“The Second Scene”——Basic Position on Event Art

“The Second Scene”——Basic Position on Event Art.

By Shi WanWan

In 2004, Cai Guojie started his imaginative “Land boundary selling plan”at the corner stores in Taipei. In the following ten years, Cai Guojie continued to sell his land all over the world: The boundary line between the two pieces of land, a ” Land without owner” hidden between various power spaces. As long as you like, you can buy the world’s borders from the artist. This later officially named “Half-Field plan”, which proposed an artist-style land reform: land reform in the power gap. This is a typical event art, also known as the art of   creation in the ground.

Event art is not aimed at creating images, shapes and forms. Most of them occur in public environments or public issues. They are one-time creations, and works cannot leave the actual context and cannot be copied. The works can only present the “event process” through a comprehensive medium such as images, documents, sounds and physical evidence. Therefore, formalist artists do not like event art, first because event art cannot provide “formal aesthetics”, and this is precisely an aesthetic experience that is very important in art. In the eyes of modernist artists, the vividness of a work is done by form, and form is art. At the end of the 19th century, British art critic Clive Bell once said: “Art is a meaningful form.” Form is not a reproduction of meaning, the form itself is all. So we can see that many modernist works take form innovation as the most important goal, and the exhibition hall becomes the form of space scene, which is the “theatre” pointed out by Michael Fried.

In fact, we can now see that this “theatre” – the exhibition space is facing a trend of standardization and homogenization, due to the identity of the space, the exhibition hall is becoming the “space production”, which is pointed out by Henri Lefebvre: the space is constantly copied and reproduced under the circumstance of instrumental rationality and consumerism. For example, the Super Gallery, the New York showroom and the Hong Kong showroom are homogeneous in time and space. In this sense, space has wiped out time and space has lost its scene. Art needs to escape from the exhibition hall and find a new place where the “event” takes place – a scene that resists identity and space production, that is, grounded creation.

Second, when the event becomes art, the controversy is even more: Is the event a simple material for art production? Is the artist consuming the event? The potential implication is: Do you still need art in front of the event? The French philosopher Alain Badiou said: “Events are the way to the truth,” and events occur only in certain areas and under certain conditions. There are four such areas: art, science, love, and politics. “Events” cannot be in a constant place, only in unstable “situations”, and “the event itself cannot be (directly) represented”

In the year from 2016 to 2017, artist Ma Yujiang completed his 《How Heavy is the Night》by collecting the consumer credentials of the homeless in Hong Kong. These extremely short bills displayed in the works reveal the constraints on the living space of these bottom-level workers in Hong Kong. This work has displayed the highly developed capitalist in Hong Kong and its special side: on the one hand, the international urban space squeezes the living space of the bottom laborers; on the other hand, consumption and business become the most basic ethical logic of human-to-human interaction. Homeless people get the basic reason to stay overnight at McDonald’s through minimum spending, not just sympathy and charity help.

Alan Badiou believes that “there can be event field in the historical context.” In Ma Yujiang’s works, the survival needs of the homeless and the nighttime McDonald’s space game constitute the first scene (fact) of the event. The works created by the artist constitute the “appearance” of the “facts” – events. The ground-based scene and the exhibition hall constitute an important structural relationship: the facts in the historical scene (situation) and the events that are revealed, that is, the first scene and the second scene.

The basic attributes of the work are established, that is, the second scene of the event, the first scene can be complete, and the event is “historic.” On the other hand, there is no second scene, the first scene is only a general natural situation, a neutral situation. Alan Badiou believes that the occurrence of events is not the inevitable result of historical laws. The historical law (the so-called objective truth) is precisely the product of the retrospective construction of events. It is not overnight that McDonald’s can explain Ma Yujiang’《How Heavy is the Night》, but the work 《How Heavy is the Night》 makes ” Overnight at McDonald’s ” become understandable. The “artistic” of the work is to reveal the first scene to the greatest extent and to establish a path to “truth”. This is the basic standpoint of “event art” and “art in the ground” as the second scene, and the full meaning of the “truth” of art.

