Reconstructing Public Resources:Interview with Qiu Zhijie

 

Qiu Zhijie, Chief Curator of the 2012 Shanghai Biennale

From Randian

/Ling Gu

Translated by Inge Wesseling

重新构造公共资源

——2012上海双年展总策展人访谈实录

qiu zhijie

新上海当代艺术馆(PSA, Power Station of Art)随处可见的橘色作品围栏上醒目地标示着PSA的logo,它是对其所在建筑的简化临摹,极易勾起观者对泰特美术馆的联想。同样是发电厂出身,」作为上海美术馆二度迁址后的当代部分,坐落于原南市发电厂的PSA同刚搬入世博中国馆不到一年的中华艺术宫(China Art Museum Shanghai)隔江相望。中华艺术宫馆长李磊称艺术宫主要展示中国现代艺术,其中包括7座现代艺术大师个人主题馆与相当数量的精品馆藏;而PSA则以零馆藏纳2012年第九届上海双年展主题展为其开幕展,并以蓬皮杜馆藏借展作为明年年中的后续计划。

在所有工作人员惊异并感叹PSA及上海双年展组委会在短短八个月的时间内打造出一场双年展,甚或更为具体地说、在不到两周的时间内将展场从工地与战场如变戏法般整出过九成的参展作品,不能不说是个奇迹。

PSA副主任李旭是上海双年展的元老,24年前自中央美院毕业后就开始在上海美术馆工作,先后参与多届上海双年展的筹办,他的团队为此届双年展贡献了不少实操经验。而本届双年展总策展人邱志杰同联合策展人张颂仁、鲍里斯 格罗伊斯、晏斯 霍夫曼共同确定展览主题“重新发电”,并将主题展分成“溯源”(Resources)、“复兴”(Revisit)、“造化”(Reform)和“共和”(Republic)四个版块,以及“城市馆”、“中山公园计划”等多个延伸项目。笔者日前采访了两位策展人,他们各自探讨了其策展构想及双年展体系等多个方面的话题。

邱志杰(b.1969,中国漳州):

Qiuzhijie.com

生活工作于北京及杭州。创作媒材及方式多样,包括水墨、行为、录像、装置、现场等。其作品经常将传统技艺观念化,检视中国政治历史与当下社会现实间的百转千回。任中国美术学院跨媒体学院教授,总体艺术工作室主任。他入围2012Hugo Boss艺术家大奖的短名单。他是2012年上海双年展的总策展人。

阳光落在PSA七楼露台的木头地板,邱志杰拖着书包坐进旁侧的阴影里。他不喜欢晒太阳,点燃一支又一支烟,掐下一段又一段烟头,塞进废弃的一次性塑料杯里。透过杯子的阳光投在他的影子上,其侧面的轮廓正在说话。

问:展览筹办中的许多仓促问题是否都该归因于当初野心太大?

答:展览总是永恒的艺术。若从一开始就以完美主义对待,那想必开幕之日会遥遥无期。我对此届双年展最花心血也最抱期待的是“城市馆”和“中山公园计划”,因为这其实是在做体制构建的工作,只有把体制先建立起来,才可以有接下去的发展。“中山公园计划”是关于民族,“城市馆”要超越国家主义。当然,还有“圆明学园”,它开了国内双年展教育的先河。这些其实也都可以不做,但我们都需要在一开始就做起来,把框架搭起来。现代传播集团的邵忠与上海双年展签订的赞助合同不只今年这一届,所以就算下一届策展人换了、不是我,但他/她仍可以在这次的基础上发展。我们积攒了宝贵的经验,尤其是赞助商,资金问题我到时也可以帮忙解决。因此我认为野心很大是没有错的。不过我们的确吸取了不少教训,都可以在以后的实践中改善。

问:这次三位联合策展人的角色和作用?

答:其实最开始邀请他们的考虑是,我认为自己一个人的视野总是不够全面的,因此希望他们的加入可以将视野打开得更全面。但实际上,他们这次起到的作用不过只是提名艺术家,所以每个人提五六十个艺术家,我都得一个个去研究,非常辛苦,但也很值得。不过后来筛选的时候非常头痛,无论把谁删掉都要得罪人,搞得现在展厅的布置上还是显得比较拥挤。如今回头想来,其实这届双年展也完全可以有另一种做法,就是只选比如十个艺术家,让每个人尽情发挥、把每个人做透。这也也会很精彩。所以是有不同的办法,我现在觉得有些后悔。

问:可能他们这次的工作方式对城市馆的帮助会更明显?

