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GETTING TO KNOW YOU AGAIN

和你再认识一次

The Exhibition of Qin Jin

秦晋作品展 2009.9.12 - 2009.11.11


前言// PREFACE

“…为了挽救自己,不被世界压垮,破坏世界是近乎孤注一掷地最后尝试。” 秦晋的作品极少以全貌示人,实际的作品,需要真正被观众看到的东西,一直在 潜伏状态。她最重要的作品涉及不同程度的纵火,附身于燃烧前后面目不一的一 组特定物品,在广义的包容意义中,引出人性,尽量多地营造个人体验,同时还 成为艺术家本人强烈情感灾难的化身。 “人类所能做的最粗野的事情,莫过于彻底摧毁,完全消失。火能做到这一点。 在如今的日常生活中,很少能在厨房之外的地方看到火。火意味着危险,是一种 净化,是纯粹的暴行。我发觉火和我的感情非常和谐。”

"…the destruction of the world is the last, almost desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it." Qin Jin’s actual work, the piece that ought really to be witnessed by an audience, remains hidden from them. Qin Jin’s most significant works have involved various degrees of arson, enacted upon a small group of specific objects that both before and after they are consumed by fire, invoke human nature as much as human experience in a broad inclusive sense, whilst simultaneously becoming the embodiment of an intense emotional trauma that belongs to the artist alone. “The most violent act humans can do to anything is to destroy it so completely it disappears forever. Fire does this. We rarely see flames today in the course of our daily existence, outside of the kitchen. Fire is danger, it is cleansing. It is pure violence. I found it to be very in synch with my emotions.”

By Karen Smith


二十九年八个月零九天 29 YEARS PLUS 8 MONTHS AND 9 DAYS 行为装置 PERFORMANCE & INSTALLATION 2006—2009


I WANT TO BE YOUR COMPANION FOR A LONGER TIME 再陪你一会好么? 装置 INSTALLATION 2003


Getting to Know You Again "…the destruction of the world is the last, almost desperate attempt to save myself from being crushed by it." 1 Few people, if any, are entirely familiar with all of Qin Jin’s works: it is not exactly possible to be so since much of her work is created beyond the public realm. One might assume that most artists create in the privacy of their studios, but most artists produce works that can be taken out of the studios and put into public spaces, galleries, museums and such like, for public consumption and appraisal. Qin Jin’s work differs in that it is frequently akin to a private act, and being comprised of an action that requires a time and a physical condition such that an art space (museum or gallery alike) cannot easily accommodate—for reasons of practicality as well as public safety—it is rarely ‘seen’ in its entirety. The actual artwork, the piece that ought really to be witnessed by an audience, remains hidden from them. The reasons for this are entirely practical. To date, in a career that dates from roughly 2003, Qin Jin’s most significant works have involved various degrees of arson, enacted upon a small group of specific objects that both before and after they are consumed by fire, invoke human nature as much as human experience in a broad inclusive sense, whilst simultaneously becoming the embodiment of an intense emotional trauma that belongs to the artist alone. Similar to effigies that were once consigned to the funeral pyre along with a departed soul, Qin Jin chooses certain items for the role of sacrificial object, and burn they must if the desired cleansing of the soul is to be achieved. It is for this reason that Qin Jin necessarily denies a public presence whilst the ritual is enacted—assistants can vouch for the intensity of the blazes, and the danger of standing too close. But as a result, it is usually only blackened remnants, or traces in the form of photographs, that remain to stand evidence for the work. For the public, this may be read as simply a process by which objects and materials are reduced to mere ashes, the thrill of ‘playing with fire’, but for Qin Jin it is the very substance of her art. Qin Jin graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art in 2003, and continues to teach in the high school affiliated to the academy which was where her own training began. She followed a route that is still privileged today: from affiliated high school through the academy’s oil painting department, before completing post-graduate studies in the same department. Curiously for all these years spent painting, there is little evidence of canvas works either in the handful of catalogues that include, or are dedicated to, her work, or in her studio. Interestingly Qin Jin claims a violent aversion to the life model, which seems to have impacted her interest in painting in her student years, and perhaps explains her fascination with the work of American painter Edward Hopper (the subject of an extensive dissertation she produced in 2003), whose scenes of the American urban environment are rendered with the merest hints of human presence or activity. With no feeling for the anatomical challenges of the human body, and an abhorrence of the aura of the life room, instead she read. The studio contains a 1

