Studio in Contemporary Art

TEXT BY 撰文 x Peng Zuqiang 彭祖強

It’s interesting to think about how the subject of ‘studio’ has been addressed in contemporary art practices. Studio as a place of making art work, is therefore also the very subject of an artwork. However, presenting Self-reflexivity through a representation of the studio is frequent, without offering a mundane rendition of it can still be a challenging job, this article takes a look at some contemporary art works that go beyond painterly or photographic portraits of the artist’s space.


1. WG. Installation view. Giulio Paolini. Essere o non essere [To Be or Not to Be], 1994-95

Art studio is essentially a space for making works, and Canadian artist Ian Wallace, the father of the Vancouver School which forms a important chapter on the conceptual art and photography, presented the studio as it is – a place to work. In his 1983 performance At Work, the artist is seen sitting in the front display room of a gallery, reading and pondering in front of a long table. This seems to be a footnote of his conceptual art practice, as Wallace came from an art history back ground, this work is self ironically addressing the stereotype of ‘writer-turn-artist’. During the duration of his performance, the exhibition space is transformed into a studio, the exhibition space also potentially becomes the actual studio space where the artist can research and make work. The start and end point of an artwork becomes one. It also evokes the question, what is the studio space for performance artist. When the medium is the artist’s own body, does it mean the artist body is also the studio as well?

藝術家工作室說到底就是一個藝術家工作的地方,而就這直截了當的表現在了加拿大藝術家伊恩·華萊士(Ian Wallace)的作品 《在工作(At Work)》之中。華萊士是溫哥華攝影觀念主義學派的的重要代表人物,在他的行為藝術作品《在工作》中,藝術家本人端坐在一張書桌前,一只手撐著下巴,若有所思,而桌子則是置於畫廊面朝馬路的展示空間。作品本身似乎是藝術家對自身觀念藝術創作的最佳註腳,華萊士本人是學藝術史出身,而這件作品似乎是把自己這種‘藝評人變藝術家’的身份幽了一默。在表演的過程中,畫廊的展覽空間也變成了一個工作室,一個藝術家可以真正工作和研究的空間。於是一件作品的誕生和展出地在此形成了統一。但這個作品也同樣提出一個問題,如何定義行為藝術家的工作室,當藝術創作的媒介是身體本身,藝術家的身體也可以被看作是工作室嗎?

Nonetheless, the studio space is just as any other domestic spaces, where small incidences happen, such as mice problems, recorded in Bruce Nauman’s video installation Mapping the Studio. In the installation environment, there are seven projections on different walls, the artist used cheap video camera to record his own studio space for the duration of a whole night. He later repeats this action over a three month period. The footages reveal the other side of the studio when the artist is not present. And as the visitors are invited to sit on the rolling office chair in the centre of the space, almost acting as a security guard looking at the CCTV footage of his studio space, while we are expecting something to happen, most of the time it disappoints us with little actions. However, the minimum action does not mean there is nothing going on. The soundtrack of the ambience reminds us that a studio space is never empty, there is wind, mice, and many other sounds. The work reminds us the durational shots of many contemporary cinematic masters. It also requires patient and time. It fulfils the desire of voyeuristic curiosity of the viewer who want to look behind the scene, but the space under surveillance is actually a completely safe and secure domestic environment.

無論如何,工作室空間其實也跟其他的室內空間一樣,充滿意外和驚喜,例如那些四處逃竄的老鼠。這個例子就被記錄在了布魯斯·勞曼(Bruce Nauman)的影像裝置《工作室測繪(Mapping the Studio)》之中。在這個裝置環境中,七個投影分別投射在四方的空間中。藝術家用簡陋的攝像機,整夜拍攝自己工作室中的數個角落。這樣的記錄持續了三個月,而所集成的影像則給觀眾呈現了當藝術家不在場時,藝術工作室的另一番景象。觀者們被邀請坐在空間中心放置的旋轉辦公椅上,扮演著類似監控室保安的角色。而當觀眾期待影像中能發生些什麽時,這些記錄卻在一次次讓我們失望。這並不代表空間中沒有事情發生,伴隨的背景聲音:風聲,噪聲,老鼠聲提醒著觀眾,工作室空間從來都不是空的。影像的風格令人聯想到當代影壇諸多大師的固定長鏡頭,它考驗著觀眾的耐心,並提供一種對於時間的新體驗。作品一方面或許滿足了觀眾對藝術家私人空間的好奇心,然而荒繆的是,這樣一個閉路鏡頭下的空間只不過是一個安全而平凡的室內空間而已。

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