Translation of Yang Licai's Monologue for The World Around
本文整理自2016年10月份接受 “The World Around” 项目邀请所做的视频独白，对谈话内容做了一些必要的编辑和补充之后，在这里贴出与网友分享，同时也寻求愿意提供帮助翻译到其它语言的人。
“The World Around” 项目（ http://silverochre.com/the-world-around.html )由Silver Ochre 发起，持续邀请世界各地的艺术家对自己的工作做视频独白并在线分享。
（我自称为 “ 一个持续的噪音发生器及其噪音”。）
Yang's web-site: www.yanglicai.tumblr.com
Hello, my name is Yang Licai. I was born, live and work in China. I am very happy to be able to share my art practice with those of you on the other side of the screen. These is the first time for me to discuss my work since beginning to make art in 2003.
In the summer of 2003, I started SugarJar Studio together with friends. In the beginning it was only four square metres, running as an underground record shop open to the public, and also the place where lived and worked. At the end of 2005, one of my customers offered to sponsor us, and I moved with SugarJar Studio to the 798 arts district, expanding into a 20 square metre space.
SugarJar Studio is not my individual art practice, but it is extremely tied to my artwork. It was always an ongoing collaboration with the underground culture circuits of China to try—via organising concerts, screening films, publishing and disseminating independent publications—to improve the spaces of culture and stand up against the system of cultural censorship.
By the summer of 2010, because of crackdowns on anti-government discourse and our participation in a few activities of civil resistance, SugarJar was kicked out of 798 by the corroborative efforts of the Beijing police and the property management office of the 798 arts district. The storefront was forcefully demolished and all property was confiscated. I was held in detention by authorities for ten days.
After I got out, friends and I organised a "Confiscation Exhibition" on top of the ruins of SugarJar. Later we tried to open the studio again in the Caochangdi arts district, but the night before the opening, the police obstructed us again.
From that time on, SugarJar has become a totally nomadic, guerrilla studio. Its motivation is still to better the environment for culture, but it has unfortunately never been able to escape the difficulties of mere survival.
SugarJar Studio is a practice of "living as action".
My own artwork is based in sound poetry, a practice something like "noise as resistance".
My sound poetry often takes place in public space via performance interventions, and it is based in an extremely minimal language, like "The Wolf Is Coming", "Reversing, Please Note!", "No", and "You Are Beautiful", etc. Via the repetition, a never ending repetition, of these short phrases, I try to express my own will and energy as a way of pushing sound sculpture into social space.
I call myself a "continuous noise generator and its noise".
Another important work of mine is the series "Untitled". The Untitled Painting that started it was a text piece typed on paper that became an "anti-painting". The later Untitled Disc is an "anti-listening" sound installation made with a saw blade and sandpaper discs. Untitled Photo Album is a work comprising unconsciously and randomly taken photos as a piece of "anti-visual aesthetics". Right now I'm working on Untitled Book, using newspaper to make a "soundless" sound poem. Another piece I'm currently working on is called Untitled Sculpture; you could say the piece kind of "cancels out of art and artists".
Apart from those, I also write short-form poems. I call them "Pee Poems" as a way to distinguish them from the kind of elegance of traditional literature.
Whether it's my artwork or the Pee Poems, what all of these have in common is a lack of decorativeness, a lack in performativity and an avoidance of commodification. You could call it a "dry as dirt" style, just like the bricks piled up on ruins and wasteland.
The materials I use in my work are mostly found objects and collected rubbish. I try to keep it as simple as possible, eliminating to the greatest degree any possibility for consumption. I hope that these works will become road markers in the future, like simple road signs pointing towards the places where art happens, the places where artists live.
In the over-materialistic world of today where consumption is supreme and we entertain ourselves until our graves, I only want to speak a kind of "dry as dirt" truth. I only want to express the most basic truths. I call my work an "art of the lowest common denominator".
My most recent project is called Crowdfunding a Wild Artist.
A "wild artist" is a beast that wanders between the wasteland and the wild open. It doesn't go the capitalist pet store, and it doesn't go to the zoo controlled by the crony capitalists.
As an artist living in China, I have chosen to live on the borderline of bare economic survival, with my only income coming from those that appreciate my work and support my continued practice. If this way of life is not enough to keep me going, then I would also calmly accept my fate. But I believe the greatest value I can create is my value as an artist, and I would like to continue putting my energy into art. I don't want to spend time making money with other work.
Because I do not participate in gallery exhibitions or other art institutions, the only place I show my work now is my website. My website is www.yanglicai.net. It is still under construction.
I used to also have a blog, and a few other mainland websites. But they were all either blocked, their accounts cancelled and deleted or their posts one by one deleted. I spent a lot of energy to resuscitate my websites, and I've spent even more time just trying to get over the Great Fire Wall.
This is the regular situation one encounters as an artist in China. You have no means of freely publishing your work, expressing your thoughts and, in this environment of ideological censorship and cultural blocking, no way to effectively put your work out there.
I am basically someone who was born in the middle of a wasteland. When I was born, China was still going through the Cultural Revolution–a time when the whole country basically became a hell. Anything and everything that had value was destroyed.
This kind of wasteland has never really been redressed or reflected upon, and instead it has only extended further, collating with environmental ruin, ecological ruin, legal ruin and ruins of the humanities, value, culture, spirit and thought to become the rise of the east—the biggest ruin in the world. Amidst these ruins, the world's biggest "mafia party" rules over the world's shadiest society.
I live in a country which endlessly manufactures an enormous general suffering, where those who try to protect the law are penalised by the law, those that try to uphold freedom are stripped of their freedoms, those that fight for rights are trampled on by power, those that try to protect human rights are tortured, those that create value are exploited and those that speak the truth are silenced.
This is the environment I live and work in as an artist. The only thing I can say of it is that it is an empire built amidst ruins and packaged by lies.
It is out of fear and self-protection that many people refuse to talk about what hides behind the glorious light of empire's rise. This is the silence of those who have shed blood, tears and lives, and what these people refuse to face is the common and general suffering of all.
Whether or not it is one of the world's Fortune 500 companies or one of the luxury brand chain stores spread all over the world, all of them desire to get a piece of China's hot money, and they refuse to face the wild pillaging and brutal abuse going on behind that hot money. They refuse to face those that have been trampled upon.
I think it does not matter whether you believe in one called God or Jesus, Mohammed or Buddha. At the end of the day, all gods will scald you with the heat of fresh blood passed through China's money. They all circulate via this money steeped in evil and scatter immense human suffering throughout every corner of the earth. If we really face up to this violent truth, we can no longer live the falsity of stable and peaceful lives, as we will no longer be able to still live amidst ruin and pretend to create meaningful and valuable lives.
This is my understanding of art, and the choice I have made for my work.
Thank you for your times and attention.
- Thanks to Elaine Ho for the translation!