August 18, 2019.

In Suzhou

Tak Chun Art Garden

“Tak Chun Art Garden”

– Cai Guojie’s solo exhibition


“Conceiving philosophy as a conceptual generation, and art as an emotional generation is to be in the field of mobility, placement, and distribution.”

– Gilles Deleuze

The “Half-Field Project” is an imaginative art project by artist Cai Guojie. Starting from the “Linear Store” implemented in Taipei in 2004, Cai Guojie borrowed the land development and sales model to sell the boundary line between the land sections in the world. It is a borderline that is a mixture between various “spaces of power” and “spaces of consumption”. In the game of selling the borderline, the “Half-Field Project” suggests a solemn concept: the space of power and the jurisdictional boundary.

What is space? What is the space of power? After the French philosopher Henry Lefebvre published “The Production of Space” in the 1970s, the academic understanding of space gradually shifted from ontology to practice, recognizing that in the developed capitalist world, capital ruled our lives with space. There is a “turn to space” that took place: in developed capitalist society, capital is no longer satisfied through profit from producing goods, and space becomes the object of production and the object of reproduction. In the same era of Space Production Theory, the French philosophers Deleuze and Guattali proposed the theory of “Jurisdiction of Space” and “Deterritorialisation.”

“Jurisdiction of Space” and ” Deterritorialisation” are aesthetic concepts proposed by Deleuze and Guattari by means of geography theory, which actually refers to the process of people fleeing from the existing space of desire (Guattari called it De-coding, De-jurisdictionalisation). That is to say, if we understand the present space as the composition of various spaces of power and consumption, and that these spaces rule our lives and control our thoughts, then escaping from the jurisdiction of space becomes a necessary means to get rid of control. Therefore, we can see that with the help of the “Half-Field Project”, Cai Guojie discovered in art practice that there is a boundary between various spaces of power and consumption in real life. This boundary is hidden in the gaps and misplacement of spaces. This boundary has the characteristics of “non-ownership” and “differentiation”. These characteristics make it possible for us to escape from the rule of space. Deleuze called this important way of “Deterritorialisation ” as an “escape line.”

Different from his previous “Half-Field Project”, the artist’s current solo exhibition “Tak Chun Art Garden” in the Macau Art For All Society records and exhibits the continuous re-circulation process after the sale of “a land line” in front of the Tak Chun Macau Art Garden. “Tak Chun Art Garden” is a brand new attempt in the entire “Half-Field Project”. The artist gives up the production control of the work and makes the work flow and spread in nature. As long as humans recognize the exchange of such forms, this project will continue to circulate over time, self-generating, never ending, and is “nomadic” in its nature: the flow of decentralization (de-centering) process and the breeding of aesthetic characteristics. This flowing line in “Tak Chun Art Garden” has become the artist’s determination to resist the structure of the old rule of space, “Deterritorialising” in nomadism, flowing and spreading. This is a new and profound aesthetic attempt.

Shi Wanwan

August 16th, 2019 in Nantong

Curatorial Text of the ” Half-Field Plan ” in Florence

Curator, text: Livia Dubon

Guo Jie Cai’s conceptual and performative work questions the idea of “belonging” related to the concept of ownership. The artist is thus linked to all the literature, starting with Deleuze and Guattari (1972), which sees in capitalist societies the imposition of the market abstract values against more concrete needs. Moving away from this capitalist logic, by “de-territorializing”, the meaning of ‘land’ can change: it is no longer an abstraction, an agreement on a map, but a series of actions that we perform, in response to what surrounds us, stimulated by material necessities. Perhaps it is not the land that belongs to us, but us to her. Like the concept of “de-colonization”, “deterritorialization” aims to remind us of the relativity of these values and the origin of these concepts: they are a product of the Global North. For Cai, the West has a history characterized by continuous mutilation, violence, and reunification in the name of abstract and political borders. With his work, he wants to remind us of the ‘natural’ state and the need to ‘de-territorialize’ so as to see the land as seamless space, free from the desire of ownership. For this reason, Cai explores the cadastral maps, looking for hiatuses of free ownership which, however small, symbolize a different value. The virtual sale of these spaces, reiterating the process of “re-territorialization” of capitalism, aims to mimic and, at the same time, to challenge the action of institutions which represent this process: states and real estate companies.

