The Artist Will ( No Longer )
Between Object and Architecture
Tate Modern, London
Following a £260 million revamp by the Swiss architectural practice Herzog & de Meuron, on 17 June 2016 Tate Modern opened its new Switch House galleries with a permanent collection exhibition on Level 2, titled Between Object and Architecture. The display thematically gathers together a constellation of works made during the last forty years or so that either looks like architecture, is made with materials associated with construction ( such as bricks, breeze blocks, building-site detritus and spirit levels, etc. ), or is displayed in relation to the new building’s architectural features. On the website it says that the works in the exhibition are notable for their determination to be brought down from the pedestal – a support structure that has traditionally separated art from the viewer – and placed directly onto the floor, or attached to the wall. The idea behind this presentation, then, is for the spectator to engage more directly with the art by un-inhibiting the conditions under which it is displayed.
This intention was amply embodied by much of the work, but one piece pitted itself against the museum’s rhetoric and raised some interesting questions about the power of art institutions, the rules of the art world, and artists’ complicity in limiting the reach of their own work. Leaning against the back wall of the gallery, next to a floor-to-ceiling window that looks down on the bookshop below, stands a skinny rod of cylindrical wood blocks. About the length of a pilgrim’s staff, the individual segments that make up the rod are painted in a scale of recurring colours: red, white, yellow, green. The separate shades have dulled to suggest a bit of age, and any precision in the object’s line of trajectory from the floor to the wall that may have been present at the time of its making has gone. The succession of cheerfully coloured components sags ever so gently in the middle, under the weight of gravity and time. Titled Round Bar of Wood ( 1973 ), the work is by André Cadere, a migrant artist from behind the Iron Curtain who plied his trade in Paris in the 1970s before being taken by cancer at the age of forty-three.
Cadere was a one-idea artist. He travelled a single path. During his career he made 180 ‘round bars of wood’, each following the same system of colour permutations. The colours employed were always black, white, and the six colours of the rainbow: yellow, orange, red, violet, blue and green. The bar at Tate Modern is composed of fifty-two segments that account for every combination possible of the four colours chosen, plus a repetition of the first four and a built-in error. The last sequence of colours is always a repeat of the first, reflecting the artist’s view that a pole came to its natural conclusion when the first group of colours reappeared. The mistake is introduced to the mathematical system on purpose to create, as Cadere said, a dialectical link between order and error. The error also relaxes the formality of the chromatic composition and deprives the eye of an opportunity to detect a pattern. The effect of schematic uncertainty also raises the prospect that there might be some other purpose to this handiwork, some deeper intent.
In fact, the true significance of these poles has very little to do with how they look, and more with how and where they appeared. Their presence in the Paris, London and New York art worlds during the 1970s stemmed from Cadere’s arrival in the West from communist Romania and his sense of being an outsider – but crucially, one with an unshakeable determination to infiltrate the dominant cultural circuit, come what might. The tactic employed to inculcate himself was as opportunistic as it was symbolic: he simply turned up at other people’s exhibitions with his wooden poles and installed them temporarily, either by placing them in a suitably visible place, or carrying one underarm as he mingled with the crowd. He said about his work, when interviewed by Sylvère Lotringer for Semiotext( e ) in 1978: ‘I can go to the Museum of Modern Art or Castelli’s and present my work without anyone inviting me.’ One can only imagine the kind of reception he might have got from fellow artists, let alone the snobby dealers who controlled the commercial art world at the time. He said of this: ‘Obviously, it is not because I go to Castelli’s that I am exhibited there. [ But ] nothing can prevent me from being concretely, materially inside the place. He can throw me out, and it’s interesting if he does. This has happened elsewhere, and in other circumstances. When the institution defends itself, it becomes, in no uncertain terms, brutal and aggressive.’ And among the reasons why other artists might feel that he was a louse for gatecrashing the openings of their shows, he cites: ‘Jealousy and competition, for the most part.’ This was art that must have divided audiences and artists alike and yet, by persisting and remaining true to his cause, Cadere began to build a network around his interventions. He became a familiar figure on the scene. Eventually Yvon Lambert, the minimalist art dealer, showed an interest, and the rods began to sell. He was invited to exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Documenta 5, and many private galleries across Europe and worldwide.
