Wu wei*s interview
Contemporary art is a new kind of social science research rather than a kind of art. I think that this judgment is subversive. It is subversive to the work of artists.
Time: July 27th 2008
Location: Wu Wei*s studio in Shenzhe contemporary art center F518
Interviewer: Man Yu
Edited by: Zhang Langfeng
Recording: Ye Danqing
Man Yu: Some people think that your critics are similar to Wang Nanmin. It seems that there are often some people argue with you on Internet.
We Wei: Yes. About this problem everyone has neglected one point. Academy has its own discipline construction. Anyone who wants to make a fresh start in academic research is impossible and unpractical. I have written an article entitled Dialogue with Dun Jun about the methodology of artistic criticism and discipline construction, which is about this problem. Why our discipline of criticism can*t be constructed? Here is the reason. Everyone wants to create a total new thing which is different from others*. As consequence, academy becomes groundless rumor. But you know, academy is a process which continue moving. It can*t be made a fresh start. So I want to do some depth study of ※critical art§ from the view of Wang Nanmin. There are many filed that Wang hasn*t studied which I studied in depth. Wang has more study in logicality of art history and social influence of ※critical art§ while I have more study in ontology of ※critical art§, like notion, method and linguistics, etc. The ontology of ※critical cart§ actually talks about the ontology of conceptual art. Wang*s ※critique art§ is also a redefinition of conceptual art. After go into the topic from the angle of Wang*s ※critical art§, I want to do more work. I want to know how many possibilities the conceptual art can have and which things haven*t been studied clearly until now. For example, I take more attention to the study of ontology. One of the most important aspects of ontology is methodology. I took much research in this aspect. Wang also has some research in this aspect but not concentrated while I have studied more systematically the methodology of conceptual art. I think that the ontology of conceptual art is social rationality. I have written some article in which I said basically the method for doing conceptual art is totally different from the method for doing modernist art, avant-garde art and historical avant-garde art and post-avant-garde art after Duchamp. You need to create a certain concept, which is made entirely by the method of rationality. Of course, rationality doesn*t exclude something sensible and sensitive. I have entirely expounded it in my article entitled Science is not the deadly enemy to art------about the methodology of ※issue sociology§ of contemporary art and its transcendence. I entitled the methodology by which conceptual art focus on the social research of cultural issues as ※issue sociology.§ My study is helpful to the discipline construction of ※critical art.§
Man Yu: So to you, how to describe art? I remember that there exists a name which is called ※issue#§
Wu Wei: ※Issue doctrine art.§ ※Issue doctrine§ is a specific concept focusing on contemporary art. So I focus on another point. Wang Nanmin create the point of ※critical art§. But this maybe is a redefinition of conceptual art. Wang*s ※critical art§ pays more attention to function while my ※issue doctrine art§ pays more attention to ontology, which concerns the specific concept and methodology of contemporary art to certain cultural issues. I think as long as contemporary art, as long as so-called contemporary art, you don*t need to care about the issues. They do nothing about contemporary art.
Man Yu: What is the ※issues§ that you mentioned? The word ※issue§ is more general than other words. How do you define the ※issue§ in you theory of ※issue doctrine art?§ What*s its definition?
