文：李俊峰 Text: Lee Chun Fung
沒有土地，還有藝術嗎？ 沒有油街，那村又在那裡？ 在《土地知道我們名字》（The Earth Knows My Name）一書中，作者Klindienst 說，正因身體與土地已失去聯繫，我們便不能明白人，地方感與食物之間的知識。同樣地，在那無法植根深耕發展的文化土壤，又會生產出一種怎樣的藝術生態？當年,「油街藝術村」的迫遷引發藝術界對民間由下而上的一種自主生態的討論，到今天「油街實現」的出現，及至未來更多官方主導之藝術場域、藝術資本如Art Basel 的進駐，我關注的是那一自發／自主藝術生態，究竟今天還是否存在？究竟這生態是什麼狀態？這種藝術的自主價值有何意義？此生態需要什麼支援？又可有什麼的機制來讓其持續發生？
《「假如」藝術村》源自我對本地自主藝術生態的一個想像，思考一由藝術家／關心藝術發展的持份者所建構的自主共生社群之可能性。此計劃的考究對象是對應當下一種欠缺“自由”的狀態而隨藝術家／持份者身上自發啟動的機制，而此計劃期望促成這些能量之間的串聯，建構一個共同／共生的想像。進而，思考一個「我們能否共同生活」（Can we lives together?） 的問題。此一計劃暫以以下四點思考出發：
If there were no land, would there be art? If there were no Oil Street, where would the artist village be? Klindienst says in her book The Earth Knows My Name that we now lose the ability to understand others and knowledge between the sense of place and food as the body no longer connects to the earth. Similarly, what kind of artistic ecology will be produced in a cultural context incapable of long-term development?
In those days, the forced relocation of Oil Street Artist Village triggered discussions among the art circle on an autonomous and bottom-up artistic ecology. Now, we have programmes like Oi! Come Art With Us and art capital like Art Basel. In near future, there will be many more official art space. Does the self-initiated/ autonomous artistic ecology that I am concerned about still exist today? What is the meaning of such artistic autonomy? What kinds of support are needed for such ecology? What kind of system can make such ecology sustainable?
WHAT IF Artist Village begins with an imagination I have on the local autonomous artistic ecology. I am thinking about the possibility of an autonomous, mutually supported community built by artists and art practitioners. This project studies the system started by the artists/ art practitioners autonomously in response to the current lack of freedom. I hope this project will contribute to lining-up these energies and building a common/ mutual imagination. Then, we can start thinking about this question, can we live together? This project starts with the four points below for the time being:
1) Autonomy: A state, even though only relatively, independent from the mechanism of capital/ market/ cultural administration. How can such state be possible?
2) Imagined Village: Imagination of a commune. Interdependent and localized.
3) Production of Space: A platform for exchange/ production of knowledge and relation. For example, the production of knowledge will inspire imagination and even create potential antagonism; production of relation will provoke the extension of network collaboration and rebuilding of emotional relation.
4) Gift economy: Instead of a romantic supposition to return to the barter economy, it is a response to the mainstream artistic production with the three concepts above to rebuild an economy where people can trust each other. In the present neo-liberalism world, it is still possible to explore mutual collaboration and communal living in the future.
In WHAT IF Artist Village kick-off exhibition, three groups of artists are invited to create works in the form of notice board. Discussion begins with the most basic relationship in a food chain: producer, consumer and decomposer.
1) Producer: Real ADC for Artists
Art producers can be categorized in different ranks including artists, curators, critics, reporters, administrators and etc. However, the production logic nowadays only values outcome. The living conditions of these producers simple rely on their own.
I once glanced through the Fred Ma’s Hand Massage Tips by chance. The symptoms mentioned in the book are similar to the common health problems art practitioners, all those overworked, have. Different types of work will result in different health problems. During the dockworkers strike, Fred Ma went to teach the workers stretching at Cheung Kong Centre. Even though there is no Lee Ka Shing in the art world, the remuneration that art practitioners receive is not a lot better than that of the dockworkers. Just like what Fred Ma did for the dockworkers, why not design a massage therapy for art practitioners?A nutritionist and a designer are invited to work with Fred Ma. They join hand to design a massage therapy that benefits both mental and physical health of art practitioners.
2) Consumer: Art Bankruptcy
Art comes from concepts, techniques, knowledge, perceptions in life and etc., and later turns into an object, which may be a real object, an image, an exhibition or a spectacle. The audience participates in the consumption process. Some people cram ravenously, some taste it with care. The simplest “Give and Take” relationship: art, outcome, audience.
Talking about “Give and Take”, we can talk about “economics”. Takashi Murakami ‘s The Art Entrepreneurship Theory was once popular in bookstore. Can the unfortunate artists who don’t know how to turn art into capital, which will accumulate into even more capital, write a book named Art Bankruptcy?
Joe Yiu likes to question the ridiculous phenomena in real life. Her recent work “Art News” incorporates a bunch of fake art news as an irony of the thriving art economy. This time, she derives a realizable project using the content from “Art News”. It may be a business that is doomed to go bankrupt. However, it may also bring you money. This notice board opens the door for imagination of a micro economy among artists.
3) Decomposer: How do we handle“Art Leftover”?
According to official figures, there were 1,179 exhibitions in year 2010-2011. 3.23 exhibitions opened per day on average. I have probably missed 98.9% of the exhibitions. Similar to the leftover problem we have in food production, how is “art leftover” handled when we have an overflow of art production? Who will handle it? Who have time to handle it?
Ocean Leung has been using poetic and musical graphics and words to construct imageries in his works. Reminiscent of Walter Benjamin, he gleans in the ruins of art and reminds us that some of the remains may still be meaningful.