2014年12月31日 星期三

'Imagining Crisis-Contemporary Aesthetics of Memento Mori 'written by Yunnia Yang (Taiwanese Art Journal ’Art Collection+Design ’ , October 2014, p. 112-117; devoted to the focal theme ’Metamorphosis)'警世寓言中的瞬逝盛宴,蟄伏於慾望深處的危奇觀'(撰文/楊衍畇,[藝術收藏+設計]2014年10月號, '異/變'專題文章)

Imagining Crisis-Contemporary Aesthetics of Memento Mori


    Yunnia Yang

(Taiwanese Art Journal ’Art Collection+Design’ , October 2014; 

devoted to the focal theme ’Metamorphosis)



    Life is complete for including death in itself. However, the viewpoint on death in the East differs from the one in the West. In the East, people avoid death as taboo, which may trigger many unfortunate omens or associations. In the Western Christianity, death is regarded as a kind of salvation. In the Medieval period, wars occurred frequently and the Black Death prevailed all over Europe, so the contemporaries transcended the fear of death through the carnivalesque ‘Dance Macabre’. The Renaissance artists, such as Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the  Elder, deal the topic of death with sarcastic humor. There are full of mystic symbols of intertwining life and death in the works of Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger,el Greco, and the Dutch paintings of the Golden Age, inspiring the contemporaries to live in the present.Even living in the 21st century, we cannot free ourselves from the fear of death because of the advanced civilization,but the disasters and crises caused by the technology accelerate the death of all the creatures instead.In the treatise‘The Aesthetics of Disappearance’, the French cultural theorist Paul Virilio gives us his transcendental insight into the modern civilization under which the human beings pursue everything efficiently and speedily, so that time waits no man  to experience life rather than disappearance. The inventions under the Industrial Revolution may cause the unprecedented new disasters, such as car, train, ship and aviation accidents, seeding the living environment into numerous unexploded mines.  Ubiquitous causes of death deepen the uncertainty of being. Material desire perhaps reflects the fear and turmoil lurking deeply inside the human mind. Driven by the ‘Death Instinct’, this imagination is an expression of creativity for an artist, as well as a contemporary memento mori. It deconstructs the given aesthetics. The International Creative Exhibition 'Imagining Crisis' has been presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei from September 15 till October 14, 2014. This video project has toured around the contemporary art centers in Poland, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Taiwanese curator Yunnia Yang invited 10 artists, 11 videos from Asia, Europe and Latin America to join this project, including experimental films, videodances, stop motions, etc. 'Imagining Crisis' departs from the anxieties of the artists about the artistic creation and the art world, our society twisting the essence of an individual very much through all kinds of mass media (including religion), and the nature pouncing on human beings for their long-term destruction. From the concrete perceptible crisis to the invisible, metaphysical, imaginative crisis, these creative artists embody the eccentric aesthetics of imagining the death.


Allegorizing the Dilemma of Contemporary Art Development with Humor

For artists, the most crucial crisis is that contemporary art is hard to approach the general public. The marginalization of contemporary art affects the creating and living condition of an artist. The global financial crash worsens this situation, for the governments all over the world precondition to satisfy the basic needs and reduce the budget in arts and cultures. The Spanish artist Albert Merino creates a fictitious  ’Contemporary Art Festival’, transforming the outdoor public space of Paris completely into an energetic and enchanted museum, and bringing art closer to the public. The artist expects art becomes a means of communication, fulfilling the Utopian mission of improving society. Merino creates his own visual aesthetics in a surrealist style and constructs a documentary-like text humorously, but the audience can perceive the real crisis of acceptability of contemporary art in such a fiction. In his video, Merino proposes several original concepts, such as ‘Art recycling’, ‘Hotel Paradise’, ‘Pleasure Machine’, ‘Utopia’, referring to the change of the aesthetics and art materials of this new generation,  the authority’s interference in the art creations related to social engagement, and the unspeakable esotericism of contemporary art. The public misunderstands the Utopian social practices artists make are actions to disturb the public life. The urban transformation looks seemingly an absurd daydream, but artists confront these difficulties of contemporary art development everyday instead. The Israeli artist Marcus Shahar emphasizes the deification of ‘The Curator’ in the art world; the mass media fetishizes a curator as a superstar. Shahar employs the form of a Hollywood trailer, playing the role of ‘The Curator’ himself to proclaim the ‘inauguration’ of a curator sarcastically. Shahar intends to track the behavior of the curator and his multiple identities, mapping the external signs and cultural codes, thinking over the must-haves in such an aspirational position, analyzing the mechanism of self-glorification and the secret of success in predominating art, criticizing the superficiality in some aspects of the art world. This world may include the ‘celebrity’ culture filled with compliments and imitations, as well as flood the corporate sponsors expecting to enhance the social reputations by means of the artworks and artists.

