自古以来,苏州以文化鼎盛、精致典雅而闻名天下,被誉为“人间天堂”。苏州与世界的交流源远流长,特别是明代郑和七下西洋, 就是从太仓刘家港起锚的,这是中国古代规模最大、船只最多、海员最多、时间最久的海上航行。此次,由苏州美术馆、苏州市美术馆协会主办的2016首届苏州文献展(Suzhou Documents)即是在“一带一路”宏伟蓝图下,以“海上丝绸之路”的历史作为出发点,以“多重时间——苏州与另一种世界史(Histories of a Global Hub)”为主题,特别邀请中国美术馆研究与策划部主任张晴和瑞士苏黎世约翰·雅各布斯博物馆馆长、第12届德国卡塞尔文献展策展人RogerM.Buergel担纲策展人,以文化为依托全面展示出苏州与海上丝绸之路间生动的场景。
著名学者萨义德在《东方学》开篇即引用马克思在《路易·波拿巴的雾月十八日》中的名言 :“他们无法表述自己,他们必须被别人表述”。由此萨义德提出了一个重要的观点 :自后启蒙时期起,欧洲文化正是通过东方学以政治的、社会的、军事的、意识形态的、科学的及想象的方式来处理,甚至创造东方的。当我们尝试用更为完整的画面——历史、文化、社会、经济等,从人文社会科学的多角度,将苏州这一个案放置于大历史的叙事中研究,我们的视野将无可回避地引出一系列有意思的问题:如何重新发现苏州在世界历史文化长河中的“在场”?如何用新的方法、观念洞见,“再现”建构在我们自己理解和认识基础上的愈来愈面目清晰的历史文化?如何不依赖于西方的公共机构、认知、传统,真实地表述苏州之璀璨文化?
“作品的存在就是建立一个世界......作品让大地成为大地”( 海德格尔,《艺术作品的本源》)。此次,来自中国、英国、德国、意大利、 西班牙、瑞典、荷兰、美国、智利、韩国等五大洲的40多位中外艺术家们带着各自的艺术主张和热情,以精心创作的作品共同演绎展 览主题。诗曰:“南有乔木,不可休思。汉有游女,不可求思。”艺术之追求永无止境,学术之执着永无止境,文脉之赓续永无止境。
Chief Curator of Suzhou Art Museum
President of Suzhou Art Museum Association
Ever since the ancient time, Suzhou enjoys worldwide popularity for its splendor culture and exquisite elegance and is honored as “Paradise on Earth”. The exchange between Suzhou and the world has a long standing and it is from Liu Jia-gang Port in Taicang of Suzhou thatthe famous seven marine voyages to the West by Zheng He in Ming Dynasty set sails. The voyages are the largest in scale, the most in boat number and sailors and the longest in duration in China’s marine navigation history. Thus, the ‘2016 Suzhou Documents Exhibition co-organized by Suzhou Art Museum and Suzhou Art Museum Association, which takes the historical Maritime Silk Road as thestarting point and Histories of A Global Hub as its theme, is held underthe magnificent blueprint of “the Belt and Road”. Zhang Qing, the director of the Research and Curatorial Dept. of China Art Museum and Roger M. Buergel, the curator of Switzerland Zurich Johann Jacobs Museum and the Kassel Documenta 12, are invited to curate the exhibitions. Relying on Culture, we fully present the vivid scenes between Suzhou and the Marine Silk Road.
The famous scholar, E.W.Said, has quoted the saying, “Sie KÖnnen sich nicht vertreten, sie müssen vertreten werden” (The Eighteenth Brwnaire of Louis Bonaparte, by Karl Marx) (It means they can’t represent themselves, but can only be represented by others) in his bookOrientalism (Vintage,1979 . Based on that, said has put forward an important standpoint-since the Post-enlightenment period, it is throughorientalism that the European culture deals with or creates the Orient in a political, social, martial, ideological, scientific or imaginative way. When we try to place Suzhou in a grandiose historical narration for research, with a more complete historical, cultural, social and economic picture and a mufti-perspective of humanistic and social sciences, aseries of interesting questions have come to our visions inevitably. Howdo we rediscover the presence of Suzhou in the civilization river ofworld history? How do we represent the more and more vivid historicalculture constructed on our own comprehension and understanding in a new method, notion and perspective? How can we truly express the splendid culture of Suzhou without relying on western publicauthorities, cognition and tradition?