The thing that appeals so much about this venture isn’t the folksy irregularity of the wooden bars’ minimal colours and proportions, nor the delightfully chippy attitude that Cadere held against the establishment that he was so keen to impress, but rather the idea that the artist would always be present when his work was on display. Holding his own art, instead of screwing it to the wall and walking away, enabled Cadere to create a mobile condition of engagement, where viewers were forced to consider the work in relation to the art system. In a conversation with Lynda Morris in 1976 he said bluntly: ‘My art is the situation of my work in the art world’ ( which Morris explains in a YouTube video of 2013: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NHZ70sOALY> ). This objective was ably achieved by operating in the margin between ‘closed’ museum and ‘open’ public space. Whether standing in the crowd at the opening of a show, walking in the street to an exhibition, or sitting in a pub near one of the important galleries, his modus operandi opened up a conversation about where the ‘art world’ and the ‘real world’ began and ended, and about the art gallery as a structure of power that needed to be challenged.
Lewis Hyde makes an argument in his book, The Gift, that although art can circulate simultaneously in two economies ( market and gift ) there exists a conflict of interests for the artist whose source is the gift of creative talent, but whose livelihood is dependent on a commercial context.1 The reasoning here is that when thought of as a gift, what we get from art beyond selling or owning it is a kind of ‘blessing’. The artist shares his gift, Hyde proposes, in a way that ‘revives the soul’. A problem with this suggestion, as the author openly acknowledges, is the emergence of a state of affairs in which the twin spheres of ‘gift’ and ‘market’ economies become mutually exclusive. If a fundamental difference between gift and commodity exchange is that giving establishes a bond between two people, while selling leaves no meaningful connection, does the art market always taint the purity of the work of art? The example of Cadere’s insightful navigation between the separate spheres shows us that the market can, indeed, destroy a work of art, but in a way that bears a gift. Cadere created a situation that exposed this predicament, but in so doing produced understanding – and understanding, the avatar of knowledge, is itself a gift.
Today, in the absence of the artist, leaning against the wall of Tate Modern stands the red, white, yellow and green staff by André Cadere that was purchased by the gallery in 2006. Much against the wishes of its maker it has become more beautiful over the years. ( He once said in a lecture: ‘Tones are rejected because they would automatically make the work harmonic and aesthetic.’ ) In this fixed setting, framed by the protective cord of a barrier system, we can only admire the work for its use as a prop in a performance that took place many years ago. Where once Round Bar of Wood operated as a modern version of the ancient native talking stick, an instrument of democracy and symbol of the holder’s authority to speak in public with whoever came his way, sadly, the conversation has now moved on. On this winter Sunday morning most visitors to the gallery are thronging around a peek-a-boo mirror piece by Yayoi Kusama: it offers a more interesting photo opportunity to people carrying smartphones.