                                1. Contemporary Art Festival. Albert Merino (Spain)     
                                     2011. 20 min. 20 sec.




2. The Curator. Shahar Marcus(Israel)
2011. 4 min. 35 min.


The Revelation of Progressive Civilization
   
    Going through the Feminism in the 1980s, we can observe that the social status of women has been raised in general; however, the mass media dominates the pop culture and the consumption behavior so much that the public takes female images as a tool of seduction for granted, overemphasizing the importance of beauty, burdening oneself physically and psychically with the ideal beauty. The public opinion kidnaps the free will of a human being, as if viruses spread all over one’s body. Born of an extremely conservative society, the Colombian artist Rossina Bossio creates her videodance ‘The Holy Beauty Project Volume III’ with the interdisciplinary exploration of body, dance and fashion to examine the seductive power of visual culture. The media uses female images as a communication tool to strengthen social order and set up a perfect example of beauty and morality. Bossio plays eight different roles in her video, representing the different characters of female identity. With the epic background music, the protagonist dances in the rain forest, in the studio from time to time, dressing the costume from the Christian icon, the outfit from the aboriginals of the Americas and the clothes of a contemporary woman. The choreography changes the stereotyped movements of female sexuality; the divine but violent movements can be seen in commercials, MTV and fashion world.  The most impressed image is the luxurious image of Santa Maria that Bossio transforms herself into. She holds a Barbie doll of Santa Maria, dancing mechanically like a robot. This image is emphasized the feet proportion of the distorted body. The tears Santa Maria sheds hint that women suffer from social prejudices involuntarily. The duality of pure Santa Maria and the playful Barbie dolls alienates the essence of being, and also makes irony of the permanent necessity of idols and deities in a civilized society. 

                                     3. The Holy Beauty Project Volume III. 
                                       Rossina Bossio(Colombia).2012. 6 min. 26 min.







    The concerns about the global warming have been the common efforts of the entire world. Accustomed to the convenience of technological civilization, it is easier said than done to enforce the low-carbon life completely.  Argentina, situated near the Antarctic, witnesses the glaciers are collapsing so rapidly that the sea level  keeps on rising. This shocking phenomenon affects the existence of human beings strongly like a domino effect. The dance video 'Efimero Festin' collaborated by the theatre director Ernesto Pombo and the choreographer Chimene Costa is commissioned by the National Directorate of Antarctica in Argentina , in order to explore the selfishness of human beings' exploiting the Nature merely for material wealth  and to awaken the crisis consciousness of  destructing the Nature. In the film, the image of a woman holding red balloons symbolizes the self-destructing human beings; she attempts to occupy the whole environment. Taking a look back at the biological history of the Earth, human beings may disappear soon after dinosaurs are extinct. For how long human beings will survive depends on how to protect the Earth. The first half of the film presents a different sonic scene of the Antarctica; the empty, isolated but endless area conveys dreamy experience, like in another planet. As the female dancer desires to manipulate the environment, the music is getting stronger in a threatening sense. The imagery grammar of the film is the integration of the scenes from daily life, local landscape and the climate change by means of close-ups and wide-angle lens. The body language of the dancer embodies the struggle against the cruel coldness of the environment through her manipulation upon different objects. Eventually, she cannot survive under the counterforce of the Nature. 

                                     4.Efímero Festín. 2013. 8 min. 20 sec. 
                                        Ernesto Pombo&Chimene Costa(Argentina)
                                        






         The powerlessness to the reality is the common perception of the contemporaries: wording hard for money day after day, enduring the setback during this economic crisis, or accepting the simulated life by the media and technology. Like the destiny of ‘The Lost Generation’ after WWI and ‘The Beat Generation’ after WWII, the new generation of the 21st century is running like in a squirrel-cage rotor and escaping to nowhere, trapped into another swamp called ‘ Dumbing Generation’.  Regarding boringness as a fashionable lifestyle, they indulge themselves with internet surfing, playing video games, watching TV, listening to music, in order to kill the time. How can they manage themselves in this drastically changing world with such negative living attitude? In the video work ‘Confusion’, the Russian art group ‘Provmyza’ warns symbolically that the zeitgeist of this century is the lack of moral values and judgments. The film begins with the scene of a shaking crystal chandelier, then a kind of inexplicably strange ambient spreads all over among the party of the young people, recalling some kind of ambiguous, curious, fearful, even confusing perceptions. This mysterious ambient becomes so stronger that the young girls cannot help but fainting. Their vertigo looks like a long performance. As time goes by, the scene remains the same and time freezes human flesh into a sculpture. The boys’ confusion transforms into aggression for being infected by a withered bush. The luxurious, meaningless lifestyle is the self-destruction driven by the death instinct. The life value is that the life instinct is evenly matched with the death instinct. In the Freudian theory, the life instinct represents the instinct to continue and extend the existence of a being, a libido to love oneself and others. In the dance film ‘Ant’, the Finnish artist Kimmo Alakunnas shows that a workaholic, numb with the reality, intends to resist the regular boringness of his mechanized life. Juxtaposing the images of the tied-up naked flesh with ropes, Alakunnas implies the true self of the workaholic, whose breathing sounds prove his own existence for getting rid of the constraint. It is also questionable whether he regains the ability to love someone owing to the numbness deep down in his heart, or he enforces his love on someone to get hurt and hurt the other. What is the mysterious ant, disturbing the protagonist?  ‘Ant’ guides viewers to think over the life meaning by means of dance and movement. Without narratives, viewers can give their own interpretations freely based on their own life experiences. 

