The New Yorker – Jan.25, 2016

SEEDS OF PEACE, by David Remnick

“中东聚焦”这周的主人公是巴勒斯坦(某运动组织)的领袖 Ayman Odeh,他是新一代的运动人士的代表,“He is now a middle-aged politician in a suit, legislator preaching the coexistence of Arab and Jew in a time of dashed hopes, almost daily acts of terror, and regional chaos.” 这篇文章让人印象深刻的是对于运动洪流之中个人境遇的描摹,战乱和纷争放在历史的微观视角中,总归不过是身边的和切肤的事情。Ayman 的小舅子(妻子的弟弟) Asel Asleh 在2000年的一场游行中被以色列警官击毙,这场变故也彻底改变了 Ayman 妻子(Nardin)对政治和革命的态度。“after my brother was killed, politics felt so hopeless. It was no longer just a matter of homeland or refugee; it was personal. What the hell can you do anymore?” 她接着说,“Asel’s death ruined our lives. My parents never got over it, and neither did I. In a way, I lost my parents.” 

作者和 Ayman 一家(他们有三个可爱的孩子)在海法的一家餐厅里谈论了上述这些,文章借 Ayman 的热血和坚持与 Nardin 的顾虑和犹疑,刻画了一个(相信是非常典型的)巴以地区的家庭。Nardin 继续说,“When you deal with politics, you are always hopeful about results, I suppose. But when your brother is killed like that it breaks you. I have no energy for politics, not the way Ayman does. I’m not encouraged — maybe that’s the right word.”

让我们再回到主人公 Ayman,她妻子说他是一个典型的乐观主义者,(现任领袖)阿巴斯说他是“the wisest man of his generation”,他自己则说,“I am not some intellectual hoping to be understood a century from now. I am a political leader. I have to stand in front of my community. If I am a metre too far out in front of people, I’ll lose them.” 在青年时期,Ayman 的“激进”思想就受到了“当局”的密切关注,他曾经三番五次遭受到恐吓和秘密审讯,那是一段非常折磨人的经历(他的父母听闻后也十分崩溃)。“I was called three more times by the Shin Bet. They never hit me. But they succeeded in two things. I isolated myself from friends — I became much more introverted. And I had the sense the Shin Bet was watching me no matter where I went. When I went to the bus station and I saw some guy in sunglasses, I just assumed he was Shin Bet.” 

对于巴勒斯坦的过去,现在,尤其是未来,作者没有议论过多,他在与阿巴斯会面的时候问他,在接下来的一年,你能在与奥巴马和内塔尼亚胡之间的谈判中取得进展吗?“Abbas smiled wearily, ‘I don’t know, but they tell me that for at least the next year its’ hopeless.’”

THE MET AND THE NOW, by Calvin Tomkins

在纽约的“博物馆圈”里,惠特尼搬迁无疑是过去一年里的大事。而在2016年,大事件自然是Met的当代艺术新馆的开张,大家也都知道,新开的地方就是惠特尼的旧址。也因为这个原因,大都会的 Department of Modern and Contemporary Art 的新部门主任,Sheena Wagstaff 成了这大半年来的明星人物。她是伦敦泰特现代美术馆 (Tate Modern)的头儿,在Met新部门扩张之际被馆长 Thomas Campbell 招致麾下。如果没有记错的话,去年年末某一期的《纽约客》就对她进行了介绍。这篇文章则更多的从Campbell 和 Met 的角度,讲了讲为什么“沉重的”大都会要迈出这一步。

