主题：沉波 陈友桐 关矢 于伯公 刘港顺 李日韦 谭海山 张巍
新作：方少华 姜怡翔 彭涛
Issue No. 77(2012)
Theme: The An Xiety of the Ecological Art and the Artistic Ecology of Song Zhuang
Academic Host: Zhang Haitao
A.T: Chen Bo, Chen Youtong, Guan Shi, Yu Bogong, Liu Gangshun, Li Riwei, Tan Haishan, Zhang Wei
A.N: Fang Shaohua, Jiang Yi Xiang, Peng Tao
2007年 首届主题文献展 ——权充IV·暧昧Ⅲ·潜默
2008年 当代嗅觉艺术展——嗅觉·感觉 、08年“生活在宋庄（四）——宋庄及周边艺术群落田野调查展”、
2010年 第一届798多媒体艺术节——人造“风景”新媒体艺术主题展 、2010年 自然？——龙德轩当代艺术展
2010年 自动！全自动！——卓凡人工装置展 、2010年 微／生／物——陈友桐个展、2010年不确定的可能性——798及周边艺术群落青年作品展 、2010年“烈日西藏——西藏当代艺术展”
2008年 3月15日 第二届“生活在宋庄——艺术家田野调查作品展”女性版、2008“心斋”展
THE ANXIETY OF THE ECOLOGICAL ART AND THE ARTISTIC ECOLOGY OF
ACADEMIC HOST: ZHANG HAITAO
While inviting me to mastermind a special on Song Zhuang for the Fine Arts Literature, Xiaodong asked me about the representative quality of the Song Zhuang Art. Turning over and over, I failed to reckon any local feature of artistic patterns and forms as the representative characteristic of Song Zhuang, whereas the relationship between the relatively intact communal ecological phenomenon of Song Zhuang in China and the ecological art of Song Zhuang has the potential of becoming a worthy topic about Song Zhuang. Wandering around the other important cities of art in China, e.g. Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hangzhou, we came to discover the art institutions of those cities shared a regret of lacking vigorous artistic ecology. The structure of the artistic ecology of Song Zhuang infused me a long-term resident with the impetus and responsibility of participation, because of cultural communities being the highlight of balancing the urban material and civilization. It wasn’t until recent years of working in the Art Museum of Song Zhuang that we came to the discovery that the ecological art and conception had also brought us a great deal of anxieties: for example, the potential impact of modernization on the natural culture of Song Zhuang in the future innovative culture enterprise; the survival and the protection of artists and artistic institutions and the independence of artists’ creative form, etc.
1. The relationship between the artistic ideological trends and the artistic ecology within and without China
The word “eco-” originates from ancient Greek, meaning house or our environment. Ecology refers to the status of organisms living and developing under a certain natural environment, as well as the physiological properties and living habits, the relationship among organisms, and the interlocked relationship between organisms and the environment. The ecology has by now penetrated into various fields, with an increasingly widening scope of the word “ecology”, which is often used to define many wonderful things. The “ecology” of nature pursues the diversity of species in order to keep the balanced development of the ecological system. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that emerged in the contemporary art the concept of ecology, which also refers to the benign ecological chain among artists and between artists and the artistic communal environment in which they live. The benign diversity of ecology will also breed and promote the development of the ontology of art.
The formation of many artistic ideological trends in the art history were intimately connected with the communal ecology. For instances: Van Gogh, Picasso and Modigliani assembled to reside in Montmartre on the outskirts of Paris at the turn of last century, the colony of those artists together with Rive Gauche became the cradle of art for France, or even the world. It was under such atmosphere that expressionism and cubism began to take shape; another Bohemian village of art was the Greenwich Village in the West of New York City, where most of its inhabitants were artists, like Henry James, Edgar Allan Poe and Eugene O’Neill … whose masterpiece were accomplished during their residence in the Village. The Greenwich Village represented another lifestyle of the American society, the birthplace of various radical thoughts and artistic trends of anti-culture, as well as the reflection of the development and reform of the American society. From the woman suffrage at the beginning of the last century, anti-war of the 1960s, sexual and women liberation movements of the 1970s, to the equal rights for homosexuals, the Greenwich Village has always led the roaring tides of unceasing artistic waves. Another art community-East Village began its rise as a Bohemian colony during the 40s and 50s of the last century, gradually evolving into a perfected art colony. Since then, it has become the host for the “fallen generation” of the 50s, hippies of the 60s, and punks of the late 70s to the 80s. The East Village used to be rife with pop art, anti-war demonstrations, underground movies, sexual liberation movement, alternative publication and rock and roll.
