I JUST HAPPENED TO BE THERE
我碰巧在那里来自地底的好消息 Text (will follow in Chinese): Torsten Jurell. From the book "Good News from The Lower World. Karneval 2010.
GLEAMING, NEWLY WASHED SUVs jostle for space with trucks hauling long trailers on the muddy road that leads up to village. They move at a leisurely pace to avoid colliding with the little three-wheelers that, quite without warning, are liable at any time to spill their cargoes of bricks or melons all over the road. Taxis make their way to the depot.Electric bikes swish noiselessly past the pedalling cyclists. But it is still the pedestrians who are most numerous, on their way to or from the bus stop on Lai Guang Ying Dong Road.
新洗的、闪闪发光的SUV车与拖着长长车厢的卡车在进村的泥泞路上争夺空间。这些车缓慢地移动着，尽量避免碰到旁边的三轮车，防止车上装载的砖块或者甜瓜 随时滚下车厢，落得满街都是。如果不小心的话，驾驶员根本没有机会做出反应。出租车挤在一起，争相回到落脚的停车地；电动自行车悄然无声地驶过脚蹬车。路 上数量最多的是行人，数不胜数，纷纷走向公交车站或者从公交车站回村。入夜后，这条路一片漆黑，交通也松缓下来，黑色的影子从四面八方穿过。用于烧烤的木 头燃烧的味道与村里公共厕所的臭气交织,气味不可恭维。这里是索家村，北京郊区的一个典型的村庄。这里四处车来人往，人声嘈杂。
At night the road is shrouded in total darkness and the traffic is not quite as dense. Black shadows pass by on all sides. The smells are more intense and more varied. The fragrance of burning wood from the barbecues mingles with the stench of the latrines. Suo Jia Cun is a typical village on the outskirts of Beijing. Hustle and bustle everywhere.It's a year now since the Olympics. There are no longer any guards manning the road-block. Migrants - blue-collar workers and budding entrepreneurs alike - live cheek by jowl in tiny, wretched hovels. And, on all sides, the construction sites inch gradually closer. Great changes are taking place; for many people things are getting better, others are having to move to another of the city's suburbs, and in the middle of it all is BIAC, the Beijing International Art Camp. It is here, for the third consecutive year, that I have hired a studio.
'Make what is old serve the new and make what is foreign serve China.'
I think that's how Chairman Mao expressed it, if my memory serves me correctly. China has been ever pre-sent at the back of my mind since I was a little boy who collected stamps and dreamed of going to sea. Somewhere out there, beyond Vinga Lighthouse that marks the entrance to the port of Gothenburg, lay Zanzibar, San Marino, Shanghai.
My parents' home was full of bowls and dishes deco-rated with the most exquisite of motifs - dragons, pagodas, demons, beautiful bridges with daintily tripping ladies, cherry blossom twigs frozen in their icy blue glaze. My dad was a policeman who repaired Chinese porcelain as a hobby. It was fascinating for me to see him sitting at the kitchen table, drilling through the porcelain with an antiquated diamond-tipped bit to mend the broken pieces. ('Riveting' them, as the experts say.) The scents of Prussian blue, ultramarine and turpentine ming-led with names like Qing, Kangxi, Song. He taught me how to recognise Ming porcelain and told me how people used to replicate porcelain from an earlier age so exactly that it was impossible to tell the difference between original and copy. Later, at Valand School of Fine Arts in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the early 1970s we had study groups to discuss Mao's Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art. These and the Chinese woodcuts that were spread via the pages of Chinese Literature and Art, a magazine distributed free by the Chinese Embassy, influenced my early graphic prints in a big way.
FOR A COUPLE of weeks in August 2006 I worked alongside Chinese artists as part of a wood symposium arranged in Orsa, Sweden. It was there that I created a cockroach girl, a 'Mayan' horseman and the loudspeaker tower, 'Information'. They all had their origins in some simple sketches I had made in Mexico. A single line of text each day over the course of a week or so gradually deve-loped into a short poem that DongDong and Wei Haitung translated. I then copied the Chinese characters from their translation, painting them on the carapace of the cockroach. The lettering was originally conceived to serve a purely decorative function, but it wasn't long before the idea occurred to me to write the full story of the Cockroach Girl's quest for love.
The Moon shines cold
Girl seeks Love
Finds love in the sculpture
I wish I were a Dragon
When dragons fall in love
the Moon shines warm.
The year after Orsa, in 2007, I rented a studio in Beijing for the first time.