Wu Wei: I created the concept of ※issue doctrine art§ several months ago. In the past, I always did some research but couldn*t create a new concept. So the real academy is that you can*t create a new concept if you haven*t reach a certain depth. ※Issue doctrine art§ focus on certain method and certain approach of issues. I entitle it ※issue doctrine§, which is a notion focusing on the social scientific research of certain cultural issues so that it can create certain a certain cultural criticism. So the issues in ※issue doctrine§ is certain cultural issues, not general and abstract issues. For example, the issue of traditional culture, social regime and human nature are all some general issues. ※Issue doctrine art§ focus on a certain cultural issue or social issue(of course, all the social issues are from the cultural issues.) We can self-reflect the culture from a concrete problem. For example, the human rights issue in a certain event is a precise issue. For instant, Standing statue of the couple Qin Hui of Jin Feng concerns a precise human rights problem. It did a self-reflection of Chinese culture from a precise human rights problem. I made a deep comment to this work in my article What kind of contemporary art work do we need------about Standing statue of couple Qin Hui of Jin Feng. The problem that it focus on is very precise. It is not a general cultural issue, either an interior issue of art history. The problem that concept art focus on is different from the problem ※how should the art be.§ It is a philosophical dimension*s issue of art history. One net friend Tianyi kept asking me:§ all of the art is issue. Your issue doctrine is a speculating concept.§ I said to him:§ the issue of conceptual art and ※issue doctrine art§ is a certain cultural issue and a certain social issue. The issue that you mentioned is a general issue in philosophical dimension. They are different.§ For example, the philosophical issue of human nature and a certain problem of human nature reflected from a certain action, they are different things. So personally, I think that art always questions certain problems from past to contemporary art. If someone still talk about an issue from a abstract and general philosophical dimension, what he does is certainly not the contemporary art because in the past, one did art like that. For instant, we talk about modernist art and emphasize the liberation of human nature but the issues that the modernist art focus on are all general issues, even meaningless issues. It is basically different from contemporary art which considers problems from a precise problem
Man Yu: Then the difference in it is the difference of method, not the difference of art direction, which is the change of value. For example, you think that modernist art cares also human nature, right? But you think that their method is general and vague, which is a kind of experiential method, not like what you have just mentioned, from a specific event, for example, an event or a certain object. And then talk about human nature from this specific event. The difference is the method. What do you think?
Wu Wei: No, I don*t think so. Not only the method is different, the methodology inside is also different. The method is decided by the methodology and the methodology is decided by ideas. Why the methods have so much differences? Because the methodology has changed. Your aim and method of your attention to problems have both changed. Why the methodology has changed? That is because the basic ideas to the art has changed. Contemporary art practices the criticisms to certain culture by certain problem not by philosophy like past. This idea decide that contemporary art focus on a certain problem. It cause also the change of our art basic methodology. Why in the past, the art didn*t focus on the certain problems? Because its art ontology and the language structure couldn*t go deep into a certain problem. Its image languages are some general and abstract languages, but not some concrete, specific and suggestive languages, so of course they couldn*t go into a concrete issue context. In fact, their ideas and methodology are different. That means the ontology has changed. This change means that the artistic method has changed. So I say that the key of difference of contemporary art, modernist art and even the whole avant-garde art is your change of ideas and methodology. This change causes that the structure of ontology of art has changed, for example, the signans of art that we often mention. Because our ideas have changed to focus on this kind of problems, so the creation of lansign and of the relationship of lansign has to be different. Then of course, it can go into a certain context.
Man Yu: That means the reconstruction of the relationship of signans and designatum.
Wu Wei: Right. The past language hasn*t a certain directivity. But now it has directivity to go deeply into the issue context. So the relationship of signans and designatum has changed. Then the structure of ontology has changed and the artistic method has changed. So I think that the contemporary art need to go into a certain issue context then it can continue discussing problems. In my impression, Wang Nanmin purpose actually the context. Then I feel that if we only talk about the context, we can*t clearly discuss problems because context has two kinds, general and specific. We should talk about the specific issue context. So I purpose the concept of ※issue context.§ In fact, he also used my ※issue context.§ This is important. Everyone has ※context,§ modernist has and avant-garde also has. I have distinguished some concepts. The context of modernist art is psychological context. The context of avant-garde art is pan community context while the context of contemporary art is certain issue*s context. They are different. So if you do a research of the relationship structure of artistic signs in a certain context, that will surely be different with the relationship structure of artistic signs in a general context. This is what I often debate with others and what Wang Nanmin hasn*t paid attention on. Because he did too much research. These things are too wide so in a certain research, he couldn*t go too deep, right? He hopes now that I can continue my studies in this direction. We often connect and he hopes also that I continue writing articles. Human*s energy is limited. This is also a kind of construction of discipline. One find a point and then study it deeper and finally, this becomes a systematic discipline, right? That*s why I said this should be an enlargement of concept art*s studies by these sides.
