A Temporary Version, or A Partial Intrusion to Yang Zhenzhong’s Artworks,By He Wenzhao,Translated by Fiona He

How should you roam about that space and be entirely ignorant of its madness, and be ignorant of its absurd synthesis?
—Wallace Stevens

It seems to be the case, although…

Judging from the ratio of the tilted faces of the four people on the photograph and the composition of the image, the camera should have been placed three meters away from the object, at a certain height on a 45-degrees angle. Regardless of the youthful faces of those few artists in the photograph and their careless ‘retro’ style, the floor where they stood paved with seemingly white tiles made out of cement and flour – although they may appeared as squares, apparently,was not the case. It is only when the lens pointed down at a 45-degrees angle, these straight angle trapezoids would disappear, dismember, displace, regroup,and would be represented and reiterated visually. Then, they became these rectangular blocks…

Although this simple experiment dating back to 1994 was almost forgotten that even the artist rarely mentions it, however, as one is placed into the new context provided by the exhibition “Trespassing”, in retrospect, it is this untitled work by Yang Zhenzhong that has encapsulated proper clues or interpretations for his creative practice thereafter: it seems to be the case, although…

It seems to be the case, although… one must be positioned at a certain perspective.

It seems to be the case, although… it is not necessarily true.

It seems to be the case, although… it only seems so.

There has been a continuous process of preparations and projections, or in other words, calling and waiting - through Yang Zhenzhong’s artistic practice – for a turning point, and another turning point, or a series of turning points, that may allow the discourse of the everyday to surface.

On this point, I am inclined to convince myself that, this turning point underscores a grammatical annotation that encompasses all of Yang Zhenzhong’s creative genres,not only as critiques of self-protection in an attempt to conspire a momentary subversion as one is confronted with the hierarchical relationship between the artwork and the suppression of its powerful reflection.

Great Danger, yet the narrative must commence with an existential departure

Does the vague intent actually exist?

The artwork exists in another form here, whether it would be eventually observed and make an impact would depend on a reconstructed visual and experiential process of a certain perspective or position (often an ideological, political, sociological,or psychological) that was dispersed and then reconstructed – isn’t this the most common and everlasting contradiction among the works of contemporary art? Furthermore, would art exist if it does not antagonize itself? As much as we would like to imagine the autonomy of art, while it does not necessarily project such imagination of itself. In the contrary, it is willingly non-existent and latchesonto the other objects, or be supportive of historical knowledge and secular sentiments,or act as an ally to the sacred philosophies.

The matter is therefore such that, it seems to be the case, although…

Thus the matter is not only related to Yang Zhenzhong, but also to the existence of art: Yang Zhenzhong has provided a ghostly transitional phrase, it is inclined to expose our system of sensibility on art as execution and devices of existence as we return to the various temporary space in time as the various aesthetic highness are relegated.

Thus, similarly, my discussion on any of Yang Zhenzhong’s artworks ultimately also take place in certain temporary space. It might have been at the OCAT art museum,or at Shanghart Gallery, or at an art fair, or possibly, or maybe these floundering semantic fragments grow into an illusion as it searches as a blind beast before our eyes: an unknown and temporary text that aims to rescue the scattered ambiguity around the works of Yang Zhenzhong.

On Intrusion, and intruding

As the black and yellow stripes line up as such in front of us, we know we must pay attention. Because where they appear symbolize a certain unignorable power,and at this moment, they are sending you signals of prohibitions or warning:slow down, stop, wait, or making a detour. Unless one is given special consent or permission, any one of our forcibly entries would lead to danger or nuisance.Moreover, such behavior of forcible entry would categorize the violator as a primitive animal unaccepted by law or customs. It is precisely then, the civilization and rights once engraved in your bare life would be wiped out entirely.

Let’s imagine that Yang Zhenzhong has adopted such colors of warning to be his primary theme for this new exhibition based on the aforementioned rationale, and it may be equally irrational to imagine his lack of such considerations. In fact, as a resident of a metropolis, whether one drives on the road, on the highway, at the heart of the city or in the garage of one’s residential complex, this alarming warning colors of black and yellow are ubiquitous, reminding one to be disciplined, to follow orders and prohibitions, as well as being vigilant of the various kinds of immanent danger. That is the true and transcendental component of prosperity in the urban civilization and everyday life? No matter where and when one is, once this tiger skin pattern flashes before us, we must correct our behaviors,or at least respond to it accordingly, “Do I need to slow down? Or should Iaccelerate through it?” In other words, superficial understanding and experience of urban living suffice to allow the artist to make such choices. Moreover, certain reflections on the politics of life may or may not be the path by which Yang Zhenzhong has decided on the formal subject of this artwork.

