All posts by allen

Balancing Act

Holes

Shanghai-based artist and designer Tan Chengyan paints only a handful of subjects: women’s bodies, mushrooms, circles, and holes. Simple shapes fit her abstract style. She views her art as a balancing act between emotion and logic, and a desire for balance likewise runs through her life, both as she alternates between art and design and as she selects the tools to produce her work.


上海艺术家和设计师谭成彦谭成彦笔下的主题——女性身体、蘑菇、圆圈和洞——寥寥可数,与她的抽象派风格相得益彰。艺术对她来说,是感性与理性之间的平衡,也是贯穿了她的生活的渴求:无论是艺术和设计之间的思维转换,还是具体到绘画创作时的工具选择。

Mushroom Mushroom Mushroom 1
Women on the Blue Tree

Water and ink represent her emotional side. The first thing she does when creating a new painting is to dampen the paper with water and draw the main shapes in ink. Then she watches as the ink bleeds onto the wet surface. “The procedure of brushing paper with water is particularly important—it leads me to a state beyond consciousness,” says Tan. Seeing ink merging with water, her mind enters a zen space, and that’s when the shapes start to materialize.

Then her logical side, represented by acrylic, gouache, and colored pencils, takes over. She draws the shapes with acrylic or gouache on top of the initial layer and waits until their edges blur. Only at that point does she have a clear idea about the painting’s subject. She then adds details and clarifies subjects with colored pencils.

Underneath these soft and feminine shapes lies a slow process of creation that she describes as “primitive and organic,” and which gives her works their vital simplicity. These themes are also part of an organic process.


水和墨如同她感性的一面。作画时,她会先把画布和纸全部涂湿,用墨在上面做出基本图形,看着水和墨互相交融,形成自己的模样,“上水这一步对我来说特别重要,因为它是让我进入到 ‘意识外’ 状态最关键的一步。”当墨与水相互交融,她慢慢沉浸其中,画面便开始在脑中成形。

而丙烯、水粉和彩色铅笔则代表了她理性的一面。用丙烯或水粉在第一层上画出形状后,随着图形边缘慢慢晕开,她脑中才会出现对主题的定义。最后则会用彩色铅笔铅勾线,去以凸显图形并让主题更加清晰。

她的画作常由柔软、婀娜的形状组成。其中循序渐进的创作过程——用她自己的话说是 “原始、有机的”——带来了简洁、充满生命力的效果。而这个主题的成形也是一个有机的过程。

A Big Woman and an Orange Girl
A Big Woman and an Orange Girl (process)
A Big Woman and an Orange Girl (process)

Tan first began drawing circular, hole-like shapes in high school, though at the time she didn’t know what prompted them. In middle school, she had struggled under the intense pressures of academic competition, and when she was admitted to an arts high school, the relaxed, free environment made her feel as though “she had suddenly opened up.”


从高中开始,她就在纸上记录这些图形,虽然当时并不知道特别原因。在那之前,她就读的是普通初中,常常被排名和学业的压力闷得透不过气,而在高中考上了艺术院校后,自由和放松的环境让她感觉 “自己一下子就释放了”。

States 7, No. 2
State 5, No. 8
States 5, No. 9
States 8, No. 2

Looking back, Tan thinks her adolescent years set the stage for her later work. A budding sexuality left her at times feeling lost and at times full of hot-blooded passion: “I just felt an energy I needed to release. What was it? I don’t know, but on the paper before me, I saw those forms.”

College was another dark period, and Tan took refuge in the library, where she discovered, in art books and journals, the work of pioneering artists like Yayoi Kusama and Georgia O’Keeffe, who profoundly influenced her approach to artistic expression.


回望过去,她觉得对性懵懵懂懂,时而失落、时而满血复活的青春期,奠定了她后来创作主题的雏形——“觉得心中有种能量想要释放出来,那是什么样的东西呢?我不知道,但就这样自然而然地出现在了我面前的纸上。”

大学对于她来说,是另一个黑暗时期。于是,图书馆变成了成彦最爱去的地方,她也在当时大量接触了草间弥生(Yayoi Kusama)、乔治亚·欧姬芙(Georgia O’Keeffe)等以女性主题闻名的先锋艺术家家的作品。这对她自身的艺术表达方式造成了深远的影响。

Three Women and the Sunset

A turning point came in 2009, when, after graduating from college, Tan decided to move to the Netherlands to pursue a master’s in fine arts. Not only was this her “most prolific” period, it also, more importantly, helped her give expression to the forms she had been seeing in her mind all those years.

“Women’s bodies, mushroom shapes, holes, and circles: all these connect me to energy of the universe. When I paint these shapes, I always feel I’m elevated to a higher spiritual plane beyond material things,” she says, “I start to think that a lot of problems in my life aren’t really problems, because when I enter that level I’m more tolerant of everything that occurs in life.”


2009年可以她艺术创作的折点,当大学毕业后,成彦选择了去荷读艺术硕士。时间最“多”的候,也让长中的一一呈现。

的身体、蘑菇形状、洞和圆圈接通我和宇宙能量我就感觉自己被带到了超越物质层面的更深层的精神空间成彦,“我会现实中的很多问题问题了,因到了那个层次之后对生活中的一切都变得更加包容。

Do the female forms she creates represent herself, then?  Tan doesn’t think so. “It would be too restrictive to say this is me.  Through the female shapes I paint, I want to explore a path to the universe.”

In terms of life, if art is her emotional side, her logical self comes forward through design. In 2017, Tan and her partner, Carmelo Ferreri, founded the design studio Melo & Yan, which specializes in branding and illustration. In her opinion, and in her practice, art and design are not opposed to one another, but rather nourish each other. “Design reflects the times, and can also inspire my art. It’s a balance,” she says. That’s also her attitude toward art: “It’s only good when all elements reach a balance.”


那么,画中的女性代表了她自己吗?她并不这么觉得:“如果说这是自己,有点太限制了,因为我想通过创作的女性图像探索通往宇宙的通道。”

在生活层面,如果说她在艺术创作时是感性的,那么她理性的自己则会在做设计时出现。谭成彦在 2017 年和另一半 Carmelo Ferreri 成立 Melo & Yan 设计工作室,专注品牌设计与插画。在她眼里,艺术与创作并不矛盾,而是有着相互滋养的关系:“设计更加能体现时代的信息,也可以给创作带来灵感。就是个平衡,” 这也是她对画的态度,“一张画,能达到平衡才是比较优秀的作品”。

Website: chengyantan.com
Instagram: @chengyan_tan

 

Contributor & Photographer: Jiang Yaling
Additional Images Courtesy of Tan Chengyan


网站: chengyantan.com
Instagram: @chengyan_tan

 

供稿人: Jiang Yaling
附加图片由 Tan Chengyan 提供

An Architecture of the Mind

Timeless Migration

Kenny Low is an artist from Singapore who creates saturated, sprawling, psychedelic compositions. Reaching up to three meters across, his works rely on fractal-like repetition: some call to mind the sea creatures of Ernst Hæckel’s Art Forms in Nature, others look like a screenshot from a video game, while still others suggest a contemporary take on Chinese or Japanese inkwash painting.

As a young child, Low discovered a knack for drawing, and he spent his free time doodling cartoon characters he’d seen on television, like Snoopy or Mickey Mouse. He continued making art throughout secondary school and went on to do a degree at the Glasgow School of Art. His work is on display at the Art Seasons Gallery in Singapore through June 22.


来自新加坡的艺术家 Kenny Low 喜欢采用高饱和度的色彩,放射状的构图,打造出风格迷幻的画作。他的作品可达 3 米长,并由重复叠加的类分形组成。所以,有些作品看上去会令人想起生物学家兼插画家的恩斯特·海克尔 (Ernst Hæckel) 在《自然界的艺术形态》 里绘画的那些海洋生物;有些看起来又像是视频游戏的截图,还有一些则似乎是对当代中国或日本水墨绘画的演绎。

Kenny 从小就展现出画画的天赋,闲时,他会去画那些在电视上看到的 卡通角色,譬如史努比和米老鼠。中学时,他依然没有停止艺术创作。毕业后进入格拉斯哥艺 术学院(Glasgow School of Art)继续学习深造。他的作品现在在新加坡 Art Seasons 画廊 展出,展览持续至 6 月 22 日。

 

Pactolus Egg
Prisma Egg
Raijin and Fujin
Under the Influence of the Little Boy and Fat Man

Perhaps surprisingly, all his works are made up of photographs taken in and around his home city, multiplied and repeated to the point of abstraction. Upon closer inspection, the jellyfish-like shapes swimming through Equinox Dream, for example, consist of superimposed images of spiral staircases arranged under what appears to be a sort of awning.  “Each image is taken by me with my digital camera while exploring Singapore,” he says. He shoots all kinds of buildings, “from construction sites to old Chinatown shophouses to historical temples to modern sites, like the Marina Bay Sands complex and the Gardens by the Bay.” After carefully cropping his photographs, he begins the painstaking process of arranging them in a work, making a sort of digital collage loosely based on a prior sketch. “Each image can take up to two to four months to complete, depending on the scale of the work,” he says.


令人惊奇的是,他的所有作品都是运用他在家乡拍摄的照片,通过不断的叠加和重复,最终形成抽象的作品。譬如在《Equinox Dream》中,如果你仔细看, 画面中那些游动着的水母形状的图案其实是用多幅螺旋楼梯的照片叠 加而成,水母头部则是一个类似遮阳篷的照片。“每一张照片都是在我探索新加坡时用数码相机拍摄下来的。”他解释道。“建筑地盘、唐人街的老旧商店、历史悠久的寺庙,也有现代建筑, 譬如滨海湾金沙社区(Marina Bay Sands) 和滨海湾花园(Gardens By The Bay) 。”这些建筑都曾出现在他的照片里,并被他精心的剪裁出不同的区域,接下来是最费时间的一个步骤:将这些照片组合成一幅作品,大致按照事先设计好的草图,创作成数字拼贴画。“这取决于作品的规模,每幅作品最多可能需要两到四个月才能完成。”他说。

Equinox Dream
Twin Amaterasu

If there seems to be something vaguely Japanese about some of Low’s pictures, that’s not an accident. “My art was born out of my curiosity and love of Japan,” he says. As a child he developed a deep fascination with anime, manga, J-pop, and J-drama. “I remember the first anime I watched. I remember the first Japanese song I heard. The visuals were out of this world—it was an indescribable experience,” he remembers. “Since then, I’ve been very drawn to everything Japanese, from their design to their culture to their cities. I love every bit of it. And naturally, my art is heavily influenced by them.”


