About Chess Qizi

Written by 张芳 Zhang Fang, b. 1989, Fujian Province, China. Art Writer.

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在讨论佩德罗·贝克尔在中国欧洲艺术中心(厦门)的表演项目之前,我想有必要回顾一下他的过往,以便 更好地了解这位如谜一般的艺术家及其创作意图。我曾作为主持人与翻译,参与了佩德罗在厦门白灼空间 的分享会,介绍他的画册《天真无邪》。也是通过此次分享会、这本书册以及多次与他的谈话,我才得以做 出以下论述 。

In an attempt to gain a better understanding of this mysterious artist and his art intentions, I carefully read Pedro Bakker’s book Innocent (2016) and engaged him in many conversations. I presented and translated an artist talk for Pedro at 白灼影像 BJOY IMAGE in Xiamen for the introduction of his book Innocent. Pedro was on an artist residency for four months at the Chinese European Art Center (CEAC) in Xiamen, China, from July-October 2018, which culminated in his exhibition 棋子 Chess Qizi . In this essay I wish to first examine some of Pedro’s earlier works to establish the context in which his exhibition and performance 棋子 Chess Qizi took place.

从他过去的经历和艺术创作中,我们不难理解佩德罗在此后创作中对女性的关注。2014 年,佩德罗获得蒙 德里安基金会资助,来到中国重庆开始了为期 8 个月的驻地创作。围绕着充满争议的女性政治人物江青,“佩 德罗试图通过绘画和表演探寻她在罪大恶极之外,是否有天真无邪的一面”。正是在这段驻地期间,他结识 了他的缪斯,当时身为他的中文翻译的倩茜。“他在倩茜身上再次找到了‘深沉多思,感情强烈’。”但他对倩 茜的强烈关注引来了后者的恐惧与回避。后来,他提议以互换的形式与倩茜合作:他为她绘制一幅肖像, 她则为他写一首诗。

From his past life experiences and artworks, we can find the clues to Pedro’s interest in women in his subsequent art practice. In 2014, Pedro was funded by the Mondriaan Fund to travel to Chongqing, China, to participate in an artist residency program. His project was about the controversial female politician, Jiang Qing; “Pedro tries to find out through painting and performance whether she is innocent besides all the political accusation.” During his stay in Chongqing, he met his ‘muse’, Qianxi, who he was paying as his Chinese translator during that time. In Qianxi, he recognized the character of ”inner thought and strong emotions” that he had seen in his mother. But his intense attention made Qianxi scared. Later, he proposed to cooperate with Qianxi in the form of an exchange: he painted a portrait for her, and she wrote a portrait of him in the form of a poem.

但他不止为倩茜画了一幅肖像画,在佩德罗的画册《天真无邪》中,我们看到他将自己对倩茜的幻想与欲 望绘制成了系列作品,甚至用作封面。虽然他称那是设计师的选择,但无论那幅画位于哪儿,我们都可以 从画面中感受到当时年逾花甲且仍处于婚姻状􏰀的佩德罗对一位年轻女性露骨的表白。在这本书出版后不 久,倩茜断绝了与他的联系,原因未知。

He not only painted a portrait for Qianxi. In Pedro’s artist book Innocent, we see that he has drawn his own fantasy and desires for Qianxi in a series of paintings, and even used one of them as the front cover. He said it was the designer’s choice to put it on the cover, but wherever the painting appeared in the book, it gives a very strong sense that as an old and married man, Pedro is not afraid to show his fascination for a young woman. Shortly after the publication of this book, Qianxi broke off her contact with him. Reason unknown.

