Emerging Chinese young artists' project of TaiKang
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[楼主] oui 2010-06-24 14:41:02
51m2 Conference:

Emerging Chinese young artists' project of TaiKang Space
(Published by June Issue 2010, Special Edition for Art Basil)

Part Ⅰ: Introduction

As one of the few non-profit art spaces in China, Taikang Space (originally named Taikang Top Space) is the first art space financed by a Chinese financial company. Ever since its establishment in 2003 with the support of Taikang Life Insurance Co. Ltd., Taikang Space has been recognized in the art community as an active promoter of the development of contemporary art and artists in China through experimental art projects using media such as painting, photography, sculpture, installation and video. Its long-time focus on photography shows its efforts to explore this medium and its potentials for development. Artists that have participated in its projects include internationally renowned Chinese artists and young artists especially "51m2" Project feature specifically emerging young artist.

Taikang Space Started a one-year-long art project "51m2" which focusing on young and emerging Chinese artists since October 2009. It is co-curate by Taikang Space art director Tang Xin and the young artist&curator Su Wenxiang. By this project, we hope that we could have further understanding of the new generation of Chinese young artists, to understand their attitudes and perceptions between art, life experiences and society. Meanwhile, We also hope to locate a number of talent young artists and they can be candidates for further research by Taikang Space. so far we had present works by seven artists, this project has attracted more and more attention. In order to promote the project, Taikang Space participated CIGE art fair in April in Beijing. Artists have been involved in the project Zhao Zhao, Su Wenxiang, Zhao yao, Wang Sishun, Cai Weidong and Hu Xiangqian (Li Mu was unable to attend, because he was in Shanghai) had the "51 m2" Conference at the vip opening night of CIGE, to discuss the issues about their concerned, Meeting chaired by Su Wenxiang. Academic discussion at the commercial art fair opening is just the beginning, "51 m2" project will continue to have more and further discusses and exchanges periodically, welcome yours attention.

Part Ⅱ: 51m2 Conference (Edited)

Time: April 21, 2010

Venue: CIGE Opening, Non-profit Area, Taikang Space


Participating Artists: Zhao Zhao,Wang Sishun,Zhao Yao,

Su Wenxiang, Cai Weidong, Hu Xiangqian

(chaired by Su Wenxiang)

Su Wenxiang: I’ve been thinking. We should divide this into two parts. First, apart from Hu Wangqian, we have all already participated in the 51m2 program. Everyone can first talk about what they think of the program or what suggestions they have for its continued development. Hu Wangqian is the newcomer; as an “outsider,” what expectations do you have? The second part will be related to what we tentatively discussed yesterday. Each person came up with several topics, and we can talk about them all together. If one person throws out a question, we definitely have opinions and experiences to share. For example, Zhao Yao may want to talk about his work and life, the self-indulgence of creation, how we should treat “sinification,” and the relationship between daily life and creation. Wang Sishun could want to discuss his individual works, life experience, and background. Also, Hu Wangqian has questions about the 51m2 program, such as why he’s been designated “young,” an issue related to youth. Then, there are also other questions that I jotted down yesterday as they came to me, such as how can you prolong your artistic life? This is a question that we as artists must consider. Lastly, Cai Weidong is interested in the influence that images can have on people, right?

Cai Weidong: I’m interested in the changes that the development of image did to people’s way of thought and living.

Zhao Zhao: For example, issues related to the state of society. Social structure or the state of society and how they are related to creation and why we create. Yesterday you also brought up childlessness…

Su Wenxiang: These topics are enough to last us several days, and just one could be discussed for several hours. We’ll just see which topic can be talked about further. The issue I’m interested in is the meaning of the ways in which artists organize themselves within contemporary exhibition practice. For artists, it’s spontaneous… including various forms, non-exhibiting or exhibiting, Zhao Yao’s experiences of working in media and my working in an institution. Currently, we’re just speaking in generalities, but because artists have all kinds of jobs, it broadens your life experience, so that you are not just an artist in the purest, most absolute sense. Also, how can art spaces create more effective working circumstances and exchanges between artists? This question related to our 51m2 program. We should first discuss that first part. Zhao Zhao, you were the first to participate, you were also the one with the least “experience” in the program, because you didn’t know how the program would turn out. Could you talk about your thoughts at the time, including your accomplishments since then, your opinions, specific works, etc?

Zhao Zhao: I think 51m2 starting was actually related to Taikang Space moving from the 798 to Caochangdi. A new space opened, and at the same time, new programs became possible. 51m2 has just been around for a few months, but there have already been six exhibitions, right? In the six months prior, we wanted to do a 51m2 exhibition, using the size of the space as a name, because first impressions are the strongest. So, the number 51m2 doesn’t have any other meaning, it’s just the size of the space. Tang Xin wanted to do a continuous exhibition that would be fast-paced. Every 15 days or two weeks, there would be an exhibition. At the time, I asked her why she would want something that fast, it’s so tiring. She said that the pace could keep people’s attention or maintain the vitality of the program. I think that this way, 51m2 is suited to “one-time” works, or works that are only presented once.

Hu Xiangqian: You said that these were “one-time” works. What does that mean?

Zhao Zhao: It’s the way they’re presented. You don’t need to spend a lot of time hanging an exhibition; you just do it. Because the space is limited, just 51m2, I just hoped to display something that could end in ten days or so. It could then go to some other place, and develop once again. So when I participated, because my works didn’t need too much space, actually it was just that one piece (referring to the work meticulously mounted on the wall). All 5,113 parts were the same. So, I think that this is more suited to 51m2. I didn’t think about it too much; I didn’t design anything for the exhibition. I was talking to Su Wenxiang about this before, and he thought that the way I did it was good, but he said that he didn’t know how it would be later on. Then I was more relaxed. Because it shouldn’t need too much design, because it will change, it will vary.

