TEXT BY 撰文 x LI BOWEN 李博文
IMAGES COURTESY OF 圖片 x SUN SHI 孫詩
“It is the same – threefold – Psyche, a woman, and each time there is a reminder, as Freud puts it, that she is extended (asugedehnt). But each time (and three times the first sentence resonates in French, “Psyche est étendue…” [“Psyche is extended…”]) the mise-en-scène differs, as do the tableau and the implicit narrative.”
– On Touching, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida
“ 這 是 同 一 個 —— 三 層 —— 心 靈[ P s y c h e ,普 塞 克 ],一 個 女 人 ,以 及 每 一 次 的 提 醒 ,就 如 弗 洛 伊 德 所 說 的 ,她 是 被 延 伸 的 。但 每 一 次( 而 第 一 句 在 法 語 中回響了三次,”Psyche est étendue…”)“[ 普塞克是被延伸的…”])場景 都有所改變,畫面及隱含的敘事也有所改變。”
Three is perhaps always better than four, especially for Chinese. But bearing in mind my previous writing with Sun Shi, Alice Serraino and Giovanna Petrocchi, it is clear that from the beginning, when nature or pseudo-natural subject/object was chiefly concerned, the divinity and beauty of tri- was damaged. I was the fourth member, as exterior as I was to their practices that were viewed and treated provisionally as one. And I was a man.
Diego Valente is, I assume, a man as well. Not only have I yet met him, but one’s gender should really be questioned, solemnly or playfully. Exhibiting with three women – as I wanted to have one male Chinese artist included in an exhibition with four other women – could this act of exhibiting (in all sense of the word) be transformative? Could his work through a certain act of mutual penetration – again, penetration, again, touching, again, nature, again, Psyche, for this is a conclusion, introspective and retrospective in nature, of a good party of three and good three years of memory city of London – be transformed, as did the works of Sun Shi, Alice and Giovana and mine?
Just as I was on the previous occasion, I am still the absent male, not able to be there and witness the exhibition with my own eyes. It seems that my absence is imperative for the event to happen. Though I did see more of the exhibition then. But again I would like to stubbornly resist privileging the act of seeing, still I would like to try out the belief that being there – being, being present, in this context always means seeing – is not of cardinal import. Being there, seeing the exhibition is not as important as probing it, feeling it with hands, from a distance, in dark, because (if a reason is really called for here): how can one simply see a Psyche? Isn’t seeing the Psyche an illusory idea? In-stead of seeing, we are led to believe that we ought to touch (by negating touching) it.
“Psyche ist ausgedehnt, weiss nichts davon.” －－ Sigmund Freud
Sun Shi is not quite remembered as the woman laid up on her bed. Just as we cannot be quite certain about valuations of the Psyche (who can?), Sun Shi is deliberately made uncertain, vague and sophisticated. Sun Shi narrates in three years’ time firstly a departure from playing with her own body – veiled and mirrored – in Deformity (2013), in a domestic environment. When photography was still to a larger extent photography proper (Philip-Lorca diCorcia, American artist, is out there somewhere trying not to smile), Sun Shi in a way extended herself and put herself both in front of and behind the camera, alluding to a certain illusive nature of pornographic photography: elusion, refusing being captured or touched – at least not fully – reluctant about being in contact with the viewer’s gaze, and refusing, perhaps we can venture and argue, a certain phantom limb of the viewer.
Sun starting with the body seemed to be justified. Not only because she was a woman, I will have to say, but she was also Chinese. Our bodies, mine and hers, and even yours, could remain mysterious to us for as long as we are exposed to Sun. I am however not claiming that it is cultural, this not-knowing-enough of one’s body, or in other words not having the body exhausted by one’s mind; hopelessly being Chinese here is still considered an excuse for, simply, not being British or Continental: “Psyche ist ausgedehnt, weiss nichts davon.”
