Cici Wu

 

Written and translated by Banyi Huang

撰写和翻译:黄半衣

My first encounter with Cici Wu and PRACTICE was through the artist Cao Fei, with whom PRACTICE organized a show called Relaxation Party. What active minds lie behind such an unconventional yet thought-provoking theme? Urged on by a curiosity to interview Cici, one of the co-founders, I made my way through fruit stalls and fish markets to an old-style apartment building in Chinatown. Hidden in a tight space flooded with light, PRACTICE is an alternative space consisting of monthly exhibitions and a one-room artist residency. 

 

我是通过艺术家曹斐第一次认识到 Cici Wu 和 PRACTICE,因为 PRACTICE 曾为曹斐做过一个名叫《放松派对》的展览。在这个不寻常但耐人寻味的主题背后潜伏着何样充满活力的头脑?充满了好奇心想要采访 Cici——PRACTICE 的创始人之一——我接连穿过水果摊和海鲜市场走到唐人街的一座老式居民楼前。隐蔽在一个狭小而阳光充溢的公寓里,作为另类艺术空间的PRACTICE组织每月轮换的展览和一房间艺术家驻留项目。

Imagined Cinema, 2015

Ceramic, silicone, plaster, plastic chair, coffee, fairy light, color single-channel video 3 min.

Seated by the window was Cici, surrounded by materials taken down from the last show. Still recovering from the five flights of stairs, I was immediately struck by her soft spoken yet determined demeanor. Switching fluently between English and Mandarin, Cici opened up about herself and her practice with unusual sincerity and clarity, depositing me in a poetic landscape where narrative and abstraction fused into one. It was a conversation about cinema, feelings, identity, and everything in between. 

 

Cici 坐在窗前,被刚拆卸下的展览材料围绕着。尽管我仍由于爬完五层楼梯而喘息,Cici 温和而坚决的姿态立即让我着迷。流利地穿流于中英文,Cici 用真挚明了的语言与我分享她和她艺术实践的故事,置我于一种叙事与抽象描述融为一体的诗意化风景之中。我们聊到电影、感情、存在感,以及它们之间的一切。

 

Banyi: How did your fascination with cinema come about? 

 

你是如何开始对电影着迷的?

 

Cici: You know the moment when you realize you are an artist? It occurred to me years ago when I was holding a video camera in my bathroom. 

 

对于我来说,真正意识到自己在做艺术的那一瞬间,是在多年前我在洗手间里手拿摄像机时。

 

For me, cinema is able to induce human tears through the mere fluctuation of light, therein lies the departure point for my fascinations with cinema itself. Montage, structured as a series of fragments, calls on us to mentally complete the projected actions. Emotion, the internal activity that populates the spaces in between the flickering of light and that which fixes them together, is a movement of the soul.

 

对于我来说,电影可以通过纯粹光的明暗变化使人落泪,这是我对其迷恋的出发点。蒙太奇是由一系列不完整的片段组成;它要求我们在脑海里把投影中的动作与情节拼接在一起。感情,作为一种居于光影片段之间并把它们联结在一起的内在活动,是一场灵魂的运动。

Eyelash My Hands Wink 《睫毛我的手眨眼》, 2011 

Plywood, LGB train, motor, found toys, industrial components, candle, handkerchief, readymade objects

B: In The Phone Rang, So the Room Suddenly Began to Snow (2014), it seemed like you were blurring the boundary between video and the physical space of the room. 

 

在《电话响起,房间突然下起了雪》(2014)中,你似乎在刻意模糊平面影像和观众所处实体空间之间的界限。

 

C: For me it was more about constructing a montage with the flatness of video and the three-dimensionality in which the objects preside. I wanted to create something new by bringing them together. In film language, montage is about combining short trivial shots to create unexpected results.

 

我其实更想通过结合影像的平面性和物体所处的三维空间来创造出一种类似剪辑的新体验。电影语言是这样描述蒙太奇的:多个不起眼的极短镜头合成在一起可以制造出乎意料的效果。

Detail view of The Phone Rang

《电话响起 》细节

 

 

B: Now I am really interested in hearing about filmmakers that have inspired you.

 

现在我很想听你讲讲对你有启发的导演。

 

C: The first that comes to mind is Sergei Eisenstein, who pioneered the usage of montage. Of course, I am drawn to experimental non-narrative filmmakers, like Stan Brakhage and Chantal Akerman. I’m also influenced by my professor, Linda Lai, who is into Direct Cinema.

