马永峰的博客

Dec 16

马永峰


不存在与图像或理论无关的实在性概念。 ——霍金


There is no picture- or theory-independent concept of reality. ——Stephen William Hawking


杰夫•沃尔(Jeff Wall)通过摄影所进行的“情境排练”完全不同于亨利•卡蒂埃•布勒松的“决定性瞬间”,他的作品再观念化了摄影术发明初期对于绘画传统的借鉴,通过充满歧义、指向暧昧和触发叙事的电影式图像丰富了摄影作为当代艺术的复杂性。与此同时,杰夫•沃尔摄影中具有移情作用的戏剧性冲突,艺术史上的图像参照,类似纪实摄影的手法,对微妙细节的敏感性,电影制作式的拍摄以及广告灯箱的展示方式始终交织一起,目的只为对头脑中萦绕不去的瞬间和情境进行精心的还原和排练。



从70年代末到80年代初,杰夫•沃尔开始其艺术实践,从那时候开始,一群联系松散的艺术家逐渐围绕着他建立了后来被称之为“温哥华学派”的摄影团体,包括Rodney Graham , Ian Wallace等。1982年拍摄的作品《模仿者》标志着杰夫•沃尔电影式摄影风格的成熟, 这件作品反应了潜存在加拿大不同种族之间的社会冲突;1989年拍摄的《爆发》描述了亚裔制衣工厂中发生的劳资冲突和剥削;2015最新拍摄的作品《倾听者》则是从新闻报道中的人质事件获取灵感进行重新拍摄,以更加纪实的手法、不稳定的画面试图重现这一残酷的场景。


以上几件作品延续了杰夫•沃尔对于转瞬即逝的悬置情境的迷恋,同时也质疑了所谓的现实真实和摄影真实,艺术家挪用艺术史的图像(卡拉瓦乔、维拉斯贵支、德拉克洛瓦、马奈和葛饰北斋)和文学叙述传统(例如卡夫卡、三岛由纪夫和艾里森)重新建构了一种美学意义上的拟像真实。这种真实建立在艺术家融合了角色扮演、电影布景、团队制作和数字化后期制作之上,这种以“单帧电影”为特征的图像使得当代艺术的景观时间凝固在一种具有古典气质的舞台感之中,对情境的捕捉和重新排练从此深陷于这种景观时间之中。



当图像成为一种负担或者图像瘫痪在图像之中,整个图像事实上面临一种整体的失效,图像不再成为图像本身,而是自身在吞噬自己,将自己囚禁在数字化图像泛滥导致的美学疲倦之中。杰夫沃尔似乎却在逆流而上,飞蛾扑火一般的投入到将当代生活剧场和消费快照重新提炼、转化为绘画和文学传统的经典图像和形而上学的层面的思考。苏珊•桑塔格在她2003年的《关于他人的痛苦》一书之中提到杰夫沃尔1992年拍摄的《死亡士兵的谈话(想象1986年冬天一支红军巡逻队在阿富汗莫科尔附近遭伏击后的情景)》其思想深度和力量堪称楷模,这件作品显然受画家戈雅的启发,血腥的仪式和对话情境的排演将战争的恐怖和残忍推到极致,令人过目不忘。


当然这得益于杰夫•沃尔的深厚的艺术史和叙述文学的修养,1970年他的硕士毕业论文题目为《柏林达达和语境观念》,后来又专门从事马奈绘画研究,同时他还发表了很多研究其它观念艺术家的文章。同时在他的作品之中可以强烈地看到文学名著传统的影响,比如说他受美国黑人作家拉尔夫•艾里森小说《隐形人》影响创作的大幅摄影作品,该作品表现一名黑人男子在地下室埋头写作,虽然头上有上千盏电灯照明,但观众仍然能感觉到这位男子的孤独。通过舞台背景的搭建和人物表情、姿势的上百次排练和调整,杰夫•沃尔以一种类似苦行的导演方式固执的完成他的叙事性图像的创作,观众可以从他的静帧情境之中随意展开情节的书写,从而完成自我叙事的革命。


和同时代的摄影家相比,安德雷斯•古斯基的根治于德国传统的新客观主义摄影真实的再现和批判了后资本主义的消费景观,辛迪•雪曼的“扮演摄影”则从女性主义的视角审视了好莱坞电影之中女性角色的变化和身份的漂移。而杰夫•沃尔通过精心排练的情境和对微妙时刻的敏感把握,以对经典艺术图像的挪用和激发叙事性的画面不断的抵抗自我抵消的图像世界和数字影像的全球殖民。



杰夫•沃尔

2015年12月11日至1月23日


香港白立方的开放时间:

星期二至星期六上午11时至下午7 时

香港干诺道中 50 号

+852 2592 2000

whitecube.com/hongkong


Nov 15
自觉与重建——从延安木刻到无名者的实践
展览时间:2015年10月25日——2015年11月15日
展览地点:西安美术馆  3号展厅
策展人:  满  宇
空间叙事:王家浩
木刻文献:赵  敦
参展艺术家:东湖计划、马永峰&韩五洲&蔡东东、李公明&胡斌、李消非、李一凡、渠岩、王楚禹、徐坦、刘伟伟、隐彦
 
        延安木刻作为红色经典,我们对他的解读已经高度教条化了。这个展览试图从主体建构的角度,重新来看待延安木刻在那样一个时期中所起到的作用,当然更重要的是他所呈现出的与主体(解放)相关的悖论。这样的质疑是在当代的语境中,对问题深化的结果。这样的悖论延续到新的世纪,在目前的当代艺术的实践中,以新的姿态重新呈现。这个展览试图重新看待延安木刻在历史当中的诉求,理解延安文艺座谈会中对艺术的期待,以及他所产生的悖论,在现在的当代艺术实践中所带来的困惑。
        主体的认同必定带来审美上的征兆。“乡村洗剪吹”是主体认同失败的结果,对自身身份的否定、或者在当时的秩序中由于无法安置,试图在对时尚的模仿中重建自身而迷失的主体。而延安木刻是一次对主体的重新命名——无产阶级或革命(民族抗战)的主体。主体的认同也必定带来审美上的变化。延安木刻对艺术形式的改造,是基于一种重新建构的需要,这是朝向未来的艺术。现代性的入侵,导致传统主体的危机,不管是鲁迅的新木刻运动,还是三民主义、马克思主义,民族主义,都是试图生产新的主体性。
        但这样的一种普遍性的诉求在与个体偶然性的遭遇过程中,结构个人主体的上下文网络在这里被意识形态的暴力所覆盖了。延安文艺座谈会的讲话,倡导艺术与民众的链接,但这样的链接以一种由上而下的命令作用到个人身上,最初焕发的活力,随着时间的推移逐步堕落为教条,在以解放为诉求的主体实践中,讽刺性的倒转为一种奴役的美学。个人关于自身的知识生产,被大他者(秩序)欲望的满足所替代。
        在一个新的社会背景中,在面对资本、技术、生产、权力等多样的形态中,主体的身份、意识、表达重新被组织化了(比如网络儿童)。08年的全球经济动荡,激发了中国现实的矛盾,但这样的矛盾是全球资本主义自身症状的一部分。社会的危机或者经济的危机,实际是主体性的危机,是资本主义对于主体建构的危机。目前各种劳工运动、左翼话语,试图重新结构、解释激化的社会现实。通过这样的命名,重新组织新的主体感知,来激发行动与诉求。但这样的话语或者行动是否觉察到了现在结构主体的具体条件(发生了变化,或者这样的变化并没有改变基础性的条件)?或者主体并非简单的是个经济的主体(工资、房子、股票、保险)。也就是说,现在的各种话语(比如阶级话语,个人权利话语、国学、佛教等等)是阻挡了还是开启了未来的可能性?
        也许我们需要回到中国目前非常具体的情境中,通过乡建、城市、工厂、身体,来讨论如何理解或重建在这个语境下的主体。我们会面临怎样的困境,以及我们能够如何回应这样的困境。
 
无名者:
        一是在社会的秩序中被遮蔽的人,或在秩序中无法被命名的人;二是个人的偶然性在与大他者(秩序)的遭遇中,被压抑而无法言说之症状。没有语言能表达的经验,各种精神障碍的人,焦虑的人,无聊或者始终处在无法满足状态的人;三是自己是自己的无名者。在无意识的层面上,个人的意识由于无法理解自身的欲望(自身的偶然性),在不断的对象(或日常情景的)迁移中,身不由己。这三个层面互为缠绕,结构为无名者的场域,艺术的实践为此工作。
May 14
LIVE AT
活的



Intelligentsia Gallery is thrilled to present Live At, a group project featuring Luan Xueyan, Garcia Frankowski, Zhu Liye, Wang Shuai, Kang Jing, Megumi Shimizu, Oliver Haidutschek , Dai Liang, Chen Xi, Liang Ban, Xin Yunpeng, Luo Wei, Li Meng, Alessandro Rolandi, Geng Xue, Li Binyuan, Shao Yinong, Jia Chun, Yu Bogong, Liu Chengrui, Zhao Xin, Jason Mena, Double Fly Art Center, Jin shan, Ma Yongfeng, Ophelia S. Chan, Hu Qingyan, Charlott Markus, USB Art Group, and Niko de la Faye

Live At is not a regular exhibition. It is a group project. In Live At to solely show is not the goal. The exhibition will take different forms in order to construct new conditions. Live At aims at exploring the relationship between art and social reality, art and space, art and the audience, art and the commonplace. 

Guest curated by Xia Yanguo, the exhibition invites more than thirty international artists to create 24-hour shows. Live At is not a simple objectification of art. Live At aims at engaging with the public establishing new relationships between the artist and the audience.  