在佩德罗看来,他和倩茜在灵魂深处互相吸引,这也是为何倩茜并没有拒绝与他合作。而在明知佩德罗对 自己的迷恋的情况下,倩茜在他返回荷兰期间,仍时不时将自己的照片发给佩德罗。佩德罗根据这些照片 创作了《倩茜》系列绘画。但在倩茜之前,佩德罗曾着迷于一位名叫花花的女生,后来他创作了多幅与一 位名为丹丹的女生有关的作品。丹丹之后,2017 年在北京驻地期间,佩德罗倾心于一位后海酒吧侍者,她 叫粉红。佩德罗以《粉红一瞥》为名,创作了一首歌,以及在北京黑芝麻空间举办的个展。

In Pedro’s view, he and Qianxi were attracted to each other, which is why Qianxi did not refuse to cooperate with him. Knowing Pedro’s obsession, Qianxi still sent her photos to Pedro from time to time when he returned to Netherlands. Based on these photos, Pedro created a series of paintings of Qianxi. But before Qianxi, Pedro was attracted to a girl named Huahua, and later on he created several paintings related to a girl named Dandan. After Dandan, during his stay in Beijing in 2017, Pedro was devoted to a bar owner, called Pink. In the name of A Blink of Pink, Pedro created a song and a solo exhibition in Black Sesame Space in Beijing.

细数佩德罗中国期间的驻地创作,这些他称为缪斯的女生是否构成了他所谓的“中国女孩”?他在为中国欧 洲艺术中心所创作的现场表演项目《棋子》所写的介绍中如此说道,“首先,必须承认,我爱‘中国女孩’。 但‘中国女孩’是谁?我不是我的女朋友,她甚至不是我的微信好友。我意识到,我所爱的‘中国女孩’是一种 理想美的化身……这个项目是关于我和我的中国女孩。我是她们的爱慕者,而我心爱的中国女孩拥有美丽 的灵魂。作为一名视觉艺术家,我在大学接受过哲学教育。我的脑海中时常会回忆起曾经读过的柏拉图关 于爱的哲言。年长且有几分丑陋的苏格拉底喜欢年轻漂亮的男人,但他们也爱苏格拉底的智慧博学。精神 与灵魂之爱是从肉体之爱开始的,爱人的脸、手、脚、指甲等等。但一旦登上爱情天梯,我们只能向上, 超越肉体之爱,去欣赏爱人美丽的灵魂、思想、欲望以及友谊。” 他对她们的感情是爱?还是对年轻女性 的欲望?抑或只是将她们作为艺术创作的灵感?

After reviewing Pedro’s residency experience in China, do these girls, whom he considered his muses, constitute as the ‘China girls’ of which he wrote in the introduction for his live performance ‘Chess’ at the Chinese European Art Center? Pedro writes:

First of all, I have to confess to the fact that I love China girls. But who is she? She’s not my girlfriend and she’s even not among my WeChat friends. I realize I love a type of a China girl, a form or an idea of beauty.

My project TO SCRRRROOOLLL is also about me and the China girl. I am the lover and the beloved China girl offers the beauty of her soul. I am a visual artist who is university educated as a philosopher. The dialogues of Plato on love are always in the back of my head. The older and a bit ugly Socrates loves the young beautiful men. Socrates also is beloved because of his wisdom. To ascend to the beautiful body of knowledge and wisdom begins with the love of the form of the flesh of the face, the hands, the feet, the nails etc. etc. We have to make it up on the ladder of love and to leave the really physical beyond to appreciate the beautiful souls, their attitudes, their desires and their friendships.

Does Pedro love them? Or is it his sexual desire toward young females? Or did he just use them as inspiration for his art?