Although this may be a path that the artist has chosen to deny questions and may be easily circumvented due to its unnecessity, it is however unavoidable for the art museum visitor who encounters such magnified and independent artwork.Because, unless one questions and isolates the essential issues that the artist has naturally placed within the formal subject, and overlap those meanings and relationship that the artist has completed, one would otherwise leave empty handed:unlike the “prohibited entry” of the everyday in such color combinations,as thisinstallation is shown as an artwork, it makes contrary appeals – thus its title, Intrusion,as I reconstruct it from a viewer’s perspective, my initial understanding was an imperative phrase, “Please intrude! Or an even greater imperative degree –“You have to intrude!”

As of now, although we haven’t yet discussed the overall form of this artwork, yet a simple juxtaposition of color and original form of the artwork’s formal subject has already encountered one of the essential topics of contemporary art which is also reiterated in Yang Zhenzhong’s other critical artworks. Since the modernist artist Marcel Duchamp has intruded into life and cheats repetitively by transforming all matters and emotions to readymade and situations, isn’t that also a call on the viewer to intrude into the artistic art, in order to reclaim their life back? Indeed!Just as it is perfectly justified to reclaim our truth lives from the undifferentiated capitals of the world of capitalism.

For the same reason that art occurs in the contemporary, it must be an enemy of the viewer rather than a friend of life. Or, it has never landed accurately in the contemporary. How do we intrude into each other and reclaim ourselves from each other, how do we receive the anguished or contentious viewer without making interactions, isn’t this what is at stake?

A flat surface, is a flat surface

Before we continue to intrude into Intrusion, I would like to pause and reiterate a few other Yang Zhengzhong’s other works. They are, One Eye Open and One Eye Shut ( 2003), Overpass ( 2008), The Summer of 2009 ( 2009), Long Live Solidarity (2011), and the series of artworks in the 2012 solo exhibition, Passage. As early as the “Rectangular blocks” of 1994, to the current major work, Intrusion, constitute a rather complete and independent chronology. They are also the first proposition of this text, “It seems to be the case, although…” The relevant subject unnecessary of analogies is precisely the kind of art that I have presumed the viewer with responsibilities to intrude repetitively and struggle with in life.

Even a decade later, a work of art in a group exhibition of paintings may still be viewed through the archival photograph of the exhibition. “One Eye Open and One Eye shut” is still convincing: as most of the other artists who have hung their artworks on the walls, Yang Zhenzhong has chosen a pillar in the middle of the venue, who repaints the image strictly according to the perspective relationships of the scene hidden behind the pillar from four fixed angles. Once the audience circumvents the pillar and discovers this corresponding angle, the obstructive pillar would then “disappear” and become “transparent”. Whether the architecture or other details of the venue, or parts of the other artwor ks in the exhibition thatwas supposed to be hidden by the pillar have then reappeared in their entirety.

Of course, once the viewer shifts away from any of these angles, the pillar is still a pillar, and its obstructive function becomes restored. This was the first reemergence of the 1994 “rectangular blocks” after having submerged in his practice for nearly nine years, moreover, it was also the first time that the artist took on the perspective of the viewer (while the artist reclaims the perspective from the viewers) to intrude and generate a kind of spatial relationship. It is as if the artist is playing a prank to intrude into the works of other participating artists, at least from those specific angles, without further ado, occupies the reality of this specific space.

Overpass and The Summer of 2009 presented in photo installations were YangZhenzhong’s further experiments in the following years. He had decomposed atwo dimensional photograph that may be seen at a glance into details of various dimensions who had seemingly inadvertently dispersed them throughout the exhibition space, either in free-standing, leaning against something, or set at an angle fashions. Before the viewer found the “magical” angle after he rushed into the exhibition space, he may only see the scattered images, each image carried out its own dialogue – in Overpass, this was perhaps the reluctant glance of the young man in black, or an unspeakable face hanging under the urban horizon, or the shadows of those crowded in front of a shop stand; in Summer, consisted of images of dismembered body and aimless gestures, projected various suspendedand displaced overlaps yet groundless erotic imaginations. All of whichseemed to project the disturbed and quick glance of a dozen voyeurs. However,once the viewer found angled position, all of these isolated images suddenly gathered into a uniform scene where everything was in place: a bustling market commonly found on the overpasses in the city; and an image of seven sexy ladies sitting in a line in a cool drinks shop on a hot summer day…

What needs to be pointed out in particular is the slight semantic differentiation between Overpass and Summer. In the latter work, Yang provides a prime viewing position, exposing the fixed angle that the viewer has to rely on himself to discover and establish, however, such viewing is defined by the spiteful hole cut out from the board concealing the image, a public and rightful view was redefined by the artist and is teased for being voyeuristic. That is, because at that the fixed perspective, unless you step up and bend over to peep into the hole, you would not perceive the entire view.