A series of interviews will take place in different forms as artists engage with the audience, curator, and other artists with the intention of generating a dialogue and exploring the concepts behind the project. The resulting interviews will take form in a documentary about Live At, using the Internet as a platform for breaking through the limitations of time and space.  


Additionally, a Salon will take place every Sunday evening during the duration of the exhibition to discuss the concepts that fuel Live At.  

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This project wouldn’t have been possible without the unconditional support of volunteers and the press. Special Thanks go to Capital M for their continuous support of Intelligentsia Gallery, and ScopeArt Magazine that will be cooperating as media partner using their official WeChat account to promote and inform about ongoing events. 

At the end of the exhibition we will entrust ArtJeff (online auction) to auction all the works and the profit will go to artists and future non-profit events and exhibitions.

Live At Exhibition Schedule

2015. 4. 12: Luan Xueyan栾雪雁
2015. 4. 13: Garcia Frankowski
2015. 4. 14: Zhu Liye朱利页
2015. 4. 15: Wang Shuai王帅
2015. 4. 16: Kang Jing康靖
2015. 4. 17: Megumi Shimizu清水慧美
2015. 4. 18: Oliver Haidutschek 
2015. 4. 19: Dai Liang戴亮
2015. 4. 20: Chen Xi陈曦
2015. 4. 21: Liang Ban梁半
2015. 4. 22: Xin Yunpeng辛云鹏
2015. 4. 23: Luo Wei罗苇
2015. 4. 24: Li Meng 李萌
2015. 4. 25: Alessandro Rolandi
2015. 4. 26: Geng Xue耿雪
2015. 4. 27: Li Binyuan厉槟源
2015. 4. 28: Shao Yinong邵译农
2015. 4. 29: Jia Chun贾淳
2015. 4. 30: Yu Bogong于伯公
2015. 5. 1: Liu Chengrui刘成瑞
2015. 5. 2: Zhao Xin赵欣
2015. 5. 3: Jason Mena
2015. 5. 4: Double Fly Art Center双飞艺术中心
2015. 5. 5: Jin shan金闪
2015. 5. 6: Ma Yongfeng马永峰
2015. 5. 7: Ophelia S. Chan陈秀炜
2015. 5. 8: Hu Qingyan胡庆雁
2015. 5. 9: Charlott Markus
2015. 5. 10: USB Art Group USB艺术小组
2015. 5. 11: Niko de la Faye
2015. 5. 12: Liu Qiming 刘骐鸣
2015. 5. 13: Sebastian Alonso Bessonart
2015. 5. 14: Ren Zhitian 任芷田
2015. 5. 15: Ju Anqi 雎安奇
2015. 5. 16: Patty Chang


《活的》(《LIVE AT》)  

展览题目: 《活的》

策 展 人: 夏彦国

艺 术 家 : 陈秀炜(香港),陈曦,戴亮,耿雪,胡庆雁,贾淳,金闪,康靖,厉槟源,李萌,梁半,刘成瑞,栾雪雁,罗苇,马永峰,清水慧美(日本),邵译农,双飞艺术中心,USB艺术小组,王帅,辛云鹏,于伯公,赵欣,朱利页, 刘骐鸣, Sebastian Alonso Bessonart,Ju Anqi 雎安奇, 任芷田, Patty Chang, Alessandro Rolandi (意大利),Charlott Markus(瑞典),Garcia Frankowski(美国、法国),Jason Mena(墨西哥),Oliver Haidutschek(奥地利),Niko De La Faye(法国)等。

开始时间: 2015.4.11

展览日期: 2014.4.11-5.17

展览地点: 北京市东城区文丞相胡同2号对面 ,智先画廊 


《活的》(LIVE AT)不是常规意义上的展览,它是一个集合型的展览项目,呈现并不是它的目的。通过一系列形式,建构了一种问题语境,它旨在探讨艺术与社会、空间、观众以及其他社会现实之间的关系。
此次项目由知名策展人夏彦国策划,共邀请了30+x位比较活跃的中外艺术家 。整个项目将持续一个月,策展人将为每位(组)艺术家策划单独的个展,展期为一天/24小时,正常情况每天下午四点开幕,特殊情况见当日海报 。
活的——每个作品不是简单的、对象化的“物品”,也即它不是为了表达而表达,不是为了展示而展示,也不是为了证明某种东西,而是为了交流,它们是“活的”——更多强调参与和互动。所以,整个项目,是为了交流而存在,它需要不同类型观众的参与。

除了概念上的“艺术作品”,每个艺术家单独的访谈也是整个项目的一部分,它将由艺术家本人或与他人(如观众、亲人、策展人、路人等)通过任何形式的对话,进一步讨论作品以及相关话题。最终所有访谈将汇聚成一个独立的纪录片,作为整个项目的一部分发布在国内和国际的网络平台上。某种意义上,通过网络,纪录片将是对现有时空局限性的一种突破或补充。