在佩德罗为这些缪斯创作的所有作品中,他仅在描绘倩茜时泄露了自己的幻想,或许倩茜对他而言真的是 特别的。这让我想到了在中国欧洲艺术中心所观看的那场表演。这场由佩德罗与青年舞蹈艺术家王韵可合 作的表演,时长半小时,涵盖了 3 个部分:开场,佩德罗向躺在地板上,􏰁抱兔子玩偶的王韵可倾倒大米, 其寓意为“米·兔”,影射了中国大陆#MeToo 运动。当如火如荼的#MeToo 运动从西方烧到中国大陆后,众 多社会名士纷纷被举报涉嫌性侵或骚扰女性,官方采取了舆论监管,网络上所有包含“#MeT oo”关键字的信 息被删除,或无法发送。佩德罗希望以同声异音异意字“米·兔”来避开监管。接着,王韵可展开了佩德罗绘 制的两幅有关《红楼梦》中晴雯和尤三姐故事的手卷,并朗读了上面的文字。晴雯与尤三姐是《红楼梦》 中极具现代女性意识的角色,她们敢于挑战封建制度强加于女性的规范,刚烈坚贞。第二部分的灵感来自 斯坦利·库布里克的电影《洛丽塔》,王韵可随着电影中的音乐起舞;佩德罗在王韵可的舞蹈之后,也表演 了一段 hiphop,他为自己的舞蹈选择了 Geto Boys 乐团演唱的《爱情流氓》作为配乐,这首歌是典型的男 权主义歌曲,他想以此来反衬中国大陆女权主义运动的脆弱。表演的最后一部分来源于真实故事,佩德罗 在中国认识的一位女性朋友在微信上和他诉说了高中时被她的老师性侵的遭遇。但佩德罗和王韵可对故事 进行了改编,故事中的女学生并非单纯无知,当老师尝试发生身体接触时,这位女生只是害怕的躲开了, 却没有逃走,反而表现出了欲拒还迎的姿􏰀,比如故意脱掉鞋子,让老师欣赏自己的脚。最后,老师提出 可以帮助女学生申请国外的学校,但在说话的同时,他欺身而上,表演以结局未知告终:女学生是会推开 老师,还是接受老师的条件,以身体和性作为筹码,交换去国外留学的机会?表演的三部分分别对应佩德 罗创作的 3 幅挂在现场的绘画:以王韵可为模特,佩德罗或将其置身于《洛丽塔》电影画面中,或将其画 作穿着校服的女学生,另外一幅为佩德罗的自画像,但他将自己化身为一个痞气十足的大男子主义者。

Among all the works Pedro created of these muses, he only revealed his own personal fantasies in his paintings for Qianxi. Perhaps Qianxi is really special to him. This reminds me of the performance I watched at the Chinese European Art Center in Xiamen. The performance is a cooperation of Pedro and a young dancer, Wang Yunke, which lasted for half an hour and consisted of three parts: at the beginning, Pedro dumped a bag of rice on Wang Yunke who was lying on the floor and holding a rabbit doll. This scene insinuated the #MeToo movement in Mainland China with the same pronunciation of “rice + rabbit” v.s. “me + too” in Chinese. This is described as a homophone. When the #MeToo movement spread its range to China, many social celebrities appeared on the list of names of perpetrators of sexual assault or harassment. Officials immediately censored all the public reports online, to protect these powerful people. Pedro tried to avoid supervision in this way; appropriating the homophone that activists currently use to avoid censorship and tell their personal stories of sexual abuse.

Then, Wang Yunke unfolded two hand scrolls of Pedro and read the texts on them. These two scrolls are about Qingwen and You Sanjie in The Dream of the Red Chamber (1791). They stand out in the renowned novel as female characters who dare to challenge the unreasonable rules imposed by patriarchal society on women.  The second part is inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita (1962). Wang Yunke had a solo dance with the music from the film; Pedro also performed a hiphop song after Wang Yunke’s dance. He sang and danced a song by the Geto Boys called ‘Gangster of Love’. This song is a typical macho song. He wants to oppose the macho viewpoints with the vulnerable feminist position in Mainland China. 

The last part of the show comes from a true story of a Chinese girl Pedro met. On WeChat, she told him of her experience of being assaulted by her high school teacher. Pedro and Wang Yunke adapted the story a bit. The female student in the story was apparently no longer ‘innocent’. When the teacher, played by Pedro, tried to make physical contact, the girl just avoided instead of escaping, with an ambiguous attitude, such as taking off the shoes to show her feet to the teacher. This supposedly led the teacher to make a further move. Finally, the teacher offered to help her with her application to study abroad. The show ended at the high time when Pedro, as the teacher, suggested sexual favors in return and clutched her by the shoulders. Would she take this offer, and exchange sex and her body for the opportunity to study abroad, or push him away and keep her innocence? The three parts of the performance corresponded to the three paintings that Pedro recently created and hung on the wall: figuring Wang Yunke as model, Pedro painted her in the scene of Lolita, and in school uniform. The other one was Pedro’s self-portrait, but he turned himself into a sultry machismo.