Erich Fromm, 1941, as quoted on Wikipedia


number of canvases stacked up in a corner, large ones too, but they are so laden with dust as to suggest years of neglect. Others are simply blank. Evidence of activity is provided instead by a small number of delicate watercolour sketches on paper, most of them half finished; these are remnants from earlier experimental series produced using watercolour or gouache, or a combination of utterly minimalist pencil marks, and of a mood which has latterly evaporated. It is a shame, perhaps, for these unfinished pieces possess a tantalising tension that hints at a breakthrough just ahead; yet neither the inclination, nor the time came right to take them to the next level. Qin Jin’s will to experiment as a student was given little direction or encouragement at the academy—that being the system it was and largely remains within academies nationwide. Experiment then was undertaken—alone—within conventional parameters such as scale: she produced drawings of a monumental size being almost four meters high and over two meters wide purely to amuse herself, or invoked the same motif—usually an unusual human posture—but from a variety of angles and using various media. The result a clinical form devoid of emotion beneath a deceptively alluring veil of marvellous washes, drips and pools of transparent pigment. What is striking about the small number of works one can see is that absolute sense of pace—slow—necessary. There is no urgency in her work, and clearly no desire for volume. Although Qin Jin is obsessive in many of the ways she fixates on an idea and wrestles it out into the form of ‘art’; she has no affinity with artists like Giacommetti or Frances Bacon, or even Jia Aili, to use a more immediate example; artists who approach the same issue, using the same formal methodology again and again, destroying what does not work in order to take what was learned and discovered to the next attempt; nor those artists who approach art as a day job and who can sit down and work like clockwork. Qin Jin waits on an urge that needs to be overwhelming, all-consuming if it is to push her to action. This methodology pivots on the intensity of her personal experience; a Proust-like awakening of the senses as memories are pricked as the owner is confronted by a sudden déjà-vu in later life. The conundrum in her work then is that it is at once experimental and well thought through process. For having been moved to act, she is not careless in execution, nor random in her methods. The urge dictates the form, the process—which is why the work is well thought through. It requires only that she find the perfect combination of elements that will combust in the desired manner—literally and metaphorically—wherein lies the need for experimentation. If one were to seek the point at which a breakthrough occurred in Qin Jin’s brief career, then it would be traced back to her reading of philosophy and, in particular, psychology and the work of Erich Fromm which she discovered whilst at the academy. Fromm's most well-known work, Escape from Freedom, attempts to unravel the human urge to pursue freedom as the driving impulse of each individual, but that having attained it, or something approaching it, is supplanted by an urge to surrender to a source of authority or control. In seeking to analyse such conundrums within the modern political order and the capitalist system, Fromm looked to medieval feudalism as a point of comparison, which was characterised by a lack of individual freedom, a rigid structure, and obligations required of members of its society. This led him to


conclude that “…a person was not free in the modern sense, [but] neither was he alone and isolated. In having a distinct, unchangeable, and unquestionable place in the social world from the moment of birth, man was rooted in a structuralized whole, and thus life had a meaning which left no place, and no need for doubt…There was comparatively little competition. One was born into a certain economic position which guaranteed a livelihood determined by tradition, just as it carried economic obligations to those higher in the social hierarchy.”2 This description of medieval society sounds remarkably like China under communism at its most idealised: “…man rooted in a structualised whole” where “life had a meaning which left no place, and no need for doubt”. For a Chinese reader this certainly made Fromm, beyond the distance of time and evolution of psychoanalysis, easier to identify with than say Freud. Especially since the reform period, which has seen the slow insipid rise of western-style capitalism, albeit with Chinese characteristics, has opened up a yawning cavern for doubt to move in and take root. The subsequent loss of ‘meaning’ to life, beyond consumption or survival, is now pervasive. For Qin Jin, that aspect of Fromm’s theory that would have greatest influence upon her approach to art was his idea of human nature, as espoused in the quotation at the beginning of this article. Qin Jin realised that “destruction of the world” was a means of preventing herself from being “crushed by it”. “It was a time when I began to grasp the mechanism and structure as well as the reality of the society of which I was a part; in particular, its contradictions.”3 The course of self-awareness and knowledge created a period that was intense and alienating; previously buried emotions began to surface, in great part related to the death of her mother which would forever be associated with the vulnerability of youth, childhood, and the trauma that it imposed on one at so young an age. Having to raise oneself, as it were, is not without its own especial burden. Thus as a young woman facing her future and wondering where it would lead, Qin Jin found a measure of comfort in the words of such experts on the human condition as Fromm. At least, they proved that she was not alone, even if: “Nothing I could do could resolve my problems . And I did feel like I had a lot of issues to struggle with.”4 She demonstrated a good deal of maturity and confidence in opening herself up to new experiences, unconventional ideas that had not been taught in the art school: “My reading of psychology showed me how to channel these issues through art.”5 The reading was instructive then, for it encouraged Qin Jin to use the framework of contemporary art practice, and all that it permits in its name, to resolve issues that arise from the conflict of being human; for art was now also understood in the widest possible sense as pure human expression. “And harnessing my art practice to my issues went a long way to helping me understand my own nature.”6 Qin Jin’s art is thus best described as the expression of inner self wrestling with the Id; conscious awareness battling with the very private individual experience of her own human nature that lay buried in the subconscious. This 2 3 4 5 6