Hu Xiangqian: That’s more important. Change…

Zhao Zhao: Right, so the first, second, and third times, and every time, it starts to change. However it starts is fine, but this program touches on an interesting topic. Zhao Yao asked ‘why young artists?’. And I think that we shouldn’t care whether an artist is young or not.

Hu Xiangqian: I asked this question, how do you define young?

Su Wenxiang: Oh, there’s not a clear age to divide young from not…

Hu Xiangqian: Because I think that in my world, there is no division between young artists and older artists. I think it’s just a stunt. For example, sometimes I run into very good older artists, but they have never had the chance to exhibit. That is young, and a very vital sort of young. We think that this vitality is very important, not because of age. I personally don’t find youth interesting.

Zhao Yao: The youth that he is talking about is not about age. I think that it should be a about maturity and artists who are in the midst of maturing.

Su Wenxiang: With young artists, I think it’s like this. When I first talked with Tang Xin about the program, she was really excited. They were going to host a fast-paced, frequently changed program in this space. Actually I thought that the significance of this program was that it would allow artists to focus on a concept and produce a few successful discussions. For example, a few works would be exhibited, all related to an overall concept. Or, one work would be shown, but it would fill the volume of the space in shape or form. We thought about it this way. Also, at the time we thought that it would be best to have a program that was specially made for the space.

Hu Xiangqian: But when things are made-to-measure, there are often conflicts.

Su Wenxiang: I want to explain why we’re talking about youth. Tang Xi said that as this space moved from Fuxingmen to the 798, and then moved again to Caochangdi, there was a period during which younger artists were not given attention. No one understood them. She hoped that people could better understand what young artists were doing through this program. I thought that this youth could have something to do with our own ages. The artists we chose were determined by the circle of friends we had become acquainted with and the relationships we had formed, but there wasn’t an obvious dividing line at post-80, post-85, or post-70.Some people survived, he was already dead… Zhao Zhao wasn’t done speaking; I think he should give an evaluation or a few suggestions. From a positive perspective, what could be done to improve the program? Where are the problems with the program?

Zhao Zhao: There have been six exhibitions to date. Essentially I think now that this program is not impassioned. This could be a very open thing. I thought that from the beginning it wasn’t crazy enough; it hadn’t been whipped into a frenzy.

Hu Xiangqian: At the beginning the lack of passion was because there was still not enough planning. It could also be that this program doesn’t understand this aspect well enough.

Zhao Zhao: In fact, it was too planned. It had a certain level of planning. I hoped for a fast-paced, rather impassioned thing, so of course I would think that. It’s like Chinese society. When this car has gone 200 miles, there’s a problem with the tire. At such high speeds, if I haven’t reached 200 miles and I don’t stop the car, then will I still want to fix the wheel? At this speed, problems arise. If you stop the car, do you stop to fix problems? Or do you still drive a car there, or do you resolve issues mid-speed?

Hu Xiangqian: Which do you choose? I mean, would you choose to fix the car or continue driving?

Zhao Zhao: I am someone who is ready to dive, ready to jump out of the car. I already know the dangers.

Hu Xiangqian: You wouldn’t fix the car or drive it. You’d jump out of the car?

Zhao Zhao: Right. I can’t drive, and I also don’t know when this accident could occur. But I always have these premonitions, right? It’s this sense of crisis or this sense of danger that is always there. This sense of speed is a rather crazy thing. I wonder why these exhibitions didn’t start at 30 days long, then 29 days, 18 days, 17 days, 16 days, 15 days, until the last person only has one day. It would be exciting. So I think that looking at, for example, Weidong’s exhibition, we already make a pattern, which is one work, then something else. They’re all very clean, very economical. Actually, this is precisely the problem, that everyone is especially reasoned. This should be a crazy time, but everyone is very rational.

Su Wenxiang: Aren’t you also saying that this is too safe? What do you suggest? How you think we should do it…

Zhao Zhao: This is safe, it’s very safe. Suggestions? I think that when you choose artists, you need to put everything together, but this isn’t something that a suggestion can just change. This is something that 51m2 has never had before; that I haven’t seen yet, that could be a big breakthrough. But overall, things are good.

Su Wenxiang: So you’re saying that putting on a program in this box is all very safe and looks good, but there hasn’t been a major triumph, there isn’t anything that excites people, right? Could you say that?

Zhao Yao: I think it’s great.

Zhao Zhao: It is great; I never said it wasn’t. We’re giving suggestions, and what are suggestions? Suggestions themselves are far-sighted things, or else, why bother giving suggestions? Am I just sitting here to approve of everything?

Hu Xiangqian: Does this safety come from our art forms, or our environment, or something else? I think that this issue is very interesting; why have we become so safe?

Su Wenxiang: I think that this involves a lot of issues. For example, in Beijing, there are so many exhibitions every day, what, after all, are we seeing? Do we want to see a different exhibition method, or work that excites us? Because I have doubts about this, I talked to Tang Xin about all this, which included the youth issue. It’s like you’re consuming something in advance, waiting for something, but it’s not as you imagined. But I think that it has another meaning, that is, establishing part of an ecology, making a bit of an effort. For many Chinese artists, it is not a question of younger or older; it’s just that they’ve never had the experience of thinking through a space, or the experience of focusing on a space to exhibit their thinking. So I think that this is very good; it’s only a lack of experience.

