About Censorship

Blogspot and most western blogs are not available in China. Since this blog is bilingual in English and Chinese and is partly geared towards a Chinese audience most of the content appears on this blog which can be viewed in China. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hugo Glendinning says:

"[I was] Surprised to find that this image I made for Candoco Dance Company has been deemed offensive and unpleasant. I am happy to defend it and the company love it."

More Hugo here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Momentum Biennial

The following was posted on www.wooloo.org:

"We [Wooloo] just returned from the opening weekend of the Momentum Biennial, held in Moss, Norway. Wooloo was presenting our work "Two Years' Untouched Garden" - a proposal to leave the garden outside one of the main exhibition venues fallow for two years, from this biennial until the opening of the next in 2013.

However, the very thought of this experiment has caused intense debate and protests in local Norwegian media, which has now resulted in a political decision to ban our work."

The grass outside the historical villa at Gallery F15 will continue to be cut each Friday.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Deleuze on interviews.

Hello Everyone,

I have been looking at Deleuze's Dialogues II and it is interesting, because it was supposed to be part of a series of interviews, but he refused to be interviewed and looked at a situation of a dialogue instead. Here is what he has to say:

"The art of constructing a problem is very important: you invent a problem, a problem position, before finding a solution. None of this happens in an interview, a conversation, a discussion. Even reflection, whether it's alone, between two or more is not enough. Above all, not reflection. Objections are even worse. every time someone someone puts an objection I want to say 'OK, OK, let's go on to something else'. Objections have never contributed anything. It is the same when I am asked a general question. The aim is not to answer the question, it's to get out, to get out of it."

I look forward to seeing Xinyi's and Susanne's texts on the blog. Me and Xinyihad a very inspiring talk in London and he's project is super interesting!!!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

An interview with the artist Gao Fuyan

Time: 11:30am, December, 22, 2010,

Location: one café near the West Lake, Hangzhou

Wang Dan: I remember that your initial plan was to shoot a series of photos, and it was about people queuing up to entrance of the Expo site. The theme of the works was ‘Waiting’. Purely by chance, the plan was changed into paying attention to a dwelling slum on Tai Xing Road in Shanghai. Why did you choose that slum as your reference?

Gao Fuyan: My proposal was based on the situation, and that is why it changed completely. I used to come up with a plan first and then carry it out. But I don’t think it works well. For an example, when we play chess, we make a move and then we change our strategy before making another one. In any case, there would be a result. Though I was not sure of how my proposal would end up with, the environment and the situation where I had made the direction of my practice. I even forgot why I went to Tai Xing Road. Everything was out of my expectation.

Wang Dan: It is said that you met a peddler who sold fake Haibao near the Expo site. Then he showed you his home located in that slum.

Gao: Yes. at the beginning, I cancelled the plan Waiting because I found it quite hard to realize. The queues formed at the Expo site were far from my expectation. So I wondered around on the street and tried to find new subjects. Then I met the peddler who sold mascot Haibao, and we began to talk. Through conversations with him, I realized that not everyone was willing to support the Expo.

Dan: You mentioned in your article that people there and the whole living environment were waiting, waiting to be changed. In a sense, this went back to your initial plan again.

Gao: The first time I went there, people asked me whether I was from the Relocation Office. This implied that they had been waiting to move out for ages. In terms of general context, people are always in the position of waiting, probably for an opportunity or for a change.

Dan: When I went to Hangzhou to see your draft this summer. One photo was about a vacant room without any dwellers. This impressed me deeply. I could imagine how the house-owners’ life would look like and how anxious they might be to some extent. It is full of a sense of anxiety in the quiet atmosphere. Later, considering the censorship in the process of the works, you changed your plan. If there was no censorship, what would you do?

Gao: I would like to decorate residents’ rooms on Tai Xing Road with neon light tubes. I saw one small and extremely dirty room with all the stuffs piled up on the bed. When I saw that scene, I felt quite bitter. The owner of the room was a middle-aged bachelor in his late forties. If there was no change of my proposal, I would decorate his room. I’d like to insist on looking for other similar rooms.

