Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The outline for my book (that will not be published) , Eng

Jianghu and Empire: Cultural Geographies in Chinese Contemporary Art


In Postmodern Geographies, Edward W Soja commented on an obsession with time in 19th century: time is considered to be rich and dialectic; space, to the contrary, is regarded as "the dead, the fixed, the undialectical,the immobile". In the fields of critical theory and epistemological production, the temporally-focused point of view
was expressed in the form of obsession with history and idling of geography. Although academic stars like Foucault had already expressed doubt towards this hegemony, it is obvious that enthusiasm about history in critical and
cultural theory has not yet faded away. In the contemporary art scene, the obsession is manifested as a drive towards art history. Although there are scholars who investigate the cultural geography of (Chinese) contemporary
art, the results are generally either regional stereotypes or absorption of cultural geography into art history. This essay aims at investigating Chinese contemporary art with reference to two spatially-oriented concepts:jianghu
and Empire.

Empire, a significant text by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, virtually maps the narrative and diagnosis on the sovereignty "Empire" in the context of globalization. (Although Negri's Marxist reference may raise suspicion about the possibility of historicism, the spatiality of Empire acts as a plane of immanence to thought.) The concept of "Empire" already existed during the Roman Empire, but Negri and Hardt's Empire in the context of globalization is not simply a heritage of antiquity, but also a fracture motivated by capital. The ceaseless self-production of capital
as a cancerous body-without-organs drives towards over-top national-states and super-national organisms while capital endlessly reproduces its own pattern. This ceaseless reproduction results in a weakening of the
independence of nation-states, which, along with other super-national organisms, are accommodated by the capitalist apparatus and "united under the logic of the single rule." The result is a new form of sovereignty: Empire.

The development of info-technology shortens or even erases the physical distances and hence strengthens the influence of Empire. Subjects are passively subsumed by the new sovereignty, like bodies inscribed with medical signs. The concept of Empire takes a crucial role in the production and identification of Chinese contemporary art.
Apart from Empire,jianghu is another cultural concept that is inseparable from the cultural geography of Chinese contemporary art.

jianghu, literally "rivers and lakes," initially referred to a name collectively for rivers and lakes. The term then transformed over time and becomes a word standing for either: the habitat of the hermit; or the environment where you min(the people who are outside of the ancient Chinese hierarchy comprised of government officials, peasants, workers and merchants) make a living. This essay adopts the latter.

Jianghu embodies an alternate space with loose organization and its own hierarchy and rules. As an industry for which it would be difficult to obtain a firm definition, contemporary art in China had a sphere of influence which is a

The geography of Chinese contemporary art depicts in a spatial form the simultaneity of the society and the map of power among producers and participants in the industry.
It is too imprudent to equate jianghu of Chinese contemporary art with resistance against the capitalist apparatus and Empire, as the relationship between jianghu and Empire should not be reduced to a simple dualism. Yet it is
even worse to think that they are equivalent. The two sometimes overlap: sometimesjianghuis the Lacanian symptom of Empire; sometimes jianghuis the metaphorical surplus of Empire.Despite the uncertainty, what can
be sure is that the two concepts are among the factors that determine the legitimacy of Chinese contemporary art.


• “Empire" and "China": Concept of Empire and Chinese Contemporary Art in an International
◦ This part investigates how the Empire concept is applied to the art mechanism and how the
concept molds the signifier “China art.” Under the mechanism of Empire, the independence of
China as a nation-state is weakened, and Chinese contemporary art is transformed to a noun
floating in the chain of signifiers, always drifting on its relative positions.