                                     5. Confusion. Provmyza(Russia)
                                         2009. 12 min. 16 sec.


                                      6. Ant. Kimmo Alakunnas(Finland)
                                         2010.24 min.




The Experimental Adventures of the Avant-garde Images  

    The video exhibition ‘Imagining Crisis’ includes experimental films, videodances, stop motions, paying homage to the experimental imagery spirits of Avant-garde, Dadaism and Surrealism in the debut of the 20th century. The creative thinking out of the box launches a revolution of imagery aesthetics. ‘ The Death of Insect’ , co-created by the Finnish artists Hannes Vartiainen and Pekka Veikkolainen, constructs a beautiful tragedy with the dead insects found in deserted attics, window panels, toolhouses, and spider webs. The artists complete this animation in combination with stop motions, computerized tomography, and 3D animations. This film has the world premiere in the Venice Film Festival in 2010, and is awarded with the best experimental short in CFC World Wide Shorts of Toronto in 2011. Looking at sunrise and sunset, we realize that life is a feast which has an end, but maybe the afterworld is another continuity of being. In this film, time stills in a lifeless cityscape and a mad ballet of insects will start. The artists give new life into the specimens of insects, imagining the graceful afterlife with the background music. ‘ The Death of Insect’ also opens another horizon for videodance.

                                 7. The Death of an Insect. 2010. 7 min.
                                     Hannes Vartiainen&Pekka Veikkolainen(Finland)






     The montage theory, founded by the Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein, is to bring new meanings out by means of reconstructing a series of separate images. As a movie lover and footage collector, the German artist Oliver Pietsch proposes new concepts inspired by certian issues from the observation of many films and footages, including classic films and new films, documentaries, art films, blockbusters, etc. Through his new intepretation, Pietsch transforms those readymade images completely into a new movie. The themes of his montage works are often to explore gloomily the dimensions of human perceptions and psychic tortures without any dialectic and criticism. Each viewer can give a free interpretaion to this dreamy imagery space in one’s way. In the video ’From Here to Eternality’, Pietsch focuses on the theme of death in the film history. The artist deconstructs and redeifies humousously the immortality that the actors interpreted, presenting the death and the psycology of escaping from the death kitschily constructed by the mass culture. In another video ’Blood’ , Pietsch represents his unique aesthetics: bleeding is usually a shocking scene, but with the sweet and lyrical background viewers will appreciate the close-ups of bloods flowing, squirting and dripping like an mobile abstract painting. Moreover, the audience will be sentimental about the vulnerability and ephemeral of being.
  
                                     8. From Here to Eternity. Oliver Pietsch(Germany)
                                     2010. 40 min.





9. Blood. Oliver Pietsch(Germany)
2010. 3min. 20 sec.

    The Surrealists go beyond everyday reality, praises for irrationality, chance, subconsciousness, cross over the boundary between reality and dream, release the constraints of our corpses, and set free our souls. Even if there is probability of the quantum theory in the physics based on the casual laws, the Romanian artist Mihai Grecu and the French artist Thibault Gleize collaborates the experimental video ’Glucose’, giving us a new understanding about our familiar surroundings.Fish and food might be stuck in uncertain quantum time-space. Based on the “quantum indeterminacy” principle of the quantum mechanics, it depicts a place where physical “bugs” happen: some surfaces are unexpectedly penetrable, while the scale of beings and objects is inverted or misplaced. Have you ever imagine the visual images transformed from the perceptions of human beingsIn his experimental sound images’Between the regularity and irregularity’, the Japanese artist Masahiro Tsutani interprets the pleasure born of his brain stimulated by the improvised music during his appreciation. He perceives strong joyousness as he abstracts himself slightly from his psychological time and enjoys himself entirely in the duration of sounds. Sometimes a large amount of information is transported to the sound module with a buffer so that the machine cannot function well, but the artist still perceives the similar pleasure in this sound duration. This phenomenon occurs between the regularity and irregularity of the Nature. With the non-linear system of many situations, we cannot explain such pleasure with concrete words. Tsutani represents his pleasure with his original sound-image aesthetics, inviting the audience to his brain universe of musical perception. A viewer can develop his own pleasure and vision of ’Imagining Crisis’.  

                                    10.Glucose. 2012. 7 min. 
                                    Mihai Grecu(Romania)&Thibault Gleize(France)



                                     11. Between the regularity and irregularity
                                     Masahiro Tsutani(Japan). 2012. 7 min. 50 sec.



‘Imagining Crisis’- The International Creative Video Exhibition
Curator: Yunnia Yang

International Touring Schedule: 
   Taiwan
Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei
Date: September 15 – October 14, 2014 








-     Serbia
Venue: Belgrade Cultural Center, Belgrade
     Date: July 31-August 23, 2014       










-     Poland
Venue: Kronika Center for Contemporary Arts, Bytom
Date: July 11-August 23, 2014


















-  Bulgaria (Screening Session)
Venue: Vaska Emanouilova Gallery ( Sofia City Art Gallery Branch), Sofia

Date: 5-8 pm, May 21, 2014 







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