Sun Yuan & Peng Yu

Leng Lin

At the end of the 1990s, the grounds for Chinese art fundamentally changed. A small group of artists started to work with media that were traditionally inconceivable or extremely provocative—i.e. dead and live animals, as well as human corpses—in order to challenge the moral standard and ethics that prevailed in global dialogues about art. Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are prominent figures from this cohort. Their partnership has been marked by their joint exploration and testing of the uncertainty and intensity of art—art practiced 'by all possible means.' In works such as Soul Killing, Safe Island, Civilization Pillar, Barbarossa, and others, it seems these two artists have staged a rehearsal of sorts. Does this rehearsal take place in order to establish a general view of ethics and morality, or to control fears of the future? In the work of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, we witness the pursuit of classical "force." It is a revitalized understanding of "The Laocoon," which wa s described by J. J. Winckelmann as "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur" ("edle Einfalt, stille Gr??e") and is now downsized to "simplicity" and "grandeur," while both "noble" and "quiet" have been replaced with "chaos" and "restlessness." Is this a call from the classical canon, or do the "classics" offer content for our times by virtue of their very nature? When the latter is the case, "classical" culture is appropriated as our own, and becomes part of our culture. Contrast this with the art from China emerging in the early '90s, when Chinese contemporary art was more ironic, and the "individual" was presented primarily through self-directed sarcasm. Along with the rapid growth of the economy, the "individual" started to recover through the strength of a kind of exaggerated "individualistic heroism." This is a reincarnation of the "classics" in all their "grandeur." What we see in Civilization Pillar, which is a simple, straight column made of human fat, is a symbolic utilization of unused reserves of human energy.
As for Chinese culture—a culture that was long suppressed—when it encounters a new space to release its inner energy, it will certainly manifest itself as a kind of "Renaissance." Any "classical" "form" or "perspective" could easily be used to> convey modern values. By using dangerous animals, like the tiger in Safe Island, or the running dogs in Dogs that Cannot Touch Each Other, the artists showcase "force" in the original classical sense of the world—force that can "cause an object with mass to change its velocity, or cause it to deform." Such "force" can place all matter and its behavior under its sway. Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are obsessed with manifestations of such "force." Guided by a psychological inclination towards 'selfdeification,' Sun Yuan & Peng Yu tend to use symbols or media in their most elemental and primary states,> for instance, the "behavior" of "human beings" or "live animals;" their "monumental pillar" or "bird hunting" expedition. Such living beings or moving objects become "form" in the works of Sun Yuan & Peng Yu. This is a "form" that constantly rides the boundary between firm control and loss of control. Such control and shaping of limits automatically empowers this "force" in their works. As early as 1998, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu started to work with live animals to challenge the stability of the notion of artworks as objects. They focused on conditions such as contingency and uncertainty. Their work acquired a certain "force" because it deviated from commonly accepted understandings of art. Their 'heroic' stance allowed them to play a role revitalizing culture. In their latest work, Freedom, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu manipulate water pressure to make a huge fire hose move and spray freely. The line of free movement as well as the random direction of the water spray unified once again the two elements, "freedom" and "beauty." It can even be regarded as an echo of the tradition of the Chinese ink painting and calligraphy, or as a blown-up version of the sort of action painting, brought to prominence by Jackson Pollock. Chinese contemporary art has gained attention not only because of the sympathetic humanism of its narrative, but also by virtue of its strength and force. Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are proponents of this forcefulness that commands the center of attention in the art world.



孙原 & 彭禹


中国艺术的现实土壤在90 年代后发生了巨大的变化。一批艺 术家利用一些刺激性的语言——对尸体和活的动物等过去不 可思议东西的利用——把人的不确定的道德观和伦理观放进 了全球艺术的对话活动里。
孙原和彭禹是这一批艺术家中非常突出的两位。他们经常在 一起合作,对艺术的强度和不确定性进行着各种方式的探索。 在追杀灵魂、安全岛、文明柱、巴巴罗萨等作品里,艺术家 似乎在安排一场预演。这场预演是在建立一种世界伦理观和 道德观,还是对未来发展所产生的恐惧心里的极力控制? 在孙原和彭禹的创作里,我们重新看到了一种对古典的力量 追求,一种对“拉奥孔”的重新体会,那“高贵的单纯和静 穆的伟大”(文克尔曼语)在孙原和彭禹那里被简化为“单纯” 和“伟大”,而“高贵”和“静穆”被“混乱”和“躁动”所替 代。这是一种古典的召唤,还是“古典”本身就是新时代的内 容?当我们这样感受时,“古典”文化好似成了我们自己的文化 和我们自己的血液。和90 年代初中国当代艺术的态度非常不 同。90 年代初,中国当代艺术是“调侃”的和“泼皮”的,“个 人”是在自我抑损中得到呈现;在经过一段高速发展后,“个 人”开始得到自我恢复,“个人”似乎通过一种“力量”来恢 复,一种放大了的“个人英雄主义”开始抬头。这是对“古典” 的复兴,同时也籍由这些复兴展现出现时的“伟大”。我们在 孙原和彭禹的文明柱中看到用人的“脂肪”塑造出笔直的柱子, 他们用这种人的自我能量的储存物质来重塑新时代的支撑物。 作为一个被压抑很久的文化,当她遇到一种可以释放她能量 的新空间时,她一定是以一个文艺复兴者的姿态出现的。任何 “古典”的“形式”和“态度”都非常容易地转变成现代价值的“形 式”和“态度”。安全岛对有威胁力的虎的运用、犬勿近对奔 跑的狗的运用等都明确出一种原始的古典的力量。力量是“使 物体运动,或使运动的物体静止,或改变物体的运动速度, 或改变物体的形状的作用”。“力量”似乎是一个主体,它控 制着事物以及事物的发展。孙原和彭禹着迷于“力量”。这里 充满着一种自我神化的暗示。在这种暗示下,他们更愿意使 用一些原状态的东西和符号,以及“行为”,像“人”、“动物”、 “柱子”和“‘打鸟’的行为”。活着的动物或者是活动的物体 在孙原和彭禹的作品里成为一种形式,这种形式总是处在失 控的边界,而对于极限的控制和塑造也自然成了孙原和彭禹 作品的力量。 从1998 年开始,孙原和彭禹就开始用一些活的动物作为材 料来挑战艺术品作为客体的一种稳定性。他们对偶发性的关 注、对不确定性的追求、对艺术认识的稳定性的背离使他们 获得了“力量”,而他们的英雄主义态度把他们放在了一种文 化复兴者的角色里。 在最近作品自由里,孙原和彭禹利用水压使高压水枪自由地 喷洒和运动,水管的运动以及喷水方向的变化所形成的线把 “自由”和“美”重新结合在一起。它既可以被看作是中国水 墨和书法的回音,也可以被认为是波洛克行动绘画的放大。 中国当代艺术不仅仅以她的温情和故事赢得了注意和尊重,同 时也以她的力量作用于当代艺术舞台。孙原和彭禹就是非常值 得注意的一股力量。