Man Yu: Here has another question. Maybe it is not so important. Here have some criticisms. Some people think that the method of Wang Nanmin is a single horizon. Like in the past modernist art was also a single horizon. So some people think that since Wang Nanmin is also a single horizon, he just goes to the field of sociology from the field of formalism. This is a criticism. And another is that some people think that you are encouraging a kind of artistic ideological trend from your understanding of artistic ontology. They think that in this side, it is not important. This is an another criticism. How do you think about these two criticisms?
Wu Wei: Perhaps Wang Nanmin*s ※critical art§ means a certain field of view. The development of art is just to produce new field of view. That is different and independent field of view constitutes the whole art.
Man Yu: I understand now. You means that for you, the art that you understand is an independent and complete system of all kinds of art.
Wu Wei: Personally, this system should have forwards-looking. Whether the ※critical art§ of Wang Nanmin or my ※issue art§ system, I think that they both have forwards-looking. Of course, that doesn*t mean that we can*t create other system except this field of view. But the new things that you create must stand the questions. If it doesn*t have new possibility, you can*t insist that it has. Trough academic debate and academic research, people find that your system is not a new possibility but a old artistic method. If you still put this old artistic method with a new artistic method expressed from a new possibility that we discussed, that will be too funny. For example, I have done many researches about maximalism art and in my studies, maximalism art cannot bring new possibility to contemporary art. It is totally a artistic  method of old historical avant-garde. If you insist to do it, that will be also O.K. As an artist, everything is O.K. but as a new artistic possibilitiy, there might be some disputes: do you really provide a new possibility for contemporary art? I wrote an article named ※Considering Zen§ in the trap of Chinese culture---criticism to the method of ※maximalism§ of Gao Minglu to critique the Gao*s way of mention of ※maximalism.§ I thought that ※maximalism§ lent to the considering Zen in the trap of Chinese culture. Then do you think there has some new possibilities?
There are also some people have such a misunderstanding. The foundation of ※issue§ system covers and contains everything, so you don*t have any defect or any limitation? No. Any new artistic method or a new theory has limitations. Because it has limitation, it can be surpassed and then art can develop.
Man Yu: What is your defect do you think? 
Wu Wei: This is a very acute problem. There was a net friend who has asked this problem. He said: you talked a lot that others have limitation. And what is your limitations? I have answered this problem. Issue art is an artistic signans which is created to surmount the basic problem of historical avant-garde art and post-avant-garde art. Their problem is that the artistic signans is uncertain, unlimited and finally it cause the appearance of metaphysics. But issue art can solve this limitation so it becomes a new artistic method. This new method doesn*t surmount all the limitations of art. It maybe still reserve some limitations of some old artistic method. But these limitations are not racial. In fact, to a new artistic method, its basic limitation can*t be shown in the first period or even before the last period of construction. Because in this period, art history asks the new method to surmount the limitations of old methods, so this is the period where the new method shows its advantage. Of course its limitation is not easy to be seen. Now, personally, I don*t think that ※issue art§ has many classical works. In the situation where there are not many classical works, or even in the situation where there are not many works, we should ask if its ontology limits the creativity of artists or if there have others reasons. This question should be discussed.
Man Yu: This question is what I also want to ask you. Your presentation about your ※issue art§ is very logical, a little bit like logical reasoning, so I feel that you consider this question in a cultural system. But art and an individual who does art, they may have other things. The thing that you mentioned is just what artists should be on guard. Culture has a effect of catabolism to people, so for you, you can get a reasonable result by this kind of logical reasoning, but this method maybe isn*t humanistic to human being. For example, a person tell a truth to another. He thinks this truth is very reasonable but to another person, this truth is difficult to accept.
 Wu Wei: And very depressed.
Man Yu: Right. There has this possibility. I think it*s good to consider the question that you have just mentioned. You think that the theory is good, but why there is on artist to do works with it? Of course, that no artists does works with this theory doesn*t mean that this theory has problems but we should think through this possibility. Why there has this situation?
Wu Wei: For this problem, I think that at first, I need examine if there are some defects on theory of my ideas to construct ※issue art§ or Wang Nanmin*s ※critical art theory.§ At first, we don*t need to examine it in practice. We examine it on theory, this logical system. We should first examine whether it accords basic artistic logic. Then through this examine, we can find that system construction itself has many defects and write an article to perfect it. And then, I do studies on the relationship between theory and creation of ※issue art.§ But a new artistic method can*t be accepted at once. It needs time.
