Climbing the ladder with your feet on the ground

Anders-GustafssonClimbing the ladder with your feet on the ground
Luo Fei seen through his work ‘The Black Spot’

Anders Gustafsson
Former Programs Director at TCG Nordica.

I once watched a man climbing a ladder. It was my friend Luo Fei, the artist.

It was during a performance at TCG Nordica called ‘The Black Spot’. He was balancing a piece of paper on his face, nose up, using his tongue to keep it still. He aimed towards the ceiling, towards a strong spotlight. The paper looked like a thin veil between him and the blinding light. The paper would repeatedly fall off his face, down on the floor, and he would have to start all over again. A seemingly pointless exercise.
Finally he managed to reach the spotlight. On the floor there was another paper where he kept on writing the Chinese character ‘guang’ (光light). Suddenly his performance seemed intriguing, like a novel with an open end.

I once watched a man climbing a ladder. It was my friend Luo Fei, the thinker.

‘The Black Spot’ can be seen as a metaphor for mankind’s search for knowledge, for enlightenment and assurance. A task I can easily identify with Luo Fei. When I first went to China in 2005, I hoped I would find a friend among Chinese intellectuals. I wanted to learn more about the art, culture and history.
In Luo Fei I found him.
There’s a story about when he participated in an internet discussion forum, debating topics like art and different aspects of contemporary society. After a while, the group decided to meet face-to-face. People laughed when they saw Luo Fei: ¨’We thought you were at least 50!’
After leaving a discussion with Luo Fei, this has often been my thought as well. His knowledge reaches over contemporary art, philosophy, history, technology. With ease he moves between Dali and Dalí; he is as familiar with 20th century European history as he is with Chinese dynasties.
In the interview with Jonathan Aumen, Luo Fei quotes an unnamed Chinese art critic stating that if you are a religious artist, you end up being either a bad religious person or a bad artist. I do agree there is an inherent problem. Some religious people tend to preach about a certain ‘truth’ with well-defined boundaries which you are not supposed to cross; contemporary artists tend to explore, often exactly by crossing boundaries. Few succeed in making these two worlds fit together.
But the avant-garde have always been dealing head on with challenges of contemporary society. Why not religion then? Is this not at the very center of societal debate on a global scale?
You can find several prominent Chinese contemporary artists that deal with religion. Two cases in point are the Gao brothers’ ‘The Execution of Christ’ and Wang Qingsong’s use of Buddhist imagery, both examples have recently been thoroughly explored in ‘Yishu — Journal of contemporary Chinese art’.
With ‘The Black Spot’ I see Luo Fei working in a similar tradition. Using the seemingly obvious as an entrance to ask difficult questions, he is revealing that these very topics are in fact multilayered and complex.

I once watched a man climbing a ladder. It was my friend Luo Fei, the joker.

‘The Black Spot’ had a worrying sense of humor. The artist seemingly invited us to laugh, because the whole exercise had a comic touch to it. At first there was a sense of ridicule. I then choked on my own laughter when I realized that the performance reminded me of my own life.

I once watched a man climbing a ladder. It was my friend Luo Fei, the ‘main-garde’ idealist.
In the autumn of 2012, I sent a link from Arts Asia Pacific. Hou Hanru (侯瀚如) wrote about the need to develop a ‘third way’: A system ‘between the state-dominated model of the previous century and the capitalist-dominated model of today’.
In the interview with him in this book, Xue Tao proposes the term ‘non-stream’ about some Yunnan artists, who he says are neither mainstream, nor non-mainstream. I would like to propose the term ‘main-garde’ as they are neither mainstream, nor avant-garde. For Yunnan, being in the geographical and economical margins of China opens up a space for being main-garde. Apart from playing with words, think of the closeness to main ‘guard’. Guarding against what?
Remember that the self-acclaimed avant-garde was born among artists and writers in 19th century Paris, that felt rejected or neglected by the established Salons and art institutions. Similar to The Stars Group in Beijing in 1979, one might add. Avant-garde was by definition an outsider’s perspective.
Some art historians even say that the concept of avant-garde has been co-opted by the market up to the point where it is meaningless to still use the term. The German art historian Benjamin Buchloh talked about ‘developing new strategies to counteract and develop resistance’ to the controlling orthodoxies of the culture industry.
There is a space open for small, non-profit art spaces and art communities to present something different. It might not be avant-garde, but main-garde. Not guarding against buying and selling art works; also artists need to make a living. But against rampant commercialism and mindless imitation. It is in this context I place the Jianghu project that you can read about in this book; it is in the same context I place TCG Nordica and Luo Fei.
The art scene already have so many people and galleries who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. I think this main-garde could be one example of Hou Hanru’s ‘third way’.

I once watched a man climbing a ladder. It was my friend Luo Fei, the humble.

I find some common traits among the best interviewers. Knowledge is important, but it is not enough. Among journalists, at least in the West, you sometimes find their ego obscuring the person or the topic they want to portray or explore. You need humility. Luo Fei has that. You will find he has been a contributor to art books, exhibition texts, articles and so on. But he always takes the back seat. Very often this humility has helped him in bringing forward the persons he is writing about.
Which brings us back to the performance ‘The Black Spot’. In my interpretation ‘The Black Spot’ ends with humility and with a warning. The character for light, ‘guang’, that Luo Fei wrote after having reached the spotlight, finally covered the whole paper black. As if saying: Even though you think you’ve found the light — or exactly because of it — you may end up fumbling in the dark. Either blinded by the light, or by your own ego, or by something else. This is your black spot.
In spite of these hazards, man’s duty is to carry on climbing. Luo Fei is contributing in his own way, by climbing the ladder with both his feet kept firmly on the ground.