• Chinese Contemporary Art and the Concept ofjianghu
◦ This part investigates the history of jianghuas a concept in Chinese contemporary art and how
the participants in the scene interact with this cultural topography when transcending physical

• Interaction Between Empire and Jianghu in Chinese Contemporary Art
◦ Comparing the structure and symbolic networks in Chinese contemporary art under the
concepts of Empire and jianghu
◦ The influence on art production by the epistemology engendered by the suspension of physical
geography by Empire and jianghu
◦ Point de Capiton: This is the part probing into the overlapping and dislocation of Empire and
jianghuin the context contemporary art in globalization, with a focus on the expansion of
jianghuof Chinese contemporary art beyond the previous nation-state-geography boundaries
through globalization.
◦ The Name of the Other: Investigating the positions of Chinese galleries and artists in
international art events: Venice Biennial, Documenta and Art Basel, with a reference to concept
of "outsider" which Derrida mentioned inOf Hospitality.
◦ Who is whose symptom: The subjectivity between Empire andJiang Hu, and how it works on
◦ Biopolitics:jianghunever exists without people; Empire obtains its legitimacy from its
"multitudes"; this section analyzes how the politics between the people differ in the context of
jianghuand Empire
• Treading onJianghuand Striding through the Empire:Case Studies on Artists' Productionofa
Nation in a Nation/ Carrying the Tao to the West:Chinese
◦ Writing about the pioneers who made Chinese artist in an international horizon
◦ Artists: Cai Guoqiang, Huang Yongping, Xu Bing
• South to the Border:the "Southern" Artists in Cultural Geography
◦ Investigating how the “southerness” of the artists are produced injianghuand Empire.
◦ Artists: Chu Yun, Jiang Zhi, Liu Chuang, Zheng Guogu
• The World is the Corner: "International" / Non-Place Artist
◦ Focusing on how the Chinese artists who are considered to be international due to their
distance from conventional Chinese icons
◦ Artists: Cao Fei (early work), Adrian Wong, Xu Zhen

The outline for my book (that will not be published) , Chinese Version


by Venus Lau

Edward W. Soja 在Postmodern Geographies 提到19世紀人們對時間的迷戀:時間被認為是豐饒而辯證的,與之相反,空間卻是“死實,固定,非辯證和不變”的客體。時間主導的觀點在知識生產和批判理論上表現為對歷史的迷戀和對地理的投閒置散。縱使如褔柯之流的學術明星對這種一廂情願作出質疑,批判理論和文化研究界對歷史的迷戀仍未全面減退。此點在當代藝術表現為對美術史的狂熱。縱使有部份學者試圖探索(中國)當代藝術文化地理,結果卻是藝術典型化,或者文化地理被吸收為藝術史的一部分。本文將以“帝國”和“江湖”這兩個建基於空間性的概念,探索中國當代藝術。

內格里(Antonio Negri)和哈特(Michael Hardt)的著作帝國描述全球化語境下“帝國”主權的虛擬版圖。(帝國作者對馬克思主義的引用,難免會有歷史主義的意味,但是其帝國概念的空間性可作為思考的內在性平面Plane of immanence)資本作為“癌變無器官身體(cancerous body-without-organs)”,不斷複製自身的樣式,產生超越民族國家的要求。資本加速流通生產更多資本,民族國家的獨立性則日趨薄弱,它們連同其他超國家組織被資本制度編收;在單一,共享的邏輯下,築造了全新的主權形式 — 帝國。另一方面,信息科技的發達縮短甚至取消了物理距離,使帝國主權的影響力日益擴大,個體包括藝術只能被動地受其包攬,如醫學符號被刻寫在身體上,故帝國對目前中國當代藝術的生產和身份認同有密切的關系。


草草把江湖當成藝術對資本机器和“帝國”的反抗未免天真 — 二者的關係不可化約為簡單的二元對立 — 把二者等同卻更大錯特錯。帝國和江湖范圍偶有重疊,江湖時而是帝國的徵兆,又可以是帝國的隱喻剩餘(metaphorical surplus)。。。但可以肯定二者是中國當代藝術合法性的組成部分。




-Point de Capiton:研究中國當代藝術江湖和帝國的重疊和錯位
,并集中討論當代藝術江湖如何通過全球化超越昔日的民族國家 -地理局限
-"他者之名":以德里达論好客的“外人”概念,看中國藝術在國際藝術事件 — 威尼斯雙年展/文獻展/巴塞爾 — 的位置




“國境之南”: 文化地理中的“南方”藝術家 (儲云,蔣志,劉窗,鄭國谷)