Luxury Flats, -Cai Guo-jie Solo Exhibition by Chen Kuang-yi

Luxury Flats by Mountain Parks

– Cai Guo-jie Solo Exhibition

Text: Chen Kuang-yi

PhD holder in Contemporary Art History from Paris X Nanterre (University of Paris X Nanterre); Professor of the Graduate School of Fine Arts and Dean of the College of Fine Arts at National Taiwan University of Arts


Cai Guo-jie’s ” Half-Field Plan “, originally a site-specific art project on different urban locations, has been going on for more than 10 years -with exhibitions evolving from the Yong Kang Street, Taipei in 2004, the Warehouse No. 20, Taichung in 2005, to the Macao Ox Warehouse in 2015 and the Post-ox Warehouse Experimental Site and the Tap Seac Gallery in Macao in 2018, and then from Florence, Italy the same year to the NIDO Asia gallery in Hong Kong this time.

These maps from Cai, though looking completely different from his previous colourful paintings of cityscapes, originate from the same idea: urban tranformation results in decentralisation, deconstruction and loss of functionality of the city while hindering spatial readability and generating nostalgia among other things. Therefore the maps evoke viewers’ memories about transformations and reconstructions, while also triggering relevant imaginations. It does not matter if they are drawings or a project.

The exhibition shows cadastral maps, city maps and other big maps along with pictures of buildings instead of landscape paintings. This technique of urban depiction was based on a train of thought related to mapping, triggered by Charles Beaudelaire’s concept of flânerie and Guy Debord’s theory of Dérive. These ideas were further developed by Robert Smithson, who had built a system of “sites” and “non-sites”: “sites” refer to specific places in the world characterised as panoramic, borderless, decentralised and incomprehensible territories in which all historical and cultural concepts are nullified; “non-sites” are the museum-based displays of the materials, photographs, maps, survey diagrams, etc. of these specific places, which collectively summarised these geographic sites in an abstract manner.

Early modern artists often regarded maps as a symbol of power. “Maps give men and women the power of gods and captains,” said Robert Storr while curating the exhibition Mapping at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1994. Meanwhile, the global geopolitical instability and the emergence of urban politics have led artists to use cartography to try to visualise gradual power shifts.

In his attempt, Cai Guo-jie does not only address the dialectic relationship between sites and non-sites but also clearly focus on territorial power and ownership rights. The artist presents a large number of cadastral maps (most related to the exhibition location) used in land sales, land contracts and notices of land sales. Moreover, he sets up an office table on which virtual deals could be made, with simulated land purchase contracts being signed between himself /real estate agent and any visitors. As soon as the ‘deal’ is inked, the sold plots would be marked on the maps exhibited. Such ‘performance’, taking place in Hong Kong, a place known for its land shortage and high housing costs, will undoubtedly attract huge public attention, as it addresses thorny local issues like stratospheric home prices, revitalization of old blocks, allocation of public housing and deteriorating living conditions.

However, how can an artist have land resources for sale? Does he have the right to sell them? How does art reveal or expose the issue of urban space allocation, and “show, interpret, work out and reconstruct the power across media and space?” – just as what the artist has proudly claimed.