1. Lewis Hyde, The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World, Canongate Books, Edinburgh, 1983.
艺术家将 （ 不再 ） 出场
2016 年6 月17 日 – 迄今
斥资2.6 亿英镑, 由瑞士赫尔佐格和德梅隆 （ Herzog & de Meuron ） 建筑事务所修建的泰特现代美术馆 （ Tate Modern ） 新馆 （ Switch House ） 于2016 年6 月17 日盛大开幕。设在新馆二楼的开幕展题为《物体与建筑之间》 （ Between Object and Architecture ），展示该馆与主题相关的一系列永久藏品。这批在过去四十年左右的时间内创作的艺术品要么看上去类似某种建筑结构，要么就是利用与建设有关的材料 （ 例如石砖, 水泥砖, 工地的碎屑，以及水准仪等 ），要么是根据新馆的建筑特色进行展陈。根据美术馆官方网站上的报道，这次展览的亮点在于所有展品皆被馆方从基座上取下来——这些基座原本是一种承托作品的结构，传统上用来将艺术品与观众隔开——直接放置在地板上或固定在展墙上。这么做的目的是想尝试通过限制艺术品的陈列条件，令观众与艺术品产生更加直接的互动。
本次展览中的多数展品都充分符合上述意图，但有一件展品却鹤立鸡群，与馆方的说辞大相径庭，从而引发一系列有关艺术机构的权力, 艺术界的游戏规则，以及艺术家如何参与谋划对其作品设定参观权限等有趣的问题。靠在展馆的后墙上，与一扇面向下层书店的落地窗相毗邻的地方竖放着一根细长的, 由圆柱形木块所组成的长杆。这根木杆的长度大概有一枝香客手杖那么长，上面的一个个木块组件则被涂上红色, 白色, 黄色, 绿色等常见的色彩。颜料的斑驳暗示了这件物品已经有些年头了，而在制作过程中所显现出的从地板到墙面的精确轨道也已消失了。在自身重力以及岁月沉淀的作用下，一连串色彩明快的组件在整枝木杆的中间部分微微倾斜。这件题为《木质圆棒》 （ Round Bar of Wood ） 的作品是由安德烈· 卡德尔 （ André Cadere ） 于1973 年创作的，这位艺术家来自受铁幕控制的东欧，70 年代只身移居巴黎，最后因罹患癌症去世，享年43 岁。
卡德尔是一位偏执的艺术家，只会“在一条道上走到黑”。他有生之年总共创作了180 件《木质圆棒》，每件作品均遵循同一个色彩排列体系。所用的颜色不外乎黑色, 白色，以及彩虹的六种颜色：黄色, 橙色, 红色, 紫色, 蓝色和绿色。在泰特现代美术馆展出的这件作品由五十二组木头零件组成，囊括了所选出的四种颜色的每一种可能的组合方式，再加上一个故意制造的用色错误。最后一组色彩排列与第一组色彩排列重复，这是因为在艺术家的眼中，当第一组色彩重新出现时，这根木杆自然就到头了。就像卡德尔所说的，那个用色错误是艺术家根据数字体系故意制造出来的，目的是在有序与无序之间建立一个对话的桥梁。作品中所出现的用色错误同时也缓解了中规中矩的色彩组合给人带来的拘谨感，并避免让观众从作品中找到一个固定的模式。此外，无法被一概而论的不确定性亦会引发观众的期待，让人觉得在这件手工制作的作品背后，可能还包含了其他目的或更深的意图。
事实上，这些木杆的重要性并不在于它们的外表，而更在于它们在哪里安置以及以何种方式被呈现出来。这些作品在70 年代的巴黎, 伦敦及纽约等地的艺术圈中展出，其创作源头要追溯到卡德尔从共产主义盛行的罗马尼亚移民西方的经历以及他那种“局外人”的身份认同感——而最关键的是，他是一个怀着不可动摇的决心, 不管怎样都想要打入主流文化圈的人。卡德尔所用到的策略既显得投机取巧又具有象征意义：他直接带着自己的木杆作品出现在其他人的展览上，并将之临时性地陈列在那里——要么将自己的作品安置在一个合适的, 可被观众看到的地方，要么在腋下夹着一件自己的作品游荡于观众群中。他在1978 年接受Semiotext( e ) 出版社的希尔弗勒· 罗特林格 （ Sylvére Lotringer ） 的访谈中提到：“我可以在不受任何邀请的情况下，去纽约现代艺术博物馆 （ MoMA ） 或卡斯蒂里画廊 （ Castelli’s ） 展示我的作品。”