如果你在他的作品中看到一些日本的元素,那也不是偶然的。他说:“我的艺术创作源于我对日本的好奇和热爱。”从小,他就对日本的动画、漫画、流行音乐和日剧十分迷恋。他回忆说:“我还记得看的第一部日本动漫、听的第一首日文歌。那些视觉效果真是太赞了。那是一种无法用语言形容的体验。从那时起,我就对日本的一切十分感兴趣,不论是日本设计、文化或是日本的城市。我喜欢日本的一切。所以,我的艺术在很大程度上也是深受日本的影响。”

Orb of Light
Peaceful Fuchsia

Midnight Sun seems to recreate a traditional Japanese or Chinese landscape painting. An enormous red sun stamped with Chinese characters hangs in the background, while cranes, a symbol of longevity and good fortune, dot the skies. At two meters tall, the work defies our expectations of scale and prevents us from taking in the entire image at once: only from afar can we appreciate the composition of the landscape, only up close can discern the intricate photographs of skyscrapers that make up each mountain.


而他的《Midnight Sun》似乎是对一幅传统日本画或中国山水画的重新演绎。印着中文的巨型红色太阳悬挂在画面背景,而象征着长寿和吉祥的仙鹤则点缀着天空。这幅作品高近两米,在规模上比普通的艺术作品大出很多,也正因如此,在欣赏这幅画时,观众无法马上看完整幅画,他们需要站远一点,才能欣赏到整幅画的构图;然后再走近一点,才能观察每座山中建筑。

Midnight Sun

Since Low began creating his large digital works, his thinking about art has become more sophisticated. He’s moved beyond just following his instincts for what looks good. “My thoughts about what I want to portray in my images are more precise now,” he says. “I’ve grown to understand that an image needs to be more than beautiful—it has to have a story for people to relate to. It needs something to give it life.”

The stories in Low’s works seem to be dispatches from a strange, dizzying, futuristic world—and they’re all the more compelling for being slightly beyond our grasp.


自从 Kenny 开始创作大型数字作品以来,他对艺术创作的看法也渐趋成熟。在创作时,他不再单纯地听从自己的本能去追求仅仅好看的作品。他说: “我现在对于自己在画面中要呈现的内容有了更清晰明确的想法。我渐渐明白,一幅画不仅要好看,它还必须有故事,让人们产生共鸣。它需要被赋予生命。”

Kenny 在作品中讲述的故事都像是来自一个奇怪的、令人眼花缭乱的未来世界,有点难以掌握,也因此变得更加引人入胜。

Galaxsea
Phos, Guardian of Life
Prisma, Guardian of Hope

Kenny Low’s exhibition is currently showing at Art Seasons Gallery in Singapore and will end on June 22nd.

 

Event: Genesis I
Exhibition Dates: April 28th, 2018 ~ June 22nd, 2018

 

Address:
50 Genting Lane, #03-02
Cideco Industrial Complex
Singapore 349558

 

Contributor: Allen Young


Kenny Low 的个人展目前在新加坡的 Art Seasons 画廊 展出,展览至 6月 22 日结束。

 

活动名称: “Genesis I”
展览日期: 2018年4月28日——2018年6月22日

 

地址:
50 Genting Lane, #03-02
Cideco Industrial Complex
Singapore 349558

 

投稿人: Allen Young

Still Life with Digital Ghost

Every Last Drop

Spectral, iridescent, shimmering, a woman in a blue wig is polishing the furniture. She swabs a surface, crouches down to inspect the shine, adds a few squirts from a spray bottle, waves her hand to clear the air.

What she’s cleaning isn’t a coffee table or a china cabinet but a cluster of buildings, a complete model cityscape with trees, trash bins, street lamps, and cars. Painted in acrylic, presumably from a photograph, the street scene has a static, two-dimensional solidity, while the figure floating in the background seems to exist on a different plane.

There’s something magical about the way she goes about her business, polishing the buildings like the caretaker of a miniature world. Partly it’s the silence, partly it’s the length of the animation—the full version, which you can watch here, lasts well over a minute—that give the animation its peculiar charm. It’s not a work of video art, and it’s not just a GIF meme. It calls to mind a silent film—or, if you prefer, the looping hologram of Princess Leia telling Obi Wan Kenobi he’s her only hope.


一个戴着蓝色假发、身体闪烁着斑斓虹光的女人,正忙着料理她的家务。她仔细擦拭家具的表面,时而蹲下来检查亮泽,按压几下喷雾瓶,时而挥动她的手来清新空气。

然而,她所擦拭的家具既非咖啡桌,也不是橱柜,而是由一栋栋建筑配上微小树木、垃圾桶、路灯和汽车的城市景观模型。这幅画作品推测是参照照片所画的,街道场景呈现出一种静态的二维平面感。而出现在背景的女性身影,却像是存在于不同时空维度上那样的飘忽不定。

令人入迷的,是她如此细致地照顾这些模型的样子,就像她是这个微型世界的看管者。也许是无声的原因,也许是因为动画的长度,赋予这幅动画独特的魅力——你可以点击这里观看到一分钟的完整版本。这不是一件视频艺术作品,也不仅是一幅 GIF 图片。它令人联想到无声电影,或者说是电影《星球大战》中,莱娅公主(Princess Leia)发给欧比王·克诺比(Obi Wan Kenobi)说他是她唯一的希望时,那个令人印象深刻的三维全息投影。

A Modern-Day Song Jiang
Mid-Autumn Sketches
Uniform
Remains of the Future

The work is one of a series of pieces of LED art produced by the Shanghai-based art collective Liu Dao, or Island6. Founded in 2006, it began as a residency program and has since evolved into an art laboratory, with a rotating group of artists and curators from around the world, its number of members fluctuating from six to 26. From its studio in M50, the art complex on Moganshan Road, Liu Dao generates a staggering stream of work, which visitors can view in the attached gallery.


这些作品是由上海艺术团体 “六岛”(Island6)制作的 LED 艺术作品系列之一。六岛成立于2006年,最开始是一个驻地项目,现在已发展成为一个艺术实验室,由一群来自世界各地的艺术家和策展人轮换组成。其成员数量起伏不定,从最初的6名发展到现在的26名。在他们位于上海莫干山路的 M50 创意园工作室内,六岛创作出一系列精彩的作品,并就近于旁边所附设的画廊展出,供观众欣赏。

Dignity of the Fuel

Creation is everything.

The day I visited their studio, I saw rows of delicately wrapped frames standing on their end, and I asked where they were headed. “Some of them are going to buyers, the rest are going into storage,” said Irmantas Bortnikas, the marketing director. “Once the artists finish something, they set it aside and keep working. If you worry about whether something sells, then you stop producing. And the important thing for them is to keep producing.” The curator and art director play a key role in this process, not only by handling administrative matters, but also in working with the artists to give their pieces a distinctive group identity. “Here at island6, even though each artist only makes a fragment of each artwork, the art directors and the curators are able to organize all the pieces of the puzzle together,” they say.


创作就是一切。

前往参观他们工作室的那天,我看到一排排细心包裹好的作品,我询问这些作品要去到哪里。市场总监 Irmantas Bortnikas 说:“一部分是准备给买家的,其余的就放到仓库。艺术家每完成一件作品,就会把它们放在一边,然后继续开始下一件作品的创作。如果你一直去操心某件作品卖不卖得出去,你就会停止创作。而对艺术家来说最重要的就是保持在创作的轨道上。”在这里,策展人和艺术总监扮演着关键的角色,他们不仅负责处理行政事务,还要与艺术家保持畅通的合作,确保他们的作品保有独特的团队风格。“在六岛,虽然每个艺术家都只负责一件作品的一部分,但艺术总监和策展人总是能够将它们组合的很好。”他们说。

Was His

Liu Dao’s LED works combine a static image, such as a painting, a photograph, or a paper cutting, with a pastel-colored moving image produced by an array of lights. The brown paper background is opaque enough to hide the circuitry, transparent enough for the LED lights to shine through. These works inspire a childlike delight, especially in person, though it’s hard to explain quite why. No doubt the surprise of seeing a moving image dance across a paper screen accounts for much of the charm, and the composition and color choices likewise play a role. All the technical aspects are handled with extreme care, so that the finished product is feels both high-tech and hand-crafted.

Beyond LED art, Liu Dao also produces laser drawings, neon sculptures, and three-dimensional assemblages—such as traditional Chinese vases imprisoned in a rusty cage—not to mention electronic dance tracks. One might even read their wordy “blurbs” as another work of art, an enigmatic prose poem that often only glances at the work it describes.


六岛的 LED 作品将绘画、照片或剪纸等静态图像,与色彩柔和的动态图像结合在一起。牛皮纸背景的透明度恰好能隐藏电路,又足以让 LED 灯光闪透出来。这些作品能让人激发出孩童般的喜悦,特别是当你欣赏到实体作品时,虽然很难解释为什么。毫无疑问,一个移动的图像在一个纸屏幕上跃动,这种神奇的组合本身就具有极大的魅力。当然画面的构成与颜色的选择也有影响,所有的技术都经过极其谨慎的处理,使成品感觉既有前卫的高科技感,又充满手工艺的质朴韵味。

除了 LED 艺术,六岛也会创作激光画、霓虹灯雕塑、或立体的组合装置艺术,譬如将传统中国花瓶装在一个生锈的笼子里的作品。他们甚至还会创作电子舞曲,就连用来描述作品的散文短诗,也可以被看成是另一件艺术作品。

Crosscourt Meditation
Shine Inn

Each season, the artists decide on a focus and collaborate to produce a set of pieces. “Whenever we come up with an idea for a new exhibition, we first brainstorm the theme,” the artists explain. Last year that theme was the woman in the blue wig, who appears in over dozens of works. “When we figure out what the exhibition should be about, the art directors commission the artists to make artworks for the exhibition, and the curators elaborate on the intellectual background.” Collaboration gives their work a distinctive and highly unified style. (True to their group ethos, answers to questions about the creative process come from the collective as a whole, not from any member in particular.)