In my opinion, Cai has cleverly answered this crucial question by introducing the concept of liminality. This anthropological term developed by Victor Turner has been used widely in different senses: in psychology, it means being at a sensory threshold or barely perceptible to the senses; in describing a person, it refers to someone living in between two identities. A liminal space is yet-to-be-defined, contradictory, transitional and in between two things (entre-deux). As a self-dubbed borderline manager, Cai sells “interspaces”, a designation he gives to areas that arise from the inevitable margins of error occurring when dividing land and floor spaces. His act may seem rather absurd and ridiculous, but the idea of selling these barely perceptible, indefinite and transitional spaces as someone in between an artist and real estate agent in a venue that is half-gallery, half-real estate agency makes it poetic, even if it is raising important issues about ownership of urban spaces and the art market economy. The visitors welcome it with open arms because at little cost they can get an imagined space to escape from reality.

Finally, notwithstanding the artist’s performance art and visitors’ participation, it is noteworthy that all the cadastral maps, floor plans and survey diagrams.

《第二現場》—— 作為事件藝術的基本立場




事件藝術並不以創造圖像、造型和形式為目的,大多發生在公共環境或者公共議題中,為一次性創作,作品無法離開實際語境,無法複製。作品只能靠圖像、檔、聲音、物證等綜合媒介呈現“事件程序”。所以形式主義藝術家不喜歡事件藝術,首先是因為事件藝術無法提供“形式審美”,而這恰恰是藝術裡很重要的一種審美體驗。在現代主義藝術家看來,作品的生動性是靠形式來完成,形式就是藝術。19世紀末英國藝術評論家克萊夫·貝爾(Clive Bell)曾提出:“藝術是有意味的形式”。形式不是意義的再現,形式本身就是全部。所以我們可以看到很多現代主義作品以形式創新為最重要目標,展廳成為形式的空間現場,也就是邁克爾·弗雷德(Michael Fried)指出的“劇場”。

實際上在現在我們可以看到,這個“劇場”——展覽空間正面著越來越臨標準化和同質化的趨勢,原因是空間的同一性,展廳正在淪為列斐伏爾(Henri Lefebvre)指出的“空間生產”:在工具理性、消費主義裹挾下空間不斷的複製和再生產。例如超級畫廊,紐約展廳和香港展廳時空體驗上是同質的。在這個意義上,空間消滅了時間,空間失去了現場。藝術需要逃離展廳,尋找新的“事件”發生地——一個抵抗同一性和空間生產的現場,即在地創作。

其次,當事件成為藝術時,爭議更大的是:事件是否成為藝術生產的簡單素材?藝術家是否在消費事件?潛在之意是:在事件面前,還需要藝術嗎?法國哲學家阿蘭·巴迪歐(Alain Badiou)認為:“事件是通往真理的途徑”,而事件只在某些特定領域、根據某些條件而發生。有四個這樣的領域:藝術、科學、愛和政治。“事件”不可能在恒定的場所中,只會發生在不穩定的“情境”中,並且“事件本身不可能被(直接)表現”。










蔡國傑的《半田計劃》,首先是於城市中針對特定地點所進行的場域特定藝術(site-specific art)計劃,歷時十餘年尚在進行中:從2004年台北的永康街、2005年台中的20號倉庫,2015年澳門的牛房倉庫展、2018年澳門後牛房實驗場及塔石藝文館、同年義大利的佛羅倫斯,到這次香港的NIDO ASIA畫廊。蔡國傑曾畫過色彩絢爛的城市風景,然而這些造形表現上看起來截然不同的地圖乃是植基於同樣的立足點:隨著城市的變遷、中心的喪失、結構的解體、城市的失能、空間的難以閱讀,以及隨之而來的對於過往之緬懷等等,促使觀眾萌生來自於情感與記憶深處的變造、重建甚至想像;畫也好,計劃也好。