Campbell 和他的前任,Philippe de Montebello 不一样,对现当代艺术有着更高的热情,Philippe 曾在言语中毫不吝啬对当前“艺术潮流”的不解(不满,甚至不屑):“Something like ninety-nine per cent of all collectors — the rich, those who are interested and will support museums in the future — are collectors of contemporary art.” 而坎贝尔则更加积极地看待这个问题,他认为如今现当代艺术对于博物馆来讲已经到了不可或缺的地步。从办公室的装潢风格就可以窥见这两人在这一点上的不同,de Montebello  的木质家具和路易十四风格的书桌被白色的墙面和安迪·沃霍尔的画像取代。针对前任馆长所说的收藏家对当代艺术品的追捧,他自己也承认,“Of course, one of the major developments has been the capitalization of contemporary art, with huge amounts of money flowing into a market that more and more people view as an opportunity for investment and speculation. I could see that we might be going through a lot of rubbish out there, but, at the same time, I felt there was a sort of neo-Renaissance that the Met should be part of.”

其实在历史的各个节点上,“Met should be part of” 的时刻有许多。“Cluelessness about modernism goes back a long way at the Met.” 近一百年前,当印象派画作已经席卷大半个世界的时候,大都会直到1934年还未曾藏有哪怕一幅来自高更、修拉、罗素、马蒂斯、毕加索、莫迪利亚尼等大师的作品。有时这是经费的问题,大都会有多达十七个部门,所以在购置新馆藏时,摊到每个部门上的预算就十分有限。在上世纪五十年代,大都会里的抽象表现主义作品仍都屈指可数,跟随着那个年代蓬勃发展起来的倒是摄影部门,原因自然还是钱:“Because prices for even vintage photographs remained relatively low, curators could afford to buy them without going through the Trustee Acquisitions Committee.”  

还有的时候则是人为因素了,并不是每一位领导都拥有“正确的”品味。1977年,上任馆长 de Montebello 履新之际,聘请了抽象表现主义领域的专家 Thomas Hess,但不幸的是 Thomas 仅十八个月后就病逝,接替他的 William Lieberman 显然是个退而求其次的人选,“Lieberman, who was unwilling to go after anything that he thought MOMA coveted, acquired a surprising number of figurative paintings by contemporary artists whose names do not resonate today, and whose works reside in the basement.”

回到当下。作者在去年十一月和新晋就职的 Sheena 会了一次面,进一步聆听了她对 Met 现当代艺术部门的未来构想。今年三月即将拉开帷幕的展览叫做 “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible”,囊括了从文艺复兴时期到当代五百多年间的作品。这里面既有提香,El Greco,鲁本斯,伦勃朗,委拉斯开兹,也有马内,梵高,塞尚,毕加索,波洛克,Jasper Johns,Cady Noland,Robert Gober 等人,Sheena说,“What the Met can do, and others can’t do, is bring history and life today into a new conversation … the concept of an art that was intentionally non-finito emerged during the Renaissance, to describe paintings whose technique did not conform to traditional notions of composition and “finish”. When it gets to the twentieth century, there a whole lot of other issues attached to the idea of unfinished. Does it matter that something is unfinished? Is process more important than choosing a goal?”

初来乍到的 Sheena 自然少不了听到对她质疑的声音,有人就说大都会的这个新馆至多不过是“泰特第五大道”,有人也说,从本质上讲,想要把住现当代艺术的“脉”就不是件易事。洛杉矶县艺术馆的馆长 Michael Govan 就评论道,“The language of contemporary art is always changing. Our frame of reference changes. Things are diversifying. Being an encyclopedia of anything is more and more untenable.” 说白了就还是那句老话,“you can be a museum or you can be modern, but you can’t be both.” 末尾处作者是这样作结的:

The fact that nobody seems to know what art is anymore makes a curator’s job all the more difficult. Does anyone still subscribe to Alfred Barr’s definition of what he and his colleagues at MOMA were doing as ‘the conscientious, continuous, resolute distinction of quality from mediocrity’? Many curators would say that they do, but, as any Chelsea gallery-goer can attest, a vast amount of mediocre art is being shown these days, and some of it commands absurdly high prices at auction. The unfashionable, elitist notion of quality doesn’t really go away, and our need for museum to sift, select, and make illuminating judgments about recent art has never been more acute. The Met is taking a risk in its efforts to view modern and contemporary art through the lens of its historical collections, and vice versa, but no other museum could do it, or do it as well. At the very least, the effort should remind us that all art was contemporary once, and that, if it’s good enough, it stays that way.