“世界就是角落”:“國際”/“非空間”藝術家 (曹斐,Adrian Wong,徐震)

On Rirkrit

(published by

Rirkrit Tiravanija 的首個中國展覽“別干了”在唐人畫廊舉行。主要作品“无题2010(14086)”: 一個迷你磚窯,工人在微溼的磚胎上印上“別干了”和編號,燒製的14086塊磚以单价三十元人民幣供觀眾認購。新聞稿說14086等同築造一所簡易房子的磚塊數量。“无题2010(北京市朝阳区建国门外大街一号,上海市普陀区中山北路二十五号)”展示扎作成中國地標大樓形状的鸟笼,裏面进驻小鹦鹉等鸟类。藝術家参照画廊老板座驾制作的实物大石膏雕塑“无题2010(奶粉奔驰)”,上面铺了一层奶粉。“无题2010 (豆腐脑)”的豆腐腦攤及时消解北京冬天干硬的寒冷,工人忙着盛豆腐脑炸油条,虽然没有Rirkrit亲自下厨的泰式青咖哩和炒河粉,观/嚐者還是非常关照这“小吃摊”。

Rirkrit Tiravanija,泰國人生于布尔诺思艾利斯,居于纽约,柏林,曼谷,在不同国家举办展覽,在各地藝術節獲奬。這樣的藝術家不需要刻意经營,就已经够“国际”(他的 passport作品很好的体现了这一点)。除了少數家乡美食,Rirkrit鲜有宣传其家鄉文化符号。所以這次展覽符号之充溢叫人驚訝。這些符號並非產自泰国,而是现代中国:奔驰,奶粉,中国地标建筑,豆腐脑等,都是談論(尤其在討論發展的代價時)中國飛速發展經濟時避免不了的能指。Rirkrit在座谈会,新闻稿和杂志访谈中,早已表示展覽是对中国國家發展的回应。展覽把中国符号反饋中国,例如以奶粉把中國食品業醜聞和作為金錢象徵的奔馳融合在作品裡。或者邀請在中國一直作為底層人(subaltern)的磚窯工人參與藝術生產。這種反饋仿佛藝術家2008年作品 “无题2008:鉻就是未来” - 一張镜面乒乓球桌。

在Art Info 的访问里,Rirkrit好几次提到“超生产”(hyper production),这个辭彙暗示了速度和超越。人類的歷史就是速度的歷史,不管是資訊,武器,醫藥,商品,当掌握了速度,基本上就抓住世界,不妨在此引用Virilio 的一句名言,“光速不单改變世界,它變成了世界”。艺术家面对高速生产的中國社会,使用了反面的敘事-减速甚至靜止-娓娓道來无止境增长的资本:口号式的“不干了”,工人以竹篾慢慢扎作的高大鸟笼,代表富裕和速度的奔驰轿车-文化意蕴被抽出,功能性被剥夺,在展厅里拖着自己沉重的肉身,跟以艺术家对自己砖头作品的解说“把概念视觉化”互相观照。

评论Rirkrit的看客不少着眼于其跟食物有关的作品,例如著名的“无题 1992 (免费)”(1992) 和“社会布丁角” (2004),老實說公眾的参与和作為事件的作品本身,才是這些“藝術盛宴”的精要。Bourriaud 早在展覽Traffic(1996)的畫冊首次提到关系美學,闡述一種以社會語境的人際關係為出發點的新藝術。作為Traffic的参展艺术家藝術家之一,Rirkrit 的即場生產-消耗-再生產的藝術生产模式,为关系美學提供一個重要案例。關係美學概念的产生和当时互联网的兴起有关,新的溝通和建立社會關係的方式,促使人们重新梳理社会关系的可能性。关系藝術後來發展成涉及公眾參與的藝術的代名詞,不少人依照这个思路草草概括有关作品。十多年後的今天,當Apple IIc已經演變成iPhone和Macbook Pro,當你已經可以在家裡對著电脑购物,建立人際網絡的重大轉變,使我們需要重新审视关系藝術的概念。我認為Rirkrit的豆腐腦攤依然屬於關係美學的範疇,但這種想法沒有給我答案,反而給出更多問題:關係美學的關係是甚麼与什么的關係?是怎樣產生的關係?是為了誰產生的關係?藝術家是不是一句 “”社會責任”就可以和公眾接軌?到底誰是公眾?以hyperlink放射形式攝受資訊的人們,如何看待自己在這個公共活動的位置?關係美學能否向公眾示範更好的社會協作方式?現今觀眾對公眾參與的藝術作品駕輕就熟,藝術展覽的強勢的語境令關係美學有機會墮進“畫廊派對”的危險,我們怎樣重新在這樣的語境中重新成為公眾?Rirkrit的這個展覽不能回答以上問題,唯有希望藝術家和公眾的關係,不會像這次鳥籠作品的婉轉的鳥音那樣,只在畫廊裡生效。