Fromm, Erich, Escape from Freedom, New York: Rinehart & Co., 1941, p. 41 – 42 Interview with the artist in Guangzhou, August 17, 2009 Ibid. Ibid Ibid


process produces works, few in number but of powerfully expressive magnitude, with which most people readily identify for we are all in conflict with ourselves to some degree, and we each understand the objects that come to symbolise our battles, however abstract they may be. For Qin Jin, it is exactly that simple: that impulsive. Her work begins from ‘must’; what must be expressed and the means and form through which it must be invoked, be that a humble plastic comb, an item of clothing, or a wooden closet as in I Want to be Your Companion for a Longer Time…, 2005. Qin Jin’s skills are impressive; her control of the materials she elects to use, and the basic skills with which art schools equip their progeny are read at a glance in the drawings and paintings that have been produced since 2003. But what we see in Qin Jin’s approach since she discovered fire in 2005, and other less conventional methods of making art, is a constant and conscious effort to break free of these conventions. She does not make artworks to win praise for herself, nor to make others—viewers, the audience—feel good. It is a cleansing process and, as such, just ‘is’, requiring neither the validation of critical acclaim nor a theoretical framework to award it legitimacy. Of course, that is not strictly true either or Qin Jin would have no need to making any aspect of her art public at all. She achieves a fine balance between serving herself in the same measure she serves the needs of the individual works. The resulting pieces, though small in number, make up for what they lack in volume with a manifest intensity. As previously mentioned, a significant number of her works are produced by consigning objects to flames; comb, garment…. But not all are destroyed entirely. The destruction of the seminal work I Want to be Your Companion for a Longer Time… 2005, for which Qin Jin torched a wooden clothing cabinet containing a number of garments inside, is the most complete; the most violent. To the point that any attempt to take that process to another work, would not only end in disappointment, but threaten to repeat an experience merely for the thrill of it. The impulse that led to I Want to be Your Companion… was born of a need to put someone to rest (her mother) to achieve, in current vernacular ‘closure’. The cabinet and all it contained can be construed as a funeral pyre, a repository of one person’s earthy possessions, no longer needed on this mortal plane but where the act of burning, similar to the Chinese practice of using paper money to ‘send’ to ancestors for use in the after world, transports those items to ‘another place’, hopefully that place in which the departed spirit is residing. Where Chinese people habitually burn paper—joss—to worship of the dead, fire has a direct link to Qin Jin’s personal experience as, following her mother’s early death, she had to do this from such a young and impressionable age. Little wonder it left a lasting impression of loss; of the profound nature of that absence since what is lost it irretrievable; gone forever. Thus, introducing fire into art made it a means of purifying her thoughts, her experiences and emotions. The first hint of an affinity with fire does not, in fact, begin here but can be found in that handful of oil paintings completed for her graduation and in the period immediately following. These comprise almost abstract compositions that sit very much in the surface of the canvas due to the nature of their substance. Here Qin Jin ‘paints’ with strands of wild grass, which are individually attached to the picture plane and which are seared to or fused with the canvas by the transformative magic of a flame.


The alchemical nature of fire, simplicity itself, achieved an expressive result that is without peer, although as she discovered, not all means of making fire are the same. “For I Want to be Your Companion…I realised I needed to use petrol / gasoline rather than the flame from the gun; that was too focused and intense in spots, whereas petrol produced a slower more even burn rate.”7 “The most violent act humans can do to anything is to destroy it so completely it disappears forever. Fire does this. We rarely see flames today in the course of our daily existence, outside of the kitchen. Fire is danger, it is cleansing. It is pure violence. I found it to be very in synch with my emotions.” It finally made her feel alive. Thus Qin Jin began to learn to listen to her own instinct, and to exercise her own senses. In the artist’s words “The use of fire helped me to understand how to use a simple process to make a clear—and powerful—statement.”8 Once discovered, there was no going back. By comparison, all previous works seemed to want to convey too much. There are other examples of Qin Jin’s work that are not so radical in their ‘birth’—which do not own a baptism by fire. Here her video/photography work Last Supper (2006), the monster ‘fish’, with its scaly skin of oyster shells (2007) which speaks of a different kind of human destruction—life in the ocean due to ever greater demand for the delicacies it nurtures, and more recent pieces like the installation Balcony (2009), with its distinctive minimalist air, and absolute, refined simplicity. Balcony is a good example of the neutered end of Qin Jin’s emotions; those points were she realises some avenues of exploration are dead-ends and must be abandoned. So she presents her audience the ultimate enigma: the balcony that can never be attained; romance, legend, fairytale all denied in this castrated form cut adrift from the architectural structure to which it ought to provide release. In many ways, Qin Jin’s approach to art is all about exerting control: control over what exists and what is extinguished, over what has life and that which is denied it. We see this most clearly in the example of (ironed clothes). This work is a group of garments at once both random and specific, for they are articles of daily usage but such that have been worn, or could be worn by the artist herself. In order to complement her work, to achieve the desired degree of expression, they must be either pale in colour—white is usually reliable—and /or of a silken fabric. Although eternally durable, the softness and pliability of silk is perfectly at the mercy of a hot iron. The process of producing the work involves running a hot iron continuously over the surface of each of the garments until the are burned, browned like a well flamed Sunday roast. Flatten beyond al imagining and discoloured beyond all recognition, they are at once destroyed and enshrined; made useless and yet preserved. The act of ironing—for hours and hours that add up to a lifetime of household labour—which threatens to burn them to ashes actually transforms them into an impossibly flat, thin, fine and smooth travesty of their functional original, complete with a shining, burnished surface. They are an example of extreme control on the part of the artist as she takes them to the brink of total destruction, but exercises control in holding them back by only a proverbial thread: the 7 8