Man Yu: I have such a feeling. What you talk about is all the values in this theory system. But there has another possibility. For art itself, personally, the real value is that the freedom is the first. So you have constructed this theory, but for artists, this is what they want to exclude. The reason is their desire for freedom in their subconsciousness
Wu Wei: You are right.
Man Yu: This is possible. For example, if your theory doesn*t have logical problems, but you still have problems, that maybe because this kind of method breaches the wish of artist, which is that I*m not subject to any constraints and I can do anything that I want to do and I can do practice in the name of art. Of course, there must have some limitations, for example, you mustn*t harm others, commit a crime and something like that. This is the prerequisite. So in your new theory system, I think everyone has naturally a kind of excluding, because if not, why don*t you do that? Of course there exist some people intentionally exclude it, right? But generally, if an artist works in a set frame, he maybe has a strong feeling of collision and aversion. He can*t be satisfied so there will be some problems in each aspect. I guess whether there has such a problem.
Wu Wei: I think about this problem in this way. The freedom of creation to individual is different from the freedom to transcend the art history. I mean, as an artist, you are free to do everything, even you can commit a crime, but if you do that you will be punished by laws. All these freedoms are different from the freedom which transcends the art history. We can see that ※issue art§ can transcend the art history.
Man Yu: Then we can talk about this thing. How to understand the art history? Some people think that the art history has different versions in different eras. That means there has no standard of art history. So if we consider this problem from a basic logic, for instant, there has such a theory in philosophy, which thinks that anything in the past can*t infer the things in the future. On matter how much you know about the past, how comprehensive the information you have gleaned, you can*t predict which direction the future will go in the logic. In this point of view, how should we understand the art history? What you have just said is in the context of art history, right? So there maybe have some problems.
Wu Wei: I think we should consider art history as such a thing. As an artist, you do works. If you don*t have a sense of art history, you won*t definitely go into the art history. How to do it is your personal work but art historians care more about the transcending of artistic creation. Really the art history is not sure and the art in the future is also unsure. I said that we should have a sense of art history. That means that artists should reasoningly consider if their works has surpassed the art history. When the work has surpassed the art history, which means it has constituted the next of art history and it is also good for a further liberation in some aspects, we can call you an artist with a sense of art history. If you want to do some transcending upon the art history, you must have a rational sense to art history. It*s impossible that you have an irrational mind. This is maybe the art history premise to which artists are facing.
Man Yu: Artists must have sufficient reason to support himself. No matter what kind of comments this reason and the result of you will receive in one or two hundreds years, in the present, as an individual, we must have a stable basic (which is thought by ourselves) to do this thing. So this basic maybe is a redefinition to conceptual art, a new understanding or a redefinition to art itself. In this premise, artists can think that art should be done in this way.
Wu Wei: Yes, whether the things that artists have done surpass the art history can*t be told to us by art history itself. Your new thing is different from the past art history, of course, you can judge whether you have transcended the art history through itself. But there must have a way to judge it. You can do a comparison between art histories to see whether the possibilities that you mentioned exist in each form of art history. If it does, then you can check whether the new thing in your creation if significant or not. If it has constituted the context with art history and it is helpful to the further liberation of human being, it is significant. This can be checked. This ※issue art§ is not inferred from art history in the strict sense. We caught a certain symptom from some new phenomena, and then we did researches on this symptom, extended our researches, and finally, we saw whether there had a possibility to establish a new art possibility. Why we critiqued the Standing statue of the couple Qin Hui of Jin Feng? Because we found that this work was different from other works. We found that it had actually advanced a step forward on the ontology of art through the check of art history. I have also critiqued others* works, like the work of Zhou Bin. I have critiqued many people*s works. So in fact, in a sense that is artists who have surpassed the art at first but they haven*t realized that. And then critics and theorists find this new thing. They check it on theory and finally a new art possibility appears. So I think that a new art possibility is a co-creation of art creation, art criticism and art theory. They have interaction. But a new kind of art possibility mustn*t accident. Why theorists and critics focus on this new phenomenon, not another art phenomenon?