Then, rather soon(tôt), she moved to the corner in Space in Between (2013-2014). Literally, her presence is moved to the margin of her photograph, championing instead corner found in indoor environments. It was obvious then that she cannot be hidden from her body or her knowledge for-ever. In relation to classical ideas of sculpture and painting, it was discovered that photographs are by contrast space-less. “I want to create a space for a photograph, to question and challenge the flatness of photography, to create an awareness of the space.” By working on and in the margin, therefore, Sun made a turn that was both spatial and, one is tempted to say, linguistic. From a play with bodily representations, this never-static Sun moved (but what moved her?) to a conceptual investigation into the spatial nature of photography as a genre – or the lack of it – that seemed then natural and inspired. After all, successfully Sun was initiated into the art discourse of UK, ontologized(if it is possible at all), alienated and indeed removed. After solving her problematic body, as a being proper – however provisional she could remain in this condition – she started noticing the world as she never had, paradoxically and ironically rendering herself absent. That is, after seeing, after addressing, noticing, taking note of herself, she began to speak. “Now, although the mouth is touching…, it is also detaching itself from the breast. It interrupts the contact in order to speak-think, in a first opening, an initial and original spacing: “And there, what comes to pass is that [the ego] spaces itself out…’Spacing brings about the free, the open, [the spacious,] for man’s settlement and dwelling’…But man is that which spaces itself out and never dwells elsewhere, perhaps, but in this spacing, in the reality of the mouth”.”
“Psyche is extended in the shade of a walnut tree, as the daylight fades. She lies at rest; the slight movements of sleep have half exposed her bosom. Flustered and mischievous, all at once, Eros contemplates her. Psyche knows nothing of this. Her sleep is so deep that it has even robbed her of any abandon in her pose.”
For a rather long period, Sun has also been stalked. Following, chasing, keeping contact her stalker has not been extremely motivated as to see her, but has been determinately touching and penetrating her (Psyche), with her words – Erotic words, words that come from the mouth of Eros. And, naturally, as civil as Sun is, she reads without replying. Perhaps now and only now can we start to consider valuations of Psyche. It extends, by spacing itself out, by playing in and of herself an emergence, a coming to foreground, to forehead, to the fore – but even now, or even soon, in the future, it will not be disclosed to her, and a touch has to be as speculative as can be.
Psyche is extended in her coffin. Soon it is going to be shut. Among those present, some are hiding their faces, others are keeping their eyes desperately fixed on Psyche’s body. She knows nothing of this – and that is what everyone knows around her, with such exact and cruel knowledge. – Derrida
從身體開始創作，似乎是理所當然的。孫詩不僅是一個女人，還是來自中國的女人。我們的身體，我的身體，她的身體，甚至是你的身體，都在太陽之下以陰影遮掩自身。我並不想在此宣布這種對自身身體的無知——或，換句話來說，借心靈（普賽克）以耗盡自己的身體——是文化狀況（而我也贊美這種無知）；然而，中國身份在這裡仍然要被當作是不能夠以英國或歐洲大陸的方式思考自身的理由：“Psyche ist ausgedehnt, weiss nichts davon.”
繼而，快速地（tôt），孫詩通過在2013年至2014年完成的作品《Space in Between》逃離至角落之中去。她的存在轉移至照片的邊緣之外，而將自己的目光轉移至室內空間的角落之上。顯然的是，她不能永遠地逃脫自身身體或知識的控制。在與經典繪畫及雕塑的定義進行對比時，她意識到，攝影是沒有空間的。“我想要為攝影創造一個空間，去質問並挑戰攝影的平面性，去創造一個空間的意識。”通過在邊緣之中（及之上）創作，不停歇的孫詩從身體的再現移向（然而，這是什麼樣的一種移動？）轉而在概念上探索作為一種藝術形式的攝影的空間特性——而這個轉向貌似是自然的，受影響的。無論如何，孫詩成功地進入了英國的藝術話語之中，本體化自身（如果這是可能的話），被異化，被剝離。在解決了自身身體的問題之後，作為一個正當的存在——無論這是一個多麼臨時的狀況——她開始以嶄新的方式重新發現世界，矛盾地、諷刺地在這個過程中隱去自身。也就是說，在看見、關注、發現並記錄自身之後，她開始言說。“這時，儘管嘴在觸碰…這嘴已離開了乳房。它打斷了那接觸以進行說話－思考，在第一開闔之中，一種初步而原初的空間創造：“在那裡，經過的是［自我］創造空間的過程…’創造空間帶來自由的、開放的、［空曠的］事物，以供人定居生活’…但人是那為自身創造空間的存在，也從來不生活於別處，可能，只生活於這創造出的空間之中，在嘴的現實之中。””