“展览”中的手稿

The Manuscript in the Exhibition


“展览”中的手稿

俞可


什么是手稿?我觉得手稿应该是一个艺术家创作的思想路径,或者是一种工作方法和习惯,它和具体的创作既有联系又显得独立。只是,我觉得和西方艺术家相比,今天的大部分中国艺术家似乎并不擅长于此,或者说没有把手稿看成判断艺术家专业化程度的标准之一。


2009年的时候,我做过关于艺术家创作手稿的系列展览。做这个系列展览的现实处境有迫于我们当时的经费困境、但更多地是想改变过去川美习惯性的展览方式,尤其是艺术市场化以来惯性的思维模式。展览的初衷首先是希望通过手稿展览来强调艺术创作的实验性,同时有一个路径来让观众了解当代艺术创作的深层动机,也在探索是否能为展览空间的存在方式提供一个不同的角度。展览规划之初,我们选定了10个艺术家,共同商定了一个原则,就是尽量强调手稿,只把艺术家关于创作的构想、信函、绘画讨论以及与艺术家之间的交流学习的内容呈现出来,而削弱制作成品的概念。但我们真正进入展览的过程,执行“手稿”这个概念的时候,却遇到了很多的困难。事实上,部分艺术家是没有手稿的,尤其是没有专业性意义上的手稿。他们提供的往往只是一些针对绘画本身而言的创作小构图。而这些小构图是否可以称为手稿,能不能较为完整地呈现艺术家创作的思想轨迹,可能在那个时间段里都是不确定的。在这个过程中,我跟艺术家就“手稿”在艺术表达里的角色也进行了很多的讨论。有艺术家认为,“在今天的艺术中,策展人对艺术家的研究很表面,缺乏对艺术家过去深入的了解,当然也就不能深入地解读艺术家和他的作品。”我当时就提出过质疑,“艺术家对自己创作的深入理解和站在艺术史立场对作品的深入理解是有差异的。一个艺术家的作品只有在能够和社会发生关系的时候,其作品的意义才会突显,而这种意义才是批评家策展人关心的话题。艺术家的个人理由和喜好没有多少意义,这些并不构成艺术史研究理由。如果把艺术家放在一个艺术史的写作中,或者放在公共空间来进行讨论时,艺术的创作诉求也必然应该以艺术史和公共空间的标准为参考。而手稿作为创作过程的记录,应该是非常有针对性、观念性的,应该和自己的创作形成逻辑关系,共同叙述出艺术家创作的演变过程。


从另外一个角度来看,手稿可以给艺术史论家提供一些素材,是搜集资料和文献的途径,也是艺术史写作的凭证。这样看来,探究艺术家的终极目的是什么,如何与艺术史形成联系,当然应该成为专业美术馆要做的工作。同时,如果美术馆在手稿研究中,分析出艺术家艺术道路的发展轨迹以及对艺术的认识与思想脉络,会让美术馆显得很主动,不再是被动地把一个作品简单地呈现出来。这样也会让艺术家回到自己的原点,不断审视自己的创作,思考在社会文化建构中所形成的意义。


当然,不同的艺术家对创作手稿的专业性诉求是不一样的。记得前两年我在清华美院去看达芬奇的手稿展,我觉得那样的手稿才能满足我对“手稿”这个概念的期待,或者说是对艺术家专业性的认同。还有一个“手稿”的经典案例,就是尤伦斯举办的黄永砯的“占卜者之屋: 黄永砯回顾展”。这个展览有一个有趣的结果,就是展览本身的影响力和传播力不及它的画册来得大,这在中国是很不容易的。《占卜者之屋》这本画册,近十年来几度脱销,一书难求。为什么会如此?因为在这里面会有太多值得我们学习的创作方案。今天学习艺术的学生和老师,他们觉得自己缺少这样的知识准备和方法训练,想去填补这些方面,所以这个画册很受欢迎。如果我们把这样的创作因素作为判断一个艺术工作者专业性的标准,那么我们对“手稿”的认识就会有一个比较明确的方向。今后的“手稿”会沿着这样的轨迹进行思考和展开工作,艺术家对待信息、文本、创作以及展示也会更逻辑,有更完整的上下文关系。