此外,展览期间的每周日晚上我们将举行艺术沙龙活动,讨论与展览相关的话题。

项目一开始便得到了一些志愿者的踊跃参与和媒体朋友们的关注和支持。其中《艺术客》杂志作为战略合作媒体,将借助其微信公共平台(微信订阅号scopeart),逐天跟踪报道;我们将独家委托“阿特姐夫”微拍(微信订阅号ArtJeff)拍卖所有参展作品。最终利润所得,我们将用于循环策划第二次展览以及支持其他非盈利艺术空间或个人的项目。

本次活动官方微信订阅号为LiveArt,我们也将实时发布更多的活动细节和预告,敬请订阅和关注。

最后,感谢所有参与者——观众、志愿者、媒体、艺术爱好者。感谢“前门M餐厅”一直以来的支持。

附:智先画廊——位于文丞相胡同内,仅18平米,其实是非盈利项目空间。负责人为艺术家组合Garcia Frankowski,去年创办以来,他们曾举办了十几次个性鲜明的国际性交流项目展,并且通过与北京的艺术机构和艺术家的合作,积极活跃于北京的艺术现场。













Apr 13

FREE THOUGHT, FREE EXPRESSION AND INDIVIDUALITY IN BEIJING´S STREET ART

Personal Introduction

By writing this piece I realize it’s a gathering of information, maybe not brought to you in the most appealing way. But in a way that makes sense to me. This writing is background information on the actual product I make. This is a little educational movie about Street art in Beijing. The idea for this movie arose after I spoke with several street art crews in the Netherlands who didn’t knew anything about street art outside the western world. When I started this research I wanted to know how in China the Street Art is shaped and what kind of Western influences were showing in imagery or technics. But after some exploratory research I had to redefine my question because China is way too big to say something about China as a whole. So I redefined my question to: How in Beijing is Street Art shaped and what kind of western influences are showing in imagery or technics. I will try to answer this question on basis of exemplarily artists in Beijing who use the public space as their medium. By trying to show how they work and see themselves as (street) artist. But before I can delve into this topic I felt it necessary to give some background information about the history and position of contemporary art in today’s China and about the phenomenon of street art as a whole. If you are interested in this information as well, you can find this in the attachments.

Introduction

Modern Chinese street art is only a couple of decades old but writing on walls isn’t shocking in a country that has a long history of doing it. Since the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) scholars have carved words into rocks and trees, later they brushed verses onto the walls of monasteries and roadside inns. Mao plastered big red character slogans onto walls across China. After Mao’s death dissidents made their own mark with big character posters at a spot in western Beijing that became famous as the Democracy Wall. The origin of the Democracy Wall is found in the Chinese student democratic movement, wall posters came to symbolize the hopes of the young and reformers within China. Street art was a means to an end for the Chinese underground. It was the power to have a public voice. Their complaints were aired via wallpapers. This form of expression has symbolized the voice of a marginal movement in China since the late 1970s. In December 1979 the Wall was shut down by the government, and the active participants went underground. The democratic Wall was the first time people had peacefully fought for their own rights and ideals. China’s nascent graffiti culture budded alongside the rise of consumerism. An innovative and diverse culture is developing across China. The street art world is keeping their eyes on China and has great expectations because the Chinese artists are trained as designers, graphic designers and in the fine arts. China´s Street Art culture is ranked the youngest in the world, while there are numerous artists replicating a broadly New York style of graffiti only a handful have pushed out into visual arenas of their own.

 

Street Art in Beijing

Today’s streetwise artists know to toe the line of direct confrontation. Although some touch on sensitive issues such as inflation and pollution, they avoid direct censure of the government. Most Chinese street artists draw their inspiration from American hip hop culture, preferring to tag their names in English. The internet has broadened the street into a global neighborhood, and graffiti artists from one city know the work of a fellow spray-painter in a different country. In America graffiti is often associated with poor, disintegrating neighborhoods and is viewed as a tool for the dispossessed to carve out an identity. In China, however, graffiti artists occupy an altogether different space. On the one hand the art is reserved for the emerging middle classes who can afford expensive cans of paint and pricey fines. On the other, graffiti artists are attempting to make Chinese cities – long defined by pervasive politics and, more recently, commercial interests – their own.

