As Ma mentioned in my interview with him, the group show “forget art” which he has curated took place this afternoon in the Dragon Fountain Bathhouse in Caochangdi. Following his reasoning for the show, the works more or less blended into reality, so for a while the whole bathhouse was an object of artistic possibility.
My interview with artist Ma Yongfeng about the “forget art” project, has just been published on Ma’s site. For me Ma represents one of a small selection of artists who are working very deliberately at the periphery of the art world in China, dipping in and out as they deem necessary. It’s an interesting position to take, leading to many questions about the meaning and effectiveness of this act. There will be more to come on this subject!
Seth Siegelaub: It was my lack of economic means and l’air du temps which created the relationship that existed between the kinds of shows I did and the artists with whom I was involved. It was an attempt to get away from the gallery because my feeling at the time, as it is now in the case of publishing, is that a space becomes sacralised. The economics of the situation is such that you need to fill a space with eight or ten shows a year, and it is inconceivable that you can do that and remain interested in all of the work you show. You didn’t run a gallery, the gallery ran you – it was just another form of alienated work experience. The gallery came to determine the art to the extent that painters would paint paintings to fit the walls of their dealer.*
- Buren, Daniel and Siegelaub, Seth (1988/89). May 68 and all that. Interviewed by: Claura, Michel and Dusinberre, Deke. In Bickers, Patricia and Wilson, Andrew, eds. Talking Art: Interviews with artists since 1976. London: Ridinghouse 2007, p.298.
A quote by the painter Leon Golub, from Talking Art, a collection of interviews previously published in the UK’s excellent Art Monthly magazine. I like his characterisation of art as, in one way, some kind of sponge, which imprints itself with modern life, or is forced to be imprinted with it:
As far as I’m concerned, Modernism is the art of the modern world. That means that it is a world of relativity, of simultaneity and advanced media transmissions. The world of abstraction, but not the way the abstract artist thought of it, of condensations where essential material comes from all directions and gets condensed in unique formats, like thought-clusters. In other words, the big traditions of the past become pierced, porous, infected with other material; accretions are added to them and have their own peculiar condensations. I come to it from the fact that modern communications, habits of thinking, political events, mass societies, force us to have these kinds of conceptualisations. In art, to perceive anything that is going on in the modern world, you can’t have a narrow, realistic point of view. You have to be aware how peculiarly opaque and transparent all this material is. It is porous and yet over-determined, all at the same time. So it’s from those kinds of logics that I view myself a modernist.1
Later he says: “I want these paintings, if possible, to be open to the types of things that go on today. I want them to be open and porous because porous things absorb in an irregular fashion. I want the canvas surface itself to absorb all sorts of flickering fluctuations in phenomena that inflict themselves upon the surface between the spots and dashes and the glances.”2
- Golub, Leon (1985). The imag(in)ing of power. Interviewed by: Bird, Jon. In Bickers, Patricia and Wilson, Andrew, eds. Talking Art: Interviews with artists since 1976. London: Ridinghouse 2007, p.234.
- Ibid., p.237.