TRANSLATED BY 翻譯 x SUDONG CAI 蔡蘇東
Cui Cancan is an active Chinese independent curator. He was the winner of the CCAA (Chinese Contemporary Art Award) Critics’ Award, Critics’ Award in Chinese contemporary art by YISHU (Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art), the annual award by L’OFFICIEL Art and so on. He was also appointed special observer for the 13th Kassel Documenta. As a curator, Cui contributed to the success of major exhibitions including Heiqiao Night Away (2013), FUCKOFF II (2013), Unlived by What is Seen (2014), etc.
崔燦燦是一名活躍在中國的獨立策劃人，曾獲CCAA中國當代藝術評論青年提名榮譽獎，《YISHU》典藏海外版中國當代藝術批評獎，《藝術財經》年度成長獎等，並擔任第十三屆卡塞爾文獻展特約觀察員，策劃的主要展覽包括夜走黑橋(2013)、FUCKOFF II (2013)、不在圖像中行動（2014）等。
ART.ZIP:How did you start curating? Did you have any idea about curating before you got started? If yes, what was it?
C:When I realized creating works could no longer fully express my idea and thinking, I wished there was a better way to communicate them. In my opinion, a curator has such special properties—he can stage a simple issue in an enriched fashion just like a conductor, and he is at the very frontier to communicate with the public and society. In terms of how to enable both individuals and society to express their ideas freely, it does not matter what approach one adopts, what is important is that such approach should make communication better and more efficient—curating is my approach.
ART.ZIP:What are your curating principles? And what is the goal?
C:I do have principles, but more importantly you cannot let these principles become limitations. I prefer to do what I am interested in, and the interest will tell what you like from what you do not like—interest itself sets the boundary of principles. Surely, when I have a clear goal, principles naturally appear. What curating means to me is that, on one hand it maintains a state of being contemporary in me and on the other it enables me to make things happen in the changing process it brings about of the cultural scenario and reality where I am situated.
ART.ZIP:Do you think the role of “artist-curator” is important? Why?
C:Defining role is not important today. If he can have instant access to what is central of art and reality, it does not really matter what role one is in.
ART.ZIP:Can you describe the relationship between you and the artists and “artists-curators” you work with?
C:They are like comrades as well as enemies. We have the same goal just like planets which revolve around the sun but at the same time we have to remain some distance so as to revolve on our own axes. It is quite a divided relation, even a dangerous one, but only such danger can help me define myself in the collective value. Very close comrade in the first minute can be enemy you fight against in the next. Only in this way can tension be created within an exhibition, and reality stimulated, which includes reality of oneself, scenario and identity.
ART.ZIP:How do you balance local and international art practices?
C:I regard local value more in contemporary art. In the era of globalization, art should not only be a biennial gaming event between politics and reality or a material article in exhibitions and gallery systems, it should better contribute to the changes of itself and the substantive transformation of the context we live in. Only in this manner shall contemporary art not be lost in the vagueness of internationalization. The severe homogenization of contemporary art all around the world is what I have been strongly opposed to. What we offer is not cross-region novelty hunting or consumption, nor cultural exotica or commercialized amusement. Contemporary art should have its localness and specific pinpoint; it should aim to solve problems in reality in a sustained manner. Against the backdrop of globalization, the solving of China’s problems is the solving of global problems. Nevertheless, the universal reality problems confronting the globe as a whole do not necessarily result in uniformity in art forms. Each region is blessed with its own specialties, and it is such specialties that make art distinctive. Art is not meant for international exhibitions. No matter what forms it takes on, it should be a forceful solution to its own dilemma.
ART.ZIP:What is the relation between you and the public like? What role do you think art is playing to the public?
C:I wish I were a good communicator, and I could continuously exchange and interact my understanding of issues with the public. The public is the basis of contemporary art. He who locks himself up in the ivory tower is but practicing self training—he has detached himself from the public and needs not to be studied or discussed; he runs his own course.
ART.ZIP:What is the most difficult part in your work?
C:The spiritual decay, I think. I have been alerted of it which breeds repetition of values, stubborn adhesion to certain methods, craze for material pursuits and submission to fixed models. We have been cautious of this seemingly harmless seedbed.
ART.ZIP:Did you make any “mistakes”? What were they, if any? How did you cope with them?
C:Well, it is fair to say I have been making ‘mistakes’. Isn’t it the spirit of contemporary art?
ART.ZIP:What kind of program are you most interested in joining if given a chance?
C:Nothing specific. But I do really hope that my continuous curation can play a part to contribute to the changes of the reality in China and provide a brand new way of perception. For individual, the mix-up of reality and his work means failure in both aspects. I wish there would be such a program that can help me define my way of existence and unfold my possibilities after failing so many times.