DEAD CERTAINTY, by Kathryn Schulz

准确地说这是一篇电视剧评论。所谈论的剧集便是最近在 Netflix 上非常火的真实犯罪实录《制造杀人犯》,该剧的播出在美国引发民众和舆论的一片哗然,上万人表达了对剧中人物 Steven Avery 无罪释放的请愿。作者对这一现象说出了自己的思考,文章的副标题是 “How ‘Making a Murderer’ goes wrong”。她的主要观点如下:

首先就是剧集的制作团队所持的鲜明立场(即 Steven 是无辜的),Penny Beerntsen 是 Steven 第一起案件的受害者(十八年后通过DNA证据证明其实那是误判),她拒绝了导演 Richardi 和 Demos 对她参与录制的邀请,并对作者解释道,“It was very clear from the outset that they believed Steve was innocent. I didn’t feel they were journalists seeking the truth. I felt like they had a foregone conclusion and were looking for a forum in which to express it.” 作者进一步指出,“the documentary consistently leads its viewers to the conclusion that Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department, and it  contains striking elisions that bolster that theory. The filmmakers minimize or leave out many aspects of Avery’s less than savory past, including multiple alleged incidents of physical and sexual violence.” “Although ‘Making a Murderer’ is structured chronologically, it fails to provide a clear time line of events, and it never answer such basic questions as when, where, and how Halbach died.”

作者在讨论中承认,导演制作剧集时的“the end justifies the means”这一思维,和警署人员在办案时滥用证据,主观臆断事实并无二致。发生在 Steven 身上的悲剧,无疑是整个司法系统失能的具体体现。作者说,“While Avery’s story is dramatic, every component of it is sadly common. Seventy-two per cent of wrongful convictions involve a mistaken eyewitness. Twenty-seven per cent involve false confessions. Nearly half involve scientific fraud or junk science. More than a third involve suppression of evidence by police.” 

这对于整个系统的反思,也是在作者看来这部剧集另一个不足之处:“it is far more concerned with vindicating wronged individuals than with fixing the system that wronged them.” Ultimately, ‘Making a Murderer’ dos not challenge our yearning for certainty or do the difficult work of helping to foster humility. Instead, it swaps one absolute for another — and, in doing so, comes to resemble the system it seeks to correct.” 

第三点,在作者看来也是最重要的一点,指向了这类剧集的“道德性”和“同情心”:“they turned people’s private tragedies into public entertainment.” 另一部同类剧集《Serial》的受害主人公 Hae Min Lee 2014年在 Reddit 上写道,“To you listeners, its another murder mystery, crime drama, another episode of CSI. You weren’t there to see your mom crying every night … and going to court almost every day for a year seeing your mom weeping, crying, and fainting.” Steven 所涉及的前后两起案件的受害人(或家属),Penny Beerntsen 和 Halbach 一家都拒绝了参与录制,但是,“no one in such a situation has any real way to opt out. ‘Making a Murderer’ takes Halbach’s death as its subject, and footage of her family appears in almost every episode. Beerntsen, for her part, was dismayed to discover that the filmmakers had obtained a photograph of her battered face from the 1985 attack and used it without her knowledge. ‘I don’t mind looking at it, but my children should not have to relieve that.’” 作者指出这无疑也是“结果决定手段”的思维在主导制片者(甚至观众)的行为:“both creators and viewers tacitly dismiss the pain caused by such shows as collateral damage, unfortunate but unavoidable. Here, too, the end is taken to justify the means; someone else’s anguish comes to seem like a trifling price to pay for the greater cause a documentary claims to serve.”


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