Dan: Your proposal was to outline the rooms of residents living in Hangzhou by neon light tubes. Why did you change the city? Why was Hangzhou?

Gao: Actually, the difference of territory didn’t seem to be important. Using the neon light tubes to decorate the rooms was just a process that you cannot recognize directly from the works.

Dan: Was each room decorated on purpose?

Gao: Yes, some of them. Though the owners were not in the pictures, there were some objects implying the clues of their identities.

Dan: I saw the two completely different titles in your descriptions, one is Violence of Light and the other is The City Light burns me. When I saw your samples, I found that the room with the colorful neon light tubes as its decoration looked pretty stunning. However, when I saw your real works which were displayed in the light boxes, I felt another way, and my first impression was lifeless. As you said, that modern urban construction has affected people’s everyday life, and even private spaces were intervened by urban symbol, neon light. Personally, I think ‘Violence of Light’ is more appropriate for the works.

Gao: The title Violence of Light as urbanization is a kind of ‘violence’. For instance, the bachelor we mentioned before. Without fast speed urban construction, I assumed that his life wouldn’t change and have less psychological distance between society. He could not compare his situation to others who had better quality of lives. This directly caused his psychological distortion. In the series of Violence of Light, there are two pieces of works, one using red for the background while the other blue. Red and blue are actually the two most violent colors, making other colors in the room unrecognizable and vague. But they are totally different for the other two pieces of works such as yellow and orange as its background color. By looking at the two pieces, we can tell the outlook of the room to some extent. The art works have another name that is The City Light Burns me. I decided to use ‘burninstead of ‘lighten’ after I thought it over. ‘Burn’ gives people the image of ignition caused by human performance.

Dan: You have been talking about ‘what should artists do for the society and their related attitude? Have you ever thought about that the metro station is a closed space with constant moving people, where any eye-catching message could sink into people’s heart because of the highly concentration both on visibility and psychology. It is banal for pedestrians to wait for their trains or pass through the metro stations. So it is crucial to consider what kind of art can be presented in the particular space. And another key point is what kind of attitude can artists take. What role should an artist play?

Gao: Now I find the question ‘what could artists do for the society’ a little bit serious. Artists are actually powerless. How powerful a piece of picture could be? The audience may be touched by your works, but what can be changed after that?

Dan: What do you think that artists could use the transiting public space like metro stations. What can they do for the public? Or could something improve the environment?

Gao: There are advertisements everywhere in the metro stations. When passengers have nothing to do in their short itineraries, they will stare at these advertisements. And then they might accept advertisement actively or passively and resonate in some way. For instance, we see a set of tableware in an advertisement, it leaves an impression on us if we like it and later this impression will lead us to buy it. There was one of my colleague who didn’t know that I made an exhibition in that corridor. When he saw my works, he called me immediately and exclaimed, ‘I couldn’t believe that advertisements on the light boxes now have such effects!’ When he saw my rainbow works, he even started to take pictures. Naturally, he considered them as commercial advertisements, and that was exactly the way he treated them. Later, he did not realize the art works until he saw my name on the label.

Dan: I have talked to Lorenzo Fusi, the curator of Liverpool Biennale, about labeling the public art works. He thought that we should not urge to label art works. Instead, we can introduce the works through media, such as the internet, newspaper and etc.

Gao: I couldn’t agree more. When art works are displayed in the public space, they do not exist for an exhibition any more. Art just like statues in cities actually play some role in the public space.

Dan: While interviewing other artists, you have also mentioned something about the method of contemporary art practices. It was said that a process of experiencing, observing and researching. Then it goes back to the issue when art take place in the public space, there exist three kinds of relationships: artists’ works, the government’s requirements and the aesthetic demands of ordinary people. How do you order three relationships?