今天为什么要强调“手稿”的意义?大家为什么会来讨论这个话题?首先,是因为今天的艺术呈现方式强调的是艺术家的个人身份,他的艺术作品只是他的一部分。我前一段时间看了一个展览,门票80块钱一张,而且还排了很长的队,我当时去看的时候也认为自己不太喜欢这类展览。刚进去时,确实也有点吃惊,很多所谓的“作品”都是拷贝的,根本就没有原作。但是,为什么大家愿意花钱花时间去看这个展览呢?就是因为它给观众提供了不同的关于艺术家的信息,这种信息塑造的不是作品,而是艺术家本身。从这个角度来看,今天的“手稿”既是艺术家对观众的一种利用和需求,同时也是观众反过来对艺术家故事的一种热衷。艺术家需要利用这样的关系,“手稿”为艺术家存在的隐秘提供了更多的文学性。


其次,从艺术接受的角度来看,自现代主义之后,观众对艺术作品的认识上困境越来越多。艺术家与观众之间由于观看上的困境,常常彼此隔阂。但是今天艺术发展的趋势,越来越强调公共性,强调大众参与。艺术家希望自己的作品被更多的人认识和接受,在更大范围内产生影响,而大众也希望可以看懂更多的艺术作品,更近距离地接近艺术。在这样的相互需求中,我们会依赖于对手稿的阅读,通过这个途径,公众才有可能去判断和了解一个艺术家最终呈现的结果和他艺术思考之间的关系是怎样的,艺术家的创作思考与人们日常思考的相对应,这就能形成艺术家与观众产生互动的基因,这才是“手稿”的意义。这可能也是今天大家比较关注“手稿”创作的一个原因。


再者,今天的展览模式已经发生改变。今天展览的主要诉求不再仅仅是某种固定概念下,关于形式、美感、材料的一种封闭式的探讨。大部分实验展览中,并不完全要求作品的现成性,主题的固定性和制作的完整性,而是更强调展览与展览所在地的过程性、在地性和文脉化的特征。在这样的思维框架下,展览中的艺术创造更强调与社会、历史情境之间的关系,突出艺术在社会中的功能和意义。而过去那种指向明确、观念性非常强的作品就会陷入一种非文脉化的相对孤立的境地。而“手稿”作为创作的思想路径的早期记录,它并不是完善和精致的,但正是这样的缺点让它具有了足够的开放性和灵活性,能适应艺术家、策展人、观众的互动需求。和过去相比,今天的展览对空间和时间的认识都大为不同,这也需要艺术家为了适应这样的展览要求而作出改变。很多西方艺术家,已经开始大量利用手稿的创作方式,直接从工作室的过程转换到具体的展览空间,使展览有了更为广泛的延伸。


另外,展览环节中策展人的需求也是重要的因素。今天的正规展览,实际上都需要艺术家提交方案,这和过去有点不一样。这个方案的写作就成了艺术家一个必备的专业化的知识,这就形成了大家对手稿的一个认知。艺术家不得不更加调整这些思想旅程。当然,很多艺术家在参加展览的过程中,其实并没有对应的手稿,他会在展览结束后再去编撰一个关于图像和文字的内容,来适应宣传和画册的需要,或者进一步完善自己的创作思考。但是这样脱离了上下文语境的图像文字是否能成为“手稿”,我觉得也是值得商榷的。其实做手稿研究对策展人而言是有难度的,它涉及的不仅仅只是创作,今天艺术家手稿的针对性非常强,尤其是有些艺术家有着广泛的兴趣与思考,其中包括哲学思想、历史认识和前沿思潮。