登梯,脚踏实地——从“盲点”看罗菲其人

Anders-Gustafsson登梯,脚踏实地
——从“盲点”看罗菲其人

文/安德士·古斯塔夫松[瑞典]
TCG诺地卡文化中心前任项目总监

我曾见一人登梯,吾友罗菲,他是一名艺术家。

那是在TCG诺地卡一场名为“盲点”的行为艺术表演。他试图将一张纸平稳地放在自己脸上,脸朝天,仅用自己的舌头顶着纸。他的目标是天花板上炽烈的聚光灯。而那一张纸,像是他和聚光灯之间的一层薄纱。纸一再从他脸上滑落,掉在地上,而他也总会将其拾起,重新开始。这似乎是毫无意义的举动。

最后他还是努力到达了聚光灯处。在地上还有一张纸,他在上面不停写着一个字——“光”。突然之间,他的表演变得迷人起来,就像一个没有交代结局的小说。

我曾见一人登梯,吾友罗菲,他是一个思想者。

“盲点”可作为一个比喻:人类对知识、启蒙和确据的寻求。于此,我与罗菲感同身受。2005年我第一次来中国,当时我希望自己可以结识一名中国知识分子做朋友。我希望对艺术、文化和历史有更多的了解。罗菲即是我要找的人。

听人说他有次参加了一个在线的论坛讨论,大家围绕讨论的议题有艺术,以及现代社会的不同方面云云。不久之后,这组人决定见面讨论。人们见到罗菲时,笑了:“我们都以为您老五十多了!”

在一次与罗菲的交谈之后,我也有这样的想法。他通晓现代艺术、哲学、历史、科技,在大理和达利之间切换自如,对20世纪欧洲历史也一如对中国历朝历代那样了如指掌。

在与加里森的采访中罗菲引用了一名批评家的话说,如果你是一名有宗教背景的艺术家,要么你无法成为一名虔诚的信徒,要么成为一名糟糕的艺术家。我也赞同这两者之间有与生俱来的张力。一些宗教人士往往会宣扬某些“真理”,他们泾渭分明,你丝毫不能越界。而现代艺术家则多进行探讨,经常的越位也就在所难免。很少有人将二者很好地结合起来。

但先锋派往往直面现代社会的痼疾,宗教为什么就不可以呢?难道这不正是全世界全社会所争论的中心吗?

你会发现很多重要的中国当代艺术家都在探讨宗教。其中的两个例子就是高氏兄弟的《枪决基督》,以及王庆松对佛教造像的运用,他们在最近的中国当代艺术学刊《艺术》中被广泛探讨。

在罗菲的“盲点”中,我看到了他在这一传统中的努力。他使用看似浅显的手法作为入口,来提出非常棘手的问题,他揭示出这些问题其实比我们看到的更加复杂,且层次丰富。

我曾见一人登梯,吾友罗菲,他是一个懂笑的人。

“盲点”有一种让人感到焦灼的幽默。艺术家似乎邀请我们笑,因为整个行为的始末都有滑稽的元素。起初,有些荒诞,但当我意识到这一表演促使我思考自己的生命时,我竟被自己的笑声呛了一下。

我曾见一人登梯,吾友罗菲,他是一名“主锋”理想主义者。

2012年秋,我给罗菲发过《亚太艺术》的一条链接。侯瀚如撰文说需要开辟“第三条道路”,“介于上世纪国家主导模式与今天资本主义主导模式之间的一个体系”。

本书中薛滔在与罗菲的对话中提出了部分云南艺术家的“非流”状态,他说他们既不是主流,也不是非主流。我想提出一个“主锋”(main-garde)的说法,因为他们既不是主流,也不是先锋。云南在地理上和经济上都处于中国边疆,这也为“主锋”开辟了空间。除了玩文字游戏之外,可以想想“锋”与“防”的谐音和意思。防什么呢?

要知道,那些自诩先锋派的人是来自于19世纪巴黎的艺术家和作家,他们主动选择被既定的沙龙和艺术机构拒绝或忽视。可以说这与1979年在北京成立的星星画会相似,先锋派是从局外人的角度来进行界定。

一些艺术史学家甚至说先锋这一概念是由市场推动的结果,甚至推得恰到好处。然而这使得人们继续使用先锋派这一概念本身失去了意义。德国艺术历史学家本雅明·布赫洛谈到了“制定新的战略来中和并抵御”占据支配地位的正统文化产业的观念。

这为小规模的非营利艺术空间和艺术社区开辟了空间,但可能不是“先锋”而是“主锋”。不是抵御艺术品的买卖,因为艺术家也要谋生;而是防范猖獗的商业主义和盲目的模仿。在这种背景之下,我对大家可以在本书中读到的“江湖”系列、TCG诺地卡文化中心以及罗菲本人,做出如此定位。

在艺术界,已经有很多人和画廊对艺术品的各类价格了然于胸,然而对其价值却毫无所知。我认为罗菲等艺术家开辟了一种区别于资本主导模式或国家主导模式的可能性,这种“主锋”实践可以成为侯瀚如“第三条道路”的范例。

我曾见一人登梯,吾友罗菲,他是一个谦卑的人。

我发现在那些最好的采访者身上都有一些共同的品质,学识尽管很重要,但这尚不足够。你有时会发现在一些西方记者身上,他们的自我往往会让他们想要描述或探讨的人或主题变得模糊,因此谦卑是必须的。我看到罗菲具备这样的品质。你发现即便身为艺术画册、展览文字、评论的撰稿人,活跃于艺术界,可他常常退居次位。这种谦逊的品格往往帮助他将自己书写的人物挖掘出来。

这也将我们带回到他的行为艺术“盲点”。在我的解读中,“盲点”以谦卑和警示结束。罗菲到达聚光灯处之后反复写下的“光”字,最终将整张纸遮满变黑。似乎在说:即便你以为自己找到了光——或正因为此——你将可能要在黑暗中笨拙地摸索。双眼被灼瞎,或是因为光,或是自我,或是其他。这就是你的盲点。