每一季六岛会挑选一个主题,再交由艺术家去共同创作一系列作品。“每当我们有关于展览的新想法,我们会聚在一起集思广益。” 去年的主题是戴蓝色假发的女人,这个女性形象最终出现在几十件作品中。“当我们确定展览的主题后,艺术总监会委托艺术家针对主题来创作,然后策展人负责进一步构思出展览的叙事背景。” 即使是分工合作的工作模式,他们的作品依然呈现出高度的一致性。(所有关于创作的问题也都是集体回答的,而不是基于任何一位成员,这一点十分符合他们的团体精神。)

Bicycle Kingdom

 

无法观看?前往优酷

Over the last decade or so, Liu Dao has witnessed Shanghai’s art scene blossom into a diverse and global space. The oldest galleries date back only in the 1990s. Even in the mid-2000s, when Liu Dao opened its doors on Moganshan Road, its first location resembled a jungle. “People joked that they needed a machete to get past the wild plants that blocked the path to the gallery and the workshop,” they recall. “Today the situation has dramatically changed. Shanghai’s art scene is already home to amazing museums, such as Yuz Museum, the Power Station of Art, and the Long Museum, that showcase the most prominent artists from around the world.”


在过去十年左右的时间里,六岛见证了上海发展急速的艺术场景,现在这座城市已经成为了一个全球性的多样化空间。但在过去,最早的画廊也只能追溯到20世纪90年代,甚至是21世纪初期。六岛十二年前在莫干山路成立第一个工作室,当时那里看上去像是一片原始的丛林,他们回忆道:“人们开玩笑说,你需要一把镰刀才能穿过那些蔓生在通往画廊和工作室路上的植物。时至今日,上海的艺术场景已经剧烈的改变了——许多令人惊叹的博物馆,譬如余德耀美术馆(Yuz Museum)、上海当代艺术博物、龙美术馆一一开设。在这些博物馆里,你有机会接触到来自世界各地最著名的艺术家的作品。”

Luminous Magnum Opus Nihonshu

Liu Dao is itself a product of this booming international scene. Most of the artists are Chinese, but the collective describes itself as “pretty indifferent to where artists are from,” and it includes a strong international presence. The founding art director, Thomas Charvériat, is French, and current curator, András Gál, is Hungarian. “Many artworks use plot elements from Western movies and references to Western art history, with blurbs written in English alongside the artworks,” they say. ”Simultaneously, we use traditional crafts Chinese and materials such as paper cutting or Chinese realist painting.”

Mixing traditions and practices is key to their philosophy. They recently put on a calligraphy performance that combined Chinese brushwork, Franz Kline-inspired action painting, and Japanese Zen symbols. The point was to play with forms that look alike but carry very different significance. “Even though the outcome may look similar, the meaning behind the art may be different in each culture,” they say. “So why not mix it up and make a cross-cultural performance out of it? This is what island6 is all about.”


六岛本身就是这样一个蓬勃发展的国际艺术舞台的产物。六岛里大多数的艺术家都是中国艺术家,但该团体自称 “不关心艺术家到底来自哪里”,团体中也有许多其他国籍的艺术家。创始人兼艺术总监 Thomas Charvériat 来自法国,而当前的策展人 András Gál 则来自匈牙利。他们说:“许多艺术作品借鉴了西方电影中的剧情元素和西方艺术史,作品旁边会放上英语简介。同时,我们也会运用中国传统工艺品和材料,例如剪纸或写实主义的中国绘画。”

融合传统并付诸实践,是他们创作理念的关键。他们最近展出一个中国书法表演,结合了传统中国书法的笔画、以美国抽象画派艺术家 Franz Kline 为灵感创作的行动绘画,以及日本禅宗符号。重点在于运用这些看起来相似,实际上却拥有截然不同含义的艺术形式。“尽管最终的成品可能看起来很类似,但对于不同文化情境来说,代表的意义可能是不同的。所以何不相结合,创作出跨文化的作品呢?毕竟这正是六岛的精髓所在。”

A Full Turn
Unspoken Word
The Great Recycler
The Ambition Stain

Websiteisland6.org
Instagram: @island6_gallery

 

Contributor: Allen Young


网站: island6.org
Instagram: @island6_gallery

 

投稿人: Allen Young

Revolutionary Chic

In a tiny storefront on Fumin Road, next to the shoebox cafés and hipster bars of Shanghai’s former French Concession, Linda Johnson sells an unusual mix of old and new: antique furniture, vintage maps, cellphone cases, photographs, handmade jewelry, baby onesies, chapbooks, small-press zines, fountain pens, wrapping paper, and much more. Madame Mao’s Dowry, as her boutique is called, first opened its doors in 2001, and in its nearly two decades of operation, Johnson has witnessed a dramatic transformation, both in the surrounding neighborhood and in Chinese design generally. While the shop has changed to keep up with the times—sometimes involuntarily, as when rising rent forced it to shrink to half its original size—Johnson has stayed true to her founding mission: to showcase “design that’s proudly Chinese for living in modern China.”


在上海静安区富民路的一家小店面,在逼仄的咖啡馆和时尚酒吧的边上,Linda Johnson 的店卖的则是不同寻常的新旧组合:古董家具、旧地图、手机盒、照片、手工首饰、婴儿连体衣、诗歌别册、独立杂志、自来水笔、包装纸……等等。这家店在 2001 年首次开张,名为“毛太设计”(Madame Mao’s Dowry)。开业近二十年,Linda 见证了周边社群和中国设计业的戏剧性转变。随着时间的推移,商店不断地衍化调整(有时是不得已而为止:比如几年前由于房租上涨店铺面积缩小到原来的一半)但 Linda 一直忠于初心:“以中国身份为荣的本土现当代设计”。

“In the old days, my partner and I would scout university departments and art studios looking for designers, or follow leads given to us by artists from Shanghai and Beijing. We would use our shop, then on Fuxing Road, like a gallery, holding regular exhibitions of designed products,” Johnson recalls. “Interest in the whole design market was growing rapidly.” Yet in the early 2000s, that interest came largely from foreigners, and it didn’t extend much beyond Qing-dynasty porcelain and textile patterns. “Our aim was to challenge that, and to say that China’s modern history had a significant impact on art practice,” she explains.


在过去的日子里,我和我的搭档会去找大学的设计院系和艺术工作室寻找设计师,或者跟着上海和北京的艺术家给我们的线索去找人。我们会在我们的店铺,或在复兴路,像一个画廊一样定期举办有关设计的产品展览。 Linda 回忆说,人们对整个设计市场的兴趣迅速增长。但是在新世纪初,这些设计感兴趣的主要还是外国人,除了清朝的瓷器和织锦纹样之外,并没有延伸开去。我们的目标是挑战这种状况,并告诉大家中国现代历史对艺术实践产生了重大影响。她解释说。

Johnson’s boutique seeks to highlight the Mao era’s contributions to contemporary design (hence the name). It puts particular emphasis on art and artifacts from the Cultural Revolution, the calamitous decade from 1966 to 1976 that plunged the country into a protracted state of chaos. Customers react to this focus in different ways. “Some can be quite angry and disparaging, assuming that we’re glorifying the horrors, which of course we are not,” says Johnson. “Others are curious to learn more, and our collection of posters and news photographs has provided a resource, especially for local people, to understand something about ordinary life during the period.”

Chinese art from that era, with its smiling peasants and steely-eyed soldiers, today looks colorfully unreal, if not downright camp. Yet Johnson cautions against writing it off as mere propaganda. She believes it can and should be regarded separately from its political origins. “Our focus is the art and design of the period and its impact on contemporary aesthetics, not on the decision-making of its leaders,” she states.


Linda 的精品店试图突出“毛时代”对当代设计的贡献(也因此而得名)。它特别重视文革时期的艺术和艺术品,1966 年至 1976 年那充满灾难的十年,使国家陷入了长期的混乱状态。而顾客对此以呈现不同的反应。Linda 说:有些人可能会非常愤怒或不屑,以为我们在称赞这种暴行,但我们当然不是这个意思。而另一些人则会想了解更多,那么我们收集的海报和新闻照片就提供了资源渠道,特别是对当地人来说,让他们了解这一时期的日常生活。

那个时代的中国艺术作品,总会有面带微笑的农民和目光坚定的士兵,从现在的角度来看颇有些奇幻色彩,甚至可说是矫揉造作。然而,Linda 想要警示人们,不要把它仅仅当作宣传画来看。她认为,这种艺术形式可以而且应该同其政治渊源分开看待。我们的重点是这个时期的艺术和设计及其对当代美学的影响,而不是领导人的决策。她说。

Of course, not all the products in the boutique are from the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, most of them aren’t. Madame Mao’s Dowry features work by contemporary jewelers, ceramic sculptors, printmakers, poets, graphic artists, fashion designers, and more, and their work runs the gamut of different styles. For Johnson, this diversity is proof of how much Shanghai’s design scene has grown over the last two decades. “Design is a very different concept here today,” she notes, “and what’s produced is much more varied and much more sophisticated. There’s also a much broader mix of nationalities of young designers living in Shanghai.”


当然,店里并非所有的产品都是上世纪六七十年代的,事实上,绝大部分都不是。“毛太设计”以当代珠宝商、陶瓷雕刻家、版画师、诗人、平面艺术家、时装设计师的作品为特色,并涵盖了各种不同的风格。对 Linda 来说,这种多样性证明了过去二十年中上海设计界的巨大进步。在如今,设计是一个非常不同的概念。她说,它所产生的是更加多样化和复杂得多的东西。生活在上海的年轻设计师的国籍也要广泛得多。”

Beyond providing a space for local designers to sell their wares, Madame Mao’s also hosts events, such as poetry readings for Literary Shanghai or the Shanghai Literary Review. The aim is to provide a space for creative people working in Shanghai. “Many visitors have remarked that Madame Mao’s Dowry is more like a museum than a shop,” says Johnson. “It’s about valuing the culture China produces, not just selling it.”


