Reality Bytes: Alone and away from home
首届杨锋艺术与教育基金会“微征集”项目评选的胜出者、“Reality Bytes”策展人Goedele Bartholomeeusen与她的策展项目于9月18日在深圳有空间亮相：这是这个策展人首次中国之旅；所有参展艺术家之前也都没有在中国参加过展览，对于杨锋艺术与教育基金会的这个颇具国际视野的新项目来说， “身在异乡为异客”似乎是对这个展览很好的诠释。
首先，参与展览的艺术家都是身处在与本身文化背景截然不同的环境当中进行创作的异乡客：阿格尼奇卡·波尔斯卡（1985年生于波兰，现生活于德国柏林）、布莱恩·科科斯卡（1988年出生于加拿大，现生活于美国纽约）、唐娜·胡安卡（1980年出生于玻利维亚，现生活于美国纽约）、马里亚姆·班纳尼（1988年生于摩洛哥，现生活于美国纽约）、玛丽娜·平斯基（1986年出生于俄罗斯，现生活于比利时布鲁塞尔）、林韬（1983年生于美国，现生活于美国纽约）——这些年轻的艺术家都在远离自己家乡的艺术“中心”式的城市（纽约、柏林等）工作；表面上看来形式各异的作品，都在以一种互联网思维（而并非全部是数字媒介）的方式呈现各自的主题；看似松散的展览构成，内在的叙事结构其实显得十分清晰，就是用不同的视觉方式承载着幽默、甚至略带讽刺的现实状况——正如语义双关的展览题目“Reality Bytes”（ “byte”一词在英文当中是字节，计算机信息技术用于计量存储容量的一种计量单位；也与“bite”（咬）发音相同，而“Reality Bites”的意思则是“让人心痛的现实”）。
策展人与参展的艺术家都是80年代出生的，对于艺术界来说，这也许是第一代伴随着互联网生长、并且以此作为素材进行创作的人。“对于传统艺术媒介和数码艺术来说，这一代人是过渡性的、架接起桥梁的一代，他们与两个不同领域当中的人具有更多的关联性。比如从诗歌领域来说，社交媒体的出现使得诗歌的发展出现了新的形式。” 她所说的是林韬的作品《未完成的推特》（Unfinished tweet，2014），这件作品其实是艺术家用删除的推特博文创作的诗歌，高级的文学形式与被删除的网络语言之间在艺术家架构之下形成了一种微妙的关系。
确实，这些艺术家的名字对于大部分中国观众来说似乎都显得十分陌生，但是其中有很多人都已经在MoMA Ps1、新博物馆（New Museum）这样的重量级机构参加过展览。比如玛丽娅姆•本纳尼的循环动画作品《iButt》在MoMA Ps1展出的时候就引发了围观，理由如作品名称一样直观：她使用臀部的剪影构成了苹果的商标，并且伴随着摩洛哥的音乐起舞，这样的挪用以及错位隐喻似乎是全球化、无障碍的。一方面，它对于商业文化、消费的符号进行了讽刺（正如展览当中的另外一件模仿真人秀节目的作品一样）；另一方面，艺术家本人的民族文化背景又在这样的挪用上增加了一种讽刺、调侃禁忌的意味。
Goedele Bartholomeeusen, curator of the winning proposal of the first “Micro Curatorial Project” organized by Frank F.Yang Art and Education Foundation, will be present at the commencement of her curatorial project “Reality Bytes” at “You Space” in Shenzhen on 18th September. This is the curator’s first trip ever to China; all participating artists have never been engaged in any exhibitions in China before. “Alone and away from home” may well express the essence of this exhibition, a pioneering one with an international perspective put forward by Frank F.Yang Art and Education Foundation.
First and foremost, all participating artists developed their artistic career in an environment with a big contrast to the culture of their motherland; they are far away from home. Agnieska Polska (born in 1985 in Poland, now living in Berlin, Germany), Brian Kokoska (born in 1988 in Canada, now living in New York, US), Donna Huanca (born in 1980 in Bolivia, now living in the US), Tao Lin (born in 1983 in the US, now living in New York, US), Marina Pinsky (born in 1986 in Russia, now living in Brussels, Belgium) and Meriem Bennani (born in 1988 in Morocco, now living in New York, US) are young artists working far away from cities they were born in, which are converging points of arts (New York, Berlin, etc.). Their artworks may differ in outward form, yet they express their ideas through a common mode of thinking comparable to the Internet (not completely digital); the exhibition may lack apparent coherence, but the inherent narrative structure is in fact very clear, that is to make jocular or even satirical statements about the reality using various visual representations. This echoes with the exhibition title with double meaning, “Reality Bytes” (The English word “byte” a linguistic term; it is also used to represent a quantitative unit measuring computer storage memory. It has the same pronunciation as “bite”, while “Reality Bites” alludes to “the reality that make one’s heart ache”.)