因此,展場當中的大片地圖、地籍圖、城市地圖、建物照片代替了風景畫;這種據有城市的方法乃是植基於一連串關於「地圖繪制」(mapping)的思考,此一思考始於波特萊爾(Charles Beaudelaire)的「漫遊」(la flânerie)與德波(Guy Debord)的「漂移」(la dérive),而將之發揮到極致的則是建立了「地點」(sites)與「非地點」(non sites)系統的史密斯遜(Robert Smithson):「地點」意指世界中某特定的地點,某塊領土(territory),其特徵是全景的、無邊際、無中心、歷史與文化概念皆失效,難以真正理解。而「非地點」則是此一地點透過物質的搬移、照片、地圖、測量圖表等在美術館中的呈現,它可以被視為是場域的抽象概括。至於晚近的藝術家們,經常將地圖象徵性的視為是權力的標誌,誠如1994年Robert Storr在紐約現代美術館策劃Mapping這個展覽時指出:「地圖賦予男人與女人神祉與船長的權能。」而全球政治地理學(Geopolitical)上的不穩定,以及城市政治學的興起,更促使藝術家們嘗試透過地圖去建構逐漸變化中的權力圖象。


然而一個藝術家有何地可賣?有何權力賣地?藝術又如何揭露或顯現城市中的空間分配問題,並如藝術家自許的將權力「在空間媒體跨度中顯現、演繹、鬆動、重建」?依我之見,在這個關鍵性的問題上蔡國傑聰明的帶入的正是「識閾」(liminal)的概念。這個源自於Victor Turner的人類學用語在各個領域被廣泛的應用:在心理學上,指的是位於感知的邊緣,介於幾乎可以察覺即幾乎察覺不到之間;而形容一個人時,指的則是位於兩種身分間隙之間的人。而一個識閾的空間則是一個無法定義、矛盾的、過渡的、介於二者之間(l’entre-deux)的空間。蔡國傑自稱界線管理師,販售的是劃分土地或樓層時因無法解決的誤差而出現的被他稱為「間性空間」的土地。這樣的行為乍看之下相當的荒謬與可笑,但正是因為擺蕩在藝術家與房仲兩種身分之間的他,在介於畫廊與房屋仲介所的展場中,販售那介於可察覺與不可察覺、明確與不明確的過渡空間,使他的行為在嚴肅的詰問城市土地歸屬與藝術市場經濟的同時,頓時變的詩意了起來;而觀眾們也因此而趨之若鶩,因為他們只需以極少的代價,即能從藝術家那裡購得一條介於幻想與真實之間的邊境,作為逃離現實的出口。






《半田計畫》是藝術家蔡國傑一個極具想像力的藝術計畫。從2004年在臺北實施的《線性商店》開始,蔡國傑借用土地開發銷售模式,在全世界售賣土地版塊之間的邊界線:一個夾雜在各種“權力空間”、“消費空間”之間的 “邊界線”。《半田計畫》在售賣邊界線的遊戲中,提示的卻是一個嚴肅的概念:權力空間與轄域邊界。

何為空間?何為權力空間?上個世紀70年代法國哲學家亨利·列斐伏爾發表《空間的生產》後,學界對空間的認識逐漸從本體論轉向實踐論,認識到在發達資本主義世界,資本借助空間統治了我們生活,這就是 “空間轉向”:在發達資本主義社會,資本已經不滿足於通過生產商品獲得利潤,空間成為生產物件和再生產物件。在空間生產理論的相同的時代背景下,法國哲學家德勒茲與瓜塔里提出了“空間轄域” 與“解轄域化”理論。

“空間轄域” 和“解轄域化”是德勒茲與瓜塔里借助地理學理論提出的美學概念,實際是指人們從現有的慾望空間中逃離的過程(瓜塔里稱之為 解—碼,解—轄域化)。也就是說,如果我們將現在空間理解成各種權力空間和消費空間的組成,這些空間共同在統治著我們的生活、控制著我們的思想,逃離轄域成為擺脫控制的一種必要手段。所以我們可以看到借助《半田計畫》,蔡國傑在藝術實踐中,發現了現實生活中各種權力空間、消費空間之間存在一條邊界。這個邊界隱藏在各種空間的縫隙與錯位中,這個邊界具有“無主性” 與“差異性”的特點,這些特點使得我們逃離空間統治成為可能。德勒茲將這個“解轄域化”中的重要途徑稱之為“逃逸線”。





策展人,文:Livia Dubon


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