尽管有这些危险,人的责任还是要继续攀登。罗菲以自己的方式践行——登梯:坚定不移,脚踏实地。

翻译:肖笛鸣

回到虎跳峡

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回到虎跳峡

最近几个月被书稿和各种项目缠身,十分疲惫。旅行往往是我补充能量的最佳方式,暂时离开那些繁杂的责任,把自己放归路上的未知。

十年前第一回去虎跳峡。那时虎跳峡尚无完整的商业管理,我们一群人轻松逃过了门票。大山里几乎没有手机信号,大伙儿都把手机放塑料袋里,挂树梢上等信号,运气好可以收到一条短信。那晚走到天黑才找到一家客栈,兴奋不已。

这次去,竟然可以一路打电话、发微信,客栈多了不少,每家客栈都有通往山下的公路。

不少村妇也学得精明,她们找准了风光无限的山崖,插上一面小彩旗。但凡经过此地的游客,必定会掏出相机拍照,这时一位大妈就会冷不丁地从某个小屋或草丛里跳出来索取过路费,五块八块,或者从地摊上买一只橙子、梨子,一瓶可乐,甚至一小包大麻。为了不扫兴,驴友一般还是会买她们某件小商品。

这样的商业发展很大程度上也为驴友提供了极大的便捷,你可以根据自己的需要来控制徒步强度。甚至你可以只从一家客栈散步到下一家客栈。你也可以在山上某家客栈待上几天,那里有无线网络,写写东西,办公,与不同的背包客聊天,欣赏美景。山上的食物也不赖,还有咖啡。也就是说,即便不带装备补给,还是可以走完主要线路。

在客栈平台上啃着纳西粑粑,有人说,感觉身处阿尔卑斯山。

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屹立万年

虎跳峡是世上最深的峡谷之一,东临玉龙雪山,西临哈巴雪山,山下是汹涌澎湃的金沙江。虎跳峡以奇险雄壮著称于世,海拔高差3900多米。徒步路线,据我测量,大约在1900米至2800米之间。旅行观光团大多会乘车走下线,欣赏激流。来徒步的往往会走上线,翻山越岭,雄伟景致尽收眼底。

每次到虎跳峡,都给我极大的身心震撼。那种被群山绝壁环绕,冷峻雪山和汹涌江涛声声袭来的感觉,宛如幻境。

每天的日出与日落都是一场场隆重的仪式,庄重的开幕与落幕,一天就过去了。人们在此肃立等待,因为有时,我们会忘了这个世界有开头,有结尾。望见被金色光辉笼罩的雪山,想起作家范学德这样写到:“这是上帝为这座圣山加冕……这圣洁来自上帝,它是上帝的创造,分享了上帝的圣洁,这一切,无比美好,令我敬畏。”

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十年前在虎跳峡第一次体会到了敬畏,意识到这可能是一个受造的世界,一个启示的世界,一个可能会永恒的世界。和眼前的巨山相比,人如此渺小、短暂。在这里,我无法拒绝造物主的真实。

冒险

一起徒步的还有表妹,她要提前结束徒步回昆明。于是我决定先陪她在中虎跳下山,然后再折回来与朋友安德士在中途客栈汇合。这意味着我那天的徒步强度比之前大很多。当我做这个决定的时候,完全没意识到这将可能是严重超出我体力极限的举动。

从中途客栈到山下,我们用了两小时。这中间几次遇到放养的马群,耽搁我们不少时间。我们需要在仅供两人并肩前行的悬崖绝壁处,让出马匹行走的空当,会马那一刻,生怕它突然发飙,后脚一蹬就把我们踢下万丈深渊。这种时候登山杖很管用,在悬崖边保持平衡。

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送别表妹,已是五点过。心里开始有点慌,我给安德士发去条短信,说按照我下山两个小时的行程,估计需要两个半至三个小时才能回到中途客栈。这让我感到隐隐的危险,因为七点一刻,天就会全黑了。这意味着我想要在天黑前赶到客栈,需要非常快的速度。于是我拔腿开始往山上跑……没跑出去几步,气踹不过来,满头大汗,瘫坐在石头上喘大气……

上山这一段山崖十分陡峭,黄昏时刻山体巨大落差形成的阴影更加让人恐惧。我提醒自己,大约需要从2000米的地方上到2650米的地方,相当于2小时内爬完220层楼……并且负重约15公斤,我可不是专业选手。

太阳已经开始落山,我得抓紧时间跑。尽管带着夜行装备,但夜里身处深山是无法让人放心得下的,何况后面还有一长段是在悬崖边行走。

这天我已经走了9个小时,包里的水已经只剩一小口,不敢轻易喝。看着天越加暗下来,心里越加恐惧,不住地祈祷,脑袋一片空白,只能加快步伐。但每跑出去两分钟,就不得不坐下来喘气。后来才意识到,在高原做这样的剧烈运动其实可能比在山里夜行更加危险,甚至可能致命。

瘫坐在石头上喘气,汗滴大粒大粒滴在石头上。无意间摘下了戴在脸上一天的墨镜——突然眼前一亮,发现原来天空并没有我看见的那样“黑”啊……人在恐惧和慌张的时候太容易犯错了!