Gao: In my opinion, the first and foremost thing is to focus on the audiences. Take an inappropriate example, how can public toilet be categorized? It is extremely private, but also in the public space. In the public realm, artists should take many issues into consideration.

Dan: There is a mediating process. Artists should not make art only serving for audience’s preferences. Instead, they should keep their own ideas at the same time.

Gao: I think it demands a great deal of intelligence. For example, when an artist wants to criticize something, he may use ‘compliment’ in place of the critical language in order to make itself ‘ashamed’.

Dan: So what kind of artistic context do you think is appropriate for public space?

Gao: This is also the toughest part in my own practice. I am always thinking about non-gallery institutional context. Some artists never think about this, their approach is more random. But for me, I would consider how to accord with this kind of context. Actually, I am still focusing on people from other provinces. For instance, there’s one blue colored piece of works, photographing an out-comer who made steamed bread, and another red colored one, picturing the room of a fortune teller.

Dan: If it not for censoring, would your approach still go that slum?

Gao: Yes, I would use my original plan-outlining their rooms with light tubes and making the works rainbow colored.

Dan: Personally, I do not think that public art works as city ornaments or displays near the buildings. They have their own meaning, which can arouse the audiences’ resonance towards society.


时间:上午1130分,1222 2010




















单:我就公共艺术作品标签化的问题和利物浦双年展的策展人Lorenzo Fusi谈过。他觉得作品不应该急于贴上标签。应该以其他的方式去介绍作品,比如网络宣传,或是报纸,或是其他的媒体。





高: 我觉得这需要智慧。比如艺术家要批评某一件事,不是用批判的语言去批判它,可能是用赞美的手法,反过来让它自己感到“羞愧”。






Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wang Dan interviews Peter McDonald

Date: 18/12/2011
Venue: A café near Broadway Market London, UK

Peter McDonald born Tokyo, lives and works in London.
More info here

Dan Wang: Can you tell me more about the idea of the transparent head in your paintings? Where did the idea come from?

Peter McDonald: Well, originally it started with the question 'What to paint?' I tried to find an interesting subject and I also made abstract paintings. I tried everything!
But after about a year, I decided to focus on telling stories, some narratives. I have always been interested in writing poems or stories from a young age.
One of the challenges was how to paint a figure. I tried copying figures from magazines, photos.... I was thinking how my figures could be.
As a basic idea I came across the idea of people on stage performing. In the same way that a musician on stage performs to an audience, as a painter I was trying to develop a language to communicate with my audience.
So I started to paint musicians on stage performing.
But then I began to question how I could paint the figure. I copied images from cd covers, magazines. But I found it a bit boring and limiting, always being tied to a photographic source material.

Then one day I was doing a painting like a 70's funk soul concert. There were two figures singing into one microphone. One figure was white the other black. Where the heads merged in the middle I painted grey.
I looked at it for a while and realised it was an interesting idea.
The image was symbolic and suggested communication between two people.
The more I pursued this idea the more I was interested.
The transparent heads took on any colour and shape. They took on different layers of meanings. Different shapes and colours suggested different feelings.

DW: I feel your works relate to urban life, which are about our experience in everyday life. I just wonder how you use these elements as references. Is it your invisible diary?

PM: Things that I have seen in my daily life give me the triggers. I am always thinking how I can work ideas into my paintings. The reason why I refer to everyday life is because the viewer can also relate to it. It can be someone talking in a restaurant or having a haircut.

DW: But you transformed general contents into your own representation. For instance, your pieces Teaching(2004), the images you presented are a bit different from our daily experience.

PM: My paintings are quite flat looking with a simple looking graphic language. There is not much shading. For me it is logical. The transparent heads can suggest depth on the picture plane. I don't need to create the illusion of depth by shading.

DW: Some of your works relate to memory like memory about particular theme, a person or an event. For example, the series of Matisse (2010) in his late age, about his strong spirit as a painter.