除了为当地设计师提供销售商品的空间外,“毛太设计”还举办活动,如《文学上海》或《上海文艺评论》的诗歌阅读会。其目的是为在上海工作的创意人才提供一个空间。很多游客都说,‘毛太设计’与其说是一家商店,倒不如说更像是一个博物馆。” Linda 如是说,这是对中国生产的文化的珍视,而不仅仅是销售产品。

As Shanghai continues to change, Madame Mao’s, with its mix of antique and contemporary design, provides a bridge between the city’s past and its future. Johnson says that the visitors she values most, even though they rarely purchase anything, are the locals who have lived in the neighborhood for most of their lives: “they share stories with me of their experiences, which are often tinged with nostalgia and regularly surprising.” In a city single-mindedly turned toward the future, insisting on the relevance of mid-twentieth-century art is a way of keeping the past alive.


随着上海的不断变化,“毛夫人嫁妆”和当代设计的结合,为这座城市的过去和未来提供了一座桥梁。Linda 说,她最看重的是来此的顾客,即使他们很少购买任何东西,但他们是那些在附近生活了大半生的当地人:他们和我分享他们的经历,这些经历常常带有怀旧的味道,而且经常令人惊讶。在这个一心扑向未来的城市里,坚持与上世纪中期的艺术作品有所关联,可谓是一种铭记过往的方式。

Address:
207 Fumin Road
Jing’an District, Shanghai
People’s Republic of China

Hours: Monday ~ Sunday, 10 am ~ 7 pm

Website: madamemaosdowry.com

 

Contributor: Allen Young
Photographer: David Yen


地址:
中国
上海市静安区
富民路 207 号

营业时间: 周一至周日,早上10点至晚上7点

网站madamemaosdowry.com

 

供稿人: Allen Young
摄影师: David Yen

The Shanghai Literary Review

“When I first came to Shanghai two years ago, I didn’t find a very visible English-language literary community,” says Juli Min, the editor of the Shanghai Literary Review, “so I wanted to create that space.” Twice a year, her journal publishes poetry, fiction, essays, book reviews, and translations, along with an assortment of visual art. Its pieces run the gamut from an essay by Zou Jingzhi, the playwright and screenwriter known for The Grandmaster, to an interview with Eleanor Goodman, the acclaimed translator of Chinese poetry, to paintings by artists who are still at university. It’s become a beacon for creators from around the world, a community both within each printed volume and in the Shanghai bars and cafés where it holds events. This spring has been a flurry of activity: issue no. 3 will come out in June, while a special volume about Chinese cities, titled Concrete, hits the press at the end of May.


“两年前我第一次来到上海,我找不到任何英语的文学团体,所以我就想自己创立一个。”《上海文艺评论》编辑 Juli Min 说道。这本杂志每年出版两期,内容包括诗歌、小说、散文、书评、译文,以及各种视觉艺术。杂志的内容题材广泛,既有《一代宗师》的编剧邹静之的散文作品,也有著名中文诗词译者顾爱玲(Eleanor Goodman)的访谈,甚至能看到还在念大学的年轻艺术家的画作。现在,《上海文艺评论》已经成为全球创意工作者的一盏明灯,它不将自己局限于纸本杂志上,还在上海各处的酒吧和咖啡馆举办活动。今年春季,对杂志来说格外忙碌:第三期杂志将于6月份发行;以中国城市为主题的特刊《Concrete》(《混凝土》),也将于5月底发行。

Of course, you can’t create a community by yourself, and Min has had some help. In late 2016 she founded the Shanghai Literary Review with fellow writers Kenny Ong, Ryan Thorpe, and Mike Fu, and over the last year and a half the journal’s masthead has grown to four more editors—Alex Gobin, Brian Haman, Colum Murphy, Nina Powles, and Fuping Shao—and a rotating cohort of assistants and interns. Together they organize poetry readings, open mics, book clubs, author talks, and an array of events that draw both expats and locals. They regularly collaborate with kindred organizations like Literary Shanghai (a separate group with a similar name) or the storytelling collective Unravel. In April they teamed up with Spittoon, a literary magazine from Beijing, to organize a music and poetry soirée called “Spit-tunes.”


当然,单靠一个人的力量要打造这样一个群体是不可能的, Min 也是如此。2016年末,她与作家好友 Kenny Ong、Ryan Thorpe 以及 Mike Fu 一起创办《上海文艺评论》,经历一年半的时间,杂志目前又多了五名编辑 Alex Gobin、Brian Haman、Colum Murphy、Nina Powles、以及 Fuping Shao,以及一个助理和实习生团队。他们在一起组织诗歌阅读、开放麦 (open mics) 、读书俱乐部、作者会谈,以及吸引到众多外籍和当地文学爱好者的活动。他们也经常与类似组织合作,譬如文艺上海(名称相似的文学组织)、或是 Unravel(每月会定期举办故事分享会的团体)。四月份,他们与来自北京的文学杂志《Spittoon》合作,组织了一个叫做 “Spit-tunes” 的音乐诗歌活动。

Despite the name, the journal isn’t just about Shanghai: its stories and art look far beyond the city, its contributors come from around the world, and its editors are scattered across China, the US, and the UK. Nor does the journal aspire to speak for the city or its readers. “We’ve never fooled ourselves into thinking that we were the voice of Shanghai or representative of China’s literary scene,” clarifies Min. “Our magazine is an English-language magazine, for an English-reading audience. We also don’t think of ourselves as representing expat writers per se, in that we don’t privilege expat voices or stories when selecting works.” Instead, the title is an attempt to create a cosmopolitan space for artists from around the world, particularly those based in Asia.

The Shanghai they claim is both a real city, with its daily rhythms and its grit and glamour, and an imagined space of dislocation and convergence, where people may spend years living side-by-side and never meet. In its small way, the Shanghai Literary Review provides a space for global lives and stories to be shared.


虽然名为《上海文艺评论》,但杂志本身的地域性绝对超越这座城市。编辑遍布中国、美国和英国各地,其中收录的故事和艺术、和作者群也来自世界各地。况且,为上海及所在的读者发言,也并非杂志本身的意图。“我们从未认为自己是在替上海发声,或是代表中国文学界。” Min 说,“我们是一本英文杂志,目标是英文读者。但同样地,我们也不认为自己代表外国作家,因为我们在选择作品的时候不会特别偏向外国作家的作品。” 相反的,之所以取这个杂志名,只是试图为来自世界各地的艺术家,特别是那些位于亚洲的艺术家创造一个世界性的空间。

他们所说的 “上海” 既是指现实中的这座城市,一座快节奏、充满毅力和魅力的城市;也是一个人来人往的想象空间,人们共同生活在这里却从未打过照面,彼此不断错过、相遇、再错过。《上海文艺评论》提供了一个平台,为的是把人们聚集起来,分享这些来自世界各地的生活与故事。

Min and her colleagues have now shepherded two issues to print, and two more are on the way. As soon as she started the first one, she was hooked. “I just love the whole process—reading, editing, layout, proofing,” she says. “It’s a lot of work, but I love seeing text and art come together into something physical, collectible, something you can give to a loved one, something that brings joy. After we did issue one, I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to do more—I had an insatiable appetite to produce.”


Min 和团队已经发表了两期杂志,接下来还有两期正在筹备当中。从她开始制作第一期杂志开始,她就完全着迷了。她说:“我真的很享受整个过程——阅读、编辑、排版、校对。工作量很大,但我喜欢看到文字和艺术结合在一起,变成实实在在、可以收藏起来的东西,一些你可以用来送给所爱的人,以及带来快乐的物品。发行第一期的杂志之后,我总觉得还不够。我想做更多。关于创作,我会有点 ‘贪得无厌’。”

That appetite led Min and her colleagues to put together a special volume between issues two and three. Concrete, which comes out at the end of May, centers on China’s cities. “I worked on the book together with Alex, our Visual Editor. We settled on the idea of lyric essays paired with photography,” she recalls. “Memoir and photography both capture reality as well as distort it, and we thought that these two forms would work well in conversation.” The result is a distinctly literary and artistic view on China’s breakneck urbanization.


这种 “贪得无厌”,让 Min 和团队决定在杂志的第二期和第三期之间推出一个特刊——那就是将在五月底发行、以中国城市为主题的《Concrete》。“我和视觉编辑 Alex 一起商量如何制作这期特刊。我们最后决定采用抒情散文搭配摄影作品的作法。” 她回忆道,“回忆录和摄影,既能捕捉现实也能扭曲事实,所以我们觉得这两种形式的对话会挺不错的。” 最终的成果就是这本以文学与艺术角度,去讲述中国快速城市化进程的杂志。

Even with the narrow theme, the texts take a range of approaches. “The pieces are incredibly diverse in style, subject, voice, and I’m really proud to have them all,” says Min. “One of my favorites is ‘The Bureaucrats’ Daughters,’ by Lynn Zhao. She writes about her and her friends’ childhoods growing up on Beijing’s Wanshou Road as daughters of high-level Party officials. Though Zhao is a young writer, there’s a great sense of nostalgia that pervades her writing.” That young writers can find a welcome in the journal speaks to its inclusiveness—and its cosmopolitanism.


即使只讲述单一个主题,但杂志内的文字仍然展现出极其丰富的创作方式。Min 说:“这些作品在风格、主题、语调方面非常多样化,我真的很自豪能将它们全部呈现出来。我最喜欢的作品之一是 Lynn Zhao 的《The Bureaucrats’ Daughters》(《官场的女儿》)。作者讲述了自己作为高官党员的女儿和其他同样身份的朋友,发生在北京万寿路的童年故事。虽然 Zhao 还很年轻,但她写作的字里行间弥漫着浓厚的怀旧情绪。” 一本杂志能够欢迎如此年轻的作家,恰恰印证了它的包容性及其世界主义。

The Shanghai Literary Review is cosmopolitan in the best sense of the word: it brings together voices from around the world, both established and novice, and its events are open to all. And with activities spanning at least three continents, it’s hard to keep up with. Concrete will launch in Shanghai on May 31, at an event the journal is putting on with local storytelling group Unravel, while issue 3 comes out in June. The summer and fall will see more events in Shanghai, New York, and London. “What we wanted to do was build a literary community and stay connected to the global literary world,” says Min. By any measure, they’ve succeeded.