Looking back, Long Live Solidarity is perhaps a critical turning point in this series.

The previous Overpass and Summer were studies, to a certain extend. These intriguingly installed images of the artwork, on the one hand are meant to expand from the clues that Yang Zhenzhong has laid out as early as 1994, or even from an earlier period; on the other hand, they allow a spectacular visual display based on the analysis of perspectives and spatial arrangements. The following work, made for the exhibition “Relationship”, was the Long Live Solidarity taken off unexpectedly by its related work unit. Obviously, Yang Zhenzhong has given more consideration on how to present the outcome of his research in a complex context. He was not motivated by the meaning of installed images but the inherent functions
of the installation. With which, the artist has redefined the significance of the two dimensional: this time however, Yang did not deconstruct any photograph, but the architecture of Tian’anmen.

From the various angles of the exhibition space, we can only see a number of irregular shapes that are slightly above people’s average height ( that would require the viewers to look up). Even though the vivid colors painted on these shapes easily lead one to associate with their possible references, however, if one stands at any position besides these specific angles, these strange individualshapes stacked in disorder to mesmerize the viewers or allowing the viewer to rejoice in the radiance of its overall dimensionality! It is only when we “peep in” from this specifically given angle, would we then forced to return to the unquestionable implications of this ideological architecture – a representation of national ideology, solidarity, war, as well as all the heroic sentiments and sorrow associated with it – yet Yang has provided a great ridicule, as such ideology may only express the opinion of the voyeur. Elsewhere, as we open our eyes and looking at it, this architecture and its implications are fragmented, and its deconstruction engenders nothing but a majestic displaced dimensionality or even a surrealmirage. If one turns to the back of the artwork, one will realize that the illusion of the architecture disappears, and realize they are a few pieces of minimal shapes made of plywood. Then, is it possible that the artist has pushedb his satires and contentions further? Perhaps yes. Although, by observing from an intruder’s perspective, I believe that such aim might not be necessary for Yang – the criticality of the artwork does not reside in its compositional language. Behind the emptiness of the actual objects in their singularity or as an overall artwork, the artist opened his palms to show us that there is indeed nothing, nothing at all:the space where the artwork occupies, its volume, and all its provisional form and composition in three-dimensions is only a two dimensional flat surface that you perceive from a specific perspective: its depth rests on the surface.

Continue to intrude, and on the “embedded” shadow theory

Previously, I have suggested to “intrude” on Intrusion, in fact, it did not happen:because the significant implication engendered by colors is both strong and ambiguous, the combination of black and yellow warns and refuses in the contrary and provokes us to “look”, the degree of “visibility” of the artwork suffices to gather everyone’s attention. Then, it pushes and fixes people in the position of the “viewer” from beginning to end. Especially at that specific position, a reserved primary angle, a rightfully congested place where it is both considered as the hole and the impulse of revealing the truth related to the analogies of the hole. However, this also did not take place: because Yang Zhenzhong’s preconceived ideal for Intrusion is such that, one would pause briefly in front of the hole, then one deconstructs the flat surface of the black and yellow stripes as one moves through the space. Moreover, one selects and regroups these elements into relevant object within a three dimensional space. It is the roaming of such gaze, that allows one to perpetuate one’s visual experience between the two dimensional surface and the three dimensional space. However, this remains unproven. Because such gaze is obviously performed by the physical body of its utmost principle, close to the embodiment of a free spirit, or the bird’s view that coincidentally flies by the hole - what we are doing is in fact fictionalizing,performing and imagining… what actually happens is that the perfect surfaceperceived from where the hole is and the actual space we are experiencingalternates between one and other, back and forth, they are mutually embedded within each other, and is impossibly to exist independently.

