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This is the Final Struggle


Hi Arts, combined issue of July and August, 2012

I first heard the Internationale on the street. Back then, after the program of Abstract of News and Newspapers broadcasted by China National Radio at 8 o’clock every night, the Internationale will be broadcasted. People didn’t mind whether it’s noisy or not, they consider the free loudspeaker broadcasting a kind of welfare, at least they didn’t need to pay the electricity bills form that. I didn’t think the tones of announcers weird, for they have to spice up the atmosphere for the song. If the contents are too flat and dull, I’m afraid that following forceful song would scare the hell out of them on the instant.

Qu Qiubai and Xiao San first translated the Internationale into Chinese. Black Bird Band in Hong Kong and Tang Dynasty rock band on mainland China both adapted that song. Personally, I think Tang Dynasty band’s version is better. It became such a hit that I can’t think of any other songs they produced over so many years.

The Internationale was not localized as well as Cui Jian’s I Have Nothing , which integrated western rock music’s rhythm and China’s lyrics, while the Internationale was introduced to China with set lyrics. In those years, that song was always connected to The East is Red. Even at the beginning of Women's Federation’s meeting in the village, it’s always the The East is Red.; at the end, the Internationale. ”there is never a savior, we do not depend upon gods or emperors” following the lyrics “He serves the country wholeheartedly, he is a great savior of people.”

The only thing perplexing for Chinese is the Internationale’s word interantionale, a French word means international, a hope of warriors from Paris Commune to realize “one world, one dream”.  Many things are originally small things, or regional or industry problems, but if get internationalized, they could become international issues affecting the big picture. We often get involved in the affairs we are not even clearly about. What’s worse, the real estate dealers and developers have learned from this.  A small real estate company near where I live built several villas with limited property rights, claiming to be “German style”, which could not be sold for dozens of years. However, after they change the advertising band from “the last nine in the county” into “the last nine around the globe”, they were sold out in less than half a year.

It’s a pity for a painter if he hadn’t participated in international exhibitions like biennale or documenta. I first heard Kassel in the 1990s. There was a story about it: two men send painters letters of invitation in the name of the organizing committee of German Kassel documenta. The letters were written quite like real and some people who took it seriously and began preparations.

In the early 1990s, some artists had begun participating in biennales like Venice Biennale and Sao-Paulo Biennale, getting involved with the international community. Like auctions of today, back then, it had the biennale and triennial fever. Every day, painters search for news on biennales and whether foreign curators have come. Many artists felt inferior for not being able to enter biennales.

Some painters can be very conceptual like some movie directors who shoot movies simply to participate in some movie festival. Some movies participated in international movie festivals and received award bored people so much that eventually they would not make into movie theaters.

Sometimes painters don’t paint seriously, too. They think about what the curators are thinking all day long with restless minds, regarding creation the least important thing. Some painting can be seen is obviously painted for a certain exhibition title at the first sight, but they were displayed in another exhibition, while the painter talking about his art innocently in front of the paint. I can’t help wondering what face they wear during painting.

Painters can feel helpless when they are painting sometimes. The contemporary art, in particular, doesn’t have certain standards or set patterns. Internationally renowned curators are few. If you turn away one, you may lose the chance of becoming a master simply by a piece of work or an exhibition.

Kassel Documenta was founded in 1955. It’s held every 5 years. This year marks the 13th Kassel Documenta with the slogan of Collapse and Recovery, dominated by politics, feminism, archaeology and encyclopedia knowledge. It is not as crowded as 1977 when 622 artists participated with over 2700 works. The participators may not necessarily be artists; some are not even related with art. Many of them are anthropologist, biologist, engineer, politician, theorist, Hypnotist, zoologist, etc. The ever increasing internationalized contemporary art research subject is: what is art? What is not art? The boundary is not important. I sincerely hope that the contemporary art based on that theory will not be filled with superstitious atmosphere and brutal force.

 Last year, I had a chance of participating a symposium of rock music. During the meeting, someone pointed out that the rock music of nowadays, especially the rock music of post-1980s and post-1990s, are increasingly get internationalized. It’s more and more losing Chinese style; you can hear everyone in that music. Currently, internationalization is a common goal for global art workers, which requires common efforts for several generations of artists. When necessary, you may have to fight to death, but that’s definitely not the last fight. After internationalization, it follows localization, regionalization, nationalization and uniqueness.

You need to believe in recirculation and life’s struggle, or how could people live such an age.

Zhu Wei

Sunday, July 8, 2012

















卡塞尔文献展创立于一九五五年,五年一回,今年是第十三回。这次的口号是Collapse and Recovery,以政治、女权主义、考古学以及百科知识为主,参加的人数没一九七七年那回多。七七年参展的艺术家人数622人,作品2700多件。卡塞尔文献展参展的并不一定都是艺术家,甚至连搞艺术的都算不上,很多是人类学者、生物学家、工程师、政治家、理论家、催眠师、动物学家等等。其实日趋国际化的当代艺术研究的课题就是:什么是艺术,什么不是艺术,其边界并不重要。我衷心希望以此作为理论的当代艺术周围不要出现迷信的气氛和蛮横的力量。