终于爬上山巅,之后的路途比较平坦,但不知因为缺水还是疲惫,在悬崖边莫名其妙摔了一跤。继续祷告,求神帮助我专注。

抵达中途客栈,安德士十分惊讶,一看表,才6:20,他以为我8点才到。我只用了一小时二十分钟!!!这岂不是神迹!?我们都不知道这怎么可能,安德士开玩笑说,一定是喝了红牛。

事实上,我已经完全累瘫了,以至于累过头了,那晚彻夜未眠。第二天起来全身酸疼。

安德士说,我可以想象你八十多岁的时候如何眉飞色舞跟你的孙子讲述这次冒险的经历……

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采访和丽斌

安德士、罗菲对话和丽斌

TCG诺地卡按:本采访记录是2010年5月3日上午由TCG诺地卡前任文化总监安德士(Anders Gustafsson)与现任艺术总监罗菲,对云南艺术家和丽斌进行的一次拜访与谈话,采访地点在和丽斌工作室内。和丽斌作为2005年以来云南艺术现场最活跃的艺术家之一,身兼策展人、评论家的工作,积极频繁参与本土艺术活动,推动云南年轻艺术家与国内其他省市艺术家、艺术社区的合作。与此同时,作为艺术家的他近年来所创作的作品却流露出极为内敛的精神气质,关注材料、时间和个体生存等议题,他最近一次在TCG诺地卡画廊举办的名为“行者日志”的个展则较为集中地体现了这种精神面貌。以下是为采访内容:

问:我曾读过一篇谢飞(Jeff Crosby)的文章,他强调昆明在中国现代化的道路上常常扮演着一个重要的角色:从它最早作为法国哨岗,到日本侵略时期成为中国知识分子的避难所,昆明总是走在引领中国拥抱现代思想的先锋道路上。我想在这里西南艺术研究群体是必须要提及的。你是否认为昆明的艺术社区是建立在这样的背景上的,或者是我们应该断言这样的传承已经不复存在了?

和:肯定是和这样的历史和传统有关系的。相对于其他城市,昆明在文化上觉醒得比较早,像刚才你说的,艺术家能在昆明建立最早的社区,都是有这种历史渊源。西方文化很早进入昆明,使这个地方受到了很多影响,不管是被迫的还是主动的。而且昆明的传统文化受汉文化的影响相对比较弱,所以比较容易接受其他文化。不过也很奇怪,其实昆明艺术家很懒散,很自在,各搞各的,但是只要遇到合适的契机就可以很快的聚集到一起,像创库、“江湖”都是这样的。

问:是不是昆明今天的艺术社区比起四五年前分布的更散了?

和:是的。

问:那么这是否意味着艺术家之间的合作减少了?

和:其实应该是艺术家之间的合作更多了,选择、可能性也更多了。过去只有创库一个社区时展览比较单一,现在艺术空间、展览空间多了、展览类型也就更多,特别是跨领域的艺术。

问:我注意到昆明人经常会对外国人提到少数民族对云南文化的影响。你作为有纳西血统的艺术家怎么看少数民族文化对当代艺术产生的影响?

和:对我个人来说影响很小,因为我生活的环境是以汉文化为主的。而且我觉得云南虽然民族很多,但其实主体文化还是汉文化,其他民族就像餐桌上的配餐一样,很丰富,但是起点缀作用的。而且还有云南近代的殖民史,西方文化的影响还是很大。

少数民族文化在音乐歌舞方面影响更多一些,视觉艺术方面的影响其实比较小。我想还有一个原因,就是和学院的教育传统有关,艺术院校教育的主要系统是西方艺术,另外一个系统是中国传统教育,以临摹和写生为主,少数民族艺术只是作为很小的一个部分来讲授。

问:80年代少数民族对风情绘画、重彩画的影响还是很大。

和:对,80年代初,很多受过西方绘画教育的汉族艺术家去到少数民族地区后,结合西方绘画方法。就我所知道的,很多少数民族绘画都具有实用功能,和宗教仪式联系在一起的。它没有成为独立的艺术,各个民族之间生活方式、宗教信仰的差异决定了他们的艺术只限于本民族内。如果做个比较,把云南的风情绘画、重彩画和真正的本地的少数民族绘画放在一起,差异还是很大。风情绘画到90年代后影响就很小了,因为它毕竟只是停留在表面上,没有深入到个体心灵深处,没有具体到每个人的生活经验上。风情绘画都是一样的,诗情画意的、美好的,但其实据我在少数民族地区的体会来说,诗意美好只是一面,还有一种很深的伤感和苦涩在里面,这些东西都被风情绘画粉饰掉了。当然像官方知道的这类艺术家丁绍光、蒋铁峰,最后好像一种合谋,如政府大力提倡的旅游文化大省建设外来者提示了这样一个信息,云南是伊甸园一样美好的地方,诱惑人们来旅游消费。

问:云南不仅因为少数民族文化有别于中国其他省市,地理上和越南、缅甸、老挝、泰国接壤或很近,特别是缅甸又是云南最大贸易伙伴,这些因素有没有影响到昆明的艺术生态?

和:更多是经济上的,文化上的交流合作还是比较少的,远比不上经济上的合作那么紧密。云南昆明这几年和东南亚合作的艺术活动非常非常少,当然我们现在也在逐渐了解东南亚的艺术,像越南、泰国等等。我觉得它们和云南艺术的差异还是很明显。但云南和周边国家对彼此的影响都不是很明显,对它们影响比较大的还是西方艺术,不管是美术院校的教学体系还是展览平台,收藏家,包括基金会,更多的是来自于西方世界。我想这还会持续很长时间,毕竟整个近现代的历史都是一个被西方殖民的历史。

问:毛旭辉曾经谈到你作品里表现的“焦虑”,反映出现代文明对传统风景取代性的破坏所导致的缺失感,你同意这种说法吗?

anders-interviews-helibin和:其实每个中国人都有焦虑,只是程度不同。我并不把自己当作知识分子,个人焦虑的根源在于生活方式,一种纯朴、简单的生活方式与现代文明之间的冲突带来的焦虑,或者说自己有一种理想的生活方式,但现在不可能实现,比如我现在怕进超市,有时觉得超市是很奢侈的、太浪费了,生产了那么多物质的东西来消耗。可能我在这方面的理想生活方式更倾向少数民族的方式,很简单。但像中国传统文人,他们的生活还是分裂的,他们人生理想是矛盾的,一方面想入世,一方面又想出世。所以我不把自己当知识分子,我无法在中国传统知识分子里找到认同感,可能在我的知识系统里,儒家的层面就很少,我内心深处更向往的是道家文化所倡导的一些东西,比如修道,都是要远离人群在山里面、自然里面的。

问:我找到你的一个作品“记录深圳”,你和一些志愿者一起画城市的场景,却只用水不用颜料,这件作品只保持了2个小时。这个作品的灵感是否是出于道家思想?