In Europe and America graffiti, is intertwined with hip hop culture. But China has its own history. In the 1920s revolutionary slogans and paintings were applied to public spaces to further the communist cause. During the Cultural Revolution the Chinese Communist Party daubed propaganda in red characters on neighborhood walls. And today, in a country that is capitalist in all but name, many interior walls of high-rise apartment blocks are covered in scrawling’s by small businesses advertising their services. One of the most profound crews in Beijing is ABS (Active, Briliant,Segnificant). ABS CREW was founded by four Chinese graffiti artists in 2007 to provide products and services involving graffiti competitions, culture communication, brand cooperation, figure design, exhibitions, and product design. They promote the international communication and cooperation of the graffiti culture and seek for the continuous breakthroughs on the creation of different styles. The crew members work together on certain works of art, but also make individual work ANDC is one of the founders of ABS he saw graffiti for the first time in 2005 when he watched style wars (a documentary from 1983 about the hip-hop culture in New York City). If American graffiti was born in the Ghetto, Chinese graffers hail from the middle classes. As ANDC says In China most people doing graffiti are art students, not gangsters. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2014/04/chinas-graffiti-artists) Fellow crew member SEVEN says he doesn’t want to make the city more beautiful, he wants to try to say something in his own way. In China we can’t talk about things, says Seven, so I have to find other ways to show I’m angry. (BBC – Culture – Graffiti tests the limits of free expression in China.pdf)  Graffiti at its very core is a form of revolt, so the action is the message. Like Seven, SCAR sees graffiti as a form of defiance. But he also knows where to draw the line. Artists do not tag anywhere near Tiananmen Square and they are careful to avoid government buildings. They are also cautious in their subject matter. Shui Gui is like his fellow crew members a (former) art student. As a graffiti artist he hides behind the tag NOISE. His background and interests are quite stereotypical for a street artist; hip hop, break dancing, street ball, but he considers himself more a writer than an artist. When he is asked how he sees graffiti in China he says: I want to contribute to culture, I know graffiti in China is not at the level of graffiti in the West, so I have to turn it up and keep improving. (http://www.88mocca.org/blog/?p=322)  When I summarize the motivation and the core of the ABS Crew a striking similarity between these artists can be seen; in the way they want their art to convey a message, but also in their search for their own identity. Now it seems their imagery and motivation still strongly fall back on the traditional Western graffiti culture.

A totally different story and motivation can be found in the artist Zhang Dali. Zhang Dali, also known as 18k and AK-47, is a Chinese artist (trained at the Central Academy of Art and Design) who works in a variety of media. A provocative mix of graffiti, photography, and sculpture, his art highlights the rapid social change that has swept and unsettled China. Zhang Dali has been considered one of the pioneers of Chinese street art. “I stopped spray-painting the Beijing streets in 2006”says Zhang Dali, China’s best known graffiti artist. “Graffiti is the fashion in China these days and has lost its meaning as protest.” (http://www.vice.com/read/zhang-dali-brings-chinese-street-art-to-new-york) Zhang Dali first discovered street art in Italy where he lived for several years after he fled China in July of 1989, after participating in the Tiananmen Square protests (nowadays most commonly known under the name ’89 Democracy Movement). In 1995 he returned to Beijing to live there. Then there where great changings going on and Zhang Dali anticipated on those changings by bringing his arts to the streets. As he puts it: “I wanted my art to enter into the public space. They were demolishing the old Beijing and I was angry about the destruction of old buildings and neighborhoods. Taking my art to the streets was a way to express my opposition.” (http://www.vice.com/read/zhang-dali-brings-chinese-street-art-to-new-york)  Zhang Dali had three tags he worked with a bald man representing himself as well as an abstract person, AK-47 that expresses violence and 18K that symbolized wealth.  These tags were put on walls that were about to be bulldozed. The political implications of the images and their interaction with the cityscape meant that the cops came looking for Zhang Dali many times. Early in his career he was considered a criminal for doing contemporary art; at this point he was classified as one for pointing out the crimes of others. He also began to make documentary photographs of the graffiti works called dialogue and demolition. Dali’s works have been concerned with the vast social and cultural changes that occurred since the initiation of economic reforms in 1980s. His intention was to include documentation about the issues that his work evoked through a dialogue with his audience. Zhang argues: “I believe that humans are the product of their environment. I am concerned about the changes in our living environment that have been imposed by money and power” (http://www.chinaphotoeducation.com/Carol_China/Zhang_Dali.html) He aims to call attention both to the changing character of Chinese society made emblematic in the destruction of long standing neighborhoods and communities, as well as to the increasing alienation linked with rapid modernization and rampant materialism. Zhang feels that the street art was just one period in his career, he still makes very political engaged work but uses different mediums to tell his message. Since 2003 (and still going) he portraits immigrant workers in life size resin sculptures of various postures, the title of this work is Chinese Offspring and is a documentary of social history of a culture in radical development and flux.