我们只能想象与卡德尔同时期的那些艺术家会如何对待他，更不要谈那些掌控着当时整个商业艺术圈的势利画商了。他在访谈中说道：“很显然，不是因为我去卡斯蒂里画廊就说明我在那里举办展览了。 （ 但是 ） 没有什么能阻止我切切实实地进入这个地方。人们可以把我赶出去，如果真的这么做会很有趣。这种情况在其他地方或其他环境下曾经发生过。当一个机构自我防卫，它将毋庸置疑变得残暴而又激进。”至于为何其他艺术家可能会觉得他像是一只闯入他们展览搞破坏的“虱子”，他回应道：“很大程度上是 （ 因为他们对我抱有 ） 妒忌和竞争的心态。”长久以来， 艺术一直将观众与艺术家分隔开来；然而，卡德尔却坚持并忠于自己的初心，逐步透过自己的干预行动建立起关系网络，成为一个经常出现在各类展览现场的公众人物。最终引起推广极简主义 （ Minimalism ) 艺术的法国伊冯· 兰伯特 （ Yvon Lambert ） 画廊的兴趣并答应做他的代理商，其后他开始获邀在伦敦当代艺术中心 （ ICA ）, 第五届卡塞尔文献展 （ Documenta 5 ） 以及欧洲乃至全球多家私人画廊展出其作品。
这一冒险行为之所以会如此具有吸引力，并非是由于这些木杆的极简颜色及比例所带给人的平易近人与不规则感，亦非卡德尔本人想要影响主流艺术体制所流露出的大情大性的态度，而是他抱持着“当艺术品被展陈时，艺术家总会到场”的理念。手持自己的艺 术作品而不是将其挂上墙后走开，卡德尔凭借此举迫使观众考量艺术品与艺术体系的关系。在1976 年与艺术史学家琳达· 莫里斯 （ Lynda Morris ） 的一席对谈中，他直言：“我的作品在艺术界的境遇就是我所表现的艺术。”他通过游走于“闭塞”的美术馆与“开放”的公共空间这两大极端之间而巧妙地达到自己的目的。无论是在一场展览的开幕式上站在人群之中，走在通往一场展览的路上，抑或是坐在一家知名画廊旁边的酒吧里，他的做法总会引发各种讨论，例如“艺术世界”与“现实世界”的起点与终点在哪里，艺术画廊作为一种权力机构需要接受挑战等等。
路易士· 海德 （ Lewis Hyde ） 在他那部1983 年由卡农给特 （ Canongate ） 出版社出版的著作《礼物的美学》 （ The Gift ） 中指出，尽管艺术品能够同时在市场与礼物这两种经济体系中流通，对于艺术家而言还是存在利益冲突的，毕竟他的灵感来源于创意才华的天赋礼物，而他的生计则需仰赖商业体系。个中逻辑就是，当人们把艺术品当作一份礼物而非一件商品时，他们从中获得的是一种“祝福”，其意义远远超越了“拥有”或“售卖”。海德建议， 艺术家可以透过“令灵魂复苏”来与众人分享其天赋礼物。但他承认， 这个建议也引来一个问题，即出现“礼物”与“市场”两种经济体系互相排斥的紧急状况。礼物与商品之间的一个重要区别在于给予前者能在人与人之间建立一条纽带，而销售则没办法导致有意义的连接，假如事实的确如此的话，艺术品市场是否总会玷污艺术品的圣洁呢？以卡德尔为例，他游走于两大领域之间，向世人展示了市场的确可以破坏一件艺术品，但所用的方式中却包含着一份礼物。卡德尔营造了一种将这种困境公之于众的局面，借此来引发众人的理解——而理解是知识的化身，其本身就是一份礼物。
今天，在没有艺术家本人在场的情况下，安德烈· 卡德尔的一件由红色, 白色, 黄色与绿色组成，被泰特现代美术馆于2006 年购入的木杆作品斜靠在新馆展墙上。与它的制造者所希望的相反，这件作品经历了岁月的洗礼后显得更为美丽了。 （ 卡德尔曾在一次讲座上指出：“我拒绝使用色调，因为这样会不由自主地令作品变得和谐而又富有美感。” ） 整件作品采用一种固定的安置方式，被一圈保护绳围起来，观众只能隔着一段距离来欣赏这件多年前曾被用作表演道具的作品。这件1973 年创作的《木质圆棒》一度作为古代印第安原住民的权杖——一种民主的工具，象征着持有人有权在公共场所做公开演说——的现代版本， 可惜的是，这场讨论已经转移话题了。在这个冬日里的星期天早晨，大多数前来美术馆参观的观众都围聚在草间弥生 （ Yayoi Kusama ） 的一件镜子装置作品前，对于那些手持智能手机的人来说，这件作品能提供一个更好的“打卡”机会。