Zhao Yao: I think that 51m2 is a small place that does not have a strong subjectivity or much interference. What I mean is, [it does not reflect] the organizers’ subjectivity. These kinds of places are very rare in Beijing, and for this reason 51m2 is very important. What remains is the problem of organizers and curators, that is, how you select works. I think that what is lacking is that after every exhibition, things have not been had time to be processed. This processing can cause young people to think more deeply. The shorter this processing time, the less this thinking takes place.

Su Wenxiang: This is not only putting on an exhibition here… We have already noticed this issue, for example, here today… Everyone is doing this exhibition here, creating a relationship with this space. It is like the [other] exhibitions we have done, but we are still sitting here together talking, on this long-term platform. Also, after an event or a program is over, everyone should come away with a sort of deeper understanding. This understanding includes what he talked about. For example, gallery managers and I can now have deeper exchanges.

Zhao Yao: I think that young artists, as immature artists, face many issues. When doing something there may be many things that you haven’t thought through, or that you need to consider further. You need to process these things for yourself, along with outside influences, to find out about it and investigate it to make it better.

Su Wenxiang: I talked with Tang Xin about this. We thought about doing some publications afterwards, including forums like our discussion here. We wanted to link things together through an exhibition, not just put out a small pamphlet and that’s it, so that there would be more to bring everyone together.

Wang Sishun: When this first started, Su Wenxiang and Tang Xin were planning this program; they said they had a small space where they wanted to put on exhibitions. They hoped to present something different than their previous works and artists. I had a hunch that this was something to look forward to. This was also my first solo exhibition, and I saw this as a very valuable first chance. I decided that I would certainly participate in a way that was worth remembering, and then suddenly I thought that I should be more cautious. So out of several plans, I picked the one shown at Taikang. In this process, I had disagreements with the curators. The course of this dispute reflected my issues with exhibition presentation. The work appeared to me in a dream; about two kilometers to the northeast of my studio there are fairies. The exhibition was to take everyone to the place where I dreamed there were fairies, so the exhibition hall didn’t need much. Even now that the exhibition is over, I still hesitate, I still doubt whether this work should have been presented. I’m still uncertain now. I still place greater emphasis on the process of moving the heart of the exhibition to the viewer and putting as little as possible on display. At that time, Su Wenxiang and Tang Xin must have thought that, as an exhibition, it must have a certain level of safety. I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that. If I said something wrong, please tell me, because this is just how I understood it.

Su Wenxiang: You must speak from your perspective.

Wang Sishun: But I think that in creating works anything can be a breakthrough; there isn’t any baseline, not even an ethical or legal one. So I think that I could have attempted to do something this way, because this process of deliberation is very long, then the exhibition was always delayed until January of this year. I think that, in terms of organization and curatorship, this program should be more open.

Su Wenxiang: I’m very moved by Sishun’s ideas, because, in the process of talking with this many artists, talking with you was the most challenging. This is not to say that this is the end. It was primarily us and Tang Xin, the three of us talking. I think that Tang Xin is more tolerant than I am. I’m harsher because I can take the position of a participant or an organizer, so I bring more personal things to the proceedings. Actually I think that the intervention in your case was very minimal. Why was there such intense exploration with you? It was because you were always equivocal and uncertain. I think that, when artists and spaces collaborate, take me for example, I wouldn’t have this kind of intense communication with others. I would either collaborate or not; I wouldn’t negotiate. So I think that we’re not talking about whether it is safe or not, when we talk about the presentation of your works. For example, artists change their plans often and exhibitions are promised early, but you didn’t do any of it on time. You need to be responsible to the space and to the people viewing your work. For example, you said that yesterday you were still editing the film, and I thought that this should have been done earlier…

Wang Sishun: I completely understand. I was using the process of this exhibition to reflect how I thought about this space. In the course of an exhibition, every artist has his own method, and perhaps he is not one to have confirmed a very clear outline. But, in the course of the exhibition and the later confirmation, the curators or organizers could have been more open.

Su Wenxiang: There were some conflicts, friction, and communication, but I still view this very positively, was this not good? For us, we gained experience in interacting with artists different from ourselves. And for you, did you not also experience…

Wang Sishun: This gave me much experience. Looking back on it now, this process was successful. From the entire thing…

Hu Xiangqian: I wanted to ask Wang Sishun a question that I thought of two years ago. Do you have the courage to make a work that you don’t talk about with other people, that you will never talk about, and that you won’t publish anything about? The works I create I will certainly bring out; this is my view. I don’t need to make work that no one knows about. My works must be shown; even if they are poor, they will still be taken out for you to see. Perhaps I am asking you this question. This is also to ask, if you had this courage, you wouldn’t have to worry about any of it.

Wang Sishun: Yes. This is to say, as an artist, I personally don’t care about… I think that in this respect I am a very selfish person. But when everyone talks about this, I can very responsibly share my view. At the same time, I think that later many things have come in contact with Taikang Space. I think that the planning at Taikang gets better as it goes; it’s a very good thing. On program curatorship, do you think Taikang’s method needs to be changed? I want to hear about the process of planning at Taikang. Do you have any new thoughts or plans?

Su Wenxiang: Currently the work Tang Xin and I are doing most often is to continually communicate with artists that we think are good or that other people have recommended to us. I think that for now we can only use this method. What methods do you think or does everyone think will attract the best talent, like attracting the best students?

Wang Sishun: But the majority of exhibitions today are like this.