Interview with the artist in Guangzhou August 17, 2009 Ibid


artist, high priestess of her chosen realm. Qin Jin sees no extremist tendencies in her impulses, either to destruction or to control. To her are in synch with Daoist concepts, which see opposites as existing within one another; opposites as being eternally linked therefore inseparable. Where her goal is to find (inner) peace through the process of expression, the only possible method of arriving at this state is to journey through its violent polar extreme; like forcing oneself to smile through pain, or what happens when one sheds tears of joy. This, too, explains that slow pace of production, and the relatively narrow focus of her content and forms: if for Qin Jin making art is about working through ‘self’ then that self has to erupt before the next process of resolution unfolds. Ultimately, if Qin Jin were to feel herself ‘resolved’, she would effectively have no further use for art. “The very process of making art for me will eventually destroy any need for art in my life.”9 The exhibition Getting to Know You Again, Qin Jin’s debut in Beijing, contains a small number of recent works. Two to be exact. The first, I Want to be Your Companion for a Longer Time…, is particularly special. The now farther disintegrated remains are included in the show since this is Qin Jin’s first exposure in the capital, and the ‘baptism by fire’ of this most significant of her works needs to be seen if one is to truly experience her art. In addition, for the second piece, she presents a selection from 29 years Plus 8D months and 9 days , examples of the ironed-to-death, ritualised clothing, which are visually so extraordinarily mesmerising, together with a video that illustrates the endless hours of laborious labour involved in their production. This latter element points to burgeoning interests in still and moving images that might be developed in the future. But what comes next we can only wait to see. As Qin Jin concludes: “My creative process begins with personal memories that in turn begin from the time I consciously began to absorb various external influences. These emerged in the oil paintings I produced in 2003, were carried through to my drawings and action works and the installations that followed, and most recently to the photography works. I have consistently pursued the particular nuances of things, trying to capture the traces that they leave. I see myself as a detective following up ‘evidence’ to shed light on the impulses that drive my art, in order to convince myself to continue using this as a raison d’être for living and creating.”10 In actuality, Qin Jin’s work has a quiet, reflective nature. Viewers will not be moved by it in the first instance as much as intrigued by its nature and forms. But the sense of violent emotion that underlies the works is an emotion that viewers unwittingly carry away with them. Qin Jin’s work is like a physical embodiment of the saying ‘still waters run deep’, with all the complex and at times menacing emotions that this phrase evokes.

By Karen Smith

9 10

Interview with the artist in Guangzhou, August 17 2009 Qin Jin, “Artist’s Notes”, July 2006


