艺术家导演和演出的雕塑 "Artist as a Director and The Performing Sculptures"
(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.
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
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?
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.
the exhibition at Museum of Dance and Movement, Jurell took part of a group
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.
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.
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）。