和:我没有这样想过,但也许可能吧。我最近在做的一些行为作品里就是想尝试一些简单的元素,像水、空气等等,时间也是我作品里所关注的。

问:时间的重要性怎么体现出来?你用水来表达都市或这个世界在某种程度上是无可触及、不可挽留的,对吗?

和:是很难挽留。其实是很想尽力去触及的,但是它确实是转瞬即逝的。这样就有一种伤感,当然这种伤感再上升就成了一种无常,不可预知。

问:在我看来你的“遗失的山水”和“遗失的书写”这两件作品都使用的同一种语言,你用报纸作为材料来诠释传统风景以及书法,报纸尽管不如水消失的那么快,但也是一种善变的材料。

和:一开始不是想清楚了去做一个纯观念作品。一开始用报纸是因为它不需要花钱,而且报纸这种材质很朴素,很亲切。在作品的创作过程中越来越发现,它时间的有限性和我在作品中想表达的观念是吻合的。我前面做作品的报纸都是朋友给的,到现在都还没有用完,反正肯定永远也用不完,因为总是不断的有人问我需不需要报纸。

问:当再次回到“时间”这个元素上时,我突然豁然大悟,时间是可以改变材料的运用的。

和:时间可以改变任何东西。可能我在深层面里是属于悲观的人,所以对“无常”这个词有很深的认同感。

问:下一个是关于诺地卡的问题。今年是TCG诺地卡十周年,你认为诺地卡、创库在这十年间扮演的是一个什么样的角色?

遗失的书写4和:诺地卡扮演的角色和创库扮演的角色不太一样。创库是像一个“飞地”,它的起因是一群带有理想主义的艺术家,想营造一种和城市生活不一样的生活方式,叫它“飞地”,是因为他们想象的生活方式和其他生活在这个城市的人十分不同,它是悬浮在城市上,不是完全的融合在这块土地上的。但由于这些艺术家的努力,当代艺术越来越日常化,尽管和大众还是有一些距离,但起码对于艺术家来说是越来越日常化了,展览平台越来越多,而且做展览、看展览都变成云南艺术家生活的一部分,创库出现以前展览的只是少数官方艺术家,无论是做展览参加展览还是看展览,是很难得的机会。其实我不是很清楚西方艺术社区的情况,是不是也像“飞地”一样?

问:对西方艺术家来说更多的是个人主义,他们很少会认为自己属于哪个艺术社区,我就是我自己。

和:可能这就是最大的区别,西方概念是“我与他”。中国上一代艺术家,由于历史原因我们感受到更多的是“我们与他们”。所以创库就是“我们与他们”的差异。建立创库的这群艺术家感受到了“我们与他们”的不同,才有了创库。

问:你指的“他们”是?

和:官方艺术家以及更广泛的大众。在那一代艺术家过去写的日记经常围绕“我们与他们”这个话题,之所以有“我们与他们”是因为艺术家群体是社会里的一个异类。

问:上一代是指的哪些人?

和:50年代生艺术家。搞现代艺术的是社会的异类,不管是他们的自我认定还是社会对他们的认定都是这样的。当然经过20年的变化,中国已经很开放了,这个问题已经变的很模糊,他们也作为成功者被社会所认同和接纳。

问:那么诺地卡呢?

helibin和:我觉得诺地卡一直是一个桥梁,一直在分享不同的东西,当然分享的前提是双方都认同所分享的东西的价值,包括不同的文化、不同的生活方式。这种分享的过程和结果是更促成每个个体之间的差异性,而且这样的分享不是为了达成一样,我想这可能是诺地卡和创库最大的不同。诺地卡不单是为了艺术家分享,也为了和大众分享。我也发现西方艺术家都是“我”,不是“我们”,不会像中国艺术家每天一起打牌,一起吃饭,所以我觉得诺地卡在创库里是很重要的机构,如果没有诺地卡,创库就只是本土的、地方性的一个社区,缺少多元的文化和不同的生活方式。诺地卡有理想化的成分,但不是乌托邦,因为它是充分肯定每个人的价值和不同生活方式。如果一个艺术社区和一群艺术家想过一种大家一样的理想化的生活方式,这才是乌托邦,是不可能的,那样其实是在强调同一性,像共*产*主*义一样。

问:你是否觉得诺地卡扮演的这个角色在将来应该发生变化?

和:我希望诺地卡的角色不要发生太大变化,作为沟通的桥梁能更深入更广泛地与不同社区不同领域交流与合作,我指的是文化方面。

问:现在主要是以中国北欧的交流为主,你觉得需不需要邀请更多的国家参与?

和:我的意思是和昆明本地各种领域的交流,因为它毕竟是扎根在昆明的,渗透的越深入生命力就越强。诺地卡的成长不仅仅是诺地卡几个工作人员的责任,而是所有关心文化的人的责任。

问:这是个反思,能举个具体的例子吗?

和:比如像诺地卡原来做的一些有拓展性的项目,像“蔓延的爱”等等。其实诺地卡一直在做这种事情,希望能有更多这样跨界的项目,并做成常态。这样的活动还是少了一点。诺地卡运营了那么多年,做的比较深的还是艺术活动、艺术展览,有些跨界的活动深入起来是需要很具体的计划来推动的。

问:你指的跨界是比如邀请国外音乐家过来的时候,试图让他来参与绘画创作,让艺术家来参与诗人的创作,跨界是否包括这些?