和你再认识一次 “…为了挽救自己,不被世界压垮,破坏世界是近乎孤注一掷地最后尝试” 11

极少数人完全熟知秦晋的作品,因为她的多数作品都潜伏在公众视野之外。人们可能以 为,大部分艺术家都是闭门造车,但很多艺术家的作品会走出工作室,被摆放在公共空间、 画廊、博物馆以及类似的场所,供消费和评价之用。秦晋的作品与此不同,它们通常变成私 人行为,之所以出现这种情况,是因为作品的时间和物理条件要求常常使博物馆或画廊感到 为难,如实际的实施困难和公共安全方面。由此,秦晋的作品极少以全貌示人,实际的作品 , 需要真正被观众看到的东西,一直在潜伏状态。秦晋大约于 2003 年开始创作,她最重要的 作品涉及到不同程度的纵火,附身于燃烧前后面目不一的一组特定物品,在广义的包容意义 中,引出人性,尽量多地营造个人体验,同时还成为艺术家本人强烈情感灾难的化身。秦晋 选择的物品都成为牺牲品,很象那些随着亡灵焚烧一空的火葬品,为了净化灵魂,必须要将 它们烧掉。正因为如此,秦晋才不得不拒绝公开焚烧仪式,尽管助手们可以保证火焰的强度 , 并防止有人靠火太近而被烧伤。也正因为如此,通常我们只能看到黑乎乎的燃烧剩余物,或 者通过照片见证秦晋的作品。在公众看来,这种作品可以简单地解读为物质和材料燃烧变成 灰烬的过程,能感到“玩火”的刺激,但对于秦晋,这就是她的艺术材质。 秦晋 2003 年毕业于广州美术学院,之后任教于美院的附属中学,她也是在这所中学开 始了自己的艺术训练。在今天看来,她的道路一帆风顺:从美院附中到美院的油画系,再成 为油画系的研究生。奇怪的是,虽然她搞了多年油画,她的任何作品目录或任何收录她作品 的目录,乃至她的工作室中,都很少见到油画作品的踪迹。有趣的是秦晋说自己极度厌恶对 现场模特的写生,她的这种观念似乎影响了自己学生时代的绘画兴趣,也解释了她为什么会 着迷于美国画家爱德华·哈帕(Edward Hopper)的作品。她 2003 年撰写了一篇内容广博的论 文,即以哈帕为主题。哈帕笔下的美国城市环境,几乎看不到人或人的活动痕迹。她对解剖 学意义上的复杂人体没有兴趣,厌恶受禁锢的生活方式,她喜欢阅读。工作室一角堆放着几 块尺寸很大的画布,看起来冷落蒙尘已久,灰尘很厚。还有一些空空如也的画布。但她并未 停止创作,可以看到几幅精致的水彩素描,大部分都没有画完。它们是秦晋早些年用水彩或 水粉所创作的实验系列作品,或彻底的极简主义铅笔画,描绘的都是些稍纵即逝的情绪。这 些未完成的小作品流露出一种强烈的诱惑力,似乎在预示着一种突破。但也许这种倾向出现 的时机不对,并未继续发展再上一个台阶,多少有些遗憾。作为一个学生,秦晋的实验意愿 并没有在学院内部引起关注或得到鼓励,这种学院体系是中国通行的制度。当时她还只是在 传统的参数中进行实验,如尺寸,她曾经在四米长、两米宽的纸上作画,自娱自乐,也曾经 通过不正常的人体姿态阐释同一主题,当然她采用了各种视角和媒介。这些实验作品有着流 淌、滴落和汇聚成团的颜料营造的外表,但在这种外表之下,却是缺乏感情的纯粹形式。 这些小型作品让人惊讶的地方,在于它们那种完全彻底的慢节奏感觉。秦晋的作品没有 紧迫感,也不追求浩大。虽然秦晋执迷于仔细审视一个想法,并通过多种方式将它鞭策成为 一种“艺术”形式,但她不像贾可梅迪(Giacommetti)、弗兰西斯·培根(Frances Bacon) 或贾霭力(Jia Aili)这些艺术家,贾霭力可能更具可比性。这几名艺术家使用同样的形式方 法,重复地处理同样的题材,放弃无用的因素,将所学到和所发现的带到下一次尝试中。秦 11