就今天艺术发展的大趋势而言,手稿创作是艺术工作室专业化工作的一个部分。今天艺术家工作室比较强调资讯分析,资料信息的收集与整理,这为艺术家迅速介入公共空间提供了基础,工作室中手稿的形式也是艺术家关于信息的反馈。最近几年我去国外看了很多优秀艺术家的工作室。相比之下,中国艺术家的艺术工作显得比较单向,多还停留在传统层面,而国外艺术家则更有逻辑性,更强调其作品功能与今天社会的紧密衔接,手稿常常成为他们工作室立体化建设的一个重要途径,也是呈现艺术家创作思考的窗口。而我在中国只看到两个艺术家有创作信息搜集室,方力钧和张晓刚,很多的艺术家可能还有没意识到这一点,而这种单向的工作方式显然有碍提高艺术家的格局。我觉得信息的反馈在一开始是以手稿的形式来呈现的,这也会加大我们对手稿的认识,对艺术创作的思想也会提供一种路径。在这个过程中,也标识着我们关于艺术的另一种认识,这里面既有观众的需求,也给今天我们关于艺术的理解,提供了更多样性的空间。




The Manuscript in the Exhibition


What is a manuscript? In my view, manuscripts should present the ideological trajectory of an artist's creation, or a working method and habit that is both connected with and independent from a specific creation. Compared with western artists, most Chinese artists today do not seem to be good at creating manuscripts, nor do they regard manuscripts as one of the criteria to evaluate professionalism of artists.

In 2009, I did a series exhibition of the artists' manuscripts. At the time, confronted with financial difficulties, we were nonetheless ambitious to change the customary way of exhibition at Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, especially the inertia in the way of thinking resulting from art marketization. The exhibition had had three major intentions, i.e. to emphasize the experimentality of artistic creation, to provide the audience a gateway to the artist’s creative motive, and to explore a new angle for the justification of the exhibition space. In the beginning, we made a rule with the 10 artists selected that only the manuscript, i.e. the conception of creation, relevant correspondence, discussion of painting and exchanges of ideas would be highlighted, and the concept of finished products be weakened. However, in the execution stage, when implementing the concept of "manuscript", we came into a lot of trouble. In fact, some artists did not have any manuscript to be exhibited, not at least in the professional sense. What they could give us were only small-sized compositions, which we were not certain whether they reflect the ideological track of the artist. I talked with the artists about the role of manuscripts in artistic expression and one of them held the view that curators failed to acquire in-depth understanding of artists and their works because they did not bother to get to know their past. I disagreed. There is a gap between the artist’s interpretation of his own works and that of the critic and curator, who are more concerned about the meaning of the work from the perspective of the art history, and only when the work has some bearing upon society does its significance emerges. In this sense, the personal preferences are of no importance to the research of art history. Put it another way, references should and must be made to the standard raised by art history and the public space in the artistic creation. Serving as the record of the creative process, the specific and conceptual manuscript should be in line with the finished creations in a logical manner and jointly tell the evolving process of the artist's creation.

From another point of view, the manuscript can also help the art historian gain access to information as a basis for art history literature. Therefore, professional art institutions are obligated to explore the artist’s ultimate purpose and how it relates to art history. In the meantime, art institutions could take the initiative of digging out the artist’s development of artistic understanding, instead of acting as a passive presenter of art pieces. This practice will also encourage artists to develop a critical view of his works and their role in the social and cultural construction.

Of course, artists have different professional needs for manuscripts. I remember seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Manuscripts Exhibition at Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University two years ago, and I thought at the time that only such manuscripts were able to satisfy my expectation of "manuscripts" and win my recognition of the artist's professionalism. Another case in point is the exhibition “House of Oracles: A Huang Yongping Retrospective” organized by Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. What’s interesting about this exhibition is that its exhibition catalog ended up more influential than the show itself, which is a rare phenomenon in China. In the decade to come, the catalog of “House of Oracles” was so popular that it went out of stock many times. Why? Because there are so many creative projects worth to learn, and art teachers and students find it contains highly instructive knowledge and methodologies worthy of their attention. If we take creative factors like manuscripts as the criterion for judging the professionalism of an artist, then we’ll gain a clearer understanding of the manuscript, and artists will pay more attention to the logic and context with respect to information, texts, creations and presentations.

