Dogs Which Cannot Touch Each Other

Gu Zhenqing

Sun Yuan & Peng Yu always attach importance to the experimental aspect of contemporary art. For each proposal,they carefully pursue its scholarly context and seek ways to renew expressive forms and methods. On the surface, their work often exhibits sensationalism and extremism in the materials they employ. However, they are completely different from the language experiments of the artists involved in Fluxus. Since 2000, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu have been in pursuit of language
purity, emphasizing the inherent natures of forms, methods and materials.The focus of their research has gradually moved to the subject of socially accepted rules and norms and what happens when we change them. The three projects done in 2003, Dogs that Cannot Touch Each Other, Safe Island and Contend for Hegemony offer psychologically disturbing visions. These three projects combine multi-disciplinary approaches, and include action and device. They have gone beyond the violent aesthetics expressed in static or relatively static environments and installations of earlier projects and respectively, have employed pit bull terriers, a tiger
and free combat boxers for new site-specific actions-based works.It goes without saying that the protagonists in these three works contain within them the potential for deadly attacks. Thus, both threatening and pugnacious, these projects have the extraordinary visual impact of live performance. Their aim is to enhance expression through explosive power and herein is the key for understanding the internal logic of the their works. Pit bull terriers are fighting dogs. Once face-to-face, they attack each other and fight like mortal enemies. The work Dogs that Cannot Touch Each Other employed treadmills. Eight treadmills arranged one-against-one. Between the pair of treadmills, there was placed a large clapboard. The artists asked professionals to
harness eight pit bull terriers onto these treadmills with chains fixed on the top beam of the running machines. When the clapboard was removed, the pit bull terriers would be face-toface and start to run at the dog across from them. However, on the running machines, due to the restriction of the chain, the pit bull terriers could run forward but not attack. Suddenly, the
whole space was full of the sounds of quick running and moving chains on running machines and tense and excited crowds. With treadmills, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu fundamentally changed the rules of pit bull fighting. The result was a contest of the spirit, unlike the vicious physical dog fights in the past. By invalidating the assault, confrontation and animal instincts of the pit bull terriers in an art gallery setting, the artists allowed us to look beyond the cruel reality of pit bull fighting, and revealed an existing potential for violence and confrontation.





孙原&彭禹一向重视当代艺术的实验性。每有方案都认真追究其学术语境,寻求刷新表达形式和方法的可能性。表面看,他们的作为一直有一种语不惊人死不休的味道,在使用特殊材料方面无所不用其极。但与欧洲激浪派艺术家全方位的语言实验不同,2000 年起,他们其实已经在追求语言的纯度,强调观念、形式、方法和材料内在的一致性。他们探讨问题的重心逐渐聚焦于现实规则以及规则的改变。2003 年的三件作品犬勿近、安全岛和争霸,都对现场观众产生了强烈的视觉震撼。这三件集合行为、装置等多种表达媒介的作品,一改他们早期作品在那种静态或相对静态中渗透出的暴力美学色彩,分别使用了运动量颇大的比特斗犬、老虎和散打拳手作为现场行为实施的主体。这三种“活性”角色的共同潜台词是生猛、凶险,带有显在或潜在的攻击性、威慑性。在自然规则和既有的游戏规则中,他(它)们都以勇猛好斗为表征,与惯常的欧式博物馆体制所主导艺术展览方式有一种难以调和的内在冲突,整个作品每每都超越表演性产生不同凡响的视觉冲击。其中,真正刷新表现形式,产生爆发力的触点是孙原&彭禹对规则的关键性修改。
比特犬是斗犬,彼此只要见面,就会扑向对方,斗得如不共戴天的仇人作品犬勿近创造性地设计、使用了犬用跑步机。在现场,八台跑步机以一对一阵势排列置放。每对呈对峙状的跑步机中间,竖了个大隔板。艺术家再请专业人员把八条比特犬拴放在跑步机上,拴犬的铁链则固定在跑步机的顶梁上。于是,行为实施时,只要一撤隔板,比特犬彼此一打照面,就开始飞快跑动起来,以图扑咬对方。但限于跑步机原理和铁链的制约,一边咆哮着一边不顾一切地前奔的比特犬无法冲出各自的跑步机,更无法咬到对方。顿时,全场充塞着跑步机的竹板链条飞速旋转的响声和观众紧张、惊讶、动莫名的情绪。孙原&彭禹通过跑步机把斗犬游戏的规则作了根本改变。改变后,比特犬的“精神战” 替代了它们一贯的激烈肉搏。冲突似乎一触即发,却又总是可望不可及,这让作品极富张力。比特犬在美术馆展览语境中冲锋、对峙,兽性冲动的无效性超越了现实中冷酷无情的游戏规则,使真正的暴力和冲突得以潜藏无形。