Zhao Yao: This is a long-standing misunderstanding. We all continually look for new people, but why are we not trying to get better things out of the people that we already have? It is not necessarily true that the more new people we find, the greater the probability of success.

Su Wenxiang: Yes, that’s right. It’s an important point. We do not take great pains to find “newcomers.”

Zhao Yao: I think that getting better stuff out of the people you already have is the same [as finding new talent]; your aim is to find good art.

Cai Weidong: Tang Xin said that she wanted to put up an exhibition during PhotoSpring. There were already two exhibitions upstairs, one for Wu Yinxian, one for Han Lei. She wanted to have a young artist, a middle-aged artist, and an older artist, for an overall exhibition about photography at three different stages of life. The works I put up were completed last year. Tang Xin and I looked into it, and brought the production studio into the exhibition hall. My works all came from the perspective of visual culture and investigated how images are produced and their involvement in history. In this works, we installed a darkroom, actually it was a movie set. After people entered the exhibition hall, they could enter the darkroom, the movie set I used.

Hu Xiangqian: A movie set? It’s such a small space. How do you make movies?

Cai Weidong: It was a fake set, an artwork. Within the set was a darkroom. It’s a metaphor. It’s set up as a mother; it’s a place pregnant with photographs. The images produced by this mother are intimately related to our era. Images of earthquakes, revolts, and some of my other works are all inside there. I hope that when people enter the darkroom, they can come to understand that this is an era of images. Everywhere is a place to take pictures. When we create images, we are also turning ourselves into images. Germany once organized the International Scene group, but I think China essentially doesn’t pay attention to photography. In contemporary Chinese photography, the majority of people are still taking direct photographs.

Zhao Yao: In the 1960s and 1970s, Landscape International and International Scene always talked about these questions. More often it is the image itself, the basic element of photography, which is rather seldom considered. I think that society thinks that this image is a metaphor for something. This person in the frame could be what everyone concentrates on at the end, but there are also many things that no one pays attention to.

Su Wenxiang: Also, in making the symbol of this image, it is differentiated.

Zhao Yao: Right. Including symbols, or metaphors, or this stuff, he is talking about what this image itself has behind it.

Sun Wenxiang: Your previous work was a little like what he is currently interested in… and what I also focused on.

Zhao Yao: Rather similar, in fact.

Cai Weidong: Focusing on the issue of the image itself is rare in staged pictures.

Zhao Yao: In fact, at that time nothing could be done about the issue of staged photographs. They thought that photography was all staged photographs and it was because they thought this world was all staged photographs. They thought that the pictures I took were reflections of the world, all created with this kind of thinking.

Cai Weidong: In my view, when we take pictures we are looking and staring at the rights discourse hidden behind it.

Hu Xiangqian: I don’t quite agree with that, I’ve never really considered… Who does this rights discourse belong to?

Cai Weidong: This rights discourse allow images themselves to become an independent ideology. Everyday people take photographs, but they ignore these images. Photography itself has a consciousness. Photography itself has an ideology. These photographic tools are changing human society and peoples’ lives. This was my first solo exhibition, so it was very important for me. I’m creating my works sincerely.

Su Wenxiang: Ok, Hu Xiangqian, it’s your turn to speak properly. Your previous style was great, please say something about it.

Hu Xiangqian: I think that this way will be a little more interesting, or else everyone will get a little bored. You don’t need to keep up the hope that I will participate or not. I think this isn’t a personal question or a question for all of us. I don’t think it should be China; the entire world is facing these kinds of cultural questions. No matter what you do, no one is excited. I also know that, when I make works, there is only a small amount of excitement in everyone but me. You can’t be like this; you are looking at an exhibition. Have you been to an exciting exhibition? I haven’t. I’ve encountered this kind of problem.

Cai Weidong: I don’t think the works are for excitement, they are to calm excitement. They calm the excitement in others and in you.

Zhao Yao: Have you guys ever wanted to see an especially awesome work?

Hu Xiangqian: No, never. I was continuing with the question we were just talking about. Talking about this issue [makes me think that] a very good work could be unexciting.

Zhao Yao: How can it be and why would it be exciting? Where does the excitement come from?

Hu Xiangqian: I think that this is very interesting. Perhaps we truly don’t have exciting works. For example, in the beginning, when I answered Tang Xin’s phone call, I was still in Guangdong. At the time I really wanted to make something tailored to the space. After I provided that plan for Rain, I discovered it was unsuitable because it wasn’t within the scope of my control. I personally like to be sure of the things I do, or have the ability to control them. So I changed the plan. I think that this space, 51m2, is absolutely great as a space. Personally, I really need a baseline; I think I need to create a work within limits.

Cai Weidong: You still need a baseline, but in reality, that baseline doesn’t exist. You’re looking for that baseline.

Zhao Yao: But not having a baseline is a way to a baseline.

Hu Xiangqian: I can’t see the issue that way.

Su Wenxiang: Sishun, the text you sent me contained three phrases, “individual works,” “life experience,” and “historical background.”Are these all related, or is each word a separate question?