Why are we emphasizing the significance of the manuscript today? Why are we engaged in this discussion? Firstly, because today's way of presenting art emphasizes the artist's personal identity, and his works are only part of him. The other day I waited in the queue and paid 80 yuan for an exhibition and was astonished upon entry that the works on display were mere copies. But why were there so many of us willing to spend the time and a fortune on it? It is because it provides us with information that could help us understand the artist per se. From this perspective, artists are seducing the public with their manuscripts, whose popularity reveals the public keenness on the artist’s personal story. It is a relationship that artists can avail themselves of because manuscripts carry more literary romance in terms of the artist’s secrets.

Secondly, from the advent of modernism, audiences are having more difficulties in understanding works of art. However, art development increasingly emphasizes on publicity and requires public participation. Artists want their works to be recognized and accepted by more people and create an impact on a wider scale. In turn, the public also hopes to understand more works of art and appreciate art up close. Considering this mutual demand, manuscripts are resorted to for the public to evaluate the relationship between the result and his thinking process. It is in this interaction between the creative thinking of artists and daily thinking of the public that lies the significance of manuscripts. This may also be one of the reasons why people pay more attention to the creation of manuscripts today.

Furthermore, the mode of exhibition has changed. It is no longer a dead-end discussion about form, aesthetics and material under a fixed concept. Most of the experimental exhibitions do not require completed works, themes or the integrity of the production. Rather, they focus on the procedural, geographical and cultural characteristics of the exhibition and the venue. In this framework, the relationship between art creation and social and historical contexts is underlined. It also emphasizes the function and meaning of art in the society. In contrast, those past works that were clear-cut and highly conceptualized would fall into a relatively non-literal and isolated situation. As an early record of the ideological path of creation, the manuscript is far from perfect, but it is such defects that give room for openness and flexibility, and allow for the demand for interaction between artists, curators and the audience. The handling of time and space in today’s exhibitions is quite different from the past, and this requires the artists to be more than ever adaptive. Many western artists have begun to make extensive use of manuscript creation methods in the specific exhibition space so that the exhibition has taken on new meanings.

In addition, curatorial needs are also important factors. Exhibitions today differ from those in the past in that artists are required to submit plans, the writing of which has become an essential part of the artistic professionalism. In the process, the artist has to modify their journey of contemplation, and when they are lacking in the mentioned manuscripts, they will make one up after the exhibition to meet the needs of publicity and catalogs, or to improve creative thinking. However, it is debatable whether such images and texts out of contexts are justified to be called manuscripts. In fact, it is difficult for curators to study manuscripts, because it involves more than just creation. Today's manuscripts are highly targeted. In particular, some artists have a wide range of interests and thoughts, covering philosophical thinking, historical understanding and forefront trend.

As far as the general trend of art development is concerned, manuscript creation is a part of the professionalization of art studios, which emphasize more on collection and analysis of information, providing the foundation for artists to quickly be engaged with the public space. The form of manuscript in the studio is also the artist's feedback on information. In recent years, I went abroad to see a lot of excellent artists' studios. By contrast, the Chinese artists' studios appear to be one-way, mostly at the traditional level, while foreign artists are more logical and stress more on the close connection between the function of their works and today's society. Manuscripts often become an important approach to realize the three-dimensional construction of their studios as well as the window to understand the artist's creation. Domestically I know only two artists who have set up a room specially for information collection, they are Fang Lijun and Zhang Xiaogang. Many artists may not be aware of this yet, but this unidirectional work style obviously hinders the improvement of their mindset. In my opinion, the artistic feedback of information is presented in the form of manuscripts from the very beginning, which will also facilitate our understanding of manuscripts and the artist’s creative thinking. In the process, it also marks another kind of our understanding of art, meeting the needs of the audience and offering more room for diversity in the understanding of art.