Man Yu: This dose matter with the theory system of critics?
Wu Wei: It dose matter with critics* academic field and the transcending of art itself. Because there is maybe one thing that seems surpassing that art history but actually it does nothing with it. Some people*s creations have a context relationship with art history. This kind of transcending catches the attention of critics and theorists and then they continue to do some researches. This can produce a new art theory. The new art possibility is in this condition. So creating whatever you want is not a real art freedom. The real art freedom must to direct to the art history. But today many artists don*t have this concept. What a pity! They think this is freedom but in fact it is not. That is blind.
Man Yu: Actually doing whatever you want is not possible in this society.
Wu Wei: Right. One day, I was having diner with the artists from F518d in a restaurant. An artist asked me why your ※issue art§ focused on a certain issue. Why did you take this kind of art as a standard of contemporary art? My impulse of art and life also had significance to the liberation of human being. Why don*t you regard it contemporary art? I said, yes, it is also art. But your art is a kind of art of past time. The issues that modern art has solved can become the theme of contemporary art.
Man Yu: I have another question, which concerns the thing that we have just mentioned. Now our understanding of art history is mainly on the researched of forms, like languages, themes, cultures or notion. This kind of way is from an exterior way. The artist who you have mentioned said: I do works by a method that can liberate me, why don*t think that I*m a contemporary artist? That means for him, if he was honest, the kind of art is really important for him. He may do some works that you call them conceptual art. The ※issue art§ for him is not humanist. I hear an explanation of art history. I*m not sure whether it is right. This explanation is that art history is written from personal view. There exists another art history. It is not written from the form aspect, or the notion, or the linguistic logic, or the theme. It doesn*t check the art from the social culture, but from the form of this art to artist himself. I think that maybe this kind of method is a more opening method. It can be a new possibility to art history in the future.
Wu Wei: This kind of way for writing art history has a reference point but this point should be expressed in writing art history from a personal aspect. That rewrites the art history not depend on art history. I mean, things like impulse are not things that can*t be done. Contemporary art can also do some works of impulse but the method of using impulse should be changed. This method has been extended to the attention of contemporary issues. That means the attention to this issue concerns the impulse. Only in this way, your work that contains impulse doesn*t depend on art history, but rewrite it. I think this may be interesting.
Man Yu: Of course, there has another question, on matter it is mine or others*. For example, Wang Nanmin has a notion of ※humanist artist§ and you have a point as ※issue art.§ They all concern a certain social event. Here our choice is important. What kind of event should I choose? What is my point of view of this event? Here exists a premise, which is that I need a standard. I need a standard to judge something. For example, the standard of the Standing statue of the couple Qin Hui of Jin Feng is human rights. We should respect everyone whatever in what kind of condition, no matter what kind of person he is. We should have this notion, no matter the person that we are facing is a murderer or a traitor in the notion of narrow nationalism. Without the support of this notion, the standing of Qin Hui has no meaning. Without this notion, Jin Feng even didn*t consider this thing or didn*t know whether Qin Hui should stand or not.
Wu Wei: Of course, it has a premise.
Man Yu: Then there*s another problem about the premise. We don*t have a self-reflection for our sense of worth, which maybe an object of introspection.
Wu Wei: So I*m always saying that, the art conception cannot be isolated. It is a cultural concept, which can*t be separated from the culture, and even belongs to the human conception. At this time, the artist should build up your own premise, and it*s only possible after you*ve concerned about the whole human science. I don*t think every art has its permanent value. The art can only be put in a certain period of the art history. We say, one finds the best artistic way to express the humanity, then how can you determine that this is the best way, it must be in a current research of the human science or human development. If without the premise of this human development, how can you consider the art corresponds with the humanity? You can*t. Of course there*re some art creations which surmount the level of the human science at that time. And that kind of art can hardly be understood by the people in that period, so it would cause the discussion, in which we may find its true value.