《上海文艺评论》很好地诠释了 “世界性” 一词: 它汇集了来自世界各地的声音,其中有些是早有建树的艺术家,有些是刚刚崭露头角的新人。它所举办的活动向所有人开放,足迹遍布三大洲,范围之广很难让人跟上他们的脚步。《Concrete》将于5月31日在上海发行,在杂志与上海故事分享组织 Unravel 合作举办的活动中推出。第三期《上海文艺评论》也将于6月发行。夏秋之际,杂志还将在上海、纽约和伦敦举办更多活动。“我们想要做的是建立一个文学团体,一个与全球文学世界保持联系的社团。” Min 说。无论如何,他们都成功了。

Concrete is now available for pre-purchase on the Neocha Shop.

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《Concrete》现已于 Neocha商店 发行预售版。

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Details:

  • Year of Publication: 2018
  • Pages: 164
  • Size: 17cm x 24cm

详情:

  • 出版年份:2018
  • 页数:164
  • 尺寸: 17 x 24 厘米


《上海文艺评论》特刊 “Concrete”

¥100

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EventLost in Translation: A Storytelling Collaboration with Unravel and the Shanghai Literary Review
Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018
Time: 6:30 PM
Ticket: Advance tickets are available for purchase here.

Address:
The Parlour
Block 24, 1F-103
1262 West Yan’an Road (near Panyu Road)
Changning District, Shanghai
People’s Republic of China


活动: Lost in Translation: A Storytelling Collaboration with Unravel and the Shanghai Literary Review
日期: 2018年5月31日(星期四)
时间: 下午六点半
门票: 请点击此处提前购票

地址:
中国
上海市长宁区
延安西路1262号(近番禺路)
24幢1F-103室
The Parlour

Website: shanghailiterary.com
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Contributor: Allen Young
Photographer: David Yen


网站: shanghailiterary.com
脸书: ~/shanghailiterary

 

Contributor: Allen Young
Photographer: David Yen

Painting Silence

A tiny figure in a dark coat and red hat stands in the center of a vast white space, as if lost in the middle a snow-covered plain. At the top of the frame, a flat, powder-blue band indicates the sky, while a gray tint in the foreground and pair of trees in the distance add minimal texture to the landscape. Not far from the figure stands a horse. The two regard each other with ambivalence, perhaps in an attitude of mutual defiance or mutual need. Tiny islands of color against the canvas, the human and the animal seem at once utterly alone and bound together by a shared isolation.


一个穿着深色大衣、头顶红色帽子的渺小身影,站在一片茫茫白色世界的中心,好像在积雪覆盖的荒原中迷路了。画面最上方的一片浅蓝色代表天空,前景的一抹灰色阴影与远处的两棵树木,增添了景观的层次感。在离这个小人儿不远处,站着一匹马。人与马之间流露着一股模糊不清的游移气氛,像是在挑衅,也像是在确认彼此存在的需要。小人儿与马占去了画布上两个细小的色块,他们是独立的,却又因为这种共同的孤独而联系在一起。

Thai artist Yozanun Suntur Wutigonsombutkul, better known simply as Suntur, was born and raised in Bangkok. After a few years working writing copy at an advertising agency, in 2015 he decided to take the leap and devote himself full-time to his art. His work has earned him a large fan base, as well as exhibitions in his hometown and in Hong Kong. Two years ago he took an even bigger leap and moved to New York by himself. Since then, Suntur has embraced a pared-down style that seems to radiate a deep quiet, almost as though he had set out to paint silence. This style was on display at his recent solo exhibition, fittingly titled Zero Decibel, at the Yelo Gallery in Bangkok.


泰国艺术家 Yozanun Suntur Wutigonsombutkul 更为人熟知的名字是 Suntur ,他在曼谷出生和长大。在广告公司工作了几年后,2015 年他做了一个大胆的决定——全心投入他的艺术创作。他的作品为他吸引到了大批粉丝,曾在泰国和香港举办过展览。两年前他又做了一个更大胆的决定——毅然决然搬到纽约生活。从那之后,Suntur 的创作开始转向一种极简风格,简洁的画面散发一股深沉的静谧,仿佛他一心要画的就是寂静本身。最近,他在曼谷知名的 Yelo 画廊 举办了个人作品展,取了个贴切的名字为《Zero Decibel》(《零分贝》)。

Nearly all of the paintings in the Zero Decibel series feature small figures, often alone, that are dwarfed by an enormous backdrop of solid colors and geometric shapes. One image depicts a lone figure on a charcoal-color landscape under a jet-black sky. A few strips of gray define the horizon, and the piercing yellow ray of a flashlight provides the sole concession to color in the painting. Almost abstract in its simplicity, this image, like many in the series, conveys a sharp sense of isolation. Its near-emptiness carries a powerful emotional charge.


《Zero Decibel》中几乎每幅作品都有一个单独的人,与之形成对比的是一大片的单一色块与几何形状。其中一幅作品,一个孤独的身影站在一片灰炭色风景中,天空也是一片乌黑。一抹灰色笔触定义了地平线,电筒发出的黄色光线成为画面中唯一的亮色彩。这幅画简单得近乎抽象,正如系列中许多作品一样,传达出强烈的孤独感。近乎空虚的画面引发观者强烈的情绪反应。

This emotional impact is perhaps a new feature of Suntur’s art. Much of his earlier work consists of cute, carefree images on a blank backdrop — balloons, palm trees, cottages, faces, composed in the sort of whimsical illustrations you’d see on a letterpress greeting card. In Zero Decibel, his style feels more refined. “I think I’m changing, growing up,” he says. “Many things have changed, like the medium, from watercolor to acrylic, and the size, from small sheets of paper to large canvases.”


这种情感冲击也许是 Suntur 艺术创作的一个新特点。他早期的许多作品都是在空白背景下一些可爱的图像,譬如气球、棕榈树、小屋和脸,充满异想天开的插图,就像贺卡上的画一样无忧无虑。然而在《Zero Decibel》里,他创作的风格更加精致了。他说:“我想我正在改变、成长。许多事情都改变了,譬如我创作的媒介,从水彩到丙烯酸。画的大小也变了,从小幅画纸变成大幅画布。”

Suntur’s Instagram features an enhanced, animated version of some of these images in the form of a simple GIF. Invariably cute, these animations produce a very different effect: by adding elements of a story, they remove some of the static ambiguity from which the images draw their force.


Suntur 将一部分画制作成简单的 GIF 动画并放在 Instagram 上,两种作品的表现形式都很讨人喜欢,但 GIF 能表现更加丰富的故事性,并减少静态画作中一些意义不明的模糊性。

Suntur credits his move to New York for the change in his style. “I can experience different cultures, and can see art from around the world,” he says. Perhaps more importantly, the distance from his family and friends has also had an impact. “I’m far from my family, so I live by myself,” he adds. “I think the loneliness has changed my art.” If so, he’s taken his isolation and made it a source of strength. The quiet paintings in Zero Decibel turn a deceptive simplicity to devastating effect.


Suntur 说搬到纽约生活是触发他创作风格转变的主因。“我可以体验不同的文化,看到来自世界各地的艺术。” 他说。但是也许更重要的影响来自他与家人朋友之间遥远的距离。他补充道:“我离家很远,一个人住,可能是我自身的孤独改变了我的艺术。” 如果是这样的话,孤独如今已经成为了他的力量源泉。《Zero Decibel》中那些看似 “寂静无声” 的画,将一种假象式的单调转换成了震撼力十足的情感冲击。

 

无法观看?前往优酷

Website: illusuntur.com
Instagram: @suntur

 

Contributor: Allen Young


网站: illusuntur.com
Instagram: @suntur

 

投稿人: Allen Young

Between Dog and Wolf

The Only Question Is How to Endure — Seizing the Moment (from Towards Evenings: Six Chapters)

Towards Evening: Six Chapters is Beijing-based artist Chen Zhe’s exploration of a personal obsession: the sense of dread she experiences with the arrival of evening. Begun in 2012 and now perhaps only half-complete, the project has been continuously refined and expanded over the course of several exhibitions, most recently this spring at OCAT in Xi’an, and last fall at Bank Gallery in Shanghai. Chen’s patience is evident in the each of the items that make up the show—photographs, texts, sculptures, and archival images—all clearly the product of long and careful meditation.


来自北京的艺术家陈哲自小就对黄昏怀有一种复杂的不安感受,而她的长期项目《向晚六章》正是她对这种不安感的深入探索。《向晚六章》始于 2012 年,项目的完成度迄今尚未过半,其内容仍在艺术家每次展览里持续完善和生长。陈哲最近的一次个展是春天在西安 OCAT,去年秋天还曾在上海 Bank Gallery 画廊展出。展出的媒介从照片、文字、雕塑到档案图像,每一件作品都体现出陈哲非凡的耐心,每一件作品也都显然经过持久与细致的思考。

The Only Question Is How to Endure

Chen’s first two projects, Bees and The Bearable, published together as a photobook in 2016 to critical acclaim, documented self-harm and psychological distress in unsparing detail. Towards Evenings is both more ambitious and more idiosyncratic, and it’s cementing Chen’s reputation as one of China’s major young artists.


2016 年,陈哲此前的两个主题相续的摄影系列《蜜蜂》和《可承受的》集结成书,并于出版后大获好评。此书呈现了陈哲对于不安的心灵、受伤的身体以及二者之间难以捉摸的关联的长期思考。相比之下,《向晚六章》的规模要更为宏大,主题也更具作者性。它的出现亦巩固了陈哲作为中国重要年轻艺术家之一的地位。

From Bees
From Bees
Entre Chien et Loup — Dog / Wolf

“I have always had symptoms of ‘evening uneasiness,’ and it’s not uncommon if you search for it online,” Chen explains. Finding no diagnosis or explanation for the condition, she eventually began to look for ways to make sense of it through her art. The ambiguity of twilight—the time the French call entre chien et loup, “between dog and wolf”—itself provided a clue. “How to ask an ambiguous question? Perhaps the way it’s asked must itself be ambiguous,” she says. “It can be neither too scientific nor too lyrical—it needs to be something in the middle.” Her answer is a series of images, texts, installations, and objects that evoke or reflect evening and its accompanying disquiet.