埃利希·弗洛姆,1941 年,出自维基百科引用


晋也不是将艺术创作当成日常工作,能够坐下来,像时钟一样严谨地做事的艺术家,她总是 在等待一种压迫,排山倒海、不顾一切的压迫,压迫她去行动。这种方法与她的个人经历息 息相关,普鲁斯特似的意识觉醒,当一个人在晚些时候遇到一些似曾相识的情景时,记忆就 忽然被撕裂裸露了。她作品所提出的一个难题,是它们曾经是实验性的,但又经过了深思熟 虑。一旦受到启示展开行动,她就会严谨行事,不会随便选择一种方式。内心的冲动支配着 作品的模式与过程——这就是为什么说她的作品都是经过深思熟虑过的。这只要求她找到会 在希望的方式中燃烧的元素的完美结合体——按照字面或者比喻地说——因而有做实验的 必要。 秦晋的艺术生涯还很短,如果要在其中找一个突破点,就要追溯到她阅读哲学书籍的日 子,尤其是她仍过学院生活时阅读的心理学和埃利希·弗洛姆(Erich Fromm)的作品。 弗洛姆最著名的作品《逃离自由》,试图揭示:追求自由的冲动是推动每个人行动的本 能,而一旦人获得自由或接近获得自由,另一种冲动就粉墨登场,即臣服于某种权威或控制 的冲动。弗洛姆力求分析现代政治格局和资本系统内的这些难题,他比较性地研究了中世纪 的封建制度,后者的特点就是无个人自由、僵硬的体制以及要求社会成员承担各种义务。做 了这些研究之后,他得出结论,“…人们没有现代意义上的自由,但他并不孤立或与他人隔 绝。自出生时开始,一个人就在社会体系中占据一个明确的、不变的、天造地设般的位置, 个人深深扎根于整体结构中,生命意义无处生发,也无需对现状提出任何质疑…相 对现 在, 当时竞争很少。一个人的经济地位在出生之时已经设定好,传统会确保他/她长大并生存下 去,和他/她对更高的社会阶层负担经济义务一样不容置疑。”12 对于中世纪社会的描述,在极端的理想主义方面非常像共产主义中国: “个人深深扎根 于整体结构中”,“生命意义无处生发,也无需对现状提出任何质疑”。在一个中国读者看来, 这样的说法让弗洛姆跨越时间和心理分析理论,与中国人贴近了很多,比弗洛伊德要贴近。 尤其是改革开放之后,舶来于西方、又沾染了中国特色的资本主义日渐勃兴,这捅开了一个 巨大的洞,疑问在里面萌发、生长。在消费或生存之上,生命意义的缺失成为普遍现象。在 弗洛姆的理论中,对秦晋的艺术创作方式影响最大的部分是他的人性观点,就像本文开篇所 引述的那句话。秦晋知道, “破坏世界”是保护自己免于“被世界压垮”的一种手段。 “那个时候,我开始理解我自己所处的机制、体系以及社会现实。 ”13这些通过自我觉醒 得来的知识,让她进入了一个强烈异化的阶段;之前被埋葬的情感重新浮现出来,大都与她 母亲的去世有关。秦晋母亲的在她很小时候就过世,所以这件灾难性事永远与脆弱的青春和 童年关联在一起。秦晋当时是一个面对未来感到迷茫的年轻人,由于什么事情都要靠自己, 她会遇到一些特殊的难题。弗洛姆对于人类境遇的描述,让她体会到一些慰藉。至少它们表 明她并不孤独,即使“我所做的一切,都不能解决我的问题。我又确实感觉到,有太多问题 等 待解 决。”14她显得成熟而自信,接纳艺术学院中从未教授过的新体验和非传统观念: “我 15 读了心理学理论,知道了如何通过艺术表达疏导这些问题。” 这些阅读很有启发性,鼓励 秦晋使用当代艺术实践结构,解决人类冲突所导致的问题。现在,我们可以从最广义角度, 将艺术理解为单纯的人性传达。 “我用了很长时间,让我的艺术实践屈从于我的问题,才认识到了我的本性。 ”16人们将 秦晋的作品看作内在自我与(西格蒙德·弗洛伊德的)本我的较量,意识与潜意识收纳的个 人私密经验展开搏斗。这一过程催生出数量少但感染力极强的作品。尽管这些作品都非常抽 象,但绝大部分人都能受到打动,因为我们都某种程度上在与自己进行战争,我们能感受到 12 13 14 15 16

埃利希·弗洛姆,《逃离自由》(Escape from Freedom),纽约:Rinehart & Co.,1941 年,第 41 – 42 页 在广州对艺术家的访谈,2009 年 8 月 17 日 同上 同上 同上