和:这是一种,还有一种是比如艺术家和科学家的合作就将会很有意思。

问:这是个很有趣的想法!

和:创库现在有很多众所周知的问题,比如拆迁,但这都不是最重要的,重要的是每一个艺术家的问题。只要艺术家在创库就在,如果艺术能做到融入生活的话,有没有社区都不重要。艺术社区是特殊时期的产物,是艺术家处于边缘群体处于弱势群体,需要集合在一起通过集体的力量发出声音的产物。如果艺术家个人的能力很强大,也不再处于社会的边缘群体,艺术社区可能就会消失。我个人看来创库存在与否对诺地卡的影响不大,即使没有创库,诺地卡也可以持续运营。而我更看好独立机构的运营和所作的事情,艺术社区感觉很大,但真正有价值有影响的事情还是里面的某几个机构所做的,比如重庆器空间以及西安的么艺术空间,这才是实实在在的。

问:我有一次和章水(Jonathan Kearney)讨论到昆明和沿海城市很不一样。昆明可能不会成为西方人眼里“真正的中国”,但却可以被看做一个“另一个中国”。如果你同意这种说法的话,你认为昆明对中国艺术生态的贡献是什么,才使得昆明如此的与众不同?

和:我非常同意,就是“另一个中国”。每个城市都有它自身的特点,昆明发生的很多事情都对中国当代艺术产生了贡献,只是影响大小的不同,它的价值在于能提供另外的艺术方式、生活方式,和那些城市不雷同的另外的方式。

问:更具体的说呢?

和:最大的不同表现在艺术创作方式和经验上的不同上。比如80年代的新具象,倡导的东西和其他地方不同,给了云南昆明以外的艺术家很大影响。90年代比如创库,这种模式在昆明首先出现,却影响到全国很多城市。2000年后比如“江湖”,这种实验艺术和昆明本土经验结合,这种狂欢,我没有在其他城市见过,也不可能在其他城市发生。像丽江工作室的乡村计划,它们产生的模式都是要在一定的地方才能孕育出来,还有像诺地卡的宗旨和所做的事情。每一个机构都是和这个城市所结合而产生,不是因为刻意要做一种新的事物才出现的。中国当代艺术的很多经验都是建立在都市经验上,但是云南提供了很多自然经验,艺术家作为带着社会属性的人在自然里发现了反差以及很多新问题,这种经历是很特别的,云南的自然提供了一种漫游的心境。

问:新任市委书记仇和对昆明的未来很有雄心。大学城搬到了呈贡,远离昆明,明年预计建成的新机场是全国第四大的,连接云南、四川、贵州、广西、重庆的铁路将要提速,昆明上海之间的高速铁路已进入计划,改善通向河内和曼谷的公路一举将剧烈缩短昆明与这些城市之间的距离。 你认为这些变化将会怎样影响昆明的艺术生态?

和:我还没有想过这个问题。艺术家有自身的系统和计划,不会因为外界环境的变化而轻易调整,更深入的东西是和个人心灵有关的。可能昆明城区的扩大会对艺术社区的分布造成一些变化,小的艺术社区会分布的更散。但另外一方面,我们没有看到昆明市政府对艺术社区有大的动作,他们的做法是为了促进经济发展,而艺术的规律是不会出现突然很快的变化,毕竟昆明艺术真正的发展还是需要良好完整的建立起本土生态,收藏、策展等方面需要完善,这是需要是要长期持续的努力才能建立起来的。

问:我觉得政府的这些行为主要是想影响外国人,有可能今后会有更多的外国人来建立画廊,做相关的事情。

和:对。

问:你为什么会选择呆在昆明,而不去像北京上海那些地方?

和:因为我的家庭在昆明,你指的是去那些地方能办更多的画展和赚更多的钱,但在昆明我可以活着而且过的并不差,我不需要背井离乡。父母妻子女儿都在昆明,这个是很重要的,日常生活是第一位的。

问:好的,谢谢能够听到你的想法,你是一个很具睿智的人。

和:谢谢,非常感谢。

录音整理:筱琳
编辑校对:罗菲

anders-and-helibinluofei-helibin

Interview: He Libin

He Libin
(Interview with the artist in his studio. 30th April 2010. Present: He Libin, Luo Fei and Anders Gustafsson.)

I once read a text by Jeff Crosby, where he emphasized that Kunming historically did play an often overlooked role in China’s road to modernity: from it’s time as a French outpost, to its role as a refuge for Chinese intellectuals during the Japanese occupation, Kunming often led the way for China’s embrace of modern ideas. I guess the South West Art Research Group should also be mentioned here. Do you see Kunming’s art community building on this heritage, or should we declare it dead and buried?

– It is building on that tradition. Compared with other citites, Kunming woke up early in relation to modernity. The first Chinese art community started here (Chuang Ku/Loft, 1999). It was influenced by the Western world. During French and Japanese occupation, this influence was forced upon us. The Han culture didn’t have such a big influence here, so Kunming could accept different cultures.

– It’s actually quite interesting that many Kunming artists are rather lazy, or very relaxed anyway. This also means they’re very free. So if there’s an interesting opportunity, the artists can easily gather. Chuang Ku is an example. Another case is the Jiang Hu-project 2005-2006 (a project supported by Lijiang studio). It influenced lots of young artists and was awarded a price for being the second best art project after the Shanghai Biennal in 2006.

But isn’t the Kunming art community more scattered now than say four-five years ago?

– Yes, definitively.

But is that a sign of the artists cooperating less? Or of something else?

– We cooperate more, actually. There are more opportunities and possibilities. Four years ago, there was only Loft. The exhibitions were more simple at that point. Now we have more art spaces, which results in more cross over art.

I’ve noticed that people in Kunming often remind us foreigners about the minorities influence on the culture of Yunnan. You are of Naxi heritage yourself. Do you see any influence from the minority cultures on contemporary art?