 

我首先想到的是谢尔盖· 爱森斯坦,他开拓了蒙太奇的运用。当然,我也很喜欢创作非叙事性电影的导演,像斯坦·布拉哈格和香坦·阿克曼。我还受到我导师黎肖娴对于“直接电影”研究的影响 。

 

B: You don’t fit the stereotype of a contemporary Chinese artist. I feel compelled to ask the question: how do you perceive of your identity?

 

你并不符合想象中一般中国当代艺术家的形象。我想必须问问:你是怎样理解你自己的身份的?

 

C: A contemporary Chinese artist needs to be redefined by time. It is almost as though I lived in Hong Kong for a hundred years, passed through Beijing for a day, and New York, it feels like it’s been two centuries already. Identity is something fluid that is open to interpretation and alterations. I am just like water, and can disappear into water at any time. 

 

我想中国当代艺术家需要随着时间的变迁不断被重新定义。有时我感觉自己曾经在香港生活了一百年,在北京待了一天,而在纽约像是活了两个世纪。个人身份应该具有流动性,并且能够接收不同的诠释和改动。我就像水一样,可以随时消失在水里。

 

B: Now for something practical: how do you balance the many roles you hold in your daily life? 

 

现在转向一个实际的话题:你到底是如何平衡你生活中扮演的多重角色?

 

C: I am lucky to have a part-time job at Asia Art Archive in New York, and share this weird space with Bill and Xu, with whom I enjoy working. Running the program at PRACTICE makes me reflect on my own art practice: it helps me understand who I aspire to be, and whom I want to support. PRACTICE exists due to an urgency that we share, as well as a longing for purposelessness. 

 

我感到幸运,能在纽约的亚洲艺术文献库一边工作,一边与 Bill 和王旭分享这个奇怪的空间。管理 PRACTICE的项目让我反思自己的艺术实践:我慢慢开始理解自己想成为什么样的艺术家,以及自己想支持什么样的艺术家。PRACTICE 之所以存在,是因为我们不单感到一种紧迫感,同时也有一种对无目的性的向往。

 

Needless to say sometimes my studio work would be sacrificed, but I’m learning to balance my time better. Bill and Xu want to give me time to work on my stuff. We help each other.

 

当然有时我在工作室里的创作空间会被牺牲,但我开始学习怎样平衡地分配时间。Bill 和旭想要给我更多时间去创作。我们彼此帮助。

 

As I wrapped up our interview, sounds of footsteps and laughter began to filter through the air, as friends gathered for yet another celebratory opening. It was a feeling that confirmed the spirit of openness, sharing, and spontaneity embodied in Cici’s words.  

 

正当我完成采访时,脚步和欢笑的声音开始渗透到空气中。朋友们相聚开始庆祝另一个展览的开幕。那个感觉证实了 Cici 言语中坦率、分享,以及随性的精神。

Cici Wu was born in Beijing, and later moved to Hong Kong with her family. She received her bachelor’s degree from School of Creative Media, City University HK, and completed her MFA at Maryland Institute College of Art. She is currently living in New York City.

 

Cici Wu 出生在北京,之后随家人移居到香港。毕业于香港城市大学创意媒体学院,并且从马里兰艺术学院取得艺术硕士学位。目前居住在纽约。

 

www.thinknotonceofme.org

B: Then is it the desire to share with others your abundance of emotions and perspective on cinema that motivate you to create art?  

 

那么你是不是很想通过艺术创造来与他人分享你丰富的情感以及对于电影的独特看法?

 

C: Emotional engagement is really important to me. I wonder if affective experience and the poetics of cinema are largely under-examined in the discussion of “expanded cinema”, where new media and technological development remain the focus. 

 

我很看重情感上的互动。我质疑在’扩展领域的电影’的讨论中,对于新媒体与高科技的过度关注是否低估了情感的体验以及诗意影像的重要性。

 

However, I don’t think I would use the word ‘share’. It is too humble, too generous, too kind. I would prefer something more political, perhaps a personal manifesto on art and a redefinition of cinema. If I were to be ambitious, I would like for the power of the small and personal to affect how we perceive every system. 