“我一直都有点儿‘向晚意不适’,事实上,如果你上网搜索,有类似感受的人并不少见。”陈哲如此说道。然而,一直以来,她始终未曾找到这种“意不适”的缘由,而这种求知的心最终引领她通过艺术创作来回应它。法语中的黄昏可以被写为 “entre chien et loup”,意为“介于狗与狼之间的时间”,表达在日暮时分人们难以辨别来客是狗是狼——原本清晰的界限变得模棱两可。“如何提出一个被认为是真假难辨的问题?或许需要这个提问的方式本身难辨真假。”陈哲说道,“它不能太科学,也不能太抒情。它需要界乎于这两者之间。”而陈哲也正是在她创作的影像、文本、装置和物件中,召唤并回应了黄昏带来的不安。

The Only Question Is How to Endure — Understanding Eternity
The Only Question Is How to Endure — Resisting

It’s tempting to view “evening uneasiness” as a metaphor for a fear of mortality, or the anxiety that can accompany any sort of ending. But Chen’s work avoids easy symbols, and instead relies on a series of indeterminate juxtapositions. This is the case of the “sun clock” that hangs at the opening of the show and charts the project’s progress: as each chapter is completed, another section of the clock lights up. A shining sun is a curious reversal for a show about nightfall. Does it suggest that the completed project will banish evening’s anxieties, or that darkness itself is a form of illumination?


人们很容易将“向晚意不适”解释为对于死亡的恐惧,或是伴随任何形式的结束而来的一种焦虑。但陈哲的作品避免了这些显而易见的象征,转而依赖于一系列模棱两可的对比。譬如在个展入口墙上悬挂着的《向晚时计》。这一时钟样貌的圆盘标记了整个项目的进度:每完成一个小节,相对应的光柱就会亮起;项目结束之时,它则会化身为一个完整的太阳。燃烧的太阳与这场关于日暮的展览形成了奇妙的对比。它是否在说,项目的完结将会消除艺术家对于黄昏的焦虑?还是说,黑暗本质上是另一种形式的光明?

Clock
Entre Chien et Loup — Light / Twilight
The Only Question Is How to Endure — Immersing (detail)

One of the most unsettling pieces in the show is a photograph of a spiderweb silhouetted against the afternoon sun, covered in several dozen spiders. The spiders arouse feelings of revulsion or danger, in stark contrast to the carefree summer day that the rest of the photograph conveys. Yet they are also, in their eerie way, beautiful.  The photo thus creates a sort of double juxtaposition: on one hand, the beauty of the sunlight against the dread evoked by the spiders; on the other, the dread evoked by the spiders against the beauty they also possess.


展览中最令人不安的作品之一,是一张为暮光所映衬的蜘蛛网的照片,上百只蜘蛛密密麻麻地挂满了整张蛛网。蜘蛛往往令人反感或惧怕,但诡秘的是,同照片里的其他部分传达的无忧无虑的夏日景象形成鲜明对比,这里的蜘蛛同时具有着一种离奇的美感。这张照片因此创造了双重的对比:一方面是夏日阳光之美感对比了蜘蛛予人之恐惧感;另一方面则是蜘蛛予人之恐惧感与它们自身无法被忽视的美感。

The Only Question Is How to Endure — Immersing (detail)
Study of a Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke

A different kind of juxtaposition appears in a triptych titled “A Study of a Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.” The piece combines text—a blending of different English translations of Rilke’s poem “Evening” (“Abend”)—with drawing and photography. It invites the viewer to see parallels across media, to view the text as an image or read the image as a literary text.


作品《理解一首里尔克的诗》则呈现了不同类型的对比。这组作品以三联的形式依次对里尔克的诗作《黄昏》(《Abend》)进行了剖析:对不同英译版的拼贴组合、诗中关键词与插图的叠加、奇遇的照片。在看和读中激发观众去思考不同媒介的相似之处;尝试将文本视作图像,同时将图像当作文本来解读。

Study of a Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke
An Expansion of Kobo Abe’s “The Red Cocoon,” Experiment II 2
An Expansion of Kobo Abe’s “The Red Cocoon,” Experiment II 5

Even beyond the poem by Rilke, Towards Evenings is a distinctly literary project. It includes long passages from E. M. Cioran and Claude Lévi-Strauss, as well as a series of photographs based on Kobo Abe’s “The Red Cocoon.” The project’s title is itself a reference to two separate poems: Austrian expressionist Georg Trakl’s “Toward Evening My Heart” (“Zu Abend mein Herz”) and Tang dynasty poet Li Shangyin’s “Leyou Plateau” (乐游原), which begins “Towards Evening My Mind Is Not at Ease.” “Visual expression and literary expression are both a sort of translation of reality and experience. But in every translation there’s a loss,” says Chen. “When making art, what I think about most, when faced with a sort of twilight reality or twilight perception, is what mode of expression can minimize this loss, while preserving, to the extent possible, the elusive quality of the subject itself.”


《向晚六章》毫无疑问是一个极富文学性的项目。除了德语诗人里尔克(Rilke)的诗歌之外,陈哲还引用了包括罗马尼亚哲学家萧沆(E. M. Cioran)、法国人类学家列维-斯特劳斯(Claude Lévi-Strauss)等人著作中段落,并创作了一组以日本小说家安部公房的短篇小说《赤之茧》为原型的摄影作品。事实上,《向晚六章》这一标题本身就来源于两首诗,分别是奥地利表现主义诗人特拉克尔(Georg Trakl)的《Zu Abend mein Herz》(《向晚,我的心》)和唐朝诗人李商隐《乐游原》中的诗句“向晚意不适”。陈哲解释道:“视觉表达和文学表达都是现实和经验的一种翻译。但凡是翻译,就会有耗损。我在创作时最常考虑的是,在面对一种黄昏的现实,或者说一种对于黄昏的感知时,如何表达才能最大程度地降低这种耗损,同时又尽可能地保留言说对象自身的暧昧特质。”

891 Dusks: An Encyclopedia of Psychological Experiences

One of the strangest and most intriguing pieces is a large leather-bound book titled 891 Dusks: An Encyclopedia of Psychological Experiences. It contains, in index-like fashion, a mysterious list of symptoms. An entry for “delirium” is typical. Under the heading, we read:

Delirium

night
bed and escapes, springs up suddenly from
business, talks of
busy
loquacious
mild
murmuring
muttering
himself, to
persecution in d., delusions of
quiet
sepsis, from
sleep, falling asleep, on
sleeplessness, and
trembling, with

The awkward entries, with the pseudo-exactness of their organization, read like an avant-garde poem. Chen took the text from the New Comprehensive Homeopathic Materia Medica of Mind, a compendium of symptoms that various homeopathic remedies are intended to treat. “I scanned every page of the book, erased the parts that were not quite relevant, and changed the names of the 891 types of herbs to the experience of encountering dusk in 891 times,” she explains. She also redesigned the book to give it an almost biblical look. “If you look carefully, you can see the original title embossed on the cover, while the new title is printed in gold ink.” In an accompanying video, voices read selected entries aloud in English and Chinese.


展览中最为独特且令人着迷的作品之一,是一本名为《关于891次黄昏心灵活动的百科全书》的精装皮面书。它以类似索引的方式,列出一个症状清单。譬如在“狂乱(Delirium)”这个词条下,我们可以读到:

狂乱

夜晚
床上跳起并逃跑,突然从
讨论工作
忙碌
喋喋不休
温和的
诉怨
自言自语
迫害,妄想被
安静
败血,来自
睡眠,入睡,当
失眠,和
颤抖,伴随

看似古怪的文字,加之貌似严谨的格式排版,让这段话读起来就像是一首先锋派诗歌。这件以书为载体的作品来自于陈哲对于出版物《全新心灵顺势疗剂药典》(《New Comprehensive Homeopathic Materia Medica of Mind》)的篡改。她谈道:“我逐页扫描了整本书,删除掉那些与‘黄昏不适’不太相关的部分,并将其中891种草药的名字替换为891次,以对应日日回访的黄昏体验。” 此外,陈哲还重新设计了书的封面,让它看上去像是《圣经》般的经典著作。 “如果你贴近看,你仍然可以在封面上找到原始的标题——那些只被印凹的黑色部分,而新被赋予的标题则额外多了一层金色墨水。”部分节选的词条在同这本书配套展出的视频中还会由艺术家以中英双语朗诵出来。

891 Dusks: An Encyclopedia of Psychological Experiences
891 Dusks: An Encyclopedia of Psychological Experiences

Towards Evenings began an as attempt to shed light, if only obliquely, on a peculiar dread of the coming of night. Neither clinical nor cathartic, the project does not explain or dispel that dread. But it does perhaps offer a brief sort of clarity, a fleeting revelation of the hidden ties between sensations, images, objects, and words. “For me, making art means solving one riddle while posing another, answering one question while asking another,” concludes Chen. “The riddles and questions vary with the circumstances of each artist, but the experience of grappling with them remains, and becomes a source of insight.”


《向晚六章》的创作初衷是陈哲对于“向晚意不适”的求解,而落实在每一件作品上,它们既没有冷冰冰地分析这种不适,也没有以宣泄的方式来试图消除它。然而,它确实为观者提供了一刻短暂的清醒,一场对知觉、图像、物体和文字之间的隐蔽关系的短暂揭示。“对我来说,创作就是在解开谜的时候制造新的谜,在理解问题的时候提出新的问题。谜和问题会根据创作者的境遇更迭,而与它们相处的经验,最终都会变成锦囊,留在创作者身上。”

The Only Question Is How to Endure — Resisting (detail)

Website: www.zheis.com

 

Contributor: Allen Young

 


网站:www.zheis.com

 

投稿人: Allen Young

Traces of Time

An elegant, understated charm runs through the furniture of Hung-Ming Chen and Chen-Yen Wei. With clean lines and gentle curves, their tables and chairs feel both effortless and painstakingly designed. Afteroom, the couple’s Stockholm-based studio, has been winning widespread acclaim across Europe and Asia, and even earned a spot on Architonic’s 2016-17 list of the world’s top 100 designers.


家具设计师陈宏铭和魏晨燕的家具作品总是流露着一股优雅、低调的魅力。俐落的线条与柔和的曲线设计,使得他们的桌椅显得随意自然又设计精心。夫妻俩在斯德哥尔摩成立的 Afteroom 工作室在欧洲和亚洲已经赢得广泛赞誉,甚至被知名建筑设计网站 Architonic 评为 2016-2017 世界 100 位顶尖设计师。

When Chen and Wei moved from Taiwan to Sweden in 2006, they planned to stay for just two years, while Chen completed his master’s at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design. Twelve years later they’re still there, making furniture and providing interior design consulting. “We were quite naive, and didn’t think too much before we came here—which was probably a good thing,” they recall. “Otherwise, we couldn’t have accomplished a thing.”