Man Yu: I mean, how would I have a such misunderstanding in what you*ve mentioned? It*s to misunderstand the problem that you focused on. You would think, this is the thing that a sociologist should do, then how come an artist is doing that? So we still need an explanation, which means as an artist, what*s his work*s significance? Or do you think it*s important as for the identity of an artist? Or you think that we*re still doing all this within the area of art, then what*s its contribution?
Wu Wei: I*ve also talked about this problem, and there were lots of people who asked me about this. You*re an artist, why do you research the sociology study? Then we*d better call the contemporary art as a neo-research of sociology rather a type of art. I think this judgment of mine is the most subversive, especially for the artists* work.
Man Yu: Here*s the question. A such kind of method, which makes us feel that the art becomes a branch of the social science, losing its own independence. However, whether this kind of point of view really has a reason from the psychological perspective? Like at the old days, the religion wanted to be close to the science, and it made every effort to prove the existence of the God, but now, nobody tries to prove it anymore. One redefine the God according to his own logic and thoughts, and God is in your mind, which is no need to be proved. So the independent religion has more space. It*s just an example. As for the art, like the contemporary art is a independent period, the ancient art always cling to the religion or literature# because they needed to paint the religious stories, and there were a lot of limits for the subject. Then after the appearance of contemporary art, the art more focus on the research of the form. I*ve nothing to do with other things, I*m just a dot, a line, a plane, or colors, structures, geometric figures# right? Or just of materials, or visual thing# what do you think of this way?
Wu Wei: It*s really subversive for the ※problemisme art§ that I proposed, which cannot be accepted by lots of artists. Then I want to ask, why artists must do art in an artistic way? Why can*t we do art in an non artistic way? First of all, we need to question this conception from the perspective of art history. My point of view is that, the so-called new possibility or development of art is to transform the non-art into art. All arts develop like this. In classical art there was no abstract art, so in the conception of classical art, that of abstraction couldn*t be considered as art. Then after the emergence of contemporary art, the avant-garde art since Duchamp cannot be admitted within contemporary art area. So now I need to make a detailed inquiry that, after the avant-garde art, now I intend to put the social scientific method into contemporary art, is that possible? People said that social science is just science, how can it be art then? I must say that the art is something without the essence, which always needs to be expanded. What*s more, I put forward the method of social science, at last, I define it as ※neo-social science§, not social science. The word ※neo§ distinguish the social science and the art, which is different from both. Then actually, it quotes the rationality of social science which creates a special conception of cultural critique. However, it didn*t exist in the contemporary art system. So we define something inexistent as art, and art is something that be continuously defined. Why we have to use the artistic way to do things? That*s also the reason that I often criticize Jin Feng.
He always do some internal things of art. Originally a very good material, like that No Word Visit, one hundred person appealed to the higher authorities for help, which had different and vivid subjects. Yet he made a human body become a body statue, which covered by golden powder. So this is to do art by using a very artistic way. I told him that maybe with a non-art way, it may become more contemporary art. Thus, these are two different art conceptions. So many people thought that it is the vassal of social science by using its method, but actually this is a misunderstanding. Why we can*t say that, I borrow the method of social science and create the new stuff, which expands the art, as well as the social science, is this not good? So in my article, Science is not the mortal enemy of art re-discuss the problem and methodology of social science and its transcendence, I discuss it from every aspects. In fact, there*s nothing contradictory. It can penetrate into the contemporary art, vice versa, then it can build up the brand new things.
Man Yu: Just now, we talked about the human rights artist, what do you think of it?
Wu Wei: I consider it as 每 Wang Nanmo especially emphasize the aspect of ※critical art§, which is the problem of citizen*s politics. Then as the conception refers to the citizen*s politics, so it*s natural that the human rights artist emerges. I feel it just reasonable and natural.
Man Yu: But I feel the concept in it is relatively limited.
Wu Wei: I consider the ※human rights artist§ as a respect of ※problemisme art§, which aims not only the problem of citizen politics, but also that of culture, subconscious, even that of nation, history, psychology , and philosophy. The contemporary art focus on the method of all these problems, if your way changed, that means your perspective changed also# For contemporary art, you should get its significance from the sociology and culture behind. If we still focus all these problems by using an ancient way, then what*s its relationship between the contemporary art? So human rights artist still has its own rationality. Because at least till now, the citizen politics is still the biggest problem for human liberation. Nowadays, it*s the era of social and political philosophy, so maybe the liberation for politics could be the hardest part for the human being. According to a saying of contemporary political philosophy, that human is the animal of politics, humans are not only of culture, but more of politics. As politics is related to every single person, furthermore, its relationship is more important than others. So at that moment, you focus on the problem in politics area, art refers to the politics, is it more significant for human liberation?