Another example of an artist who uses the streets as a platform or medium for his art work is Ma Yongfen. Ma Yongfeng started Forget Art an independent organization of ongoing projects that play with institutions and events (such as exhibitions, art fairs and street performances) and become social interventions in daily life. His work deals with the social realities that surround him in China. The art work Sensibility is under control Beijing (2012) is a large spray painted stenciled graffiti in recycled cardboard that reads sensibility is under control. He tagged this sentence on several walls in Beijing. The signs are meant to be a reflection of the working environment and the strict procedure the workers abide by. The stenciled messages seem to act as a reinterpretation of Mao’s propaganda from industrial and revolutionary times that would be painted on factory walls for workers to see. Yongfengs graffiti raises questions and creates creative thinking about the environment the employees are in. Each sentence explores an aspect of life inside the working environment: the need to adapt to a strict control system, the human desire to evade and dream, the pressure of efficiency and the humor to be able to deal with all this. The walls of Sensibility under Control Beijing hosted a new subtle form of propaganda, the artistic propaganda for independent and creative thinking. Most of his work was painted over but Yongfeng stated that this made the message even stronger. By making this artwork Yongfeng puts himself at risk because the artists who dare to speak their minds against the government are in danger of being prosecuted.

The use of stencils as in the work of Ma Yongfeng isn’t that common in the street art culture in China. In the West the most famous street artists use the stencil technique, but in China this technique is very remote and still evolving. Russell Howze, the writer of Stencil Nation and the webmaster of Stencil Archive, notices that there are stencil artists getting up in China. He made contact with the artist Robbbb who wishes that the English-speaking world could find out more about stencils in China. Robbbb studied at the China Central Academy of Drama and Fine Arts and after his trip to Europe in 2010 he began to make stencil art. He loved this art so much, that when he returned to Beijing he started to make his own stencil-art.  About his own work he says:  I hope to provide you with a unique sense of thinking. (http://allcitystreetart.com/2012/05/31/robbbb-beijing-china/)  ROBBBB creates pieces of art to make people think and to create social exchange. He says “when people are affected by and begin to think as a result of looking at one of my works… that’s the start of an exchange… that’s what gives meaning to my work.”(http://www.visualnews.com/2012/05/05/robbbb-beijing-street-artist/) Robbbb explains that the Mu-ban (the Chinese word for stencil) is embedded in Chinese folklore and history. Paper-cutting is originated in China and has a rich tradition surrounding New Year’s Eve. Were images such as birds, flowers, fish and mythical legends are cut out of paper to decorate the house for good fortune. In China he saw the first stencil art in the 798 Art Zone where these stencils were made by foreign visitors. About his own work he says: my street art works mainly reflect the social phenomena and social problems of today’s China. (Stencilarchive.org/node/1322) Robbbb sees street art in China in an early and crooked stage and hopes it will spread and develop. The final example is the artist DALeast. He is one of the most prolific street artists today, as well as an accomplished painter, sculptor and digital artist. DALeast is one of the biggest names in the international street art scene. He has graffitied around the world spraying huge animals onto buildings in London, New York, Cape Town and Melbourne. He has also participated in many group exhibitions over the years in these countries. DALeast prefers to provoke personal introspection over making grand political statements in his art, although he says he enjoys the political act of marking public buildings.  He began doing graffiti with a crew of street artists in 2007. The crew worked together for four years but were arrested and after that disbanded. His use of animals, he says, reflects the human condition. Animals are like society, but are kind of attached to humans. Some people in China are doing street art against the government, especially the beginners. I don’t have political information in my art, because I think the political in art is just art. (DALeast_ The street artist breaking out of China – Features – Art – The Independent) DALeast finds his inspiration in the way the material revolves and the spiritual reveals itself. He has the ability to create an illusion with the certain combination of lines. The overall artistic effect of utilizing a dark base while simultaneously highlighting in fragmented, brighter lines is to make the images appear to leap off the wall or the canvas. He says he is concerned by the number of beginners in China who are doing graffiti to copy western trends. In Brooklyn, people did graffiti in the 1970s because they were suffering in society; they felt like they were in the bottom. In China Street art is more like a fashion. His trademark style of metallic, monochromatic, sculptural figures can now be experienced all over the world. His practice remains strongly influenced by Eastern philosophy and by the spirit and energy embedded in the natural world. DALeast attempts to confront the viewer on a conceptual level, forming a unique pictorial synthesis of half-mechanized, half-organic world.

Recap

If I want to answer my first question: How in Beijing is Street Art shaped and what kind of western influences are showing in imagery or technics. I have to point out a difference between the artists who really stick to street art and artist who use the street as a medium that is for a specific project the right canvas for their art work. When I look at the first group there are a number of points that catch the eye.  These groups of artists are still very young (under the age of 30) and share a similarity in how they first came in to contact with street art. By visiting the West or/and by surfing the web for images and examples of street art from the West.  These artists all feel the need to show their work in a broader sense. I read a lot of blogs and platforms of these artists who were clearly translated from Chinese into English by Google Translate because they want to be recognized by the rest of the street art world. In imagery and style they are much related to the Western street art, all tough they want to give their own spin to it. The imagery feels familiar to me, but the intention and the message are clearly of their own. And I think because this art form is still very young it will evolve and become more and more of their own including the imagery. I read on several platforms who focus on the street art scene worldwide, that they have great expectations of the Chinese street art because most off the practitioners have a background in art or design and strong work ethic to improve themselves. The second group of artists, who use the streets temporarily for a specific art work, have in common that they want to bring awareness to the streets.  They have been participants of the Democratic Movement and still have a very great sense of responsibility for what is going on in China on a more political level. This is way they choose the streets as a medium to call attention for the case they feel needs this attention. The artists I have highlighted in this writing are the big names of the Beijing street art scene. For one thing because they already have a name for themselves within the (street) art world, on the other hand because they fanatical create promotion for themselves through blogs and a website. And because I personally believe they deserve the attention.