2006 年,陈宏铭和魏晨燕从台湾移居瑞典,他们当时的计划只是停留两年,等陈宏铭完成在瑞典国立艺术与设计大学的硕士学位就离开。但是,如今十二年过去了,他们仍然生活在瑞典,在那里制作家具及提供室内设计等方面的咨询。“我们当时比较天真,来瑞典之前也没有想太多,但这可能是件好事。”他们回忆说,“否则,我们可能什么也做不成。”

In a country where furniture design is something of a national obsession, standing out is no mean feat. Working in Stockholm makes it easier for them to meet with their clients, many of whom are based in Europe. Still, they note, “we miss our families—and the food—back in Taiwan every day.”


在一个举国都为家具设计而痴迷的国度里,要脱颖而出绝非易事。在斯德哥尔摩工作,使他们容易接触到总部设在欧洲的许多客户。不过他们也说:“我们没有一天不想念我们在台湾的家人和那里的美食!”

Afteroom’s minimalism echoes the design of the early and mid-twentieth century. Though they frequently cite Germany’s Bauhaus movement as inspiration, the couple has never thought of their designs as having any particular regional roots, whether in Europe or in Asia.

Rather, they focus solely on how easy their furniture is to use, and how it looks with the passage of time. “The only thing we care about is whether the piece can be both used practically and maintained aesthetically,” they say.


Afteroom 工作室的作品充满着 20 世纪早中期风格的极简主义。虽然他们经常从德国包豪斯设计运动中获取灵感,但在他们看来,自己的设计向来没有扎根于任何特定的区域,无论是欧洲还是亚洲。

事实上,他们只专注于所设计的家具是否简单方便,以及它随着时间推移在外观上会如何变化。他们说:“我们唯一关心的是作品是否实用,以及长时间使用下来能不能保持美观。”

The Afteroom chair, one of the studio’s signature items, has an appealing simplicity: the curvature of the legs echoes the circular seat, while the bar that connects the backrest also joins the legs. Similarly, their sideboard uses striking vertical lines that catch the eye without adding visual clutter.


Afteroom 的椅子是工作室的代表作之一,这件作品有着极为出色的简约设计:椅脚的曲率呼应着圆形椅座, 连接椅背的长条形状与椅脚融合为一。他们的餐具柜也延续了同样的极简主义,摒弃所有令人眼花缭乱的元素,利用醒目的垂直线条来吸引目光。

The core of Chen and Wei’s design philosophy lies in what they call “advocating the traces of time.” This means creating objects that don’t become outdated or shopworn but improve as they age. “A great design should be something that constantly arouses your desire to keep it in your life, something that you really can’t get tired of looking at,” they explain. To enhance an object’s aesthetics, they eliminate unnecessary elements to achieve a pared-down simplicity. “The purpose is to keep the work timeless, and to let it remain neutral rather than burdensome, so the user won’t easily grow tired of it and discard it.”


陈宏铭和魏晨燕的核心设计理念,在于所谓 “突显时光的痕迹”。这意味着他们创作的作品不会过时或变旧,而是能够随着时间经过,不断升华。“一个好的设计应该能不断激发你将它留住的欲望,让你永远不会感到厌倦。” 为了增强作品的美感,他们去掉所有不必要的元素,以求获得极致的简约。他们解释道 “目的是保持作品的经典性,让它保持中立而不是变成负担。这样一来,使用者才不会轻易就厌倦或丢弃它。”

Website: afteroom.com
Instagram: @afteroom_studio

 

Contributor: Allen Young


网站: afteroom.com
Instagram@afteroom_studio

 

投稿人: Allen Young

Unpopularity Contest

“Your biggest problem,” shouts a sadistic instructor at a confused group of writers, “is that you’re too mass-market!” The first story in Da Tou Ma’s How to Write a Worstseller tells of an unusual workshop whose participants learn how to curb their sales appeal. The author seems to be poking fun at literary snobbery, even as she cleverly uses this satire to claim her place as a serious writer.

Da Tou Ma is quickly making a name for herself on China’s literary scene. Her three books – How to Write a Worstseller (2017), Skinner (2017), and Murdering the Television (2015) – have earned her praise from established figures such as Jin Yucheng and Luo Yijun, and English translations of her stories have recently appeared in the Beijing literary magazine Spittoon. Her writing is lively, original, and smart, effortlessly combining literary aims with the readability of – yes – a bestseller.


“你们最大的问题啊,是太畅销!” 一位施虐狂般的导师吼道,底下坐的是一群困惑的作家。这是大头马的作品《不畅销小说写作指南》中的第一个故事,讲述一群作家在一场写作培训班上学习如何让自己的作品不被畅销。作者看似是在嘲刺当今文学的势利性,却又巧妙地利用这种讽刺,来宣称她自己是一位严肃的作家。

大头马在中国文坛迅速成名。她的三本书《不畅销小说写作指南》(2017)、《潜能者们》(2017)和《谋杀电视机》(2015)均获得了金宇澄和骆以军等人的称赞。最近,她的作品还被翻译成英文发表在北京文艺杂志《Spittoon》上。她的写作风格活泼、新颖、机智,也像畅销小说一样轻松易读。

Her unusual pseudonym, which literally means “Big Head Ma,” began as a childhood nickname. “When I was little my forehead was big – not that it’s small now – so my friends and relatives, and the kids at school, used to call me ‘Big Head,’” she explains. “And since my Mom’s last name is Ma, her coworkers at the office, where I’d spend most of my free time after school, would call me ‘Little Ma.’” That’s why, in the early days of the internet, when she had to pick a screen name, “Da Tou Ma” was a natural choice—and it stuck. As a child, she used it for her first articles and posts, and before long it became a part of her identity, online as well as off. “Gradually the name became my name in real life. Everyone, even my parents, calls me Da Tou Ma,” she says.


“大头马”这个有意思的笔名源自她童年时的绰号。“我小时候脑门大 (现在也不小),是身体上鲜明的特点。所以亲朋好友和同学都喜欢喊我‘大头’。” 她继续解释,“又由于我母亲姓马,小时候放学后经常到我母亲工作的地方打发时间,她的同事都喊我‘小马’。”因此,当刚开始在网上要投稿和发帖时,她很自然就想到了‘大头马’这个名字。慢慢地,这个名字也成为了她现实中的身份。“大头马逐渐成为我现实中的名字。包括我父母现在都这么叫我。”

Da Tou Ma finds inspiration both in her everyday life and in her expansive reading habits. Recently she’s been especially drawn to nonfiction in science, economics, and politics, while also making her way through classic Chinese authors like Lao She, Shen Congwen, and Lu Xun. “I try to imitate the styles, structures, and tricks of the experience of what I’m reading,” she says. “There are all different kinds of sources of inspiration.”

Her ability to use different styles, structures, and tricks is nowhere more evident than in How to Write a Worstseller. In each of the book’s eight stories, supposedly written by a one of the participants in the workshop, she inhabits a different persona, from a playboy who goes to weddings to pick up women, to the enigmatic author of a guide to apologies, to a chemistry student whose trip to Amsterdam takes a harrowing turn. Switching back and forth lets her try out different tones and voices, and gives the book a dazzling virtuosity.


大头马的创作灵感主要来自她个人丰富的生活和阅读经验。最近,她对科学、经济和政治这些非小说类的书尤其感兴趣。也会从老舍、沈从文和鲁迅等中国古典作家中获取灵感。“我会尝试去模仿我阅读到的文学风格、结构、技巧。” 她说,“多种多样的阅读经验都会成为我的灵感来源。”

《不畅销小说写作指南》即是大头马精湛写作能力的最佳证明。书中收录了八个故事,每个故事在情节里都是出自班上一位学员之手。学员(其实也就是大头马)将自己化身为不同的角色,包括在婚礼上搭讪女孩的花花公子、一位撰写道歉指南的神秘作家,以及前往阿姆斯特丹体验了一场痛苦旅程的化学专业学生。角色来回的切换,让她尝试以不同的语调和声音去写作,充分展现了她令人目眩神迷的文学造诣。

Unlike the workshop leader in her story, Da Tou Ma says she likes both “serious” literature and popular genres, like sci-fi, fantasy, and manga. “I think the best works in these genres are every bit as good as the best works of serious literature,” she says. As for her own books, she doesn’t worry about whether readers will think what she’s writing is high art or just entertainment. “Sometimes I think about the reader when writing, sometimes I don’t,” she adds. “I concentrate more on finishing the work itself.”


与她故事中培训班的导师不同,大头马说自己既喜欢正经一点的文学类型,也很喜欢所谓的通俗读物,像是科幻、武侠、推理小说、日本漫画等等。她说:“我认为这些通俗文学中的优秀作品,与严肃文学中的优秀作品是同样伟大的。”谈及自己的书,她表示並不会担心读者将自己的作品定义为高雅的艺术或是纯粹的娱乐。“有时在创作时会考虑到读者,有时则不会。”她补充道,“我还是更想专注在作品本身。”

She confesses to being a little out of step with other Chinese writers. But she notes a split between those who work inside the system—with the writers associations and state-sponsored publications—and those on the outside. “Writers who rely on the system tend to produce a traditional, mainstream sort of writing, and the homogeneity is pretty severe,” she says. “Writers outside the system have a bit more freedom, and try to use richer and more varied forms and styles.” Though she doesn’t say, it’s not hard to guess which group she belongs to.

Da Tou Ma does think things are changing, though, and that more writers from outside are getting mainstream recognition. “I think this generation’s writing is definitely more diverse, more free, and more flexible than in the past.”


她承认自己对其他中国作家不太熟悉。但她注意到当今作家大体上可分为两种。第一种是体制内的写作者,依托作家协会或官方的赞助来出版作品。另一种则是存在在‘体制外’的。“总的来说,依附在体制内的作家一直在沿袭传统主流的写作方式,同质化现象比较严重。体制外的作家则更自由一些,试图创造更多丰富多样的形式和风格。” 虽然她没有说明,但不难猜出她是属于哪一类型。

然而,大头马认为这一现象正在发生变化。现在体制外也有越来越多的作家,正在获得主流群众的认可。她说:“我认为当代中国作家的作品,显然比起过去更加多元、自由、灵活。”

On a more individual level, she says that biggest challenge she faces is figuring out what to write. “For the first few years I was writing, I focused on basic writing technique. But lately, I’ve found that what to write has become a central question.” No longer content with just writing about personal experience, Da Tou Ma aspires to produce something of lasting value – something that not only has meaning for herself as an individual but can also speak to people outside her immediate circle.

