主题：西京人 政纯办 没顶公司 阳江组 WAZA小组 双飞艺术中心 Unmask小组
新作：王顷 方璐 黄然 杨永生 陈芃芃
Issue No. 66(2010)
Theme: Art Groups:The Syndrome of Collaboration
Academic Host: Yan Shuli, Liu Fan
A.T: Xijing Men, Polit-Sheer-Form Office (PSFO), Madeln, WAZA, Double Fly Art Center, Unmask
A.N: Wang Qing, Fang Lu, Huang Ran, Yang Yongsheng, Chen Pengpeng
艺术的发展可能会因文化的不同而产生差异，但经济对不同艺术市场的影响有时却惊人地相似。20世纪80年代，西方经济经历了高速增长的时期，商人和收藏家开始作为重要的力量左右艺术市场，艺术品的价格成为公众津津乐道的话题。巴巴拉·克鲁格 (Barbara Kruger)曾经说过：“我希望它们（我的艺术作品）进入市场，因为我开始明白：市场之外什么也没有……”①虽然在方式上，没顶公司进入市场和巴巴拉·克鲁格进入市场有所不同，但他们都是以一种主动参与的态度，进入艺术市场的游戏中，并针对其制度进行了一系列的调侃和讽刺。虽然没顶公司提出他们重点针对的问题不是封闭性的身份、商业、生产等几个方面，而是对事实的态度和方法的强调，但也无法改变由个体身份的转变而带来的从生产到接受等变化的事实。
WAZA是由来自武汉的胡戈和王焕两位艺术家组成。虽然它的许多作品都形成于武汉这个极具市民气息和码头文化的中部城市，但其活动和展演却主要集中在京沪等艺术活跃地区。WAZA的作品显著的特点就是强调作品、环境和接受者之间的关系。德国学者汉斯·罗伯特·姚斯（Hans Robert Jauss）在他的接受理论中提到：读者/观者并不是被动地接受文本，而是积极地与之“协商”，基于他或者她自己的文化背景和个人经验来阐释。③WAZA正是用一种实验艺术的方式，试图打破艺术与其观者之间的关系，打破那些难以接受的看与被看的结构。正如批评家、理论家阿多诺曾提到：“美术馆是艺术作品的家庭掘墓者。”④WAZA近期的作品选择了废弃的社区卫生服务所、流动人口聚集的城中村出租屋……对这些非抽象的、非乌托邦式的转换空间进行展示，环境作为他者被观众凝视，这时观众将自身的特定文化和集体记忆予以客观化，并使之汇聚于作品之中，WAZA正是用这种方式来创造一种阐释性的反应，甚至创造一种特殊的阐释主体。
1 Barbara Kruger, quoted in Carol Squires, “Diversionary (Syn)tactics: Barbara Kruger Has Her Way with Words,” Artnews 86(February 1987):80.
2 Andy Warhol, Kasper König, Ponyus Hulten, and Olle Granath, eds., Andy Warhol(Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1968), 14
3 Hans Robert Jauss, 1967 lecture at the University of Constance, Germany, published as Toward An Aesthetic of Reception (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982)
4 Theodor W. Adorno, “Valery Proust Museum, ” in Prisms, trans. Samuel and Shierry Weber(Cambridge, Mss.: MIT Press, 1997), 175
Art Groups：The Syndrome of Collaboration
Academic Hosts: YAN Shuli LIU Fan
The theme about Chinese art groups of the issue arose from a discussion by the editorial department at the beginning of the year which led to the topic about them. Thus there comes the theme. Art groups actually played extremely important role in the art history of the Avant-Gardes, from the Pool Society established in 1980s, the New Analysts Group and the big Tail Elephant Group in 1990s to a great number of currently active art groups. All their establishments and creation activities are more or less relative to the motive of breaking the old edge of art and doing new exploration. As Ms. LIU Fan, a young curator and our invited academic host of the theme, mentioned in her article below, the collaboration form of art groups firstly deconstructs the past concept of a unitary, unambiguous and divine individual subject of artist which established in the history. The deconstruction can be extended to other fields, for example as the understandings of art production and reception’s system and the influences or effects on art practices by the understandings. Therefore, the establishment, the way of collaboration between members, the change of members and the trends and interests of the art groups are actually all good details worthy of study and interpretation for the art history. Unfortunately, we have little research on them untill now. Obviously, the goal of the theme is not to do comprehensive research about the art groups which actually cannot be covered only by the following seven cases of art groups, but to take these currently active and somehow representative art groups as good examples, from Polit-Sheer Form Office who made an entrance from collectivism in Chinese history memory to Xijing Men who made cross-centennial cooperation between group members, from MadeIn Company who established a company to abandon the identify of an individual artist to Unmask whose works had a highly unitary and beautiful appearance, from Waza who emphasized the relationship between art and life and practiced seriously in their works to Double Fly Art Center with ironic and loony tone in their works and Yangjiang Group developed from a Chinese handwriting group. We hope to discuss the various forms of art groups and the possibilities provided by them through these seven art groups with great differences and to bring some other interesting topics about the art groups in Chinese contemporary art.