The following year I again spent the whole of the summer at BIAC and held an exhibition at the Huang Hua Studio. For the Chinese cata-logue I wrote a text, reproduced below in an abridged, slightly edi-ted form:
LISTENING TO THE news on my way to Kallax Airport, in the far
north of Sweden, I hear that scientists have discovered a community of
bacteria deep below the surface of the Earth. The bacteria have clearly
existed there for eons - totally unknown to us. I don't know how the
scientists have reasoned, but I presume the bacteria once burrowed their
way down deep into the Earth, firmly convinced that they would find
something. But could they have any idea of what they would find? I too
have sought out places, firmly convinced that I would find something.
Chance plays a part in all our lives.
I once saw a small piece of wood in a tiny little stand where a man was selling chi-sels in Izmailovsky Park in Moscow. To tell the truth, the stand was little more than a piece of coarse cloth spread out on a table, but the tools lying there were fantastic - and the man had made them all himself. Beside them on the table was this remarkable piece of wood. Walnut from Kazakhstan. A piece of a root, maybe.
Or a knotty growth from one of the branches. I bought it, but it was lying around for more than a year before I began to work with it. By then I had returned from China and my original idea was simply to fashion a kind of Chinese hair-do on a little female figure I'd carved from the wood - something I'd seen on a shadow puppet in Liu Li Chang. Or perhaps it was in the subway? Or on another sculpture? Paradoxically, I owe the extraordinary yet quite wonderful shading in the face of the girl to my relative lack of interest in wood. I regard it simply as a medium to work in and, if there are subtle colour shifts in the grain, they end up where they end up.
For me, she was new, myste-rious - and slightly scary.
Back in the car on the way to Kallax, the newsreader rounded off
the item about the subterranean bacteria with the words: 'So, that's
today's good news from the World Below!'
'Yes,' I thought. 'That's it! Good News from the World Below.' Of course! The 'Mouse-Girl-Devil' was The Messenger from the Lower World."
ON WALLS, LAMP-POSTS and frontages - everywhere you look in Beijing - you'll see phone numbers to ring. Often they've been painted over. The more I have thought about these painted-over numbers, the more they have attracted me. Various combinations of numbers have crept into my paintings. This year I got round to asking my friends what the phone numbers were. 'Ban zheng,' they said. They're part of the illegal licence business. Marriage certificates, drivers' licences, Ph.D. degrees. You can buy whatever kind of papers you need. Everything's for sale. Just make a call to the Lower World.
MY FIRST MEETING with the photographer Zhang Xuejiao was a comedy of errors. I was attending an opening day event for a photographic exhibition in district 798, the huge art zone in Beijing. Zhang Xuejiao was standing there with a glass of wine in her hand and, as I made to introduce myself, she thought I was toasting her health. It was an auspicious start. Two weeks later Zhang Xuejiao was in my studio to shoot some portraits of me for this book. When she showed me the result of her work, I saw, in a series of rapid-fire images, how I was gradually becoming enveloped in the linen cloth that I was embroidering and painting - and so the idea was born to make a stage with moving puppets, like a real stage, a sculpture.
LIPS, NOSES, EYEBROWS. I come across all sorts of things in
museums. After centuries of wear and tear, an underpainting finally peeps through to become the dominant surface colour. Buddha's hair-cut, this knobbliness that I succeeded in emulating by using a chisel sharpened on the 'wrong' side. A bronze Buddha, with the most beautiful amber-like patina I've ever seen - found in a museum in Bangkok. The magnificent Shiva, also in bronze, from the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm. I recalled them all from memory when I created 'Tricket -The Trick!'
I MUST ALSO tell you about the roots!
I can't really say that I understand why, but Taihu stones have truly captivated me. In Hangzhou... in parks... maybe because they remind me of the pieces of flint that my brother, Lars, would bring home with him from the island of Hälsö when I was a little boy.
In an antique shop I found a gnarled piece of wood. That became my Taihu stone - a stone made of wood!
EARLY ONE MORNING Zhang Xuejiao returned with two more photographers, Liu Aiguo and Li Jun, and we all drove to Sanchazi, where the Great Wall of China is known as 'The Dragon's Back'. There, high above us, wreathed in mist on the hilltops snaked the back of the dragon. It was quite a struggle to make our way to the summit, but when we got there we called out with sheer exhilaration across the dizzying heights. As the echoes of our voices faded among the clouds I noticed a root beside my feet - a Dragon Root.
It's bounty like this that these journeys produce. Scratching the surface, burrowing, digging deep, I inevitably find something. I just happened to be there - in the night among the lanterns and shadows on Lai Guang Ying Dong Road, in a museum, in a subway carriage. Then and now, there and here fuse together to form a picture, maybe a little sketch that I later return to and reinterpret in the light of new contexts. I see myself. I see my times.