“Answering the question of ‘what to write’ means figuring out how to look at this world and these times, and how to get a deeper understanding of the world and produce work that goes beyond the times,” she says. “That’s the fundamental challenge.”

Click here to read an excerpt of How to Write a Worstseller. To purchase the Chinese edition of the book, click here.


在个人层面上,她表示目前面临到的最大挑战是弄清楚 ‘写什么’。 “前几年刚开始写作时,我都在处理基本写作技巧上的问题。但写到现在,我发现 ‘写什么’ 才是关键。” 大头马不再满足于写个人经历,她渴望能创作出更多具有持久价值的东西。写出不仅对个人有意义,同时也可以对其他人产生共鸣的作品。

“ 当你知道了要‘写什么’,意味着你知道如何去看待这个世界,以及如何更深刻地进一步了解它。能不能写出跨越时代的作品,是所有作家最根本的挑战。”

点击此处阅读《不畅销小说写作指南》的节选。购买点击此处

Weibo~/大头马
WeChat: Prophetdatouma

 

Contributor: Allen Young
Photographer: Nathan Wang


微博~/大头马
微信: Prophetdatouma

 

投稿人: Allen Young
摄影师: Nathan Wang

Da Tou Ma’s “How to Write a Worstseller” (excerpt)

Text no. 1: How to Write a Worstseller

 

One summer day five years ago, I got a phone call from a city on the coast. The voice on the other end of the line, deep and measured and deliberate, congratulated me on being chosen to take part in a writers’ workshop, and instructed me to leave the very next day for the place it would be held, a small island not far from that coastal city. Room and board would be provided for the entire two weeks, but I’d have to cover my own travel expenses. The voice hung up before I could reply.

At the time I was at home with my girlfriend in the middle of a fight, desperate to come up with a reply to the last thing she’d said. My first thought was that this was a scam. My second thought was a sudden jolt of inspiration: I found the perfect comeback for the fight. I set down the phone and was about to go on arguing, but my girlfriend turned and asked who’d called. I stopped short, put my comeback on hold, and repeated what I’d just heard. “You’re such an idiot, it’s obviously a scam,” she said.


作品1号: 不畅销小说写作指南

 

五年前夏天,我接到一通电话。电话是从一个沿海城市打来的,语音不疾不徐,富有磁性,恭喜我被选入了大师班,隔日就请奔赴指定上课地点,地点在该沿海城市不远的岛屿上,为期半个月,食宿全包,来回路费自理。对方没等我反应过来就挂了电话,当时我正在家里和女朋友吵架,苦苦陷于如何反唇相讥的困局里,第一反应是这是这个诈骗电话,第二反应是忽然一个晴天霹雳,我获得如何回击女友的灵感了!我搁下电话,想再找她理论,她却转而问我电话的事。我一愣,心里把那道灵感暂存在一边,如实回答了她电话的情况。“你傻啊,肯定是诈骗电话。”她和我想得一模一样。


She had exactly the same thought I did. But now that she’d said it, I couldn’t just agree. I could only counter with: “Not necessarily.”

“What do you mean, not necessarily?”

“Maybe it really is some kind of writing seminar.”

“Then why did they choose you?”

She had a point. Aside from a literary club at university that I briefly got talked into joining, I’d never had a thing to do with literature. Once, carried away by the passion of the club’s president, I drunkenly proclaimed that I too would “one day become a writer.” But I’d never written a single line, and after I got together with my girlfriend, who at the time was the club’s vice-president, I didn’t attend any more of their events. My girlfriend, too, soon quit, and went from aspiring writer to ordinary young bank employee, scrolling through online romance novels on her phone. She’s always been a bit ahead of me in terms of income, though thankfully only a bit. I suppose I did have one writing-related job: after graduation I worked for a text-message marketing company, mostly composing spam texts. In reality, I’d just cut and paste from the ad copy manual. Now I work at a real estate research firm, where my main responsibility is to draft proposals for clients, essentially putting garbage into PowerPoint form.


结果她这么一说,我倒无法附和她的意见,只好反击道,“那也不一定。”

“怎么不一定了?”

“没准儿就是真的什么培训班呢。”

“那他们为什么选中了你?”

是啊。这辈子除了在大学时招新被忽悠进了一段时间的文学社,我和“文学”二字从未发生过任何关系。除了配合社长的热情,喝醉后附议过“以后要成为一名作家”的理想外,没干过任何一件写作有关的事。当我和当时还是文学社副社长的女朋友好上之后,就再也没参加过社团的活动。女朋友也很快卸任副社长,从有志于成为一名女作家,变成了如今捧着手机读网络言情小说在银行上班的普通女青年。收入永远走在我前面一点点,还好只是一点点。非要说和“写”这个动作有关的事的话,大学毕业后我在一家短信公司工作,主要内容是撰写垃圾营销短信,实际就是抱着文案书拼贴。如今我在一家房地产研究院上班,主要内容是给各位甲方写方案,本质上是把废话以PPT的形式组织起来。


No, I couldn’t think of a reason I’d be chosen for a writing workshop. Unless it was a scam.

Or maybe—

“Or maybe I really do have some literary talent, it just hasn’t been discovered yet,” I ventured.

“You?” My girlfriend looked at me. “Ha!”

Often our fights would grind to a halt with that laugh of hers, not because I wanted them to grind to a halt, but because I just couldn’t muster a response. I’d sit there like a dud bomb, and she’d act as though nothing had happened. Through a sort of unspoken agreement, we’d both pretend the whole thing had blown over.

There’s nothing enviable about this. Anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than three years has these kinds of unspoken agreements, and my girlfriend and I had been together for six. I can’t say I hadn’t thought about marriage, of course, nor that she hadn’t thought about finding a new boyfriend. During our first three years we must have broken up 800 times, but in the last three years, we both concluded that breaking up wasn’t so different from getting married, and not mentioning the word “breakup” had become one of our unspoken rules. The other unspoken rules included not exposing each other’s lies, not warning each other we were about to make a mistake, not putting our lives on hold for each other, even for a second. Really, aside from a minor fight each week and a major fight each month, we weren’t doing so bad. And the prospect of staying together had its appeal: as time went by, our fights would gradually become less frequent, so that by the day we died, we’d have returned to the honeymoon phase when we could communicate without words. We’d have grown old together.

But this time, I had that comeback to use! Had it not been for that phone call interrupting us, I bet we’d still be hashing out that fight. Who was right and who was wrong had yet to be determined.


是的。我想不出有什么理由会被一个写作培训班选中。除了这是一场骗局。

也有可能是——

“也有可能是我真的有什么文学天赋,只是还没被发现。”我说。

“你?”女朋友看了我一眼,笑了。

有很多次我们的争吵都是在她这副笑容之后就戛然而止了,不是我想戛然而止,而是我实在想不出用什么来回击她这副笑容。我一哑炮,她也会进入那种一切都没发生过的状态,我们就配合默契地假装一切真的已经烟消云散了。

这没什么可羡慕的,只要你谈恋爱超过三年,都会和伴侣形成这份默契,而我和女朋友,已经在一起六年了。我当然不是没想过结婚,她也不是没想过换个男友,前三年我们分了八百遍手,后三年我们都觉得分手和结婚其实没什么区别,不提分手二字成了我们的默契之一。其余默契还包括不会戳穿对方撒的谎,不会提醒对方即将犯的错,不会为对方暂停一秒自己的生活。除了每周一小吵每月一大吵,我们的日子过得还不赖。这事儿还有奔头可想:随着时间流逝,我们将继续逐年降低吵架的频率,到死的那天,我们将回到恋爱的最开始阶段,无需言语便可沟通。到此,我们也就完成了白头偕老。

但是这一次,我明明已经获得了那道神赐予我的灵感啊!如果不是这个中途插入的电话,我相信这一架我们还有的可吵。真理站在谁的那边还输赢未定呢。


That’s why this time I ignored her laugh. “Yes, me. What’s so funny?”

She didn’t expect me to keep going. She gave me a look, then suddenly opened her mouth and reeled off: “The wind is heedless of the slender branch, no dew ignites the cinnamon leaf’s fragrance.”

I didn’t turn around. What did that mean?

Slowly, she asked, “What comes next?”

All at once I understood. That was something I wrote for her in college. After she read it she asked, much to my surprise, what the next two lines were. How should I know what the next two lines were? Those were the only ones I copied out of that volume of Li Shangyin’s selected verse! At the time we were head over heels in love, and naturally this awkward little episode had been quickly swept under the rug. I couldn’t believe she still remembered.

She saw I didn’t respond, and laughed again. “Ha!”

It was that second laugh that made me make up my mind.

The next morning, when I’d packed my bags and was getting ready to leave, my girlfriend, who had just gotten up, groggily asked where I was off to. “The workshop,” I coolly replied. Then I walked out the door and didn’t look back.


于是我没有像以往那样理会她的笑容,“我怎么了?”

女朋友没想到我会继续,她看了我一眼,突然张口道,“风波不信菱枝弱,月露谁教桂叶香。”

我没转过弯来。这是什么意思?

她缓缓道,“之后呢?”

我立刻明白了。这是当年上学时我写给她的,没想到她看了之后问我下两句是什么,我哪儿知道下两句是什么啊?我从李商隐诗选里就抄了这两句啊!当时我们正在热恋中,这个小小的尴尬自然被草草忽略过去了。没想到她一直记到现在。

她见我没反应,又是一笑。

就是她这第二次的笑容促使我下了决定。

第二天一早,我收拾好了行李,准备出门时女朋友刚起床,她迷迷糊糊地问我是要去哪儿。我甩下一句,“去上大师班。”然后头也不回地走出了大门。


How to Write a Worstseller
by Da Tou Ma
Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House, 2017

Click here to go back to the original article.

 

English Translator: Allen Young


《不畅销小说写作指南》
大头马 著
长沙: 湖南文艺出版社,2017

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英语翻译: Allen Young