By YAN Shuli
The highly-venerated creative value of the individual artist since the Renaissance has come under question, with Roland Barthes’s 1968 essay of Death of the Author as the symbol. Some western artists opt to create and finish their works in the form of collaboration in order to broaden the boundaries of conceptual art and break the confines of art. The individual artist subject existed in the form of genius has been since challenged, the artist’s identity as the subject redefined under the political context and radical artistic exhibitions back then, and the dominance by the individual subject broken by the emergence of the compound subject. This collaboration among artists carried on into the 90s, but with more focus on encouraging the integration of diversified individual perspectives into the final works.
The similar collaboration syndrome also emerged in Chinese contemporary art around 2000. Different artistic combinations consist of different purposes, some for the breaking of the confines of art, some the creation of new subjects, and some breaking away from the simplicity and rigidity of the function of the subject… Young as they are, they provide us with fresh sample for understanding the artistic creation subject and all the possibilities brought about by it.
Fictitious Hypothesis –Xijing Men
In the year of 2007, Tsuyoshi Ozawa from Japan, CHEN Xunxiong from China and KIM Hongsoku from Korea created together a geographic concept “Xijing (the West Capital) ”, which was no longer in use in all three countries, and used it as the title for their collaborative group. They emphasized that this geographic name “Xijing” had been a part of the histories of all three countries, hence the title for their group. This combination of Xijing Men was a rather loose alliance based on this common geographic concept. While “ego” is considered to be void of a fixed core meaning, we also didn’t assign a unified and fixed core meaning to the geographic concept of “Xijing”. Through the illustration of the fictitious geographic concept and imagination of the collective historic memories, Xijing Men constructed a familiar yet strange daily life in a relaxed and humorous manner. Xijing Men laid out before us a kind of paradox: on one hand, the concept of “Xijing” immersed people into the terrain and history they constructed and the imagination of people living under such background; on the other hand, people could not break free from the lost feeling once they got separated from this imagination. In the project of Xijing Men, the concept of “identity” was placed in a complicated social structure instead of being simplified into a biological fact. All sorts of social information and manipulated desires collaged in this identity created one after another ceaseless, dynamic and discontinuous illusions beyond the boundaries of geography, history and psychology.
Utopian Implication – Polit- Sheer – Form Office (PSFO)
The PSFO Group created in 2005, which stands for “Polit-Sheer-Form Office”, consist of artists HONG Hao, XIAO Yu, SONG Dong, LIU Jiandong and curator LENG Lin. With each member’s respective representative works and artistic styles, their combination was more like an expression of an attitude through this form, discussing all sorts of complicated and intertwined relationships between collectivism and art depending on the particular pattern of the close yet separate artistic, social and political space that they had perceived. The utopian implication it brought up was a cover-up, which was achieved through the seemingly logical works. From the extremely political title of the group to the explanation in text, the first impression of PSFO was an attention-seeker through political gimmicks, failing to cover its lack of academic quality. It seemed that we could discover its pursuit of academic quality in their recent works. The soft and fragile tofu became some obscure metaphor, be it the carving of human figure out of the quasi-tofu wall or the melting down of tofu on its own course. PSFO simplified and abstracted the interaction between complicated space and society, exhibiting the paradoxes between existence and void as well as presence and absence in another manner.
Artistic Assembly Line – MadeIn
Guy Debord, the author of The Society of Spectacle in 1968, put forward that the focus of the capitalist society had shifted from production to consumption, which was verified in China around 2000, though being a socialist market economy. While the Chinese contemporary art had gone through the initial artistic boom and the depression of economic crisis, a lot of artists also shifted their attention from the production to the consumption of art. MadeIn is a limited company of culture established in Shanghai by XU Zhen in 2009. The fact that XU Zhen had given up his identity as an artist and emerged in the name of a company shattered the traditional understanding of artistic subject while trying to answer the question of “identity”, which had been baffling Chinese contemporary artists, mocking the artists’ persistence of their identities in a self-concealing way. The MadeIn Company consumed the appearance of western mainstream contemporary art, simplifying it into an extremely stylized and superficial form, while attempting to dabble in all fields of contemporary art in the name of the company and the mode of commercial operation.