如果说表演的第一部分是关于佩德罗所谓的“中国女孩”美好的灵魂的话,第二部分对《洛丽塔》的引用, 以及第三部分女学生的暧昧􏰀度中,似乎我们又看到了倩茜的身影。然而,这是佩德罗理解中的倩茜,倩 茜已隐身于茫茫人海,真相不得而知。而对于他将一个真实的性侵犯故事改编为“欲望都市”的另类演绎, 真的是为中国女权主义运动发声吗?当因为舆论监管,那些性骚扰的受害者被剥夺了发声的权利时,这样 的改编是对她们的支持吗?

If the first part of the performance is about the beauty of Pedro’s so-called ‘China girl’, both the reference of Lolita in second part and the ambiguous attitude of the female student in the third part, remind us of Qianxi. However, this impression is from the story told from Pedro’s perspective of view. As we can’t hear from Qianxi, the truth would stay unknown forever. Could this show still be claimed as a support for the feminism in Mainland China when Pedro adapted a true sexual assault case into a story like Sex and the City? When the victims of sexual harassment in Mainland China are deprived of their voice on the internet because of the censorship, is this kind of adaption a support for them?

佩德罗此前曾与中国青年女导演陈玉洁合作过一部微电影《皮格马利翁的新娘》,这部电影将英国女诗人卡 罗尔·安·杜菲的诗进行视觉化呈现,由佩德罗扮演古希腊神话故事《皮格马利翁》中的那个雕塑家,他爱上 了自己亲手雕刻的少女,他像对待妻子一样打扮她、爱抚她,爱神阿芙罗狄忒被他打动,赐予雕像生命, 让他们结为夫妻。但在杜菲的诗中,雕塑家一反原版故事中的情痴设定,以一个性骚扰者的形象登场。而 他的缪斯则不堪其扰,先是装聋作哑,隐忍不发,最后她决定转变策略,热烈回应,并祈求为他生子。她 的疯狂求爱吓倒了骚扰者,他再也没有出现。这是否可以看作佩德罗对自己在处理与倩茜的关系上的反思? 在此次表演中,他再度化身性骚扰者,而故事中的女性却不再无辜,这是佩德罗对自己的辩白吗?

Pedro had worked with a young Chinese female director, Chen Yujie, on a short film, Pygmalion’s Bride, which visualized the poems of the British poet Carol Ann Duffy. Pedro played the sculptor in the ancient Greek mythology. He fell in love with the statue of a girl he carved. He dressed, touched and kissed her like his wife. Aphrodite, who was touched by him, gave the statue life so they got married and had a happy ending. But in Duffy’s poems, the sculptor, unlike the original story, turned out to be sexually harassing his muse. She tried to avoid him by pretending to be dumb, but he refused to leave. In the end, she decided to change her strategy by responding enthusiastically and prayed for his child. Her craziness intimidated the harasser, and he never appeared again. Does this imply Pedro’s reflection of what he has done to Qianxi? Compared with Pygmalion’s Bride, the female character in the performance at the Chinese European Art Center is supposedly no longer innocent. Is it a clarification of Pedro’s innocence in dealing with the relationship with his muses?

在《皮格马利翁》的故事中,艺术家的欲望实质上指向自己的创造,是对自己天赋的崇拜。“现代艺术的历 史可谓人类精神进步的范式……因为我们的文明即产生自人权的世俗人类学。主体如果获得自主权,那么 他的艺术作品将是其最纯粹的见证、最珍贵的分泌物。没有任何东西能比这些人类天赋的产物更为珍贵…… 这些产物证明了自身的无限权利及无限自由。(让·克莱尔)” 毕加索、弗洛伊德、培根等艺术家的所作所为 不正说明了这一点,他们从绘画中找到混乱生活的支撑,或者说用绘画来克服他们的“否定性”。

In the story of Pygmalion, the artist’s desire essentially points to his own creation and is a cult of his own talent. “The history of modern art can be described as a paradigm of human spiritual progress… because our civilization is a secular anthropology derived from human rights. If human beings gain autonomy, art would be the purest witness and the most precious secretion. Nothing is more precious than art. It is the products of these human talents… art proves their infinite rights and unlimited freedom (Jean Clair).” Artists like Picasso, Freud, Bacon, etc. have proved this by their anecdotes and artworks. They use art to justify their chaotic life, or in other words, they use art to overcome their negativity.