 

Sources:

Chaffee G., Political protest and street art: popular tools for democratization in Hispanic countries, Santa Barbara, ABC Clio (1993)

Ganz N., Graffiti World, London, Thames & Hudson (2009)

Schacter, Rafael, The world atlas of street art and graffiti, London,Aurum press Limited,(2013)

BBC – Culture – Graffiti tests the limits of free expression in China.pdf (2012)

C Sebag Montefiore,BBC – Culture, Graffiti tests the limits of free expression in China,(2013)

DALeast_ The street artist breaking out of China – Features – Art – The Independent. Pdf (2013)

http://www.88mocca.org/blog/?p=322

http://www.abs-crew.com/about.php

http://aestheticsofprotest.org/guerrilla-intervention-the-art-practice-of-ma-yongfeng/

http://allcitystreetart.com/2012/05/31/robbbb-beijing-china/

http://andrewsolomon.com/articles/their-irony-humor-and-art-can-save-china/ (2014)

http://www.artspeakchina.org/mediawiki/The_Stars_Group_%E6%98%9F%E6%98%9F%E7%94%BB%E4%BC%9A

http://artspeakchina.org/mediawiki/Zhang_Dali_%E5%BC%A0%E5%A4%A7%E5%8A%9B

http://www.chinaphotoeducation.com/Carol_China/Zhang_Dali.html

http://www.chinatoday.com/city/beijing.htm

http://chinese-democracy-movement.wikispaces.com/Democracy+Wall

http://www.economist.com/blogs/analects/2014/04/chinas-graffiti-artists

http://www.froot.nl/posttype/froot/murals-van-dal-east-een-bijzondere-combinatie-van-street-art-en-moderne-kunst/

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/study-abroad/090929/chinese-contemporary-art-under-the-influence

www.idaprojects.org_IDAA_brocures_CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART IN THE WEST.pdf

http://www.stencilarchive.org/node/1322

http://www.sammlung-wemhoener.com/en/portfolio/zhang-dali-graffiti-as-a-symbol-of-revolt/

http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/zhang_dali.htm

http://sonntagimpark.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/sensibility-is-under-control/

http://www.vice.com/read/zhang-dali-brings-chinese-street-art-to-new-york

http://www.visualnews.com/2012/05/05/robbbb-beijing-street-artist/

 

Attachments

 Background 1: The rise of Contemporary Chinese Art 

For me it’s necessary to have some background information of contemporary art in China to have an impression of the scene and atmosphere in which the Street Art is evolving. Chinese society is always hierarchical, even the most informal group has a pyramid structure. The leader of the Chinese Avant-Garde is Li Xianting, called Lao Li. He is a writer and curator, his main role is to guide artists gently into their own powerful history. It was in 1979 that the Stars group initiated and Li Xianting was a big promoter of this form of art and was an active participant of the group. The Stars Group was among the first collectives or organized artists’ groups to present the beginnings of a Chinese avant-garde following the Cultural Revolution. Hoping to undermine the Socialist Realism of years past, they employed banned Western styles in their art and unlawfully staged their inaugural exhibition in a public park. After officials banned the exhibition, artist-members took to the streets to champion artistic freedom. It was part of the Democracy Wall movement, which brought together social, cultural and political impetus for change. They could not show their work, so in 1979 they hung their paintings on the fence outside the National Gallery. When they encountered police resistance, they demonstrated for individual rights. When the June 4 massacre took place, artists and idealists realized that their influence was being ignored.

The rise in popularity of Chinese art since the 1990s has been phenomenal. Although Chinese artists had been experimenting with contemporary art previously, it was only after the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, when many artists immigrated and began to practice abroad that contemporary Chinese art came to the attention of the West. Their work reflected the greater freedom of expression available and often the artists chose to use their distance to reflect on circumstances in China. China´s modern art scene has grown and evolved quickly in the last decades and contemporary artists have secured themselves a place in international art. The market for Chinese art has expanded rapidly in the past decade. Beijing’s art gallery districts have seen unprecedented growth. But the path between local and international has proven difficult to navigate. For Zoe Butt (Executive director and curator of San Art) the problem lies not in the lack of international exhibitions for Chinese artists, but the lack of cultural exchange and engagement. Chinese artists are taking too many cues from Western art rather than acting independently.