Wang Sishun: I think they’re all related. Society is not what I am concerned with, and I can’t be concerned with it. In this social environment, in this country, at this age or in this class, I personally do not have the ability to participate in my social identity and the changes in the world. I can feel this with my whole being. In the demolition of your house, or in any other matter, you are helpless. When you encounter such a powerful state apparatus, you sit there, unable to do anything. Honestly, the older generation of artists, like the firebrands of the early ‘85 [New Wave movement], has a grand narrative because they experienced a prolonged and complicated historical transformation. After that, the 1970s were a middle generation, and the historical circumstances they encountered were perhaps different. But because I was born in ’79, by the time I had memories, it was already Reform and Opening. Chinese society already underwent many years of political transformation, followed by the Cultural Revolution, and ultimately the reform of the economic system. After all this, society has entered a more stable and smooth historical era. For me, life has been very smooth. Of course, crisis hides under this smoothness. These events regard us as minute individuals, so you are still not enough to cause instinctive compassion. So, in this process, there is only your life. But as an individual you think that this problem in your future is growing. In the process of maturing, you may feel pain when you and society and the nation collide, and perhaps you will form an opinion about it. But I think that comes later. Then at the end, those opinions can become a fulcrum, a central focus for later creation. One person’s work, like my work, and the resistance Weidong just mentioned, and ideology, are all unrelated. But this unrelatedness is in fact a relationship, which is then expressed as more life experience. Because I am young, after all, perhaps later it won’t be this way. But in the emotional exercises of a previous creative process, I think that it could become a very important consideration and theme in the process of creating a later work.

Su Wenxiang: Would you be able to speak about how you current works are progressing? Pick two examples.

Wang Sishun: Two examples. My next work is a plan that I talked about last time. I want to train a crow to speak. He will say, “The world will be destroyed.” Then, when you enter the exhibition, you will hear the crow saying these words to you. In this way, the crow in fact has a very dense emotional tone, but it regards real understanding, and I think it still has this understanding.

Su Wenxiang: When you talk about this plan for this crow to speak, this is very directional and social. The destruction of the world itself, is this not a fact?

Wang Sishun: This is not a realistic problem; it’s a problem of foreordination.

Su Wenxiang: Do you mean that this society has its complications and conflicts, and that you haven’t thought too much about the impact that your family background and where you grew up has on you, right? But you’re absorbing these things and they don’t allow for the fact that one day they might become something you created. So your present works, which you say may be a turning point for you, have they not already started to have this meaning?

Wang Sishun: Yes, in the first half of this year, there were many things and works left undone. When I return home I must face the prospects of demolition. Once you experience personal pain of this magnitude in your life, it puts you in a sulk. It gives you the urge to disobey traffic regulations when you are driving on the road. You feel that these regulations are pointless, and at this point you feel the desire to abandon this society and abandon everything else.

Hu Xiangqian: I understand what he means. His position represents a state of mind, a voice. Hopelessness is also a voice.

Zhao Yao: In the creation of anything today, we insist on emphasizing social responsibility. This applies to artistic creations as well – it must be socially responsible. But in reality we rarely reflect on the ethics of this profession.

Zhao zhao: I think we must not go over our heads here. What I mean is, as we are placing emphasis on social responsibility, we often overlook the ethics of our professions as artists. How do we utilize our means to advance the development of art itself? To be honest, we are always talking about art. Let me reiterate something that has been said. For example, during the earthquake, you would feel that art is completely useless, and is the last thing we need.

Hu Xiangqian: I understand. It was in fact Plato who first wanted to drive the artists out of his republic.

Wang Sishun: This theory of Plato’s can also be interpreted this way – for anything in the world, there would be a situation where it is of no use. The same with art.

Su Wenxiang: Didn’t you show me your work at some point? I think your work is similar to mine in that is it very “art itself.” They address the issue of art in itself. The concept of art, in minimalism, or another extreme approach, is still used to discuss art itself. But I think, including the change you see in your hometown upon your return, your family’s misfortune of demolition and relocation, including what you just said about the plan of the raven project in the future, aren’t you changing yourself? There is already something of it connected to this environment and society.

Wang Sishun: Yes. However there is one point that I do not agree with – that an artwork is extraordinary and avant-garde simply by virtue of positioning itself as protest or depicting politics.

Hu Xiangqian: I did not say art that depicts politics is particularly extraordinary and avant-garde. This is, however, a commonly held view.

Zhao Yao: This is exactly what I mean by professional ethics. This must be judged by the standards of our profession, not by the standards of society.

Wang Sishun: That is why with regards to judging the value of an artwork, at the moment I agree with using the methods of the art itself, or through the contents of the art itself and how well it can depict any content.

Zhao zhao: Actually, my own tendencies towards the political, do not exist at all. I think what really concerns me are the personal. For example, I become pissed off when I read news delivered to me on my cell phone, the news, because these things can easily be things that concern you. In addition, as the information propagates more quickly with time, you realize that anything that happens around you can be a news story. And what about the things that become the news? The unjust, or the uncanny become news, or a breaking news. These are the things that people pay attention to, the ones that everyone understands but no can resolve. This is the problem that I am interested in and pay attention to. I pay close attention to the development of a conflict, how it is resolved. After the news is broken, I am especially interested in seeing it develop, and how it subsides. I think to me, dangers lurk around us. No one will help us deal with them, we must deal with them ourselves. In addition, to me at this moment, and this is not bullshit, now I put everything at stake for something so small. Do you know what I mean? To me, there are no such things as big things, just small things, the small things that I see as far more important than art. And these small things are related to your integrity, related to how you interpret this life, to how you interpret this society. If not being able to solve the problems that arise today prevents me from living through it, then how am I supposed to live through tomorrow? I hope that since you discovered today’s challenges, you will resolve it today, and if you cannot resolve it today, you can do so tomorrow, but you cannot give up, or say that you are not able to resolve it. We must resolve it, right? I think anything can be resolved. This is my wish, or maybe I should call it a dream.

Wang Sishun: I feel this is a point of my suspicion. Not that everything can in fact be resolved. It is merely your desire and your disposition.