Man Yu: For me, I care more about the premise of art, that*s to say, the premise of judgment standard. Like the work Labor Bill that I did. But I think it*s not the law itself which influence them the most, but the understanding of the concept of law or the value. For them, they thought that arrest a person was no big deal, they didn*t have a understanding for human rights, behind which there stands a sense of worth and of world. Then what do you think of such kind of relationship?
Wu Wei: If one artist cares about the problem of human right, and does his work in this area, I think one aspect really important is that whether your premise is set within the legal frame or within the rational human frame. For example, the legal frame is imperfect for the human right, which needs to be surmounted. Lots of laws in our country are lagged. So an artist still does his work about the human right in the existing legal frame, but without more thinking about the legal conception, then the work could be something really absurd. So in this case, artists need to care about the development of humanities. If you don*t have such vision, then what you*ve done could be like a joke, even you*re not an avant-garde artist at all. The avant-garde artist should express the esprit of avant-courier culture, but not the lagged one. Therefore, if you don*t look the art from the history of art and ontology, then it could be difficult to find the new growing point. Maybe you*re so exited when doing the work, but actually this is an old method. There*re lots of artists like this, who don*t agree your judgment and think that you treat them unjustly, which is really troublesome. I don*t whether you*ve met any trouble in Beijing?
Man Yu: In Beijing ?
Wu Wei: Yeah.
Man Yu: You mean doing work, or other aspect?
Wu Wei: In Beijing*s academia, artists discuss it privately 每 what*s your further understanding about the contemporary art, even if we have the ※conflicts§.
Man Yu: I think we*ve talked about some of those questions, one about the sight whether it*s single or not, the other is about whether we advocate an academic thought, rather than think of a question from artist*s perspective.
Wu Wei: About the problem of academic thought, perhaps we didn*t talk much. Whether it considers that ※problemisme art§ will become an new trend of art?
Man Yu: Yes, someone feel that you*re advocating a certain thought, whether it carries the trend character?
Wu Wei: Personally I don*t think the problem we*re discussing is a kind of thought. I didn*t discuss it from the trend perspective, but from the radical change of art ontology to talk about a new art method*s naissance. So in this case, this is not only a thought, like DuChamp*s art, which represents a fundamental revolution of art form. I hope everyone focuses the ※problemisme art§ from this point of view, or from the ※critical art§ which Wang Nanming had mentioned. If see other critics or theorists trying to create an 每isme, then we go to make another, this could be something narrow, what do you think of it?
Furthermore, I don*t what others think about the works that I*ve commented. I*ve experienced some dispute with others on the Internet, some of who don*t agree with me. Like Jin Feng*s Standing portrait of Qin Hui couple, till now, except me and Wang Nanming had written some articles, other critics just kept silent, totally in aphonia. This is bizarre! Why they didn*t comment? Or they weren*t willing to comment? Or they thought this work isn*t worthy of comment? I think all this need to be discussed. Then, till now there*re few critic or theorist who discuss the problem of art*s possibility from the perspective of ontology revolution. It seems that they*re talking about something in another level, yet not into that of art ontology. No matter how much they talked, I don*t think you can make it clear. If we discuss the art*s possibility from its functions, you can hardly make it, because lots of arts* functions are alike. Both realism art and conceptual art face the intervention of society, then how can you say that the latter has more than the former. You can say that.