 

然而,我并不想用’分享’这一个词。它太谦卑、慷慨、和仁慈了。我倒偏向一种更政治的态度,来发表我对于艺术的理解以及重新定义电影的个人宣言。用更有野心的话来说,我想聚集微小细节和来自内心的力量,让人们重新看待各种知识和系统。

We Became Mirrors, 2016

Glass, cheesecloth, silver nitrate, sugar, ammonia, silicone, single-channel video

B: But your work isn’t overly didactic. To be assertive yet not aggressive—these are qualities rare to find nowadays.  

 

但是你的作品并不带有过多的说教性。这种不卑不亢的品质在当前十分罕见。

 

C: There should be lots of different directions that don’t involve the stigma attached to sentiments and feelings. The path I take explores the enormous range of affections through the making of objects, for emotion is the most mysterious system. 

 

我希望人们可以不带着偏见去讨论研究’情绪’和’感觉’ 。我选择通过雕塑的制作来探索情感所包涵的巨大跨度和可能性,因为感情对我来说是最神秘的系统。

 

B: That leads to the question of how you came to find sculpture to be your medium. 

 

那么雕塑是如何成为你的媒介的?

 

C: I came across sculpture in my installation workshop at college. It wasn’t so much about craftsmanship than the investigation of how two objects meet each other. My first sculptural work was a three dimensional autobiography, a research on the intimate relationship between installation and text, signs and signifiers. Starting with the idea of childhood memories, I collected a lot of toys, including a toy train of mine, and studied old toy stores in Hong Kong. 
 

我是在大学的装置实验课里最先接触到雕塑。与其说是学习具体的制造工艺,还不如说是认识到两个物体如何相遇并且联在一起。我的第一个雕塑作品可以形容为一本三维空间的自传,是一份对于装置与文字、符号和能指之间亲密关系的探索。从儿时回忆的概念出发,我收集了许多玩具,包括我小时候的玩具火车。并且考察了香港的旧时代玩具商店。

 

B: Was that the Eyelash My Hands Wink (2011) piece? 

 

这是不是 《睫毛我的手眨眼》(2011) 作品?

 

C: Yes. Influenced by Lacan at the time, I was interested in how the systematic arrangement of objects reflects the subconscious. Then in grad school I went in the opposite direction, becoming invested in the actual craft behind molding things with my own hands.
 

是的。那时我受到拉康的精神分析影响,对于物体的系统性布置及其所反映的潜意识很感兴趣。上研究生后我走了完全相反的方向,投入到翻模和使用原始材料的工艺创作中。

 

Recently I realized why sculpture is so important to me. The way my hands deposit my feelings in objects is not dissimilar to how emotional hope is conveyed to the family through the mother’s hands. You can see that is the nature of domestic labor, the way mothers prepare meals and arrange the home. I wish to use sculpture to define the delicate relationship between cinema and emotion, as well as the indescribable sparks created by their encounter.

 

最近我才意识到为什么雕塑对我如此重要。我用手将感情注入物体的创作过程其实和母亲的手在不经意间将希望传达给家庭的方式很相似。这也是家庭劳动——比如母亲做饭和收拾房间——的本质。我希望通过雕塑来定义影像与情感之间微妙的关系,以及它们相遇那瞬间所带来的,那些无法用理性言语描述的火花。

 

B: Chantal Akerman’s work immediately comes to mind. There is something about the quotidian that is central to domestic labor, somewhat female, somewhat neglected.

 

这让我马上想到导演香坦·阿克曼的作品。家务劳动的重心围绕着平凡的琐事,是一种极易被忽视的女性劳动 。

 

C: She is one of my favorite filmmakers. I’m interested in the logic behind domestic work in Chinese families.

 

阿克曼是我很喜欢的导演之一。我对于中国传统家务劳动背后的逻辑很感兴趣。

 

B: Do you always draw the found objects from your own experience? Is there necessarily a symbolic significance?

 

你总是从自己亲身经验中去寻取现成物吗?其中是否必然有象征性的意义?

 

C: I always make a differentiation between ready-made objects and found objects. Ready-made is something commonplace that doesn’t require a special definition, like a mass-produced cup. Found objects, on the other hand, have one more layer, distinguished by a special smell or a personal scar. 

 

我总会把’现成品’和’现成物’(直译:找到的物品)区别开来。现成品更加常见,不需要特别的定义,比如说一个批量生产的杯子。相比起来,现成物则有另一层含义,由一种特殊的味道或者亲身体验的伤痕所区别开来。

 

B: I was really struck by the poetic statement of your conception of Automatic Door (2015). You spoke of the inherent sadness structuring the mechanism, in that its function lies precisely in the moment when the doors are forced to pull apart.