Zhao zhao: Of course, everyone has his own resources. You cannot overstep your bounds into other people’s resources. To exhaust your own resources is also a kind of resolution. But have you tried hard? Are your resources completely exhausted? The final result, I cannot do it, I cannot deal with this problem, is also a finality. I think for this, it is what price have you paid, how did you struggle, did you put everything at stake or did you put it off? So I think everything is like this, how much concern you have for society, the interest you have for politics. It is unrelated to art, it is merely a personal disposition. Take Caochangdi’s demolition for example. Our constructions were completed in violation of the rules to begin with, so why are we fighting for our rights now? In other words, why are we fighting against the demolition plans? This is a very interesting question of transition. It was illegal to build an art district in Caochangdi to begin with. If you obey the law, if you have any sense of the law, then you would agree that Caochangdi should be demolished. It is the country’s property, and the country is entitled to it, go develop it if they so please. But recently I learned that Caochangdi would not be demolished. Why is this so? It applied for the status of estate for cultural initiatives or something. Some things turn out to be simple in the end, it is an issue of benefiting and of sustenance. What is most interesting is this ‘mediate segment’. If you want to fully understand this segment, I think that is very artsy.

Su Wenxiang: This is an issue put on the table by Wang Sishun, it is an issue of the disposition on how to deal with reality. I think Zhao Zhao’s views are directed towards those of Wang Sishun. Wang Sishun feels powerless, he does not put up a fight, and that is not a problem.

Zhao Yao: I think our discussion should not revolve around personal standpoints. We focus on the discussion of the work you have created.

Su Wenxiang: That is all too important, because it will be reflected in our own works. Like Wang Sishun, when he discusses his changes, including the projects he takes on, I feel that what it reflects is obvious—change is imminent.

Zhao Yao: Yes, I feel that actually the mediate segment is comprised of how you incorporate this into your work.

Cai Weidong: I feel that with every artwork, it is a kind of intervention of reality, but the degrees of intervention are not the same. I feel that that is a more profound kind of intervention. It is not just a way to reflect the society on a superficial level; we should use the means of art to intervene the society.

15 minute break… smoking

Su Wenxiang: Zhao You brought up three problems yesterday. He had three key points. One is to become immersed and intoxicated in the process of creation, one is how to see sinicization, and one being the everyday.

Zhao Yao: Actually what I mean by self-intoxication does not connote good or bad, but to me, I feel that is a kind of hindrance. Often people say, what do you feel about working on this piece or something like that, and you would think of many reasons, and in the end you explain too much, intoxicated and deluded by all the reasons you gave. That is exactly what I mean. Not the intoxication during the beginnings of the creation, you will be intoxicated in this (state of mind).

Hu Xiangqian: The exhilaration in finding reasons and self-justifications (‘to round one’s words’).

Zhao Yao: Yes, the exhilaration of being intoxicated in this. This exhilaration prevents the artwork from becoming its best.

Su Wenxiang: Is it through this process that you become submerged in your own fabrications?

Zhao Yao: Yes yes, exactly.

Su Wenxiang: You mentioned a viewpoint earlier, that artists are never not in the process ‘rounding themselves’. Isn’t this the process of drawing this circle?

Zhao Yao: Let me tell you, the circle must stand on itself, it needs to be independent, but intoxication hinders this independence. Do you know what I mean?

Su Wenxiang: So how do you envision the better alternative? One that works best for you.

Zhao Yao: No. There are two sides to this. This intoxication sustains the momentum we have. On the other hand, it prevents us from delving deep. You must be conscious of how you are being affected by this force.

Wang Sishun: Let me give an example and have you gauge whether it is an appropriate one. When you are pursuing a woman, the woman, you would imagine her to be better than she really is. But at times you would regret this, because you feel that she has lots of flaws, and at that moment you are regretful, why did I not wait to observe before making any decisions? Is this the state of mind you are referencing to?

Zhao Yao: What I mean is that, this intoxication will hinder us, at least it feels this way to me, it hinders us from delving deeper into resolving the issues of this art creation. For example the photographs from the past, or the issues of creating images. Weidong’s works for example, he said that these images and the power or relationship vested by society, because he is in within the system, there would be a tight structure of logical thinking, this structure of logical thinking exists only in the mind of the artist, and this state of mind I consider to be intoxication. I consider it a good thing if the work is exhibited and it intoxicates others. The critical point is, sometimes the work that intoxicates us, when put out into the public domain, fail to intoxicate others.

Su Wenxiang: All right, let us talk about daily life. The artistic creations of daily life. We can interpret this as the tendency of art to be about the mundane.

Zhao Yao: Yes, because the trend towards the mundane and the individual is growing, it is our collective nature. No, the reason I am bringing this up is not to discuss how we do it. I just really want to know how people deal with the relationship between daily life and their own artistic creations. To put simply, I feel that last year, I created something every day. I treated it like work, so I wrote every day, shot the sun every day. Anyway it was this long period of working, the creative approach of forcing myself into being a homebody. I cannot say that there was anything in this kind of living and daily life.

Su Wenxiang: Do you mean that it has become a problem now?

Zhao Yao: Yes, it is a problem now. It has become an affliction. We use daily life as inspirations for these works, but this form and style has become an affliction for us.

Wang Sishun: Actually this would be a better term—limitations. But the limitation is the premise. There is area for better and unique development upon the premise.

Zhao Yao: Yes, we can call it ‘limitations.’ You are like Zhang Peili, Laogeng (Jianyi), the videos they shot in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There are many people nowadays in their line of thinking, with no distance separating them at all.