PM: There are different layers in the Matisse paintings. I've been painting him towards the end of his life. When he was in a wheelchair or in bed he was still making collages and drawing with a stick. I think one of the reasons I was drawn to the subject was the contrast between his frail physical body and the incredibly vibrant and colourful work full of vitality he made at the time.It was about the power of the human imagination.

DW: For me, your works are intelligible, and everyone can interpret by their different understanding, but what do you want to bring to the audiences?

PM: Well, I am making works for as many people as possible. I think there are different layers and depths to the work for all ages and interests to enjoy and think about.
I think humour is an important element in my work also. It helps to disarm a viewer so they can spend time with the image and let it 'speak'.
My paintings also suggest how everything is connected: the transparent heads become part of their environment and each other through the mixing of paint. Everything is a part of something else.

DW: As for Art on the Underground Project (2009), I felt the painting was about transition like objects, people and the whole environment. It implied that we were living in a transiting society. I just wonder how do you feel that the surrounding environment affects your works. How does the society relate to your artistic practice?

PM: I am really interested in language. I noticed our life is governed by systems and languages. Everything seems to be a system or a construction. When I sit on a bus and look outside at the street I see how our society is constructed through language. From the traffic lights to the alphabet, it is all language.

DW: There is a back and forth in artists’ works which is between collective and individual. On the one hand. When you make the works, you always consider who you are talking to and also make sure the right context. On the other hand, you have to concern about your own interest and approach, and do not comprise with accessibility. What is your dialogue between individual and collective?

PM: In my paintings I want to communicate visually with people. So I don't really think about changing the way I work for a public context. Hopefully what I find interesting other people find interesting too.

DW: But the language you use is quite approachable, referring to our everyday life.

PM: I think it is quite valuable. When someone can laugh or smile at my images it is a good way in to the painting. Then they can enjoy the aexperience and they are more likely to think about it.

DW: Last time, I discussed how to approach audience, especially in public realm with the Liverpool Biennale curator Lorenzo Fusi. From his experience, some works were banned. Actually the art works were not irritative or violent as we experienced in reality. They were not suitable for the context. In fact, it was not right place to show the works. Have you had this experience before? If you have a commission in the public place, what will you take into consideration?

PM: For me I won't approach this question so directly. I will do it in a more subtle way.

DW: What will your ideal Shanghai residency project (April 2011)? What do you really want to present?

PM: It would be putting lots of images together in a number of light boxes in the metro stations. The images will seem like fragments- different scenes of everyday life all shown together.

DW: Will you do the narration of these paintings?

PM: I will not narrate the 'stories' for these images. Instead, people will look at them and interpret for themselves. The different scenes from everyday life will allow multiple interpretations. People could see them as all connected or separate individual scenes, although there is a common visual language linking them all together.
They all belong to the same world.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

利物浦双年展Lorenzo Fusi的访谈

(Scroll down for English)


Lorenzo Fusi: 整个过程分好几个层面。每一种情况都是因地制宜得。在某些情况下,我们已经对空间有一个设想。但是我不是说根据场地来选择艺术家得。整个过程更像是一种引导而不是指令。整个主展场是到最后一刻才确定下来得。在两年前我刚到的时候,我就关注这座建筑。随着时间的推移,这个地方的雇主搬走了,大楼被摈弃了。(利物浦双年展)非常想用这个地方。但是和房产商经过了很复杂的一个沟通。比如说,我们在展览开幕前三周才签下了合约。所以我并不能完全设计整个会场。在展览中有一个很重要的部分是反思交易,其思想体现于整个大楼的底层,直接连接了视觉,心理学和窗外的街道。而这个想法是确认了场地之后才迸发得。所以很多想法是确认场地后而加强得。