Martin Heidegger has said in his Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes that“Das Werk Lasst die Erde eine Erde sein”. This time, 40 artists home and abroad from countries of five continents (including China, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, America, Chile and South Korea) will gather here with their artistic ideas and passion to interpret the theme of this exhibition with their works. There is a saying in The Book of Songs, “The tallest Southern tree affords no shade for me, the maiden on the stream can but be found in dream”. The pursuit of art should be of no bounds, the persistence in academy should be endless and the continuity of context should be in continuous succession.
When we look back into the fascinating history of the Marine Silk Road, we pick out the essence among the ancient literary and historical books and records both home and abroad, and try to narrate effusively the encounter, clash and interaction between Suzhou and the world from a macroscopic pan-perspective. However, due to the countless number of historical books and records and our limited historical knowledge and academic capability, we realize the mission to fully understand thevicissitudes of history through research is extremely difficult. We aremore like skilled artisans, who override the shackles of time and space and finish an exquisite Suzhou Embroidery with extraordinary wisdom. It is our hope that the audience can comprehend us and separate thewheat from the chaff to get more from the fragments of our sincere expression.
The culture is endowed with more vitality by the present. As a publicinstitute in Suzhou, a famous historic and cultural city with a historyof 2,500 years, Suzhou Art Museum feels obliged to bring the greathistorical culture of Suzhou to the world with efforts, innovation,courage and perseverance, to make us realize how we turn into today’s appearance. It also makes us face and consider the following questions: How can we keep our culture in the tide of globalization? How can Suzhou seek integration and development in the clashes and exchange with the world? How can we realize cooperation and win-win situation in a harmonious but different co-existence?
The Multiplicity of Time: Suzhou and Another World History
The writing of a new world history today calls for new perspectives and frameworks. In the context of globalization, it is critical that we look beyond the notion of nation state and conventional local and regional histories to present a multi-layered and multi-dimensional picture of the world. This new world history emphasizes the interaction and the interconnectedness amongst regions and civilizations.
Suzhou, an important Chinese city, has some 2,500 years’of history. Today it is both a repository of Chinese traditional culture and an embodiment of the nation’s modernity. Rejecting a linear narrative, the inaugural Suzhou Documenta with the theme “The Multiplicity of Time” re-examines the city’s rich cultural tradition by focusing on its encounters and interactions with the world. What are Suzhou’s contributions to the world and vice versa? What has contributed to its singularity and richness?
In 1937 the exhibition titled Cultural Objects from Wuzhong was launched in Keyuan Garden in Suzhou to showcase artworks collected or created by the city’s luminaries. As a pioneering exhibition, it demonstrated the importance given to art and culture in Suzhou. The first Suzhou Documenta is organized 79 years after this exhibition. We hope that the new art and research we are presenting at the Documenta will bring the present and the past of the city into a lively dialogue.
With the key concepts of multiplicity and interaction, the Suzhou Documenta organizes the works in variety of forms under four sub-themes: “The Time of the Sea and the Empire”; “Modernity and Time in the Ming and the Qing Dynasties”;“Time and Traditions”; and “Time and the Mind: The Garden and The Imperial Court”. Suzhou is presented here through the lens of cutting-edge contemporary art. Yet we hope it is tangible and deeply rooted in its local context.
The Documenta with the theme of “The Multiplicity of Time” is more than a presentation of our impression of Suzhou. To rediscover the city in a new light, we look inward at the specific contexts of the city’s history and reality, and look outward at its global connections. Using Suzhou as a starting point, we can perhaps create new ways of connecting the history of a city with the history of Asia, and the world history at large. Through juxtapositions and connections, we are seeking to construct a new narrative for a world history that crosses the boundaries between the past and the present, the continent and the sea. Suzhou embodies a special modernity that distinguishes itself from European models. By bringing together a wide range of new perspectives in history and art, the Suzhou Documenta marks the birth of the new discipline - Suzhou Studies.