 

Background 2: Street Art

Street Art is possibly the most common popular art form in existence today. There are many different motivations, styles and approaches within this artistic arena as there are practitioners themselves. The street art scene is a social network with unwritten rules, hierarchies, alternative identities, friendship and the impetus to prove oneself in the scene. Stylistic and formal innovation is an artist’s primary goal. Street artists abide by a set of unwritten rules and ethical codes. The most critical of these rules in that ´going over´ or crossing out another writer´s work is disrespectful and should be avoid unless initiating a writing battle. Street artists replicate and subvert the signs and symbols of urban environments, sometimes with an overtly political agenda. While contemporary street art is undeniably more accepted as an art form, it owes much to the original culture of graffiti writing, which paved the way for creation of unsanctioned art in the city. And while the origin of this art form can be found in several influences, it is most significantly connected to the ubiquitous consumer culture. And the street artists reclaim the public space for a more diverse public. Street art aids in the creation of city spaces by occupying a physical location in the cityscape and by engaging people in the experience of art. Faile (New York based artist duo) are representative of street art as a whole. Working from comic books, signage, novel cover-art, newspapers and photographs, Faile visually reproduce the fragmented reality of our experiences in the city. To communicate with societies at large.

Whether exhibited in marginal spaces, or as modifications to billboards and other sides of visual consumption, street art functions as a reminder of free thought, free expression and individuality in networks of conformity.  On some level most street artists produce work as a way to participate in the creation of an alternative visual culture. Street art is strongly associated with its location and the element of a surprise encounter with the works of art.

That’s why the experience of an encounter with street art via photographs posted online is incomplete. But this does not render its significance, because it’s the most valuable foundation on which the movement thrives and evolves. Street artists who live in remote places away from major cosmopolitan cities rely on the internet to make themselves known. In a way, the internet is not only a source of information about street art, but is also swiftly becoming the primary vehicle for an encounter with the work.

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May 23
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GUERRILLA INTERVENTION
by Ma Yongfeng 

Guerrilla intervention is a response tactic that deals specifically with a comprehensive and an invisible control that is present in a post-totalitarian society. It operates through the social media and the actual social mobilizations carried out by artists through forms of artistic expressions. It can be a daily “micro-resistence” carried out in a guerrilla fashion that is not confined within a specific time and place. It urges everyone to intervene in society in a “hobbyist”-style that each one finds meaningful, in the hope to render the controlling body defenseless. [Translation by Lei Chak Man]

Invest in Contradiction

On 25 and 26 April Ma Yongfeng realised the project ‘Invest in Contradiction’ in a French factory in Beijing. It was embedded in the context of ‘Social Sensibility Research & Development Program’, run by Alessandro Rolandi and Bernard Controls. The Social Sensibility R&D Program is a biennale innovative strategic project with the aim to bring artistic research and creativity in contact with the working environment. It is structured around the idea to orient the artists’ work towards developing sensibility among workers, managers and the steering committee of Bernard Controls. Every 3 months, the program invites a professional of the creative field to deliver a project (in any kind of media) whose goal is to help developing new possibilities of human action and interaction within the factory. The long-term intention is to establish partnerships and collaborations with academic, financial, artistic and political structures to explore all the further application of such a model to the field of industry, social research and education.

In Chinese industrial tradition, revolutionary quotes, generally from Mao’s poems, speeches or writings were often painted in large characters on the walls of the factories where millions of workers had to see them everyday. Ma Yongfeng re-interpreted this aspect of Chinese propaganda, creating 7 large graffitis in Bernard Controls Beijing.

The sentences were chosen from random conversations with the workers or the managers, picked from the panels of the working rules, or from the factory’s safety procedures and other similar sources. Each sentence explored an aspect of  life inside the working environment: the need to adapt to a strict control system, the human desire to evade and dream, the pression of efficiency and the humour to be able to deal with all this.

The walls of Bernard Controls Beijing hosted a new subtle form of propaganda, the artistic propaganda for independent and creative thinking.

For more information on this project follow the link.

Other Projects

Profile

Ma Yongfeng is a Chinese artist, activist and initiator of Forget Art based in Beijing. Forget Art is an interventional organisation. It is a series of situation-based alternative tactics in self-institutional forms, it is often mistaken for a regular art collective, it could also be one collective light action almost did not happen, an agency of radical social mobilization, a series of unconventional interviews, an effort of saving amateurism, an art fair with just one booth, or to explore all possibilities of completeness, an indeliberate social media art experiment, or it is the evolution of social practice from micro-intervention to micro-practice, from micro-practice to micro-resistance. Ma Yongfeng’s projects are spatialised and materialised in the street, in public squares or galleries.

Contact

Ma Yongfeng   马永峰
www.mayongfeng.com
myfstudio(at)gmail(dot)com
Forget Art / http://www.forgetart.org / mail@forgetart.org /
Uncut Talks / www.soundcloud.com/uncuttalks

[1] For more information on this project, please follow this link.
[2] For a video of this work, please follow this link.
This work was submitted by Ma Yongfeng on 18 February 2014.
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