说到吃这个題目,讓人想起Rirkrit的另外一件作品“Fear eats the soul”(“恐惧吞噬灵魂”),作品名稱來自德國導演法斯賓德 (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)1974年执导作品,該電影内容围绕一对忘年恋男女的爱情。電影說甚麼其實不重要,但是Rirkrit這個作品標題的eat-這個簡單辭彙無比赤裸,發音時的咬牙切齒,提醒人們遠古人類社會關係的起源其實為了填飽肚子。此論調和已經發展為文化學科的飲食,還有Rirkrit這種通過食物來進行社交的儀式性质,誠然相映成趣。

畫廊展廳與豆腐腦攤的陌生組合帶來的錯置感,加上展覽名稱的點題,不難使觀者把這次展覽與Guy Debord的奇觀社會(The Society of the Spectacle)聯繫起來。Debord的奇观理論是評論資本主義時被頻繁引用的思想,說明集中和彌散兩種奇觀(這次展覽是兩者的混合)。奇觀以林林總總的形態出現,不同的奇觀,不管背後運作的是甚麼(政治,文化,商業。。。)架構,都有一個共同點,需要注視。奇觀對注視的渴求,使其喜新厭舊,不斷被自己新的面目取代。展場裡繃蹦跳的小鳥和參與豆腐腦攤,拉長了觀眾注視的時間,在觀眾的心理地理上落了戶,帶來的是分神和反記憶。

Rirkrit以往作品大部份命名為“無題”(Untitled),後面往往附上一個副標題,以括號圈住。此舉貌似以通過放棄命名,暗示藝術家要退下造物主的位置,另一方面卻又有點像香港人說的“唔(注:廣東話,“不”的意思)嫁又嫁” 。這樣的括號是迴避的姿勢 (但是迴避並不是否定),比如說1999年的作品“無題(明天閉嘴滾開)”。Rirkrit命名的迂迴猶如德里達談到的避免(Vermeiden),也像在"On Spirit"(“論靈魂”) 開首的“I shall speak of ghost, of flame, and of ashes" 一樣,在有限的音素裡,除了火和灰,燃燒的背後,煙霧蜿蜒。迴避,其實就是不可迴避本身。奇怪的是,此次中國展覽的題雖然還是沿用無題加括號的標題格式,副標題的內容卻清楚明了,“豆腐腦”,“奶粉奔馳”等跟作品的聯繫非常直白,這種處理,使這次展出的作品與以往相比,少了一些睿智。

本来可以用更多的理论来切割出这次展覽的各個稜面,可惜展覽裡某些露白的“中国印象”,使作品的闡釋可能性在在剥削-资本主义-过度生产-过度消费这样的圈子里打转。不要誤會,我没有要求Rirkrit说一口京片子喝豆汁,也没有想过什么“展示真实的中国”之類的幻覺,如果這是 Rirkrit要說的中國,我尊重他的看法。中國一如其他能指,對應不同人心裡的概念,每個人都有自己的中國,正如我的紅跟你的紅不一樣。縱使Rirkrit這次展覽像本Lonely Planet導遊書,卻正正揭示了我們都是活在自己的寂寞星球,Negri式帝國時代的國家-撫摸著自己的模糊的地理邊界-只是全球化經濟下的又一件產品。