答:没错,他们的贡献主要是在城市馆的联络上,每个策展人都有强大的关系网,这才可以保障城市馆提名与挑选的全面。虽然是第一次,所有展馆总体有拼凑的感觉,但这也就和生活本身一样,总是鱼龙混杂、参差不齐。我尤其欣赏的达喀尔、柏林、杜塞尔多夫等城市,来自当地的工作人员都有截然不同的性格脾气、工作方式,让我大开眼界,也增添了不少趣味。个中的碰撞与摩擦激发了无限创造的火花。

问:担任此届双年展的总策展人,对你作为艺术家的身份认同而言有何改变?

答:我们参与筹办的工作人员都患上了“双年展后综合症”,就是看不起许多大牌艺术家。越是大牌艺术家越会刁难人,别说世界大牌了,有些年轻新兴的艺术家也都特别把自己当回事,岂有此理。我之前其实就知道有些艺术家比较刁,但这次是我的整个团队都对此感触颇深:将大师的光环卸掉之后是一个普通的人,他会跟在你屁股后面要钱,他会抱怨酒店的房间,他会因没有车接送而大发脾气。我如今回想早年没钱穷做创作时的珍贵时光,虽然作品很粗糙,但也都十分用心地做出来了。如今大家反而以花钱多、硬件好作为作品创作的前提;当然作品能有好的呈现自然高兴,这也是作为艺术家怀揣的一种矛盾。

问:当你提到体制的构建,我所看到的似乎还是对西方既有体系的一味拥抱。既然你已意识到目前体制中所存在的种种问题,那是否已摸索到另一条道路来构建新的双年展、甚或展览模式呢?

答:问得好。改变总得有理由,如今理由手里抓了一把,但如何改变还真的确不知道。我觉得这个道理就和中国人打乒乓球一样。乒乓球不是中国人的运动,但我们学了还掌握得比谁都好,结果这就成为我们的国球了。所以在对既有体制还不完全了解的情况下,我们先临摹照抄、从里到外学个透,这样才可能去找到新制度的出路。比如城市馆其实已经超出了在美术馆里举办的局限,我觉得它会有非常大的扩展潜力,也可能是新体制的一种雏形。当然,城市馆也可以有一种完全不同的做法,比如现在馆里只有五楼设了几家城市馆,要是把南京东路的那些城市馆统统搬到馆里来,那就又是另一种做法。从而也就会有不同的一套逻辑。

问:讲到逻辑,请问此届主题馆的叙述线索与结论为何?

答:四个分板块主题串起来是一句话,即:重新构造公共资源。而其突出的体现却还是在“城市馆”的叙述与“中山公园计划”接下来的系列项目中。举个最为突出的例子,店口馆这次是我重点推荐的一个项目,它与之前我组织学生大规模调查还排演了一出戏的华西村截然不同。华西村站在它绝对的反面,简直就是个警察社会。而店口,即便多少有些作秀的成分,但他最起码依然遵循中国传统的那种爱面子的熟人社会,还保留着对自己、对他们的平等尊重,我想这是最重要的。我戏称它是一个延续传统熟人文化的工商业联盟,当地有不少上市公司、大企业,但这些老板都遵循对彼此的尊重、对员工的尊重,实践企业的社会责任感。说回上海来,这次城市馆的顺利开展也离不开黄浦区市政府对之的理解与重视,他们公开对外宣称这只是黄浦区打出的第一张文化名片,明年他们还有更多的地块、“名片”可以为我所用。这么一来,其他行政区也自然不甘落后,对政府和企业来说,这种支持行为叫做“采购文化服务”。不过,如果他们出尔反尔,我也无所谓,也不是非要在这里做不可,城市馆完全可以去杭州、美院或其他任何地方继续发展、实现。

鲍里斯 格罗伊斯:

一年多前,我收到邀请担任本届上海双年展的联合策展人。其后,我们开了多次策展会议,提名并挑选艺术家,直到达成共识。就我个人而言,我更多挑选不为本土所熟悉的国际艺术家,在双年展上介绍他们的创作,尤其是几位来自以色列、巴勒斯坦等地的艺术家。

我认为已经不存在“本地观众”,因为全球化,因为这里的绝大多数人都是移民。就艺术创作而言也是一样,如今已不存在绝对的本地作品或所谓区域化创作,艺术作品在艺术家身为移民的同时也戴上了移民的性质。

