enchanting scenes, but to see them exist side by side without disrupting one another is a surprising discovery as we follow the smooth meandering path of the camera lens.

LandscapeReflected_01Another piece, called “Mountain City”, is an installation created from local materials: an oval meeting table with stools found in the gallery, a ”lazy Suzan” (rotating large glass plate seen everywhere on Chinese dining tables) and red bricks of the discarded sort that are found all over this city as they keep demolishing old houses. The pieces of bricks are fixed upon the round lazy Suzan in undulating ups and downs forming a landscape of picturesque disorder. Viewers can rotate the lazy Suzan, and place their gaze at a particular height to perceive what appears to be mountains in a reflecting ocean. Oscar ceaselessly encourages his audience to shift their viewing position either high or low, near or far in order to discover curious landscapes in the midst of everyday objects.

While focusing on the smallest of plants, Oscar’s work activates the viewers’ imagination and perception to recognize the greatness of nature. Paying careful attention to the viewing conditions of his exhibited pieces, Oscar also restores the Romantic from having been reduced to mere melodrama at the hands of the commercialism. The “rising” of this new approach on landscape in contemporary art is a pleasant surprise.

Written by Luo Fei (TCG Nordica Culture Center Curator)

Translated by Becky Davis, revised by the artist

Kunming, July 1, 2013

中文原文