Yi&C. Text Guide 易雅居 Yi&C. 導覽
Text／Jian Yu XU 文 ╱徐建宇
One of the most inspiring contemporary art achievements lies in how art seems to own a positive social-oriented aspect. They touch widely on a variety of issues regarding reality, reducing the distance between the self and the public. We also witness in countless exhibitions how art is seen as the force of "intervention" within society, and how the artist displays the social-oriented dispositions of an intellectual, leading us to reflect on (what went wrong with) our society. Among the creative pursuits that intervene with reality, Institutional Critique - let us temporarily assume it as a type - reverses the usual referent of art from that of reality to the self, and thus attains its timeless quality. As the art system continually alters its appearance, its keen approach persists to be valid because the target of its intervention is its inherent system of production and acceptance.
This resonates with the 2010 Taipei Biennial's attempt to expand on the topic of Institutional Critique: when viewing art as the paradigm of self-reflection, how do we discover or examine its "method of enabling those originally invisible in art to become visible, and the self-image of art to being recognized and observed." The concept is concretely expressed in the work of the principal artist Jin-Hua Shi's "Trilogy of Contemporary Art Alchemy." He focused on contemporary art and its (quantifiable) value of ethics, creating a brand of criticism by viewing "the work of art as a commodity and also intermediary of the cultural field." Also a reflection of the system, we may easily perceive Yu-Cheng Chou's works in a similar light to "A Trilogy of Contemporary Art Alchemy," yet we will nevertheless be able to view the disparities of their contents in other areas.
Yu-Cheng Chou did not participate in the Taipei Biennial back in 2010, but a direct confrontation with the system—one more systematic, and I think Chou would not mind us by saying, more aesthetically strategic—emerged in his works at around the same period. Since the benefit fundraiser at the Insian Gallery in 2009, alongside a series of interactions with the Taishin Arts Foundation, Chou has been experimenting with the abstract concept of "art ecology" and the many layers of interrelations involved in the production of an artwork (or exhibition). Furthermore, it is an inquiry of the peculiar position in which the artist is situated. Chou approached these problems in a fashion different from Jin-hua Shi's tit for tat strategy. He explains the relations between the artist and the resources from a wider context in his process, thus creating new networks between various existing planes, as exemplified in "A Working History Lu Chieh-Te" (2012) which had just recently won the Taipei Arts Award.
As a general resource system, art ecology is in fact constituted and supported by various large and small subsystems, whether it be the lighting equipment in "TOA Lighting" (2010), or the paint in "Rainbow Paint" (2011) and "TEMCO" (2012). These complex alternating chain reactions make it difficult for the artist to easily perceive the distribution of resources. Chou's operation of this concept is analogous to the mapping of a chart, which directly illustrates the explicit and hidden relations in a way similar to the visual language of informational aesthetics, bringing everything to light without critical judgement (or, inducing the viewers to make their own evaluations).
This approach is once again illustrated in his new work "Latitude Manufacture". Chou painted paintings within paintings, and the paintings within the paintings are invisible (yet unfinished) parts of the work which may only come to surface through transactions. Once a painting is sold, it would be delivered to the buyers along with entities of the picture-in-picture. The picture-in-picture will not be colored, as it awaits for the buyers to paint them (with pigment supplied by the artist), and only then would the work be truly complete. Therefore, in this toilsome articulation of the procedure, we witness the paintings making constant self-references, which eventually strip them of their own contents. As a result, the word "artwork" becomes but a similar concept to the synonym, causing the relation between "artist + collector = artwork" to be nothing more than a simple declarative sentence.
This is the alternative means of reasoning employed by Chou when confronting Institutional Critique. He is not only familiar with these issues, but also with the discussions triggered by works of art. The significance, however, lies not in assessing the worth of deliberating over these issues, but in how each process of Chou's art ecological analysis has a way of redefining its economic facet. In respect to matters of value and exchange, he attempts at a somewhat comically straightforward attitude in creating a particular economic role for the artist within the capital-dominant world of contemporary art.
1. The tradition of artistic reflection through art has already endured a mature development in the conceptual art movements of the 1960s.
2. See TB10 Taipei Biennial Curatorial Statement, by Hong-John Lin
3. See "The Status of Exchange and Production: When Art Becomes Societal Relations", 2010 Taipei Biennial Discourse, Series 2, ARTCO No. 214.
易雅居 Yi&C. 導覽
當代藝術中最鼓舞人心的一個成績是，藝術彷彿擁有了一種積極的社會面向，它們廣泛地觸及了各種現實世界的議題，縮減了自己與公眾之間的距離，我們在數不清的展覽中都能看見藝術是如何被看成「介入」社會的力 量，而藝術家又是如何展現出一種知識份子的入世性格，帶領大家一同反思這個社會（到底出了什麼問題？）。 在這些介入現實世界的創作中，體制批判（Institutional Critique）——我們暫時假設它是一種類型——由於將藝術對現實世界的指涉反轉到自己身上而成就了它的歷久彌新。它的尖銳是一直有效的，因為它所介入的對象是自身的生產與接受模式，而藝術的體制就同藝術一樣持續地在改變它的樣貌。
如同 2010 年台北雙年展試圖在這個體制批判的題目上所拓展的：藝術成為反觀自身的典範，而我們如何尋找或檢驗它「讓原本在藝術中的不可見的重新可見，而藝術自身的形象可以被認識與觀察。」 這個思考具體展現在重點藝術家石晉華的作品《當代藝術鍊金術》中，他著力於今日藝術與其（可量化的）價值倫理，從「藝術品是商品也是文化場域的媒介」 的層面上創造了它的批判方式。同樣是對體制的反思，我們很容易將周育正的創作視為與《當代藝術鍊金術》類同的案例，但我們也會在另外一些方面看見它們可能相去甚遠的內容。
周育正沒有參加 2010 年的雙年展，然而他的創作差不多在前後時間也開始發展一種直視體制的態度，更有系統，而且——我想周育正不會在意我們這麼說——在美學上更有戰略。從 2009 年在印象畫廊的義賣活動起到後來與台新藝術基金會一系列的互動，周育正在摸索的是在「藝術生態」這個抽象的概念中，一件作品（或著展覽）究竟涉及了多少層次的生產關係？而藝術家在其中居於什麼樣的特殊位置？他選擇了與石晉華那種針鋒相對不同的方式來處理問題，順勢而為地把藝術家與資源的關係解釋的更廣泛，進而在既有的各種端點之間去製造新網絡，一如在他甫獲台北獎的《工作史-盧皆得》（2012）一作所展現的。
這種態度也再一次表露在這次新作《自由生產 Latitude Manufacture》中。他在一張畫裡畫了另一張畫，而畫裡的畫則是另一個看不見（並且未完成）的作品的部份，它必須伴隨著交易事件而出場。一旦售出一張畫，他就連同畫中畫的實物一起交付給買家，而那張畫中畫將會是白色，等待買家自行（用藝術家附贈的色料）上色，整個作品才真正完成。我們可以看到，在這拗口的一連串程序中，畫作本身不斷地自我指涉，把內容掏空，最後「作品」就成 為一個類似代名詞的概念，使藝術家＋藏家＝等作品的關係呈現為再單純不過的直述句。
1. 這種通過藝術反思藝術的傳統在上世紀 60 年代的觀念藝術就己經有成熟的發展。
2. 見 2010 台北雙年展中文手冊策展論述,林宏璋
3. 見《交換與生產狀態:當藝術成為社會關係》,2010 台北雙年展論述系列之二,今藝術 214 期。