关于这座新建的当代艺术博物馆如何承载一届或更多届双年展,我的理解是:它应是一个长期的持续的项目,而非短期的临时项目。它应广泛地面向观众。

作为“物”的艺术品,在这样一个语境中,也可以剥离其物质存在,以单纯的观念、文本或方案存在。这也还在讨论中。但就参展作品的选择而言,我们必然会考虑该作品于艺术家整体创作体系中的联系。因而此届双年展虽不乏现场定制作品,但也有不少既有作品的直接展出,这也是因为我们认为这些作品已经可以表达相应的主旨。

双年展还须实践其教育的功能,这也是我参与教授“圆明学园”且举办公共讲座的原因。

李旭在乎的人和常说的话:

–       李向阳,PSA主任

–       胡进军,上海文广局局长

–       DS雪铁龙,冠名赞助商

–       家丑不可外扬(Skeleton in Closet)

–       三件事容易办:盖楼、开馆、硬件,三件事很难办:内容、维持、软件

–       之前几届双年展(2000年及2002年),有艺术家要和我发生肢体冲突,然后我就天天带着匕首上班。双年展就是带着匕首做出来的。

Everywhere around the new Shanghai Power Station of Art (PSA) are orange PSA logos, which easily evoke an association with the Tate Modern in London, also a former power plant. The Power Station of Art has become the site for the contemporary section of the Shanghai Art Museum after two phased relocations. Formerly the Nanshi Power Plant, the building overlooks the China Art Museum across the river, which a year ago was the Shanghai Expo’s China Pavilion. According to Li Lei, the director of the China Art Museum, the museum mainly exhibits modern Chinese art. The museum includes seven themed galleries dedicated to modern art masters and a large amount of exquisite collected pieces. The PSA, which does not have a collection, opens its first exhibition with the exhibition of the9th Shanghai Biennale. The follow-up plan for the middle of next year is an exhibition on loan from the Pompidou Center.

What surprised and amazed the entire staff was that the organizing committee turned the PSA into a real biennale venue within eight months. More specifically, a messy construction site was transformed in less than two weeks into a space where nine-tenths of the exhibited works were installed — which must surely be called a miracle.

Qiu Zhijie, the Chief Curator of this year’s biennale, together with co-curators Johnson Chang, Boris Groys and Jens Hoffmann, decided on “Reactivation” as the main theme of the Biennale. They divided the exhibition into the four sections, “Resources,” “Revisit,” “Reform,” and “Republic,” and organized extended off-site projects such as the “Inter-City Pavilions Project” and the “Zhongshan Park Project.”

Living and working in Beijing and Hangzhou, Qiu Zhijie (born in Zhangzhou in 1969) is an artist who uses diverse media including ink, performance, video, installation and live artHis work often conceptualizes traditional skills and examines the innumerable twists and turns between China’s political history and current social reality. Appointed as Professor of the School of Multimedia Art of the China Academy of Art, he is also the director of all the art studios. He has also been short-listed for the 2012 Hugo Boss Art Prize.

As sunlight falls on the wooden floors of the seventh floor patio of the PSA, Qiu Zhijie takes his bag and seats himself in the shade: he doesn’t like to bask in the sun. He lights a cigarette and then another one, pinches the cigarette butt and then the other one and stuffs them into a disposable plastic cup.

The sunlight shines through the cup and casts a shadow on his side contour. He is talking.

Gu Ling: Were the numerous problems that occurred during the preparation of the exhibition all caused by excessive ambition at the outset?

Qiu Zhijie: An exhibition is always a perpetual work of art. If you want everything to be perfect from the beginning, I think the opening day would be nowhere in sight. For this year’s biennale, I worked hardest on and had the highest expectations for the “Inter-City Pavilions Project” and the “Zhongshan Park Project,” When you’re working on establishing institutions, you first have to set up the institutions themselves, and only then can there be any further development. The “Zhongshan Park Project” is about people and nations, while the “Inter-City Pavilions Project” aims to transcend nationalism.

Of course, there is also the “Academy of Mutual Enlightenment,” which created a precedent for national education through the Biennale. It’s possible not to do all of this, but we needed to do this from the beginning on, to set up the framework. The agreement that Thomas Shao of the Modern Media Group signed with the Shanghai Biennale is not limited to this year, so the next Biennale’s curator, who will not be me, can build upon the foundation we have laid.

We have accumulated valuable experience, so I solve problems like finding sponsors and funding in due time. So I think having a lot of ambition isn’t wrong, but we can certainly improve going forward.

GL: What were the roles and functions of the three co-curators?