You can only discuss it from the ontology, because they*re different from this perspective, although they have the close orientation. So nowadays, some critics and theorists can not refer to the ontology, which is very a shame. Including those so-called big critics, when reading their articles, I couldn*t feel the profound discussion about the ontology; as well as some of their exhibitions, which didn*t touch this level. Wang Lin had once organized an exhibition, ※subrstratum humanities§, and he discussed about Jin Feng*s work totally by a method of realism art, which is in dislocation. Afterwards, I specially wrote an article to talk about this problem, ※Critique*s thoughts and compassion*s tears 每 Wang Lin*s humanity dislocation§. Jin Feng later called me and said that Wang Lin hadn*t understood his works. He almost used an old art methodology to discuss the current works. This means some critics can look through the inside language structure of the contemporary art. So if you don*t study on the ontology, then you can hardly see clearly about it, which is a very big problem. And I*m who especially emphasize the research of art*s ontology. So I don*t think I*m doing the research of art history, what do you think then?
Man Yu: I feel that Jin Feng*s work, for me, I prefer that of ※Qin Hui§, and I*ve also seen what you*ve just said. But I think that one was a kind of fall back.
Wu Wei: Yes, I once wrote an article ※Jin Feng*s falling back§, which is from his work ※Archives for old lady Wang Xiaoliu§ to talk about how he was falling back.
Man Yu: That*s to say, you can see from this that his value standpoint was out of focus.
Wu Wei: Right.
Man Yu: As well as his direction. So what he meant was : I give you something to see, but how you see it is your business.
Wu Wei: Whether you can see the problem, that*s up to the audiences.
Man Yu: If you want to study it then just do it, if not, I don*t care.
Wu Wei: To put something there is naturally to arouse many associations about the problems, which is two different thing between the fact that the artist has his own judgment position.
Man Yu: Here*s another question, like what I*ve bee said before. Reflect on the value is also a problem, because we always need a value system to support our discussion.
Wu Wei: Of course, but this value system is quite wide.
Man Yu: In your ※problemisme§, this should also cover that aspect.
Wu Wei: Already had.
Man Yu: To discuss into a philosophy level, or sociology, psychology level, are all quite important. If he*s an artist, and he can research in one of this area, then his work will be different.
 Wu Wei: Yes! How will you judge the problemisme? Through the problem, your work criticize the limitation of a certain culture behind, this kind of critique does make sense for the liberation of human, then you will feel its humanity value.  How can you judge it as limited? The only method is to see the culture in the front of human development at the moment. Otherwise, you can never find its limitation. You must be in this process of humanity progress and with a humanity vision, then you may rethink about our culture. The culture problem can naturally be presented as a social problem, so if you can see through this and point out the limitation, then this could be a kind of humanity critique.&n, bsp;
Man Yu: Nowadays, artists are relatively lagged in this aspect.
Wu Wei: Basically, it*s an attitude of avant-garde art. That*s to say, I want to do a very defamiliarization work 每 like I do a strange performance, only want to let you feel that I*m unique/alternative, through which I express my disapproval for the society and the culture.
Man Yu: Here shows one*s value orientation, whose effectiveness in this society is no more a real problem. In the modern times, or industrialize period, at that moment this was effective. Like I*m against the standardization, so I should be with personality. Because at that time, machines were no so advanced, like in Chaplin*s film, he was a worker who tightens the screws. He was only a part on the production line. And for individual, if I*m unique at those of days, I disagree with the present life style, which was of value and pertinence. But now in this society, things have changed, today, the personality actually has become one of the requirements in ideology of mainstream, as well as in the movie or fashion area, we all talk about that. Then where*s the problem? So in today*s works, like those c things, which is not important or not, but the key is in the method. How unfamiliar you will show, this is a question.
Wu Wei: I wonder whether the absolute unfamiliarity really makes sense in Chinese society, as for its culture critique, we need to discuss it separately. You can*t say it*s totally meaningless; after all, China isn*t a very post-modernized or contemporary country. So under this condition, the society still can*t accept some kind of personality. If you present a unique personality, of course this opens wide people*s vision and has a certain meaning. Yet, this difference or criticism can*t take on the meaning of avant-garde culture. This has already be solved in the times avant-garde art, which cannot compose a subject of pioneer culture. People can do that and call for that. However, as an avant-garde artist, you need to discuss a much powerful cultural and artistic method from here and now. This method may be more subversive, once it becomes effective, your efforts to the society can not be underestimated.
© Copyright FCAC 2007
© Copyright FCAC 2007