– Personally, the Naxi culture doesn’t attract me. I’m mainly living with Han-people. Even though Yunnan is a minority province, Yunnan’s main culture is Han. Just look at the menues in the restaurants. The minority food is often there more like a decoration.

– Another important thing is, that in the 20th century, even if we have many minorities, we where occupied by Western countries. That influenced us. Minority culture is maybe more influential in song and dance, but not so much in the visual art where the Western influence was stronger.
As far as the art academies educational tradition is concerned, the visual arts relates mainly to the Western system and the Chinese traditional painting: More precisely, the Western tradition of realism and the Chinese one where the students copy old masters and paint plants. So the influence on contemporary art is marginal, in my opinion.

– In early 1980’s there was an art wave, the Heavy Colored School and the Scenery School, who were influenced by minority culture. All the artists were Han-people, and they combined minority culture with western influences. Most of the minority art is more utility based, for religios ceremonies and so on. But it doesn’t reach independent or fine art. Different minorities have different religions. This means that they are enclosed in there own circles; it doesn’t spill over to other cultures.

– If you compare original minority art, with the Heavy Colored School and the Scenery School art, they are very different. The latter are landscape paintings with strong colors. But already in the 90’s they were less influential. They were hardly scratching the surface of the minorities cultures. It never dealt with the feelings of the individual, and it never acccounted for the individual’s experiences.

– When I watched them, they all looked the same. Soft, beautful, like a poem. I’ve lived with minorities, and I know that this beautiful side is only part of the truth. There are sorrow and suffering too. That kind of life is never covered by those paitings, and they don’t show these people’s real life.

– I think that the government knows and likes the Heavy Colored School and the Scenery School art, and those artists use this style to present a romantic idea about minorities to Westerners. They want Yunnan to be the biggest tourist province in China, so they portray it like the Garden of Eden.

It’s not only the minority cultures that distincts Yunnan from other provinces in China. It’s also the geographical proximity to Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Myanmar is Yunnan’s biggest trading partner, for example. Is this influencing the Kunming art scene?

– The cooperation with these countries takes plcae within the economical sphere, but very rarely on a cultural level. So if we look back on the past years’ culture events, very few of them are in any way connected to these countries. (Even if the day before this interview an exhibition from Thailand opened at Yunnan Arts Institute).

– In recent years, we’ve learnt that the differences between art in Yunnan and, say Laos and Thailand, are really big. So we influence each other only to a small extent, if any. Their art education, exhibitions, collectors and foundations are all of Western origin. This will continue, I think, and the main reason for this is that in rescent history they were occupied by Western countries.

Mao Xuhui talks about your “anxiety”, reflected in the loss of the traditional landscape conquered by the destruction of modernity. Do you agree with this?

anders-interviews-helibin– Almost all Chinese have anxiety, it’s only on different levels… Personally, I don’t see myself as an intellectual. My anxiety is mainly about lifestyle. Being caught between on one hand my dream of a pure and simple life, on the other hand the modern life’s with its speed and its urges. So I’m almost afraid to go to the super market, it’s a big waste of products and resources. I’m afraid it’s all about desire. Maybe I would have preferred to live the simple life of minorities.

– The traditional Chinese intellectuals lead divided lifes. They wished to join this world and at the same time escape from it. So I don’t see myself as an intellectual. I can not totally embrace the traditional intellectuals’ opinions or feelings. My culture and knowledge system is only slightly influenced by Konfucianism. Deep down, I much more prefer daoism. Daoists usually live in forests or mountains.

I find your project, Recording Shenzhen, particularly interesting. You and some volunteers painted the city’s sceneries, but used water instead of colour. The art work lasted for a maximum of two hours. Isn’t that quite Daoistic?

– No idea, I hadn’ t thought of that, haha. But probably. Just like my recent works, where I only used water, air and other simple resources. Another important element in my work is about time.

Time… Isn’t there some similarity between the ephemeral or unreachable nature of this vaning waterdepictions of a hypermodern city, and the traditional landscapes of some of your other paintings? I mean: Aren’t we often projecting our contemporary thoughts and worldviews on a distant past that in some sense is unreachable?

– Yes. I always try to reach for it, but it disappears. It makes me sad, and if you lift up this feeling, it’s somthing like impermanence (a Buddhist term). And you can’t really know it or control it.

It looks to me that you are speaking the same language in The Forgotten Views and The Lost Writing; there you are using newspaper as material to depict traditional landscape or calligraphy. Newspapers as a material are ephemeral, even if not as much as painting in water.

helibin– Yes. But as you know, I’m not the person who plans everything. In this progress I tried different materials, but finally I choose newspaper. It’s cheap, actually it doesn’t cost me anything. And it’s a good material, easy to work with. All the newpapers came from friends, they’re for free. I can’t finish it, cause people always ask me if I need more newspapers…

– During the works I found newspaper as a material has its limits. Time will change it, it won’t last. I tried with other materails as well, like sand and metal. Mixed material. Time will change everything. Deep down I’m a pessimist. Impermanence, is a word I really understand and can identify with.

TCG Nordica is celebrating its 10 years anniversary. Please give me your thoughts on which role it – and Chuang Ku – has played through the years.

– They’ve played very different roles. Chuang Ku was established by Ye Yongqing and Tang Zhigang. In the beginning it was like creating an enclave. They were idealists, in a way they wished to build Utopia. With enclave, I mean they wanted to create a life style that was quite different from other citizens. Their land was sort of up in the air, it didn’t land.

– But because of these artists’ hard work, Kunming’s art events became more and more a part of the city’s daily life. There was a distance from the public, maybe. But art became more and more a part of daily life for artists, with exhibitions, platforms and so on. Before Chuang Ku, the opportunities to see or particpiate in an exhibition was very limited . It was limited to the official museums.