Hu Xiangqian: I know, of course I understand this issue. Of course I understand we must know the history. I never did negate that. I have been puzzled by the so-called ‘young artists,’ where is the ‘young’ in all this? I have been puzzled. Like what you just said, even though I have never seen Zhang Peili’s works, am I nonetheless living in his shadow, living in a world in which his influence still permeates?

Zhao Yao: If you feel that you’re living in his shadow, I feel you should try to escape from this shadow.

Hu Xiangqian: The real problem is that I am living in his shadow even without ever seeing it. First, this problem is caused by perhaps what we brought up yesterday about the education system. Where are our roots? What is the essential thing that is propelling us to create? I can’t see. Where is our root? Where is the essence of our art?

Zhao Yao: The inadequacy that we are experiencing as a whole, I feel that only by doing our best to realize, doing our best to expand our knowledge and understanding, further realization of our inadequacy as a whole, I feel that this is a great way to promote our individual advancement. In order to decrease the gap between us and the wave of people who came before us, there should be more of this sharing of our senses of inadequacy. This can too be a kind of intoxication. Sometimes we feel that we are so far from them. But from the perspective of other people, how you are related is akin to green bean soup with red bean soup. We are talking about one collective nature. I feel, because through further realization of our similarities and inadequacies, we can then move forward. Perhaps our knowledge is sometimes limited, causing us to replicate works of other people. I feel that with the advent of Google, all problems can be solved. In other words, you are differing in your methods. The simplest way, if I may state bluntly, Art-Ba-Ba Super Profiles has helped many people by giving them access to visual knowledge. If you are drawn to an artist through his visuals, you can easily take the next step of learning more about them.

Su Wenxiang: But I do not think it necessary that we go out of the way to compensate for this knowledge.

Zhao Yao: I feel that regarding how we do our profession, we must understand how others do it.

Wang Sishun: I feel that it would be necessary for a professional artist.

Su Wenxiang: Zhao Yao, on this topic, the so-called “you” are similar, there is some kind of similarity, or the daily-ness. I think perhaps it is the last of the methods you have illustrated. Take intensity for example, or that the feature of the visualization has not rid itself of previous paradigms. But I do not think the problem here is the lack of knowledge or the cutting-edge versus the old-fashioned. I think there should be a sense of independence. For example, what you just mentioned about the independence and autonomy of artistic creations. For example, what you mentioned, on due to certain limitations, your only option is to attend to daily life. I feel that there are many similarities in our experiences. That is the way I am, because I cannot produce any other works. I am not a believer of not doing something because someone before us has already done it. Because I feel, be it Laogeng or Zhang Peili, I feel that what they have created have already created by Dada and Fluxus.

Zhao Yao: Yes. However, I am not saying that we are imitating just their works. In fact we are imitating the works of many others. Another problem, which is the limitations in our thought process has caused our limited use of these materials and styles.

Zhao zhao: I think there are some issues, not a matter of life-and-death, but I even believe that there is nothing left to say on the topic. I am outraged at the mere thought of it. Like what you said whether this art is an imitation or not, whether you have the money to create art. I think you two are well-off as is. To any poor artist in Europe, the two of you are well-off. That is your own problem. It has nothing to do with money. Regarding the similarities – I think this does not exclude the existence of interference in methodology – and that is also not a problem. I do not think you would see development or make any decisions or arrive at any conclusions from today. I think since we are having a discussion, we can project further, we can be more abstract, because this is merely the beginning. I think the problem that you wanted to address yesterday, and have not yet addressed today, for example the differences between this generation of artists and the previous generation of artists, or that the previous generation of artists experienced a period of artistic development, as well as the period of China’s development, furthermore, the development of a society. At where we are now, where the difference would be, and on this particular case – I think there will definitely be variations in the developments of each case on its individual basis. Take “Taikang 51 Square Meters.” It has been in six exhibitions and will definitely undergo change. In this case there is indeed the issue of methodology and collective nature, we are not excluding the existence of this collective nature. Or we can say that it is due to the common absorption of information. The things we are exposed to are more or less the same. You can see it through visual representation or go to see it in person. No one is seeing more than anyone else. In other words, if we average the factor of resources, no one would have more resources than anyone else. So the problem is not that limited reservoir of knowledge, though of course it is also very important. It is still how to think about what you want to do. I think it is difficult for someone to think about what they want to do. It is like putting your life on the line to do this, and it is a very… and once you do decide to fight with your life, should you use a kitchen knife, a fruit knife, a brick? This is now a question of aesthetics, isn’t it? That is why everybody approaches it differently, and no one will produce the same results. I think this is a topic worth discussing. That is why once we talk about personal issues it feels very obscure to me.

Su Wenxiang: The issue at hand is not on the tendency towards the everyday.

Zhao Yao: It depends on your perspective, but I see from the grand scheme of things and this reasoning and the so-called different materials, it is in fact the issue.

Su Wenxiang: Yes. Much of art is derived from the mundane. This is very natural. But it is perhaps that it does not lend itself to experimentation in language or any formal breakthroughs. For examples, the attention paid to private experiences. They are related to our daily lives, but not a specific aspect of it. I think that may be a direction we are heading.

Zhao Yao: I do not think just because it is grandiose, it is not relevant to us.

Hu Xiangqian: I have never dismissed this question. The issue of demolition and relocation that Wang Sishun brought up, that is his daily life. I do not think daily life is mundane. We are not facing the problem of being too mundane. Of course to me, I do not have this problem. But I can understand this problem.