QZJ: The idea behind inviting them was that I felt my own vision would not be sufficient. Therefore I hoped adding them to the team could make our vision more comprehensive. But in reality, they only nominated artists. Each of them nominated fifty or sixty artists, and I researched them one by one. It was very arduous but ultimately worthwhile process. The filtering afterwards especially difficult; it didn’t matter whose name you deleted, you would always offend someone. Even then the layout of the exhibition halls still looked quite crowded. If I think about it now, I could have handled this biennale in a completely different way by just selecting, say, ten artists, and letting each of them do their own thing and really showing their work. That could have been really amazing. So there are several ways to handle this, and I do feel a tinge of regret.

GL: Perhaps the co-curators’ contributions to the city pavilions are more apparent?

QZJ: You’re right; their main contribution was networking for the city pavilions. All of them have very strong networks. Only through their artistic networks was the nomination and selection of the artists for the city pavilions possible. Even though it was the inaugural Inter-City Pavilions Project, the pavilions overall had a really pieced-together feeling. It’s the same as with life — a mix of good and bad, very uneven. I especially enjoyed the pavilions of Dakar, Berlin, and Dusseldorf. The staff from those cities all had their own distinctive characters and ways of working, which made the whole process more interesting. The collision and friction therein served as a sort of creative spark.

GL: Speaking of your identity as an artist, did it change at all when you were appointed as Chief Curator for this year’s biennale?

QZJ: Everyone involved with the preparations is suffering from “post-biennale syndrome,” and they can’t stand many of the famous artists. The more famous an artist is, the more likely he will make things difficult for others. Not to mention some young, up-and-coming artists that also fancy themselves hotshots; it’s really ridiculous. As a matter of fact, before, I only knew some artists who were kind of difficult, but this time my whole team was affected by it. When a master’s aura is gone, only an ordinary person remains. He will follow you around for money, he will complain about the hotel room, he will be throwing tantrums because there was no car to drive him around. When I think back about when I was creating artworks in my early years without any money, even though the artworks were very rough, they were all made very diligently. Nowadays spending lots of money and using expensive equipment to create artworks is a sort of precondition. Of course, when the artwork turns out well, you are naturally happy. So this is also a contradiction held by the artist.

GL: When you mention the construction of systems, to me everything still seems to embrace the existing Western systems. Since you are already aware of the existing problems in the current system, did you already find another path leading to the construction of a new biennale or even an exhibition mode?

QZJ: That’s a good question. To change you always need a reason first. Nowadays, I have reasons to change but as for how to change, I really don’t know. I think that this principle is like Chinese playing table tennis. Table tennis isn’t a Chinese sport but we learned and mastered it better than anyone else. As a result, it became our national sport. Since we operate under a system but don’t completely understand it, we first copy and imitate, study the thing thoroughly from the inside to the outside, and only then will we be able to find a way out to a new system. For example, the city pavilions already exceeded the museum’s limitations. I think that they have a very large potential to expand or they could even be the prototype for a new system. Naturally, the city pavilions could have been made in a completely different way. For instance, right now in the museum there are only a few city pavilions set up on the fifth floor. If the city pavilions on Nanjing East Road all moved into the museum, that would be another way to handle this. Thus there would also be a different kind of logic.

GL: Speaking of logic, what are the narrative tracks and conclusions about this edition’s theme pavilion?

QZJ: The overarching theme is divided into four sections; pieced together the core conclusion is this: reconstructing public resources. But their prominent manifestation is still in the narrative of the “Inter-City Pavilions Project” and the “Zhongshan Park Project.” The most outstanding example is the Diankou Pavilion, which is a project I recommend wholeheartedly.

This is completely different from Huaxi village where I organized a large-scale student research project and rehearsed a play. Huaxi village is the absolute opposite of Diankou; it’s simply a little police state. But Diankou, even if it has some showy ingredients, still adheres to China’s traditional society of acquaintances concerned with keeping face. There the equal respect for oneself and others is still preserved. I believe that this is the most important.

I nicknamed it the industrial and commercial alliance of a continued traditional culture of acquaintances. Over there they have many companies and large enterprises, but those bosses all practice corporate social responsibility and adhere to mutual respect and treat their staff well.

If we look at Shanghai, the smooth launch of the city pavilions would not have been possible without the understanding of the Huangpu district government and the priority they attached to the project.

They publicly announced that this year they would play their first cultural card and that next year they will open even more cultural areas. That “card” can work to my advantage. Thus the other administrative districts don’t want to lag behind. This kind of supportive behavior can be called the “procurement of cultural services” for governments and companies.

However, if they go back on their word, I won’t care either. It’s not a must for me to do it here; the city pavilions could also move to Hangzhou, to the art academy, or any other place to be further developed and realized.

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