对佩德罗而言,他的欲望指向的是“中国女孩”或是他的艺术?当一个又一个“中国女孩”成为佩德罗的一件又 一件作品及作品背后的浪漫故事时,她们的美丽和灵魂成了艺术的献祭。在作品完成后,她们成了过去时, 她们背负着不为人知的秘密消失,只留下供人瞻仰的艺术作品。而当人们看着这些作品时,却在惊叹艺术 家对艺术的执着和狂热,而绘画背后的眼泪无人擦拭。

In the case of Pedro, does his desire point to ‘China girls’ or to his art? When these ‘China girls’ are turned into paintings and romantic stories, like the muses of Picasso and Freud, they sacrifice their beauty and souls to art. When the paintings are finished, the ‘China girl’ disappears with unspeakable stories. We can only know them by the paintings. But when standing in front of these paintings, the audiences only give compliments to the artist for his creation, instead of mourning for the tears of the women behind the artwork.

在漫画式的自传《P. Kierk 是否是艺术家?》中,佩德罗旁白道,“人生最奇妙的是:了解自己。Kierk 正 在生活的天梯上,他想要做一次质性的跳跃,从自由到罪恶,他将重返造物主的􏰁抱——一次向上帝的跳 跃。”我们可以把 P 看做是佩德罗,Kierk 则是哲学家克尔凯郭尔的简称。P. Kierk 像似两人的合体,正如 佩德罗在《永恒的回归》系列绘画中,将自己的母亲与巴塔耶描绘成一对情侣。

In the comic-style autobiography Is P. Kierk an artist or not?, Pedro wrote as the narrative; “The most important thing in life is: know thyself. Kierk is up a ladder of life. He wants to make a qualitative leap out of freedom into sinfulness, back to the one who created him – a leap back to God”. Here, P could be seen as Pedro, and Kierk is referred to the philosopher Kierkegaard. ‘P. Kierk’ is a combination of the two, just like another series of Pedro’s paintings, The Eternal Return, in which his mother and Bataille are portrayed as a couple.

克尔凯郭尔和巴塔耶的思想对佩德罗有巨大的影响,这两位哲学家思想的共同之处在于对黑格尔哲学体系 中否定性的批判和重新阐述。黑格尔对否定性的承认只是将其当做自我实现的手段,神或世界、宗教的或 世俗的他者将把被放弃的自我还给自我,这在实质上取消了人自己的自主性和独立性。相反,克尔凯郭尔 则认为否定性是个人对自我存在最本真的体验,它驱使人采取行动,进行非此即彼的选择,即被克尔凯郭 尔所谓的“跨越”,它来自人的决心,是一个人形成自我的激情,指向个体的内在性或主体性。

The thoughts of Kierkegaard and Bataille have a great influence on Pedro. The joining point between these two philosophers is the criticism and reinterpretation of the negativity in Hegel’s philosophy. Hegel’s recognition of negativity is only a means of self-realization. God or the world – religious or secular other – will return the abandoned self to itself, which actually eliminates one’s own autonomy and independence. On the contrary, Kierkegaard believes that negativity is the most authentic experience of the individual’s self-existence. It drives people to take action and make an alternative choice, that is, what Kierkegaard calls the “leap”, which is from the determination and the passion to form ourselves. It points to the internality or subjectivity of the individual.

然而,巴塔耶则更极端的认为,否定性是无用的,它就是栖身于自身之中的不安。“一个具有‘无用的否定性” 的人几乎无法再对它加以利用,罪恶感不再对他具有任何力量,他是之前发生的事的结果。他与自己的否 定性相遇,如同遇上一堵墙。无论它使他有多么不平静,他知道它无法消除,因为否定性是没有未来的。 (巴塔耶)”佩德罗在《嘲笑黑格尔》中已经表明了自己与黑格尔截然不同的立场,而在克尔凯郭尔与巴塔 耶之间,他则显然更倾向于后者。当佩德罗坦然的接受了自己无法消解的否定性,当他做出那一步从自由 到罪恶的质性的跳跃时,他的缪斯却成了献祭。