Su Wenxiang: I don’t think so. There are many people nowadays who are concerned with it, or believe that it is important, precisely because it is not mundane at all. Because it is where the most important life experiences lie.

Wang Sishun: Actually we can still return to the topic earlier, the three critical aspects—personal creations, life experiences, historical background. You are facing a particular misfortunate at a particular time in history. Not only are you facing demolition and relocation, you are facing many problems in your daily lives, which will become your life experience, but this life is not defined by one particular event. It is all kinds of unhappiness, that culminates in you in the form of an emotion, you will become angry unprovoked and for no reason known to you. It is this kind of emotion. Therefore, this emotion is not entirely a private one, it is the atmosphere of the society. I think it can be derived from many other sources.

Cai Weidong: I think what is most valuable about an artist is his honesty. Because I think Wang Yishun is pretty honest.

Su Wenxiang: But honesty is at times a strategy. If put…

Cai Weidong: I do not think it is a problem for this sort of artist to be more emotional.

Wang Sishun: I think this is an issue of a person’s values. In other words, if you choose to become a professional artist, you would feel that do create a piece, or to create a piece using this particular style, is it going to benefit me, or does yourself justice for a while, or the exhaustion of energy. I think this is the heart of the issue.

Zhao Yao: Can I ask Xiangqian, why did you tan yourself to the point of having the appearance of a black person. May I ask that?

Hu Xiangqian: That is a very simple question, this question is much too simple. Because there are many black people in Guangzhou, and I wanted to be as cool as them. It’s just this simple. Of course I think about issues concerning race and other people will sure to ask about it. I think it is no big deal. After you give out your work, most parts of it don’t belong to yourself any more. There are no grandiose themes. If it were in Beijing, there would not be so many black people. Actually, I feel that I have very little power as an artist. You are actually a part of the mess around you. Because artists are not superman – I think philosophers are at times superman – an artist, according to me, has a very limited amount of power. Artists are small.

The voiceover comes on. The program comes to a conclusion

Su Wenxiang: It is impossible to finish this today. Way too many issues. If you all feel the need to continue, perhaps over our meal we can figure out a way to extend this? Because I have never engaged in this sort of discussions, I feel that I have encountered some great obstacles. But we can reflect on this dialogue, using the means of verbal communication, it is more relaxed and unconstrained. Well then, let’s call it a day.

Part Ⅲ Selected Exhibition of Taikang Space

[pre]2010.3 “IN BETWEEN”, participated artist: Han Lei
[/pre][pre]2009.11 “Beijing Hotel and the Great Hall of the People”, participated artist: WU
[/pre][pre] Yinxian
[/pre][pre]2009.10 “A SELECTION OF TAIKANG ART COLLECTION”, participated artist: Wu
[/pre][pre] Zuoren, Xiao Zhuang, Chen Yifei, Meng Luding & Zhang Qun, Xiao Lu
[/pre][pre]2009.10 "51m2"
[/pre]2007.11 “One Work: Propitiation of Liu Wei + Chen Haoyu”, participated artist: Liu Wei

+ Chen Haoyu

2006.9 “One Work: Rat, Bull, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake of Zheng Guogu + Chen

Zaiyan + Sun Qinglin”, participated artist: Zheng Guogu + Chen Zaiyan + Sun


2006.4 “One Work – Taikang Project of Hong Hao + Yan Lei”

participated artist: Hong Hao + Yan Lei

[pre]2005.7 “True to Life”, participated artist: He An, Liu Wei, Shi Qing, Xu Zhen, Yang
[/pre][pre] Zhenzhong, Zhu Yu
[/pre][pre]2004.12 Fen-Ma Liuming, 10 Years Review of MA Liuming’s works
[/pre]2004.11 “New Boundaries”contemporary graphic art, participated artist: Ding Yi,

Hai Bo, Hong Hao, Liu Liping, Liu Ye, Song Yonghong,Sun Liang, Wang

Guangyi, Wang, Yuping, Wei Dong, Xia Junna, Xia Xing, Xie Dongming, Xu

Lei, Yang Feiyun, Yang, Shaobin, Yang Yang, Ye Yongqing, Yue Minjun,

Zhan Wang, Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi, Zeng Hao.

2004.10 “Elsewhere” contemporary photography show

participated artist: Han Lei, Huang Lei, Li Lang, Sun Hongbin, Wang Ningde,

Xie Wenyue, Yan Changjiang

2004.5 “Spiritual Tour” contemporary photography show

participated artist: Feng Hai, Hai Bo, Han Lei, Hong Lei, Meng Jin, Sun

Hongbin, Xie Wenyue

2004.4 “Ar Chang’s Persistence”, performance site and ten years review of HE

Yunchang’s performance works

2003.9 “Control Z”,

participated artist: Cui Xiuwen, Han Yajuan, He An, Ma Yunfei, Peng Donghui,

Wang Bo, Wang Jianwei, Xu Zhen

2002.12 “Difference: ER + ZWEI?” female artists exchange exhibition between Beijing

and Bremen, cooperated with GEDOK in Germany. Participated artist: Chen

Lingyang, Peng Yu, Claudia Medeiros Cardoso, Silke Thoss

[pre]2001.3 “The Millennium Portrait of China”
[/pre]participated artist: FANG Lijun, YANG Shaobin, LI Dapeng and YUE Minjun.
[/pre]Named as “Song Zhuang”, travelling shown in May of 2001, Bremen City Gallery,Bremen, Germany; In Nov. of 2001, Ludwighafen City Gallery, Ludwighafen,Germany

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