ZHOU TAO The Topography of the Image Interviewer / Wu Jianru
LEAP In the curation of contemporary art it is rare to find topics that directly stress (at least speak out about) art’s importance to humankind. How do you understand the theme of “VIVE ARTE VIVA” for the International Art Exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale?
Zhou Tao In the past, curators would treat exhibitions for as framework for the production of artworks, and artists would be placed within the framework of this “arrangement.” Yet recently the “era of curators” has continuously been broken down. How can the artist as an individual and the curator maintain a positive situation between each other? If art could be in a more unassuming, introspective, and calm state, allowing this maintenance to naturally occur, the force of control laid upon this aspect of the site of maintenance could create construction, just like people never stop learning how to live with reality, how to share. As the world gets more developed, it is not getting more beautiful, so we must constantly reconsider the concept of “people.” In my understanding, “VIVE ARTE VIVA” seems to be revealing this hope.
LEAP Having participated in many exhibitions, in the current state of the world, how do you perceive the Venice Biennale?
ZT There are more and more biennales, but they are also getting weaker. Nevertheless I still hope that in these exhibitions my work can make connections with its friends. Even one or two would still be very good.
LEAP In your work, there are many images related to the perception of “place.” For this Venice Biennale, what type of work will you show?
ZT My work all along has been connected to location, and especially in recent years the work has unfolded in many specific locations. I call this “topographical” research, and I use two briefs to gauge where this “topography” occurs. First, the “topography” does not come from the director, script, actors, rehearsals, or any other technical systems created through work done “indoors.” Nor is it is the author’s image. That is it to say, my creative process is not based on imagining a picture in my brain and recreating it; in contrast it directly occurs in the “out- doors,” connected with reality, abandoning the author as the center, engaging with topographic aggregation which constantly exceeds the brain’s limits forming a topographical narrative of departure and return, rising and falling. When you travel from hometown to far away land, from point A to point B, the way to find a new world having already expired, then work on location and return journeys eventually spurs the disappearance of the spatial qualities of a place, only retaining a sense of timeliness. Specific location disintegrates into topography.
Secondly, for my work for the Venice Biennale, Fan Dong, the image attempts to find its topography in the conflict over the sense of splitting between uneven surfaces of the manmade artificial world and the natural “landscape.” In development areas of new cities, the night after everything is uprooted, on the eve of the implementation of the “great blueprint,” evil is already sinking in, the surface cracked, plots of land re-aggregated. This moment already occurred on the ground in “Zhao Mengfu’s rediscovery of the stone.” The difference with today is, the action of return journeys seeks to penetrate the sci-fi style dead skin of the last era, rediscovering the ground, reshaping topography. (Translated by Simon Frank)
LEAP 作为主题展的参展艺术家，你是怎么理解这次 威尼斯双年展“艺术万岁”这个主题?
周滔 以往，策划人常把展览作为一个作品制作框架来 对待，艺术家是被处于框架的“布局”之中，近几年来“策 划人的时代”也在不断被分解。艺术家个体与策划人之间 如何来维系一种积极的状况，艺术是否能在更为谦逊、内 省和从容的状态中，让这种维系自然发生，控制力放置在哪 个层面的维系点上才能形成建构，就像个人总是在不断学 习如何与现实相处，形成共享，并非世界越发达就越美好， 需要不断重返以重新形成“人”这个概念吧。我理解的“艺 术万岁”似乎是透出了这个希望。
LEAP 在你参加过众多的展览里面，你怎么看待威尼 斯双年展在今天/全球的状态?
周滔 双年展越来越多，也越来越疲软。但是我依然 希望我的作品还是能够在这些展览中交到它的朋 友，哪 怕一个两个的，都很好。
LEAP 在你的作品中，很多影像都是和“地方”的感知 有关系，在这次的威尼斯双年展，你会展出怎样的作品?
周滔 我一直以来的工作都与地点有关，特别是近几 年来，都是在很多具体的地点展开工作，我称它为“地形” 研究，我用两个简述来探测这个“地形”是发生于何处。其 一，这个“地形”，不是发生在导演、剧本、演员、排演的这种 技术系统搭建出来的“室内”的工作方式，不是“作者型影 像”，也就是说我的创作不是根据大脑中激发的想象和图景 来重新制作;而是直接发生在与现实相处的“室外”，是放 弃以作者为中心而投身于不断超出大脑之外的“地形”聚 合，并形成一种往返与起伏的地形叙事。当你从故乡到他 乡，从地点A到地点B，寻找新世界的方式早已失效之后， 那么地点的工作和往返，最终促使地点的空间性消失，而 只保留了时间性，地点通通被抛入地形之中。
其 二 ，我 这 次 威 尼 斯 的 参 展 作 品《 凡 洞 》，从 人 工 山 体的皴褶与源于自然“山水”极为冲突的分裂感中开始， 影像尝试发现它的地形。在新城开发区土地被全部连根 翻 起 之 后 的 傍 晚 ，在“ 宏 伟 蓝 图 ”开 始 实 施 的 前 夜 ，戾 气 下沉之后，皴形破除，地块重新聚合。这个时刻曾经发 生在“赵孟頫重新发现石头”的那个地面上，而今天所不 同的是，往返行动欲将穿透科幻式的末世死皮，再次发 现地面，重塑地形。