November 14th, 2009
我父母的家里有很多碗和盘子，上面装饰着各种的精美图形：龙、塔、妖怪、在风景宜人的桥上步履优美的女子、樱花的小枝镶嵌在冰冷的青釉中......我的父亲是一 名警官，他的业余爱好是修补中国瓷器。看着他坐在厨房的桌子上，用一个古老的带着钻石尖的小钻在瓷器上钻孔，修补破裂的瓷器，我感觉赏心悦目，异常有 趣。（专家称这个修补工作为"铆接"）。普鲁士蓝、深蓝和松脂与清、康熙、宋等名字混合在一起......父亲教我如何辨别明代的瓷器，并告诉我没有办法辨别早期 的逼真赝品。
在瑞典北部，去卡拉克斯机场的途中，我听着新闻，了解到科学家在地表下面深处发现了一个细菌群落。这些细菌显然已经在那里万古长存了--我们却全然不知。 我不知道科学家们是怎样推理的，但我推断当那些细菌向地下深处挺进时，它们坚信会找到些什么。但是它们知道自己会找到什么吗？我也曾四处搜寻，坚信自己会 找到些什么。
我有一次在莫斯科Izmailovsky公园看见一个男人在一个小台子上卖凿子。说实话，那个台子也就是一张铺着粗布的桌子，但摆在上面的工具却很奇妙 --而且都是那男人自己做的。在这些工具的旁边，就放着那块非凡的小木头：来自于哈萨克的胡桃木。也许是一块树根，也许是某段树枝的一节。我买下了它，但 一直把它丢在一旁，直到一年多后才开始将它派上用场。那已经是我从中国回来一段时间以后的事了。
我的最初想法是给一个小小的女人像做一个中国发型，如同我有一次在琉璃厂所见的一个木偶的一样。不过那个木偶也许是在地铁上、或另一个雕塑上看到的？似是 而非的，我把女孩面部特别而又奇妙的阴影，归功于我相对而言对木头较少的兴趣。我仅仅把它当作是创作的中介，如果木质颗粒有细微的颜色变化，我也顺其自然 不加改动。在我看来，她是全新的、神秘的--还有点吓人。一个"老鼠-女孩-魔鬼"。
在墙上、灯柱上和临街的房上，无论在北京什么地方，你遍地都可以看到电话号码。时常，电话号码一层糊在一层上面。我花越多时间思忖这些一层盖一层的电话号 码，就越受它们吸引。各种各样的号码组合已经悄然进入我的绘画当中。今年，我空闲时问朋友这些电话号码是做什么用的。"办证!"朋友说。号码是为办假证书 所做的广告：结婚证、驾照、博士学位证等等。无论你需要什么样的证，你都可以买到。什么都可以买到。给地底世界打个电话就行了。
我第一次与摄影师张雪蛟见面时真是有点啼笑皆非。我在798艺术区参加一个摄影展的开幕式活动（798是北京一个很大的艺术区）。张雪蛟站着那里，手里端 着一杯葡萄酒。我正要上前做自我介绍时，她以为我要为她的身体健康而碰杯呢。真所谓吉星高照。两个周后，张雪蛟到我的工作室里给我拍照，以准备在这本书里 使用。当她给我看她的作品时，我在一系列连拍的图片中，看到自己正在逐渐被亚麻包围：我正在亚麻上绣花和绘画。于是，我有了一个主意，制作一个带着活动木 偶的舞台，一尊雕塑。
嘴唇、鼻子、眉毛. 在博物馆里，我碰到过各种各样的展品。经过数百年的损耗，画底色终于突破重围，成为外面的主色调。佛的发型，我用"反面"锋利的凿刀成功模拟的疙瘩。在曼 谷一家博物馆里看到一尊铜佛，佛身上披的是我见过的最美丽的琥珀色铜锈。在斯德哥尔摩远东博物馆见到一尊宏伟的湿婆神塑像，同样也是铜质的。我创作 《Tricket - 诡计》（译者注：一个让外国人泄漏自己讲英文的单词）时，脑海里映入了所有这一切。
一天的大清早，张雪蛟和另外两名摄影师--刘爱国和李骏--就来了。然后我们一起驾车到三岔子。这儿的长城俗称"龙背"。这里，龙的脊背环绕盘旋在高高的 山上，蜿蜒曲折。爬到山顶的确颇费气力，到达山顶时，我们在高处大声呼唤着，欢声笑语洋溢在山中。随着我们的回声在云中渐渐消退，我看到自己脚边有一块树 根--龙之根.
正是这样的旅程才会给人以丰厚的回报。顺着地面往里深挖，我自然能发现点什么。我碰巧在那里：在来广营东路灯影相伴的夜里，在博物馆里，在地铁车厢里。以 前和现在，这里和那里，这一切融合在一起形成了一张图画，也许是一张素描。在以后的时光里，在新的背景的映衬下，我会回到这张素描上，对其重新定义。我看 到了自己，看到了我所处的时代。