Of course, whether the actual object or the metaphorical inferences, Intrusion,similar to Yang Zhenzhong’s previous artworks such as Long Live Solidarity,is a complete installation work: their difference is, the volume of Intrusion and its spatial significance separates it from the usual objective allegory, at least, it no longer represents or explores certain situations, instead, has produced them. The socalled viewer, only occupies an external position to gaze and identify the artwork.Furthermore, the envisioned relational aesthetics of Intrusion are established and embedded within the physical space of the artwork, and one may make links to its semantics by tapping into these embedded meanings of the artwork. Here, the suggested meaning and call to action of Intrusion become apparent, thus path opened up, where the so-called “intruding” of the artwork is no longer a metaphysical adventure but a logical approach by which the artwork may be presented.

Bearing this mind, Intrusion has never been a fixed or enclosed superficial construct.What it is and what it can be depends on the intruder’s own sensual experience.As it exists as an artwork, it is a type of functional non-action. Other than the form it represents, it may even seem absent – in order to facilitate the intruder to carelessly indulge into the artwork, who either attempts to maintain the relationship between seeing and being seen within certain distance, or to decipher the uniqueness of the space that the artwork occupies through one’s body and movements, while all of which may be allegories within itself.

Intrusion here, its existing form, with the artist’s accurate inference is unique to the specific viewing position given its current installation. Of such phenomenon,its form becomes a truth.

For those who enters the scene as viewers of the artwork, prior to understanding the relationship between the long standing platform and the painted lines in black and yellow behind the peeping hole, Intrusion can also be an issue of understanding that lends itself in its installation and spatial meaning. That is, either the warning colors omnipresent of the exhibition space tapped my nerves, or I am paying attention to the stage or its theatrical poetics. In any case, there is always a component of the unknown in the presentation of the artwork that perpetually allows us to be carefree and imaginative at the same time. Moreover, the tenable image that the artist has assigned to the artwork can be, and often is leftunattended. It is only when we have understood and stand in that position, then having left that position, the artwork, the viewer, and the artist may all arrived at a common construct – its uniqueness surfaces upon its completion, it would then deconstruct itself, and enters into another round of reconstruction, and then, the cycle continues.

Coming back to the viewing platform set in front of the artwork, because of this cycle, one has to come back here.

Here, it is a mysterious and absent position in the entirety of the artwork; it suddenly suspends or hinders the nature of the artwork Intrusion once the viewer becomes accustomed to it; it also allows the artwork to establish an one on one relationship with every individual who enters that position, and has in fact transforms the artwork to a certain mood to be accessible:

It expects…

It waits there…

Prior to and after we step into it, taking our bodies through the corridors between the gap of the black and yellow lines, walking between the constructed objects laying on the floor and standing in the surrounding, then coming to the “back” of the artwork to look at the thin plywood and its triangular stands, are all but sentimental response to this mood.

On intruding Intrusion, reiteration and new construct can only be as such. It may either be embedded in this mood providing an irrelevant temporary version; or be dispersed externally, that is, be embedded in the theories of the contemporary ideologies, and in the insurmountable aesthetic lures and political extensions.

And in a work of art, there are always aspects beg for our sensibilities to renew and grasp them. It occurs in multiple times and in all of its possibilities and redefines what the artwork once meant. It is not non-existent, it is always embedded, in specific physical objects, it becomes a specific and rehearsed language. In other situations, it becomes another language.

The locale of the embedment and the language of the locale are provided forme, who has experienced the spatial installation of Intrusion, a structure, a spatial relation, an aesthetic image that has been rehashed time and time again, as I have had the experiences of a civilian and that of the forest animals. The artwork, neither possesses nor has relinquished its rights of being an artwork.

It is a given that the context of the art museum may not fully rescue, it maintains all its visual significance and urgency as it occurs on the side of the road, on the fence, on rubber barriers, slowing down signage, or even as tiger patterns, while it resists the desire in becoming an artwork. For this very reason, the art museum lends itself to the artwork, and prohibits it to relax as is entitled in any actual object.

It can either be embedded in where it resides, or be completely absent.experience of the civilian and the forest animals. The artwork here, it is an artwork that neither possesses nor has relinquishes the rights of being an artwork.

It is a given state that the context of the art museum may not fully rescue, it stays as the side of the road, fence, rubber barriers, slowing down signage, or even all the meaning and stress of the tiger patter, while it resists or attempts at the desire in becoming an artwork. For this very reason, it lends to each other, not allowing it to relax that is entitled in any actual object.

It can either be embedded in where it is impartial to, or be completely absent.
Written on August 15th, edited on August 24, 2013