– In Chuang Ku there was a thinking mode that it’s “us” inside Chuang Ku, and “them” outside. To make a difference between them and the artists supported by the authorities. “We are Chuang Ku(Loft) artists, they are outsiders”. Maybe Western artists see it more as “I” and “you”, rather than “us” and “them”?

– When I read the last generations diaries (like Mao Xuhui, Ye Yongqing and so on), it was a lot about us and them. They were different, that also went for the relation to society. Today it’s a big difference. The boundaries have been blurred. And this is because of their success. They have become accepted, before they were a more heterogenous group.

And TCG Nordica?

– I see Nordica as a bridge. The founders wanted to share different kinds of culture with everyody. This sharing was not to make everybody be the same. In fact, it makes everybody different. This is the biggest difference between Nordica and Loft. Nordica was not just only for “us”. Instead it made us realize our differences. I think this is a culture difference. For Westerners it was I and you. For Chinese it was much about us and them; us always eating and drinking tea, playing cards together, for example.

– I think Nordica is the most inportant place at Loft. Without it, Loft would be a local community. There would be no dialogue, no conflict.

– According to Nordica’s vision, there’s still a kind of idealism, But it’s not Utopia. It has a positive view on everybody’s life style and culture. If the art community thinks: “Let’s build an alternative life style”, it’s more utopian. It makes everybody look the same. Like communism; everybody are the same.

At one point in a discussion woth the Loft artists, we tried to explain how we at Nordica work more with a flat organization, rather than a hierarchial one. One of the artists ironically exclaimed: “Ahh, you are the real communists!”

– Actually, even when there’s a cooperation with Nordica, everybody still have their individual work.

So will this – and should it – change for the future, in your opinion?

– I think Nordica shouldn’t change their role much in the future. I wish Nordica can just go deeper in their communication between different cultures. And also, I wish there could be more communication.

Other cultures, not just Scandinavian-Chinese, you mean?

– No, my point is that we need build more communication in Kunming, with other culture areas. Not only art, but literature and so on. It’s not only the Nordica staff’s responsibility, but everyone’s.

Can you give a concrete suggestion?

– For example the HIV-project. That was a very good example of a sort of cross-over project, where people meet on a bridge. I wish we could move further, where artists take responsibility for society. In the past years, the art scene has been more profound than the other culture areas.

So, for example, we arrange a concert and let artists and poets create from their experiences during it?

– Yes, and artists could cooperate with scientists.

And how about the future for Loft?

– There are many, many problems with Loft, and everybody knows that. But I think it doesn’t matter if it’s there or not. The most important is how the artists work in the future. I think that even if there’s no art community, it’s not important. If the artists bring art into the daily life, it’s something that could happen everywhere.

– The art communities in China was probably a phenomena related to a certain period of time. The artists needed to make themselves known, needed to gather energy from each other. When or if the artists become stronger, and aren’t considered as being on the edge of society, I think the communities will dissappear naturally.

– Even if Loft disappears, it’s not necessarily a big problem to Nordica, who can still continue their work. All the artists in China have found that the art communities haven’t been the most important thing. The organisations have been more important. Within each art community, there has been a maximum of one or two organisations that have done most of the work.

In one discussion I had with Jonathan Kearney, we both agreed that Kunming’s culture life is different than what you find in the coastal megacities. Kunming can maybe not claim to be The Real China, but that it can claim to be A Different China.
If you agree with this, what is the main contribution of the Kunming art scene, that makes it stand out from the rest?

– I agree. A different China. The Director and founder of Lijiang studio Jay Brown even made an exhibition in Germany with that name. I think all the events happening in Kunming contributed to the whole of China. Some of them had much influence. Generally speaking, the Kunming art scene even made Kunming different from other cities.

In what way, more precisely?

– There were some cases with big influences. The New Concrete Group in the 1980’s influenced many cities. Also, the Chuangku/Loft influenced other cities. Another one was Jiang Hu (The before-mentioned project in Lijiang). It was tightly connected to the local experience, it could never have happened anywhere else. It was a village project outside Lijiang. Invited international artists to connect with the local experience and culture.

– And then there’s Nordica.

– Most of Chinese contemporary art is about an urban experience. In Yunnan the contemporary art connects with experience from nature. Those who come here find other influences and raise other questions, in relation to nature. Yunnan can give the artists inspiration for “slower walking”.

– These things make art life here stand out from the rest of China.

The current party secretary, Qiu He has personal ambitions for Kunming’s future. The universities are moved to Chenguang, outside Kunming. A new airport, China’s 4th biggest, should be ready next year. Rail lines linking Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Chongqing will be upgraded. Construction of a high-speed rail between Kunming and Shanghai is already underway. Improved roads to Hanoi and Bangkok will shorten the time between Kunming and these cities drastically.
How do you think such changes will affect the Kunming art scene?

– It’s hard to say. I haven’t thought about it that much. I think it won’t change a lot for the artists themselves. They mainly focus on peoples’ hearts and experiences. But there might be changes in the patterns and structures, relating to the city’s enlargening. I haven’t seen any action from the government towards the art community, so the change might not be so big.

– The small art communities might spread out in different places, because of the economic development strategy. It will hardly make art develop faster, though. In order for the local art scene to stay healthy, it will need local curators, collectors and galleries. But that will take a long time.

You have chosen to stay here, although many artists follow the money to the coastal region. And it’s not that you haven’t seen the world. You have travelled to Scandinavia, for example. So what’s most attracting for you here?

– My family. Maybe I could earn more money in some other place, but I enjoy life here. I don’t want to leave my loved ones: parents, wife, daughter. The daily life is most important to me. Only then comes art.

Interview by Anders Gustafsson
Photo by Luo Fei

anders-and-helibinluofei-helibin

For more information about artist He Libin, please check his CV and works at http://www.943studio.cn/members/he-libin,  thanks!