Text: Didem Yildirim. Writer and production assistant at Tensta konsthall. (Will follow in Chinese ...)
(A part of previously worked version of this text was published in Turkish in the Gaia Magazine, Istanbul on 21.06.2016:

This would probably be a good way to start this text: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is a Swedish theater painter; Torsten Jurell!"

Of course, there are several reasons why I wanted to present him. But the most important of all is my recent encounter with him and all his sculpture-performers at an exhibition called "Pranks in the Moonlight" in CAFA Art Museum, Beijing, China Oct- Dec 2017.

Jurell has exhibited his art in different parts of the world for over 30 years. It's not just his literary paintings, his sculpture-performers made of Chinese porcelain nor his masterly crafted reliefs that make him extraordinary. First and foremost he is an interdisciplinary art conductor - though I would like to call him a painter-director - and the way he puts these different elements together is quite rare. Jurell has spent more than a decade in China where he has rented ateliers and produced art in a very productive manner. Even though he is a painter-director, it`s not really a conventional theatre play that he directs, it's rather an artistic universe that gives shape to many different kinds of theatrical expressions.

If you wonder how the mechanisms of his artistic praxis works, the praxis that opens its doors to the idea of theatricality in the terrain of contemporary art, here is the answer: He makes sculptures out of Chinese porcelain and blows a spirit into them. Then he calls these sculptures actor-performers and the exhibition halls become their stages.

These performers give various performances in different galleries and the theatrical pleasure and the visual feast they offer make them not too different than your regular flesh and blood actor. In his artistic view theatre is a medium that embraces a long list of different art forms, including acting, playwriting, music, stage design etc. And he emphasizes that it is not a theatre he creates, it`s a picture of a theatre, a picture of the life that is lived while we looked on... and are manipulated.

This idea reminds me of a theatricality concept, which takes shape in the gazes of the audience, and Jurell himself, in this case, pictures the theatrical and then frames what it is captured and serves it to the gazes of the audience. As an artist who is aware of the theatricality in life, he has left his artistic productions to the flow of theatricality, which always floats in the air and is hard to resist. In the exhibition handouts he even lets his sculpture-performers have a conversation in the form of a scripted dialogue. The sense is that the best way to have the exhibition described to the audience is to let the performers speak themselves.

Behind every choice made within his art there is always a philosophical thought and theoretical background. If we consider playing, reality and manipulation as three main elements in his art, he often gives these elements each other's roles - like a real director - and they act as one another. Torsten says: "I am investing part of my life in work that is deadly serious, even when it's fun. This is not child`s play". True, but it`s more likely a stage play. This makes his art pose questions: what is real and what is not? What is serious and how much of it is fun?

As an artist who also worked as a stage designer for quite a long time, his experience with designing sets apparently helped him in his own theatrical installations. According to Shakespeare, the world itself was already a big stage and in Jurell`s exhibitions, huge exhibition spaces turn into stages. On top of this, he also built a digitally controlled minimal marionette theatre as a part of the exhibition "...And so it was Night" that he was exhibited at Museum of Dance and Movement in Stockholm, Sweden 2016, where I first saw it.

This fiction roaming marionette theater, which is a full presentation of Chinese shadow play, sculptures, light, and sound. Artist describes "...And so it was Night" as the "second act" of an exhibition "Pranks in the Moonlight", the show has been created at Swedish Royal Art Institute and in Jingdezhen in China in last a couple of years. This digital Marionette theatre has everything that a professional stage is supposed to have, from stage lights to the curtains, from lighting to sound system. Of course there are also minimal sculpture-performers in this tiny stage who perform a five minutes performance. After the performance, the curtains of the stage get closed then get opened right after, and the performance starts all over again.

After the exhibition at Museum of Dance and Movement, Jurell took part of a group exhibition
at Arp Museum, Bahnhof Rolandseck, Germany. The name of the exhibition was "Ready for the Stage / Act 1". As the name reveals, the exhibition offered the audience another theatrical experience. The exhibition turned Arp Museum into a temporary stage-performance space. The show comprised works from Classical Modernism up to contemporary art, using stage models, costumes, installations, video works, but also painting and sculpture.

The relationship between the performative and visual art was explored in multiple ways. Jutta Mattern, the curator, explains the ambition of the exhibition by emphasizing the idea of theatre united with all the other art forms. Theatricality showed itself in the exhibition while "not only by providing art historical insights but at the same time, conceiving it as a space of experience and immediately including the viewer as an actor.

" The real stage that created especially for this show by artist Isa Melsheimer made exhibition to become at the same time an actual theatre. Torsten Jurell`s digital marionette theatre provided another layer to the show. The moment when the viewer has just became an actor in this exhibition-theatre; viewer-actor began to watch the performance at the marionette theatre and then became a viewer-actor-theatre audience at the same time. This brings up to my mind Josette Féral`s thoughts and the idea of theatricality that takes a shape in the gaze of the audience in the daily experience, such as a viewer of contemporary art in this case.