The development of art may vary due to the differences in cultures, but the impacts of economy on different art markets are sometimes astonishingly alike. The West had experienced an economic boom in the 1980s, during which time businessmen and collectors began to assume the positions of influential powers on the art markets and the price of art works became the hot topic in public. Barbara Kruger once said: “I hope for them (my art works) to enter the market, for I begin to realize: there is nothing outside the market …”1 Though different in the manner of entry into the market, both Barbara Kruger and the Madein Company adopted an attitude of active participation to enter the game of art market while carrying out a series of mocking and sarcasm aiming at its system. The MadeIn Company pointed out that what they aimed at were the attitude towards facts and the emphasis on methods instead of aspects of closed identities, commerce and production, still it could alter the fact that the changes in production to reception were brought about by the shift in individual identities.
The Looney-Tune Sarcasm – Double Fly Art Center
“Double Fly Art Center” is a group of youths from Hangzhou. Their works were masqueraded in irrationality and hysteria, adopting a looney-tune sarcastic approach: acting as idiots, robbing banks, scrambling for the title of dancing king; shrieking, making faces, crashing … breaking down people’s assumption and expectation of norms through the non-mainstream performance utilizing body and visual techniques. Not only did the extreme approaches disintegrate the too serious screen images, but they also wrecked the rules of intermittent narration through those screen images. Strategically speaking, the works of “Double Fly Art Center” created an “un-centered” and split post-urban subject, adopting the performance as its foundation of structure with continuous appearance, and body as the carrier of performing some bizarre culture while being experienced and illustrated in the contemporary urban space. Their works would remind you of the most famous and prophetic saying of Warhol: “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minute..” 2 “Double Fly Art Center” swiftly stood out from the crowd through utilization instead of restraining and mocking instead of whitewashing to paint a new image of heterogeneous understanding of accidents.
The Conversion of the Dimension of Reception – WAZA
WAZA consists of two artists from Wuhan – HU Ge and WANG Huan. While a lot of its works were formed in Wuhan, a central city immersed in civilian touch and dock culture, its actions and exhibitions were mainly placed in the artistically active areas, like Beijing and Shanghai. The striking feature of WAZA’s works is the emphasis on the relationship among works, the environment and receivers. The German scholar Hans Robert Jauss once mentioned in his reception theory: Reader/viewer does not passively receive a text, but actively “negotiates” with it to reach an interpretation based on his or her cultural background and personal experiences. 3 WAZA adopted an approach of experimental art, striving to break the relationship between art, as well as its viewers and the unacceptable structure of the viewing and the viewed. As the critic and theoretician Adorno once mentioned: “Museum are the family sepulchers of works of art.” 4 The recent works of WAZA chose the abandoned community health services, rent houses of the village inside the city where the floating population converges … While the un-abstract un-utopian space of conversion was exhibited, and the environment under the gaze of viewers as the other, the viewers objectified their own particular culture and collective memories and integrated them into the works. It was through this approach that WAZA created an interpretative reaction and even a special interpretative subject.
The Change of Symbols – Yangjiang Group
Established in 2002, Yangjiang Group is made up of artists ZHENG Guogu, CHEN Zaiyan and SUN Qinglin. The biggest difference between Yangjiang Group and some art groups is the fact that while its core member ZHENG Guogu participated in the group creation, he also maintained that he was separated from Yangjiang Group and participated individually in exhibitions. Yangjiang Group has mentioned repeatedly that the reason for forming this group is a special affection for the traditional symbol calligraphy. In fact, Yangjiang Group also used calligraphy as the medium of artistic practice. Through random and repeated writing – a destructive and lively “blind worship”, they used the written words of their own and others to form images, creating an ideal space where fiction and abstraction coexist – a symbolized multi-visual space, which seemed to exhibit the confrontation and conflict between the traditional “third-world” object and the western rational and progressive subject under the post-colonial context, but unable to conceal its active flattery towards the western aesthetic taste under its superficial confrontation against the west.
Modularized Fashion – Unmask
LIU Zhan, TAN Tianwei and KUANG Jun were the three members that constitute the art group Unmask, which was established 2001. Their works are fashionable and bizarre, fighting the body in a fluid and unconventional approach through going back to its familiar body, in order to achieve a creative status that transcends the body. In the earlier works of Unmask, the deliberate self dismemberment and the hollow void inside the body seemed to remind people of Henry Moore. In their recent works, the body covered in animal hair was placed in the modularized fashion, the confrontational relationship between the symbolized body, skin and hair and the referent was mutually separated, and between the weird body and the void of space was adopted an alienative strategy. Through alienating the images, the viewers realize that images are the representation of an ideology constructed in the ideology.
While some of the above-mentioned collaborations were temporary and loose, some more lasting and stable, and some even operated in the corporate mode, what they pointed towards was the kind of attitudes of the subject – attitudes impel people to consider their thinking pattern and the operation of the collaboration brings the creative subjects back into these more moldable structures, deepening and developing it. The topic of art collaboration will continue to be the hot topic and focus, rising up and down against the grand background of international art world.
By LIU Fan
Written in Aug 2010 by the South Lake