Video Artists Interview Series: Huang Ran

From Randian

By Iona Whittaker

Translated by Ling

影像艺术家访谈系列:黄然

黄然今年31岁,常驻北京,是一名创作媒介多样的艺术家,尤以录像及装置见长。他先后毕业于英国伯明翰艺术与设计学院和金史密斯学院,其作品曾在全球各地展出。然而今年,黄然却决定减少展览。《燃点》邀其共同探讨有关信仰与理解、艺术体制与个人创作的一系列问题。

我想更侧重于工作室的工作。今年我没安排任何主要的展览——我取消了展览计划,也避免了其它的干扰。去年我共计参加了15个展览!但艺术家不能仅仅依靠参加展览。不同的展览可以为你带来不同的工作条件与环境;而策展人各有各的强烈自我,经常会要求展出新作品。但有些时候,在群展中,人们会单凭某件作品就对你的整体创作做出评价。艺术家之于艺术体制,仅是一种原材料,而非元素。这就是生意的一部分,你无法逃脱,但我在思考,要如何面对体制对个人的这种消费。我们真的应该认真思考一下,个体在这个体系中生存所付出的代价。任何人都无法做到真正独立,但你需要从整体的创作生涯与更宏观的角度来看待这个问题。

Huang Ran
黄然

我的回应是,不论好坏都全盘接纳,并将之作为我创作的条件,这一切最终体现在我工作室的创作实践上,在工作室中,我可以面对自己真实的思想。想象着某些情境,以及如何回应——就好像在做算数题。我试图通过创作让这个体制付出一点小小的代价。我认为这是个人创作的关键——不仅艺术家,策展人、批评家与收藏家都应如此——他们也都在疲于应付展览。人们总会质疑某人某件作品的创作理念,却从未质疑这个体系的运作。大家都遵循着当代艺术的规则。问题在于质疑:当质疑为体制带来了积极的改变,推动体制向前发展时,质疑就变成一件非常有意思的事,但各种各样的行为都会为这个体制所吸收。规则之所以有力,并非因其稳固,而在于其持续的变动与拓展性。

这也关乎你是否理解或抱有信仰。我可以去卡塞尔文献展或威尼斯双年展,我认为我可以理解其中99%的作品——但,你是否能找到令你信服的作品?文化和宗教一样,其核心不在于你是否理解,而关乎信仰。于是我认为,在评判艺术的道德标准时,不能以是非好坏来论,而在于其如何构建我们的集体价值体系与标准。要从历史的观点来评判。历史的价值通常需要进行对比来得出。事物本身并不具有价值——往往要通过同其他艺术家的作品作对比,才能得出一件作品的价值。我们会问:这件作品对于我们的时代重要吗?此外还在于谁来定义“道德”,信仰的达成和形成这一切的机制。

Huang Ran, “Disruptive Desires, Tranquillity and the Loss of Lucidity”, video still (single channel HD video), 22.00 mins, 2012
黄然,《破坏性的欲望,镇定剂,遗失的清晰》,视频截图,单屏高清录像,彩色环绕立体声,22:00分钟,2012

我经常会将“个体策略”这个词挂在嘴边。当我在规划我的职业生涯时,我试着采取远观者的态度去思考我与展览、策展人和商业画廊之间的关系,从而构建个人的工作节奏与信心。我是一名艺术家,我必须在我的工作室中工作——工作室是达成我意图的生产工具。为了达到好的创作效果,有时候你必须转换思维。比如,你要思考这段时间如何利用?目的是什么?创作是个逐渐积累,逐层递进的过程,某段时间的积累是在为下个时期的进步做准备。有些年轻艺术家常会臆想一步登天,幻想做了某件重要作品从此改变人生!我真不知道他们能否长期坚持创作下去。

我一直在努力搞清自己真正的信仰所在。总的来说,我不相信捷径。今年,我感觉所有人都在讨论艺术史——从而涌现出大量与艺术史相关的作品与展览。但你不要想,“我要赶上这股潮流,从而得到认可。”关于创作,我一直坚信要批判性思考。当然这种思考也在不断改变,但我从不认为某一类思考才是“对”的思考。