Curator Goedele Bartholomeeusen
“I found the news about the open call for the curatorial project on E-Flux. The vision and location of the Foundation caught my attention and fascinated me. I am a little embarrassed to say that while China has become the most active country in the world, I know very little about what is going on in this place. My goal is to understand things in China better and interact with art communities here through this project.” said Bartholomeeusen.
Tao Lin, Unfinished tweet (2014)
“I believe the role of a curator is to build a form of connection, such that different elements can converse with each other under a common setting. This is like mapmaking. With the guidance of a map, you can travel through a city, a mode of thinking, or even a world. Nevertheless, curating revolves around art, not the other way round,” explained Bartholomeeusen. “I often visit studios of artists to understand what they are working on, so things happened quite naturally when I was curating this exhibition. It was not the case that I sought after artworks after deciding the theme, neither did I ponder over the theme based on available artworks. The artists were filled with immense excitement when they knew I was going to bring their works to China for exhibition, since the audience here is completely different from what they had reached before.”
Indeed, most Chinese audience may find the names of the artists distant and unfamiliar. However, one should note that that most of them already participated in exhibitions at prestigious venues such as MoMA Ps1 and New Museum. For example, Marina Pinsky’s looping animation iButt attracted a large crowd at MoMA Ps1 for a reason as straightforward as its title. She used the hips to reproduce the Apple logo, dancing and moving following the rhythm of Morocco music. This borrowing of idea and misplaced allusion uses a universal language that breaks all barriers. On one hand, it is sarcasm against the culture of commercialism and symbols of consumerism (just like another work in the exhibition mimicking a reality show), on the other hand, the performer’s cultural background added another flavor to the satire by challenging the taboo when this form of borrowing is adopted.
Meriem Bennani ’s work at the exhibition
The concept of “borrowing” and “misplacement”, a concealed narrative axis of the exhibition, penetrated almost all works exhibited. What differs across artworks is the degree of penetration; some are obvious while others carry carefully concealed signs requiring explanation. For example, the paintings of Brian Kokoska and Donna Huanca may be inclined to an apparent abstract expressionism or even be perceived as “bad paintings” to some. However, the former actually made used of a network of visual symbols as a medium of expression, whereas the latter worked on a surface processed by digital printing. As the curator stated, “this is an attempt of the artists from the 80s to establish association between the traditional and new media”.
Donna Huanca, Azul Vicz, oil on canvas, acrylic, digital printing 2016
Another installation of Brian Kokoska is perhaps the most representative work of reality in the exhibition (the word “bite” has the same pronunciation as “byte”) Untitled（Sorry for your departure）,an installation work made of a great variety of materials including carpet, mobile phones and puppets covered in a pleasant pink by the artist, conveyed a sense of uneasiness and disturbance with the placement of a cobra and false teeth, which were left behind by a murderer died in the prison. This exemplifies the statement of the curator in the introduction of the exhibition that “the exhibition stresses the demonstration of senses and thoughts about reality, as well as how the reality influences our consciousness”.
To curator Goedele Bartholomeeusen, the short stay in Shenzhen is to a certain degree a reconstruction of his knowledge of the world. “When I first arrived in China, what I faced was a completely different context. I believe that situating in different geographical location offers me experiences that can enrich my knowledge, such that I would be a completely different person when I leave Shenzhen. My initial plan was to interact with the artists here, but then I realized I needed more time to understand their works and the environment. In the following years I shall continue to explore the conditions and thoughts of the artists.”
展览时间：2016.9.18 – 2016.11.26
Exhibition Time: 2016.9.18 – 2016.11.26
开放时间：10:00 －18:00 周一 至 周六
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 Monday – Saturday
You Space: Room 201, Building 2, Nanhai E-Cool, Shekou, Shenzhen