According to Josette Féral, the spectator knows what to expect from the place in which he finds himself; he knows what to expect from the scenic design. Because a semiotization of space has already occurred, the spectator perceives the theatricality of the stage, and of the space surrounding him. The presence of the actor is not a prerequisite of theatricality. In this instance, space is the vehicle of theatricality. The subject perceives certain relations within that space; he perceives the spectacular nature of the

stage (Josette Féral, "Theatricality: The Specificity of Theatrical Language", Substance, Vol. 31, nos. 2&3,2002)

The current address of Torsten Jurell`s little digital marionette theater and sculpture-performers is CAFA ART Museum, Beijing China. CAFA is one of the most interesting contemporary art museums in China. The show is called Pranks in the Moonlight and this is a unique, not to miss audience experience.

Didem Yildirim




如果你想知道他的艺术理论体系如何运作,艺术家如何将剧院引入当代艺术的领域,答案如下: 他用中国瓷器做雕塑,并注入灵魂。接下来,他称这些雕塑为演员,而展览厅成为了他们的舞台。这些演员在不同的画廊表演,给观众带来的那种剧场快乐和视觉盛宴与传统意义上有血有肉的演员差别不大。在他的艺术视野里,剧院是一种涵盖多种不同艺术形式的媒体,包括演艺、剧本创作、音乐、舞台设计等等。而且,艺术家强调自己创作的不是一个剧院,而是剧院的一副图画,一副活生生的生活写照,我们则在观望并被控制着。这让我想起一个植根于观众眼神中的剧院理念,而居尔在这个例子中采用图画扑捉视线,使之服务于观众。作为一名明白生活富有戏剧性的艺术家,居尔将其艺术创作投入到多变的戏剧里面,而这始终漂流不定,难以抗拒。在展览的小册子里,艺术家甚至让雕塑演员们进行台词对话。其理念是最佳的展览方式是通过演员们自己的描述。

艺术家作品中的每个选择的后面都有哲学思想和理论框架。如果我们把表演、现实和操控当成艺术中的三种主要因素,艺术家经常给这些因素其独自的角色,就像一名真正的导演一样,而他们则同样演绎着其各自的角色。涛斯顿说:"我将自己的部分生命用在非常严肃的作品里面,哪怕作品本身搞笑。这绝不是个儿戏"。 的确是这样,而这更像个舞台剧。他的艺术由此提出了下列问题:什么是真的?什么是假的?什么是严肃的,而且其中有多少是有趣的?

作为一名曾经长期担任舞台设计师的艺术家,涛斯顿的设计经历看上去对他的戏剧装置有所帮助。按照莎士比亚的说法,世界本身就是一个巨大的舞台。在艺术家的展览中,巨大的展览空间变成了舞台。在此基础上,作为展览的一部分,他制造了一个极简的电子操控的木偶剧院--艺术家于2016年在瑞典斯德哥尔摩舞蹈博物馆展出的《夜幕降临》。 我在舞蹈博物馆第一次见到那个展览,其内容是一个虚拟的做旅行演出的木偶剧团,由中国皮影戏、雕塑、光和声音构成。艺术家两年前在瑞典皇家艺术学院和中国景德镇创作了《夜幕降临》,并将其描述为《月光下的恶作剧》的第二部分。数字的木偶剧院麻雀虽小,五脏俱全,有专业舞台的所有设备:灯光、帷幕、照明、音响。当然,在这个微小的舞台上还有极小的雕塑演员进行五分钟长的演出。演出后,舞台闭幕;而后又立即重新打开,演出重新开始。

在舞蹈博物馆展出《夜幕降临》后,涛斯顿在德国小镇Rolandseck的阿尔普博物馆参加了一个群展。展览的名字叫《为舞台准备》(第一场)。就像其名一样,该展览给观众另一种剧场体验。展览将阿尔普博物馆变成了一个临时的舞台演出空间,包含古典现代主义和当代艺术作品,并采用了舞台模特、演出服、装置作品、视频、绘画和雕塑作品。表演艺术和视觉艺术之间的关系以多种方式得以展示。策展人Jutta Mattern强调剧场和其他所有的艺术形式是有机结合的,进而描述该展览的雄心壮志。展览不仅仅通过将艺术赋予历史观,而且将剧院变成体验场所,把观众立马变为了演员。同时,艺术家Isa Melsheimer 特意为该展览制作的真正的舞台让展览变成了一座货真价实的剧院。

涛斯顿的数字木偶剧院给这场展览提供了另一个层面。当观众开始观看木偶剧院演出的那一刻,他们同时成为观众演员。这让我想起费拉尔(Josette Féral)的思想和观点:戏剧在观众的视线和日常生活体验中成型,这与本例中观众对当代艺术的感受无二。费拉尔认为,观众知道对其所处之地有何期待,知道从视觉设计上看出端倪。因为空间已经符号化,观众注意到舞台和周边空间的戏剧性。演员是否在场并非是戏剧的前提条件,空间才是戏剧的载体。观众意识到与空间的某种关系,意识到舞台的神奇本质。(费拉尔, "戏剧性:舞台语言的具体性",《物质》,31卷,2002)。


(此文早期的一个版本曾经于2016年6月21日以土耳其语在Gaia杂志发表过,伊斯坦布尔,网址: )

撰文:Didem Yildirim

• Utställningen på CAFA Art Museum: 月光下的恶作剧 - Pranks in The Moonlight, 2017: SE HÄR
• Narrstrecksprojektet: SE HÄR