Introduction to Suzhou Documents by Roger M. Buergel
I. Suzhou Documents grew out of an exchange between colleagues who, over the years, became friends. Zhang Qing and I were both keenly aware of the limits imposed on conventional exhibition-making, whether within the confines of a museum or as a biennale lookalike. These limits are as manifold as they are banal, but it all boils down to the widespread inability to look at art properly, where “properly” means “taking time” or, rather, “taking your own time.” Contrary to the ways in which art is touted nowadays, as an appendage of the fashion and entertainment industries or as a therapy for alienated communities, the experience of art is neither spectacular nor glitzy. Nor is it particularly helpful.
Looking at art “properly” calls for a mode of perception that is almost incompatible with the strictures of modern life. Making time our own and experiencing our unique sense of identity is a major luxury in a culture based on permanent distraction (hey, take a look at the text message that just came in!). But of course, contemporary artists have developed ways of addressing this sorry state of affairs. They have invented forms of presentation that no longer confront the viewer head-on with a single piece that would require his or her undivided attention. Today the viewer is invited to enter an artificial environment – a constellation of varied and often heterogeneous artistic elements. Such environments are known as “installations” and have become the standard form of contemporary art. But unlike painting, sculpture or video, installation is not an artistic medium proper. It is an exhibition in its own right: an assemblage of artistic and non-artistic media (everyday objects, historical artefacts, photographs, text, paintings, drawings, and so on) that are distributed across time and space. For us, experiencing contemporary art means becoming part of an installation and experiencing our unique sense of identity by making the connections the installation requires.
II. Suzhou Documents began to take shape in the course of many long conversations that commenced in winter (no snow scenes!) at the Canglang Pavilion, the oldest of the classical gardens of Suzhou. With Cao Jun and Zhang Qing, I followed the meandering pathways up and down the slopes, passing through courts, artificial caves and corridors while taking in the “borrowed views” provided by the window grilles. Adjacent to the Canglang Pavilion lies the school (now the Memorial Hall) set up by Yan Wenliang, the pioneer of Western painting, in the 1920s. Before long I realized that I hadn’t been brought to Canglang Pavilion solely for the purpose of sightseeing, but for inspiration. Would the cultural form of the Suzhou garden help us to design an exhibition of contemporary art? An exhibition with an unmistakably local flair but a virtually infinite reach? An exhibition that would do justice to Suzhou’s glorious past while appealing to an international audience of art lovers who have grown understandably weary of biennales and art fairs with all the meretricious charm of a supermarket? A way of being in the here and now that would leave space for reflection?
III. Suzhou Documents has its conceptual roots in an exhibition that took place in Suzhou in 1937. We shall leave it to Zhang Qing to tell us about this particular exhibition – the Suzhou Exhibition of Documents – which is also a cornerstone of the Suzhou Documents. But there is another cornerstone, one I bring with me from Germany: an art exhibition known as documenta and founded in the city of Kassel in 1955. The two exhibitions are closely linked, not only through their names but also because they demonstrate that the future inevitably issues from the past. Originally, Kassel’s documenta was merely a sideshow at a large state-organized garden exhibition. This German garden, however, was the polar opposite of the delightfully informal Chinese garden. Its greenery concealed the rubble of a city that was 80% destroyed in the Second World War. The Kassel documenta thus had a pedagogical aspect: by showing international art, the exhibition sought to reconnect a largely traumatized German audience with the wider world. And, for whatever reason, the idea worked well. The documenta was such a success that the city decided to repeat the event. It now takes place every five years and has become one of the most prestigious art events on the planet.
When I was the Artistic Director of Kassel documenta in 2007, I would never have imagined that one day an opportunity would arise to forge an aesthetic link between the Chinese garden and the German garden, between the Suzhou Exhibition of Documents and Kassel’s documenta. But history could have taught me that. As we know, history is not a linear process. It is determined as much by good planning as by luck and chance and therefore tends to defeat the laws of simple chronology. In short, history resembles the multiple pathways of the Suzhou garden, at least up to the point where the logic behind the design starts to resemble the calligraphy of a drunk.
I am more than grateful for the privilege of being invited by Cao Jun and Zhang Qing to give shape to Suzhou Documents and the histories of a global hub as revealed (and obscured) by artists. It goes without saying that I brought many of the artists who grew dear to me during the Kassel documenta to Suzhou, a delightful city – with the best noodle soup on the planet – that has become my spiritual second home.