它们象征了这种战争。对秦晋来说,就是这么简单:那是冲动。她的作品始于“必须”;必 须表达什么,必须调用什么方法和形式,比如说是很小一把塑料梳子,《黑梳子》 (2005), 或是一件衣物,《我冷》 (2005),或是 2005 年的作品《再陪你一会儿好吗?》中的木柜。 秦晋拥有高超的技巧,掌控着所用的材料。自从 2003 年以来,她创作了一些素描和油 画,从中我们能够看到学院教育赋予她的基本技能。但是自从 2005 年秦晋使用火以及其他 非传统方法进行创作,我们就能看出,她在不断地、有意地与这些传统做决断。她创造作品 不为受到赞扬,也不为让评论家或观众感到舒适。秦晋的艺术活动是一个净化的过程,她的 创作是一个整体,无需批评界的认同,也无需追求理论上的支持。 当然,也不是完全不需要上面说的认同和支持,秦晋还是会将自己的作品公之于众的。 在以同样的方式表述自己和创造个人作品之间,她实现了一个很好的平衡。通过这种方式创 作出的少量作品,有着显著的冲击力。我们前文提到过,她的大量作品都涉及用火燃烧某些 物品:梳子、衣物等。但并非所有物品都被彻底毁掉了。《再陪你一会儿好吗?…2005》中 的破坏是最完整的,最狂野的,秦晋烧掉了一个木衣柜,里面放着不少衣物。将这一过程加 到另一件作品上,不但会让人失望,还会成为只是为了感受刺激而进行的重复劳动。促成《再 陪你一会儿好吗?…2005》的冲动来自让人(她的母亲)安息。衣柜和里面的所有东西都可 被视作火葬柴堆,存放个人活着时候所用的物品,尘世不再需要它们。燃烧这些物品,很像 中国传统上为祖先或死者烧纸钱,希望逝去的灵魂在“另一个世界”能够享用。传统上中国 人烧纸钱是为祭奠死者,秦晋则与此不同,火与她的个人体验直接相关,自从母亲早逝后, 她从敏感的小时候就开始这样做了。这留下了长期的丧失感:一种对缺失深刻的体会,失去 的永不再来,永远失去了。由此,使用火进行创作是净化思想、经验和情感的方法。 与火的亲密关系,第一个线索并不在这里,而是可追溯到她学生时代以及随后阶段的一 些油画作品。由于所用的所用材料的性质,这些作品在画布表面营造了完全抽象的感觉。秦 晋用野草束“绘画”,一根根野草分别被粘附在画面上,在火焰的催化魔力下,它们枯萎, 或者与画布融为一体。单单依靠火的炼金术般的神奇能力,秦晋收获了一种独一无二的传达 结果,但是她又发现所有的“玩火”方 式都 各不 相同 。 “对于《再陪你一会儿好吗?…2005》, 我觉得需要燃烧汽油/柴油,而不是枪火,枪火太集中于某个目标,而汽油烧起来更加缓慢, 速度也更均匀。”17 “人类所能做的最粗野的事情,莫过于彻底摧毁,完全消失。火能做到这一点。在如今 的日常生活中,很少能再厨房之外的地方看到火。火意味着危险,是一种净化,是纯粹的暴 行。我发觉火和我的感情非常和谐”18火赋予秦晋存在感。 秦晋开始倾听自己的本能,并实践自己的感知。按照她自己的话来说, “使用火进行创 作,让我明白如何通过简单的过程,进行清晰并有力的阐述。”19一条路已经出现,只能继 续走下去。与用火之后相比,之前的全部作品似乎都想表达太多内容了。 秦晋的其他一些作品“出生方式”并不如此极端,它们与火的洗礼无关。她的录像/摄 影作品《最后的晚餐》 (2006),《美人鱼》,鱼鳞是用牡蛎壳做的(2006),预示着不同类型 的人类破坏—由于人类对海洋所产佳肴的更大需求,海洋里的生活在发生变化。最近的作品 , 如装置作品《阳台》 (2008),极简主义特征明显,极度简约精炼。 《阳台》是秦晋情感日趋 平和的很好例证,她意识到,有些情感爆发会走入死胡同,只能放弃,改弦更张。所以她呈 献给观众一个最终的谜:永远无法达到的阳台;在切割下来的这个有逃离意义的建筑结构中 , 浪漫、传奇、童话都被阉割、否决掉。 秦晋的很多创作方式,都与控制有关:控制存在和消亡的,控制活的和死掉的。最明显

17 在广州对艺术家的访谈,2009 18 同上 19 同上

年 8 月 17 日


的例子是《二十九年八个月零九天》(2006-2009) 。这个作品是一组随意排列的具体衣物, 它们是日常用品,已经被穿过,或可能被艺术家本人穿过。为了让作品更完整,为了达到希 望的表达层次,它们必须颜色惨淡,白色通常比较可靠,并且要是丝质。在热熨斗的作用下 , 耐用的丝绸显示出完美的柔韧特性。创作这部作品,需要不停地用热熨斗熨每件衣物的表面 , 直到它们燃烧、变成棕褐色,就像做好的烤肉一样。所有的想象都被抹平,颜色混杂到无法 辨别,它们被摧毁,也被供奉起来:既无用处,又被珍藏。熨衣服这种人类活动,很多人一 生中会做很多次的家务,能够将衣物燃烧化为灰烬,让它们形象扭曲,变得平坦、精致和光 滑,变成闪烁的、燃烧过的平面。这是一种极限控制的例子,艺术家将物品带到彻底摧毁的 边缘,但又施加控制,将它们从毁灭途中救回:这位艺术家——秦晋,是统治领域的大祭司 。 无论是控制还是破坏,秦晋都不认为自己的冲动里有极端倾向。在她看来,这与道家圆 融合一、物极必反的理论相一致。她的表达过程,目的是寻找到(内心)宁静,但到达宁静 的唯一可能途径就是极端的暴力,如内心痛苦但还要强颜欢笑,或流下快乐的泪水。这也说 明了为什么秦晋的创作节奏很慢,她的作品内容和形式都比较固定。对于秦晋来说,创作要 通过“自己”来进行,所以自己必须在下一解决方式出现之前爆发。如果她要最终“了断”, 就必须不再需要使用艺术这种方式。 “对我来说,艺术创作的过程,会最终消除我生命中任 20 何的艺术需求。” 《和你再认识一次》是秦晋在北京的首次展览,包括她近期创作的少量作品,其中两件 很值得一提。第一件是《我想成为你的长期伴侣…》,它相当独特。由于这是秦晋在首都的 首次亮相,本次展览还收录了一些作品的零散碎片,如果要真正体会她的艺术,则应该看看 这 些“火的洗礼”。她还为第二件作品提供了从(二十九年八个月零九天)中精选出来的物品, 如熨烫到死亡、仪式化的衣服,以及一部记录怎样通过不厌其烦地劳动进行创作的录像。后 者显示出她对静态和运动图像日益浓厚的兴趣,可能成为她日后的发展方向。至于接下来会 发生什么,我们只能拭目以待。秦晋这样总结说: “我的创作过程始于个人记忆,也就是始 于我开始有意识地吸收外界影响的时候。开始是 2003 年创作的油画,还有最近的摄影作品。 我一直致力于寻求事物的细微差别,试图捕捉到它们留下的痕迹。我把自己看作一个寻求“证 据”的侦探,以揭示推动我艺术创作的冲动,给自己一个继续这样做的理由,不管是生活, 还 是创 作。”21 实际上,秦晋的作品是安静的,反思的。观者不会立即被她的作品打动,也不会受到它 的特性和形式的吸引。但是作品中所潜藏的爆烈情感,却会传染给观者,被观者无意间带走 。 秦晋的作品可以用一句老话来形容, “静水流深”,体现了这句成语所隐含的全部复杂意义和 有时有些恐怖的感情引申。