 

我非常受你对于《自动门》 (2015) 富有诗意的设想所感动。你讲到过自动门的机械结构本身所固有的伤感,因为它的功能只能在两扇门被迫分开时启动。

 

C: I see it as a letter to my partner, with whom I had a long-distant relationship lasting many years.

 

我把这个作品当成一封信,写给一个跟我有过多年异地关系的人。

Automatic Door 《自动门》, 2015 

Oak, silicone, motor, engine, sensor, flowers, plastic, dress, light bulb, LED, clock

B: I see the play between light and shadow as an allusion to cinema, because they act upon the viewer in a similar way. It also has to do with the translucency of the materials you use. It’s your style. 

 

在你的作品中,光影的采用是对影像的指代,因为它们给观众带来相似的体验。相应的你还经常使用透明的材料。光影斑驳是你的风格。

 

C: Yes I use light intentionally. It is an essential element: it is not only there when I make my works, but also in space where I present them; it is the first outlet that informs the direction I take. My eyes take on the mediated lens of cinema, of which light dictates the overall mood. 

 

是的,我很清楚我在用光。光是基本的要素;它不仅仅充溢着我的工作室,同时也点亮展览空间; 光的明暗会首先影响我的制作方向。我的眼睛取代了电影的镜头,其中光影支配整体氛围的基调。

 

B: I noticed that In Search for Siu-Sin (2015) is the only work that takes place in darkness. 

 

我发现 《小倩》(2015) 是唯一一个在黑暗中展示的作品。

 

C: It is only dark because of technical limitations. I treated the projection as an object that slowly followed the moving train. Siu-Sin, a character from the film A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), holds a special place in my memory with her ghostly apparition by the window. However, by revisiting the film, the installation recreates a spatially looping narrative where Siu-Sin levitates around the room, while her lover endlessly pursues in candlelight.

 

由于技术上的限制我无法采用一般的日光。我将作品中的投影看作一件跟随玩具火车缓慢移动的物体。《倩女幽魂》(1987)的主角“小倩”从窗前飘过的画面我记忆犹新。然而在回顾这部电影的过程中,投在墙上的影像衍生了新的空间幻想,变成了一个小倩一边飘走,男人一边不断在烛光下追寻的循环。

In Search of Siu-Sin, 2015

Plywood, motor train, mini projector, slip ring, film footage

The non-diegetic objects in the room—the perfume bottle, the rubber gloves, the telephone—are taken from five commercial Hong Kong films made in the 90s. They were then cast and recreated. The shoe from Comrades, Almost a Love Story (1996) reminded me of dancing, so I made a ballerina shoe; the rubber gloves worn by the actress made circular movements, thus the rotating fan with the gloves attached mirrored that motion. They are subject to a trivial and hidden personal interpretation.

 

空间里的非剧情性物品,包括香水瓶、塑胶手套、电话、桌子等,都在五部香港九十年代的主流电影里出现过。我用不同的材料将它们重新塑造。电影《甜蜜蜜》里女主角穿的鞋让我联想到跳舞,所以我做了一只舞鞋;女演员手带塑胶手套环绕时钟表面擦动,那么风扇上的手套是在模仿圆形的运转轨道。这些物品的制造与摆设都源于一种看似琐碎和相对隐蔽的个人理解 。

The Phone Rang, So the Room Suddenly Began to Snow

《电话响起,房间突然下起了雪》2014

Oak, nylon tulle, handmade glass, silicone, wax, resin, seaweed, balloon, rotary telephone, honey, candle, paint, mirror, umbrella bag, rubber gloves, piezo sensor, arduino, Center Stage (1992), Happy Together (1996), Fallen Angels (1995), Comrades, Almost a Love Story (1996), Chungking Express (1994)

I tried to make an experimental micro-narrative in three-dimensional space: when the telephone rings it triggers the gloves to spin, activating the room in a chaotic way. It is not necessarily a pleasant experience. Fragmentation is the nature of montage, and it is such an atmosphere that I wanted to set up.

 

我尝试在空间中创造一个实验性微叙事:电话铃声的响起促使附带手套的头顶电扇开始运转,并激发空间上升到一种近乎混乱的状态。观众感受的不一定是令人愉快的体验。分裂的状态是蒙太奇的本质,我想构造的也就是这样的氛围。

Detail view of The Phone Rang

《电话响起 》细节

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