Those famed Western art communities shared a Bohemian quality with the Chinese art communities, like the Painters Village of the Summer Palace, East Village, Tree Village, Huo Camp, Song Zhuang in its early days and the art communities surrounding 798, which also promoted a great deal of artistic phenomena, e.g. independent cultural trends like Political Pop, Cynical Realism and Vulgar Art; and the East Village in China has initiated the new tendency of physical perception of the behavioral art.
The aforementioned cultural phenomena also made us think: In what era and circumstance would emerge such villages? Why is it that new artistic phenomena was bred in those villages? And How would they transform in this era of urbanization and commercialization? Here we’ll talk about communities’ marginalization of the art aggregation, freedom from the mainstream consciousness and commercialization as well as the new information undercurrent, all of which are what give birth to the new ideological trends and also what make them disappear. The emergence of something new is inevitably stimulating and eye-catching, resulting in the intervention from conservative authorities; on the other hand, the eventual penetration of modernization and commercialization into communities also speed up the disappearance of art communities. Therefore, the Bohemian communities will diminish and transform into stylish art blocks remodeled from the deserted plants, and in order to comply with the development, ecological art and artistic ecology will also gradually embrace capitalization, team operation and fashion, like 798, the Modern City of US, etc. The Bohemian cultural communities should be vigorously protected. For instances, because of the severe urbanization in Japan and South Korea, a lot of art districts were initiated in the urban blocks by NGOs, who decide on the residence of artists according to the quality of their works. In some cases, the governments provide places and partial funds, while NGOs taking care of the rest. We can learn a great deal from these art districts, which enjoy many international connection, energy and fashion.
The development of Chinese contemporary art is also connected with geographic features of various historical periods, and the artistic environment with different cultural pertinence formed the budding artistic ecology and artistic trends, the individual development closely associated with the collective mentoring activities. The Stars Art Exhibition of 1979 signified the initial stage of the Open and Reform, the collective outburst of inner oppression filled with emotional and spontaneous stirring; the New Wave 85’ was a collective rebellion by local artists, accompanied with information exchange between the local and the outside, resulting in a passionate art movement of various art groups from various places under the impact of limited information. What’s special about it was that it evolved from the spark of local performances as a foundation to the national spread; the 89 Great Exhibition was an assembly of various folk art groups and individuals to help people understand the cultural deposition of Beijing; the individual operation had made some advances in the early 90s while people starting to break free from the constraints of the system, the art community of the Summer Palace became the club of residence for art groups and people from all over the country, with the ever-growing self-exile and utopian life style and choice between ideals and reality as well as within and without the system. Due to some societal reasons, artists from out of town who assembled at the Summer Palace were again exiled to Song Zhuang. By sheer chance and under the introduction of a student of Zhang Huiping an artist, Fang Lijun, Liu Wei, Yue Minjun, Yang Shaobin, Wang Yin and the critic Li Xianting moved to Song Zhuang in succession. At the beginning, Song Zhuang was very much like the Painters Village of the Summer Palace, just a low-priced compound affordable to some artists.
2. The contents and features of Song Zhuang’s ecological art
The “ecological art” should consist of contents and discussions related to the natural ecology, social ecology and cultural ecology. Among the logical relationship of the three groups, the social ecology is bounded by the cultural ecology, thus affecting and changing the natural ecology. If human beings rely only on the exterior advances of technology and perfection of the law without changing the views of cultural ecology and the related social ecology, no change will come to the natural environment upon which our existence depend.