我在此特别感谢黄专在深圳的 OCT 当代艺术中心首次把秦晋的作品介绍给我。

By Karen Smith 20 在广州对艺术家的访谈,2009 21

年 8 月 17 日 秦晋,《创作笔记》(Artist’s Notes),2006 年 7 月


Notes: Many years before, when I was a high school student, there was cracked CD for sale at many places in Guangzhou. Electric Appliances Mall was one of those places, where roomfuls of foreign audio-visual products were on display. I would go to those shops whenever I had time, staying there & gold-panning for hours’ time until my money was spent over unless a few bucks reserved for the bus home. The first thing when I got home was to carefully listen to them each & all. I would be tremendously fascinated & listen again & again if I found a favourite one. Such process would turn again again when I had money later. I remember how I crouched to flip through a sea of CDs despite the sweltering, my hungriness, and no matter who were nearby & whether I still had plenty of money. “Why do you have to iron your clothing to such a degree?” This question is no surprise to me, but I do not have an answer. I impulsively say: “Why can’t I iron my clothing to such a degree?” “Hammer a table with highly regular manual skill while doing nothing. The phrasing cannot be changed to ‘Hammering is void to him’. It should be: ‘To him, hammering is authentic hammering, meanwhile it is null’. The hammering will be carried on more aggressively, more persistent, more real & crazier if you like, after such explanation.” (from The Complete Works of Kafka) The external world was hard to seen through out of its fast-changing & sophisticated nature. We have to accept & adapt ourselves to something brutal & irrational. “If null is essential.” I said, “I can only look at it in this way.” There is dynamics around at least. I can walk a few steps, and sometimes I feel there is nothing to worry about. I said:“You may see it as a withering man. It may be me. To me, thus a feeling of safety is achieved.”

By Qin Jin


手记: 我记得许多年以前我还在读高中的时候,广州有很多地方比如电器城有打口 CD 卖,非 常多,整屋子的国外音像制品,那时候没事就跑去淘,蹲在那里几个小时,一直翻一直翻, 经常会把口袋里的钱花剩坐车回家的几块钱,然后拿回家第一时间打开全部认真地听一遍, 有喜欢的就特别高兴特别享受,经常听。下次有空有钱了又这样。我回忆起我蹲在那里一张 一张的翻,不知道闷热,不知道饿,也不管旁边有谁,够不够钱…… “你为什么要把衣服熨成这样?” 我知道会有这样的问题,但我感到无语。 我本能的说: “我为什么不能把衣服熨成这样?” “以非常正规的手工技艺锤打一张桌子,但同时无所事事,但并不能把这说成: ‘锤打 对他来说是虚无’, 而 是 ,‘锤打对他来说是真正的锤打,但同时是一种虚无’,一经这样解 释,这锤打就会进行得更加勇猛,更坚决,更真实,假如你愿意,也可以说更疯狂。 ”(摘自 卡夫卡全集) 周围的世界变化是这样快,而且纷繁复杂,很难看清楚。对于一些残酷和不合理的事情 , 似乎只能学着适应和接受。 “如果虚无就是一种本质”。 我 说 :“我只能这样去看待它。” 不过至少,周围还有一种活跃的气息,我还能走几步,并且有的时候还能感知自己其实 根本无所担忧。 我 说 :“你可以把它看成是一个正在萎缩的人,可能那就是我,但这样给我安全感。 ”

秦晋

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