总之,我对我所工作的环境既爱又恨。所有一切都可作为我的创造材料——既是语境,亦是媒介;我注意观察着这一切,看我能否可将之转换为另一种存在。目前,我正在创作一部新的影像作品和其它一些其它项目——物件,不只是装置。我很高兴我一个展览都没有!计划中的展览也只有四五个,而且我无需为之创作新的作品,我认为这太棒了。有些艺术家认为展览是驱动艺术家进行创作的动力,但其实艺术家不需要外界的动力。艺术家要自己激发自己的创作动力,思考创作的艺术“道德”,而不应与他人进行比较。每个人应该抛弃为特定的某人或某事进行创作的念头,突破自身局限,找到自己的表达方式。

Huang Ran, “Blithe Tragedy”, video still (single channel HD video), 14.56 min, 2010
黄然,《预约悲剧》,视频截图,单屏高清录像,彩色有声,14:56 分钟,2010

31-year-old Huang Ran is a Beijing-based artist who works with different media, including video and installation. A graduate of Birmingham Institute of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College (UK), his work has been shown internationally. This year, however, Huang has decided to take the focus off exhibitions. Randian met him to discuss ideas on belief vs. understanding, the art system and individual practice.

I want to concentrate more on my studio practice. I’m not having any major exhibitions this year—I’ve cancelled these and other distractions. Last year I participated in 15 shows! But you can’t really rely on an exhibition. They bring you different working conditions and scenarios; curators have their egos, and often ask for a new piece. Sometimes, in the context of a group show, people give too much credit to your work by looking at a single example. The system uses you as a raw material, not as an individual element. It’s part of the business and you can’t get rid of it, but I am thinking about how I can respond to that sort of expenditure. One really needs to think about the price of the individuals in this system. No one can say they are truly independent, but you need to think of your whole career and the bigger picture.

My response is to take all the good and bad as conditions of my practice I have to deal with. It all comes back to the studio, where you have real contact with what you are thinking about. You start to imagine scenarios and how you would respond to them—like mathematics. I try to work so that it makes the system pay a small price. I think that’s a crucial part of individual practice—and not only for artists, but also curators, critics and collectors—they are exhausted, too. People often question the concept of an individual work, but they never really question how the system operates. We are all working under the laws of contemporary art. The question is about questioning. It’s become very interesting in terms of positive transgression and what moves the system forward. But the system can absorb all of this kind of activity. The powerful thing about law is that it is not steady, but always moving and expanding.

It’s also a question of whether you understand or believe in something. I can go to Documenta or the Venice Biennale, and I think I can understand 99% of the work—but is there actually work you believe in? Culture, like religion, has belief rather than understanding at its core. I therefore think of morality in relation to art not in terms of good and bad, right and wrong. It’s about how we establish our collective value system and standards. It’s an attitude towards history. The value of history is always judged through comparison. Things never have value intrinsic to themselves—a piece of work is always measured against other artists’ work, and we ask the question of whether this piece is important to our time. It’s also about who has the power to state this “morality”, how we believe in something, and the mechanisms that achieve this.

I use the phrase “individual strategy” a lot. I try to keep a distance in terms of the engagement of my career—thinking about my relationship with exhibitions, curators and commercial galleries and building my own pace of working and confidence. I am an artist, I have to work in my studio—that’s the material I have to use to do what I want. To achieve good studio practice, you have to think differently, sometimes. For example, how do you want to use this time, and for what purpose? It is about working incrementally, in layers, and about how one period feeds into the next. Some young artists think they are going to make a very important work which will change their lives! I don’t know whether that really works, long term.

I am always trying to understand what I really believe in. In general, I believe there are no shortcuts. This year, I feel everyone is always talking about art history—a lot of works and exhibitions are about art history. But you cannot think, “Oh, I’ll catch up on this training and arrive somewhere.” In terms of practice, I think I always believe in my critical thinking. Of course, it’s changing, but I never think one kind of thinking can be thought of as the “right” one.

Overall, I love and hate the environment in which I work. I count everything as material for my practice—as both context and medium; I see whether I can turn these into something else. Now, I’m working on a new film and quite a few other projects—objects, perhaps, rather than installations. I’m happy about not having a show! I only have four or five exhibitions coming up for which I don’t have to produce new work, and I think that’s really good. Some artists think exhibitions put pressure on you to make work, but you shouldn’t need that impetus. You need to generate it yourself and think about that “morality” of creation, without comparison with others. Everyone should push their own limits and language without always working for someone or something in particular.

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About Ling

Open Smile
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