However, Bataille is more extreme in thinking that negativity is unemployed; it rests itself exactly as restlessness: “The man of ‘unemployed negativity’ can hardly ever use it anymore; to the extent that he is the consequence of what has preceded him. He is confronted by his own negativity as if by a wall. No matter how disquieted he is by it, he knows that henceforth nothing can be ruled out since negativity no longer has any prospect (Bataille).” Pedro has already stated his different view on Hegel in his work Laughing about Hegel, and between Kierkegaard and Bataille. He is obviously more inclined to the latter. When Pedro made this qualitative leap into his “unemployed negativity” and hugs the creator, the ‘China girl’ paved his ladder and became his sacrifice.

他为自己的欲望包装了一个对象——“中国女孩”,但他并未意识到,这“力比多”对其对象并没有欲望,它只 是渴盼欲望本身。正如他在《棋子》中对女学生欲拒还迎的􏰀度的设定,对《洛丽塔》的引用,是欲望与 欲望的碰撞。他们在彼此中看到的不是对方,而是自己。他们成了彼此遭遇自身欲望的“镜子”。但在性骚 扰或侵犯事件中,欲望只是其中一方面,更多的是隐忍、伤害、折磨、痛苦、贬损等等。这些是佩德罗无 法捕捉的,他对女性和性暴力的理解始终是模糊的。这场表演始终是他欲望的投射,而非对被害者的关照 与会心理解。

Pedro uses ‘China girl’ as an excuse for his desire, but he did not realize that this ‘Libido’ does not desire an object – the other – but it longs for desire itself. Just as the ambiguous attitude of the female student in the performance and the reference to Lolita are the collision of desires; what they see in each other is not the beloved, but their own desire. They become the ‘mirror’ to reflect each other’s desire. However, in the cases of sexual harassment or violation, desire is only one aspect. The complexity contains tolerance, torture, pain, tears, and so on. These are things that Pedro cannot capture, and his understanding of women and sexual violence is always vague. This performance is always a projection of his desire, not care and understanding of the victims.

佩德罗的艺术永远无法超越自传的表达,他的否定性借由艺术和哲学之名逃脱道德和伦理批判。而艺术创 作所裹挟的“灰色地带,正是我们作为观众授予艺术家的权利和平台。但我们在观看这场表演过程中经历的 不适,并非因为艺术家用真实的故事“触发”或挑战了我们对性暴力的了解、认识和记忆。新闻中充斥着 #MeToo 运动中被表达和传播的同一个悲剧主题的不同版本,甚至深入细节。我们无法接受的是,成为见 证其欲望的“镜子”,被他的欲望充斥、裹挟。观众在这里被剥夺了自己的面孔。“他者在这里被取消,连带 被取消的,还有他者的感觉,以及自我存在的感觉。” 而对女性及女性主义来说,“在反强奸文化中,强奸还将继续被刻画,它的表现形式将找到全新的、令人满 意的方式。强奸就是强奸,它也是一个诚实的隐喻。强奸应当是一个比喻,一个属于曾经被混蛋们践踏过 的人的艺术史主题。(约翰娜·菲特曼)”

Pedro’s art can never transcend the expression of autobiography, and his negativity escapes moral and ethical criticism in the name of art and philosophy. This ‘grey area’ of art is the right and platform that audiences grant to artists. But the uncomfortable feeling we experienced during the performance is not because the artist used true stories that ‘trigger’ or challenge our knowledge, understanding and memory of sexual violence. The news is full of different versions of the same tragic theme that are expressed and spread in the #MeToo movement, even in in-depth details. What we cannot accept is to become the ‘mirror’ to witness his desire. The audiences were deprived of their existence and feelings.

Whereas, for women and feminism:

Rape, broadly speaking, must still figure in anti-rape culture, so let it be represented in gratifying new ways. Let rape be rape as well as, at last, an honest metaphor. Rape should be a trope, an art-historical subject belonging to the people fallen men have traditionally fucked over.

 – Johanna Fateman


Written by 张芳 Zhang Fang, b. 1989, Fujian Province, China. Art Writer.