Lorenzo: 我现在对这一概念之艺术家根据场地而做作品是有一点抵制得。尽管这一概念在80和90年代盛行,但是我不认为现在还那么重要了。往往一件作品根据一个特定的语境而做却不能传达到其他的语境下。有时候作品被实际环境引导或是指示,比如建筑,空间或是一个特殊场合。作品符合一个特定的语境,但是我觉得不是唯一的艺术创作方法。正如我所说的那样,大部分的双年展场地到最后才核实。艺术家在准备作品前,走访了利物浦。我们(利物浦双年展)也提供了很多可能性的场地和相应的理论来支持艺术家的创作。在刚起步的时候,我们更注重一个理念,主题,方法和艺术家的反馈。然后,实施方案和最后完成作品是因场地而产生得。所以,策展思路在一个具体的语境中要明确。就实施而言,具体的选择是根据公共空间而订得。

单: 我还记得第一天到这里的时候,利物浦双年展主席Lewis Biggies给我做了一个简短的介绍。其中有一个 策展思路是在这样的环境下,模糊艺术作品和非艺术品。我发现这栋大楼仍保留了原来的内部装潢,比如破旧的墙纸,灯泡和插座。有时候在没有作品标签的情况下,我无法清晰的分辨出是艺术作品还是一件物品。

Lorenzo: 可能会在公共环境下,因为整个展览占据了这个空间。所以你会认为大部分的物品都是这个展览中的。但是你可以想到一个艺术项目,如果在墙外,街道,在公共空间里的元素或是规则让你觉得更真实,视觉上更兴奋。这些往往强于一件艺术作品。


Lorenzo: 我认为保留原有这座建筑的记忆,保留原有的精神。所以我们保留了原来的建筑内部装修。我认为这建筑物本身的魅力强于艺术作品。历史的沉淀和丰富的经历富有感情地在这栋楼里。重新装修这栋楼会是一个错误。


Lorenzo: 我认为艺术在这座建筑关闭之后体现了一个很重要的作用。这座建筑本来是利物浦的城市中心。而现在远离了人们的视线。利物浦双年展希望通过展览能让人们重新关注这座建筑。就政治决策而言,我们提出了一个观点:一个矛盾的情况是在城市新大楼建设的同时,老旧却仍可用的楼房被废弃了。所以在一个公共空间,你要尽量突出空间中每一个可及之处。因为它们是城市中的元素。因此,利物浦双年展在房产关闭之后体现了一个很重要的作用。这个地段变得越来越穷苦,社会活动远离了这个地方。有这块房产的人们至今还在挣扎中。









单: 你怎么看审查制度得?在这边还存在吗?我之前和艺术家Peter Mcdonald 聊过这个问题。他曾经在伦敦地铁做过一个项目。他告诉我在实施前,策展人很清楚地告诉他什么样的画面是不可以放上去得。这有一个很清晰的标准。而我在做上海地铁项目时,审核制度是很模糊得。直到艺术家做出作品之后,我才知道是否能被展出。

Lorenzo:审查这个话题是很有趣但是有时候也很可怕。我个人有类似的经历。审查制度是有一定的模式得。于此同时,当你实施的时候,审核变得间接。尽管现在是民主得,目的都是有利于集体,有一个很好的许诺。但还是有很多碰撞得。甚至艺术形式上也有限制。给你一个例子,否则不是很清楚地知道我在讲什么。比如,艺术家Tala Madani在公共场所用BBC屏幕放映一系列的动画片。你知道BBC这样的国家广播台是有很严格的规章制度得,这些规章是根据保护儿童制定得。而这部动画片在我看来是非常讽刺和玩乐性得。里面有很强烈的信息,但这些不是我们所经历的那种暴力。在某种程度上,我期待着最为解放的审查制度。但是BBC不准放映这部动画片,理由是不适合儿童。所以就如我所说的,审查是有不同的评估和层面,并不是说什么是不能说得。而是你要发现新的方法去自由的表现。



Lorenzo Fusi, 是2010年利物浦双年展的国际策展人。直到2009年,他是意大利sms contemporanea in Siena 的策展人。