Most people would consider it irrelevant to art when we talk about the ecological structure of Song Zhuang, actually it’s not the case. During the development of the art ontology of Song Zhuang, few artistic forms of recent years succeeded in attracting the attention from the outside, which is closely connected with the change of art community ecology in Beijing. Studying the history of artistic ecology in Beijing, we could find that the development of Song Zhuang from 1994 to 2003 was based on the spontaneity, marginal existence and utopian feelings of artists, with Cynical, Vulgar Art, Political Pop and free artistic forms as the mainstay. As the birthplaces of these artistic forms, the art communities from the Summer Palace and Song Zhuang had influenced the art forms all over the country, resulting in a lot of traditional realistic painters opting for this style in order to meet the demands of the market while some of the artists from the Summer Palace maintaining the form. Since there’s no official input during this stage, the grass-root quality of Song Zhuang’s art attracted the attention both within and without China. From 2004 to 2008, the rise of 798 influenced the development of Song Zhuang’s art artistically and ecologically. The public display right and business right of the 798 art lured many elite artists to move out of Song Zhuang. The fresh blood and thoughts of 798 had attracted a great deal of artists to follow. With the advantage in geographic position and fashionable atmosphere, the 798 art appeared to be on the up side of vitality, whereas artists in Song Zhuang seemed more silent and still. The impact of the financial crisis from 2009 to 2012 on 798, the removal and shutdown of galleries in the surrounding art districts due to urbanization and the pursuit of stability of many artists had made a lot of elite artists return to Song Zhuang, plus the improvement of the living condition through Li Xianting’s great effort wouldn’t hurt. Until now, Song Zhuang has approximately 6000 artists as residents, with the art staff and family members, the population exceeds 15,000, with artists scattered in more than a dozen natural villages with Xiaobao Village as the center. Big often leads to complication, and Song Zhuang was no exception when a great deal of talents stays shrouded.
Currently, the art of Song Zhuang is in a diversified stage of development. From the aspect of form, the artistic types and media of Song Zhuang is more diverse and steady. With elite art hidden inside, Song Zhuang’s art in recent years has put more focus on the existence and ecological features: attaching great significance to the emotions, conscience, disposition, public welfare, plain documentary and community phenomenon. These features cannot be separated from the relatively intact ecology of Song Zhuang and the artists’ emotions for Song Zhuang, and it differs from the artistic phenomena of other districts in the focus on the eternal shift of value as human itself. What impressed me most of Song Zhuang’s ecological art phenomena that broke the hollow conceptual expression of the contemporary art can be roughly summarized in the following events:
1. In recent years, Li Xianting hosted and invited several field exploration exhibitions of artistic ecology phenomena, which were more of a direct and effective intervention of the reality, focusing on emotions, conscience and public welfare.
The Opening Exhibition of Song Zhuang Art Museum in 2006, “Heaven and Earth – the Memory of Realism” Documentary Photography Exhibition
Since April 30, 2007, 5 “Chinese Documentaries Exchange Weeks” had been held in Song Zhuang, “Photography Exhibition of Lv Nan’s Works” in 2007 and “Living in Song Zhuang – the Exhibition of Field Exploration Works by Artists” in 2007
The “Community! Community!” Exhibition in 2009
“The Dump Siege – the Observation of Wang Jiuliang” in 2010, “Tibet under the Scorching Sun -Tibet Contemporary Art Exhibition” in 2010, “Scriptures”- the Solo Exhibition of Mao Tongqiang in 2011 and “The Red Archaeology”- the Solo Exhibition of Bao Pao in 2011
“The Art Archives of the 80s Generation” in 2011
2. The exhibitions that I masterminded put focus on the relationship among human beings, nature and artificial nature, the contemporary transformation of artificial feelings and oriental natural thoughts by the informationized social ecology.
2007 The First Exhibition of Art Document – Substitute IV Ambiguity III Tranquility
2008 The Contemporary Art Exhibition of Sense of Smell – Sense of Smell – Feelings, “Living in Song Zhuang IV – Field Exploration Exhibition of Song Zhuang and Surrounding Art Communities”
2009 The 5th Song Zhuang Art Festival -Young Curators Invitational Exhibition – “Future Index: Natural – Unnatural”
2010 The First 798 Multi-media Art Festival – Artificial “Landscape” New Media Art Exhibition, 2010 Nature? – The Contemporary Art Exhibition of Longdexuan
2010 Automation! Full Automation! – Artificial Device Exhibition of Zhuo Fan, Micro/Living/Thing 2010 – Chen Youtong Solo Exhibition, The Uncertain Possibility 2010 – Young Artists Exhibition of 798 and Surrounding Art Communities, “Tibet under the Scorching Sun -Tibet Contemporary Art Exhibition” 2010
2011 Participation in the planning of “False as True – 2011 Beijing New Media Art Annual Exhibition” (including “Artificial Feelings” New Media Art Exhibition), “The Art Archives of the 80s Generation”
2012 Culture – Desert – Kubuqi Contemporary Art Exhibition
3. Liao Wen’s expression of artists’ disposition and accomplishments through oriental quasi-handicraft also reflects the positive living conditions of artists.
The 2nd “Living in Song Zhuang – Field Exploration Exhibition of Artists” Female version on March 15, 2008, 2008 “Inner Fast” Exhibition
2010 “Entanglement of Hands and Hearts – The Building of Mood through Quasi-Handicraft” and 2012 “Needlework Embroidery” Exhibition
4. The “Underdog Humanism” Exhibition planned by Wang Lin during the Song Zhuang Art Festival put focus on the weak and vulnerable in the social ecology
The 3rd “Song Zhuang Art Festival” opened on November 8, 2007, under the theme of “artistic link”, with the “Underdog Humanism” Exhibition planned by Wang Lin opening
5. The New Civil Movement Exhibition planned by Qiu Zhijie during the 2nd Song Zhuang Art Festival was the contemporary transformation and reference of the group characteristic of folk art in the cultural ecology
The New Civil Movement Exhibition planned by Qiu Zhijie opened on October 6, 2006
In retrospect, the key factors leading to the rise of western powers consisted not only of marketization of economy, systems and quality education, but also colony and invasion as well as the development of the artificialization of technology. Such revolution brought a great deal of positive cultures as well as the imbalance of the monopoly of profits, democracy of interests, ethics and global pattern, increasingly deteriorating crisis of ecological environment and cultural desert. The prosper of economy doesn’t necessarily lead to the positive development of the world, the repeated profit and cold machines won’t perpetuate human being. When something goes wrong with the human culture, our living conditions are bound to change, and without the spirit there is no human race. The exhibitions staged by Li Xianting and me were more focused on the community ecology from the perspectives of anthropology, sociology and ecology while actively implanting the social development. The significance of the community ecology phenomenon in the exhibition outweighed the meaning of each artist’s works, “livening” the whole community ecology and providing a platform of actual existence for the individuals of this community through incorporating the individual artworks into the bigger artistic community ecology. What’s important about such exhibitions is not the art, nor the ecological circle of the elite few, but setting the difference of space and time in community art as the background. Mr. LI always mentioned about “stirring up the still water of the art circle, and the gold will emerge after the ferocious waves.” What we did was stirring up the waves of art. Of course, artists’ choice of works in this community must be closely connected with this ecology, with every individual reflecting the features of the group.
3. The anxiety of the communal artistic ecology of Song Zhuang
There’s yet another difference between Song Zhuang and other art districts, that is it enjoys a history of 18 years with the second generation growing, so that it is treated as a “home”. Still the artistic ecology of Song Zhuang needs further construction and perfection, the observation and components of the artistic ecological chain include:
1. The time place and reason for the formation of art communities; 2. The living conditions and incomes of artists; 3. The social background of the formation of art communities; 4. The change in numbers of artists in art communities in recent years and their current living conditions; 5. The hardware equipment and service facilities of the art communities, e.g. art museums, libraries, websites, galleries, painting materials shops, etc.; 6. The artistic types and forms of artists in art communities and their national influence; 7. The future structure of art communities and the momentum they bring to other industries; 8. Art funds, market circulation of art services institutions and orientation of art and exhibitions; 9. The survival mechanism for art critics and curators; 10. Tax system for art, collection mechanism of Chinese artworks, the station program for foreign artists, the project of popularization of art, etc.
The biggest problems confronting most artists in Song Zhuang still remain to be “the confusion of survival and art”, since most of them make a living on temporary employment or part-time jobs, without insurance of livelihood. The uncertainty of survival for artists from out of town were exposed through the lawsuit of Song Zhuang estate around 2008, the medical insurance issue for the now seriously ill artist Zhou Yibin and the education problems for the second generation of Song Zhuang. I know about the participation of a lot of Western, Japanese and South Korean artists in other professions, and the fact that every year millions of art graduates join the army of artists, as well as the difficulty of turning art in to a profession in China now. Lacking the means of circulation of a direct bargain market and the support from art funds, we could only encourage artists to engage in other professions to provide for their own art. The big picture in China now is that culture serving economy as a sidekick in order to: 1. satisfy the national thirst for material, 2. strive for international business right. So fragile as culture stands up against the economy, proved by the removal of some art districts surrounding 798 in 2009. The future of Song Zhuang will probably fall subject to the impact from the removal of urbanization, commercial interests and ideologized art, so we suggested that the government permit Song Zhuang to reserve the natural villages to develop industries and ensure the freedom of artistic creation. The aim of constructing “the Song Zhuang ecology and artistic ecology” is for the accomplishment of building a survival space for artists and development of popularization of art, and we hope that real and specific efforts will make some contribution to the benign development of Song Zhuang’s ecological art and artistic ecology in the future.
Written on March 5, 2012 in Song Zhuang Art Museum