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1. (Hans Ulrich Obrist) 2008123122009114

/ text by Hu Fang

Mini Marathon, Did Hans Ulrich Obrist fool us around?

The Whole Picture of Beijing Mini Marathon
1. Long-Distance Running Before Marathon started, what I was most concerned about was Hans Ulrich Obrists(hereinafter referred to shortly as Little Hans) physical condition. But when he definitely told me that he was feeling well, I began confident in Marathon. Few of my friends had ever participated in Marathon in a strict sense. Even if some had, the runners can hardly convey the original extreme feeling of body with meticulous care, for it is almost an impossible thing. However, it is also interesting to know the psychological situation of the runner in the course of the event. Titled as Electric Power CityPost-Olympic Beijing Mini Marathon, it lasted from 2:00 p.m. 31st December 2008 to 4:00 a.m. 1st January 2009. This Marathon itself was embedded with the rhythm of up and down and endless flashing sparkles of pondering in the 14 hours from the starting line, the running course to the finishing line. While we, all the participants, were supposed to not only follow these pondering runners, but also imagine that those sparkles of pondering can be preserved as much as possible, so that it can not only lighten each others way, but also pave the way for successors. As the Marathon revealed, besides good physical condition, we also need faith to motivate and encourage ourselves to run towards the finishing line. Today, thought may be more regarded as a kind of long-distance running. Just as Rilke said: Who speaks of victory? Enduring is everything. 2. Listening. Speaking As for the origin and evolvement of interview in western art history, Michael Diers elaborated clearly in his article Infinite Conversation Or the Interview as an Art Form, the preface for Interview Record I by Little Hans, pointed out that Little Hanss interview was masterminded from a unique and personal modality; different from journalistic and scholar interview, his interview was more developed from an encyclopedia-like philosophical view, which not only changed the dialogue into vivid and effective communication, but also made his interview more focused on abiogenesis and randomness. Maybe just because of the above, I guess Little Hans is more sensitive on silence behind discourse, in the email he wrote to the artist Hans Peter Feldmann, he quoted one sentence from interviewer, the philosopher Hans Georg Gadamer, to express his pondering: Gadamer had told me, one big problem for interview lies in that it cannot transcribe silence. While I guess Chinese Zens advocating language independent, to a large extent, serves as an insight towards the relationship between words and silence, speakable and unspeakable things; it relates to what Little Hans concerns and reminds us that on the one hand, if art had to be spoken out, such words arent necessarily about the exploration of how to speak and the experiment of how to develop the unspeakable into interpersonal understanding; on the another hand, Chinese classical philosophy and literary theorys emphasis on oral materials (from Analects of Confucius to Shi Shuo Hsin Yu, to story-telling novels), also presents a profound understanding of the necessity and dialogue quality of discourse from Chinese perspective, that is, discourse faces directly the world in specific time and space and its essential value lies in its absence, which is the important approach to update thinking. The program Interview Marathon hosted by Little Hans is about more than catching the absence of discourse, because it adds rather intense time to the process of dialogue, so as to create a modality in realism for the dialoguebesides the tangible part, the intangible field also exists, thus it can mobilize consciousness to flow in the interaction between speaking and listening. In this arena, what is most treasurable not only refers to revealing the elaboration related to art activity, but also refers to the cultural influence at the subconscious level, personal image and oblivious history. When the exploration of these conscious activities achieve certain width and depth in a period, a kind of Meridian and Acupoint about culture begins to emerge much more in a whole, and the route of Marathon starts to be clear. In Little Hans interview, the relationship between listening and speaking is not affiliation, but interdependence just like that between Yin and Yang. As a means of cultural criticism to approach the personal creation, Little Hans interview is equipped with not only the common problemsas his personal research subject, which is always associated with the immense knowledge about art history and experience from interviewing with numerous outstanding originators stored in his brain; but also very random problems, directly derived from the dialoguethese problems have no premonition, no prejudice, and all of them are direct and live, thus inspiring the interviewees words and exploring some subjects which are never mentioned before. While fundamentally, I think, this huge flow of Listening and Speaking, more confirms the relationship between Mouth and Heart. The processes of these dialogues not only provide the clues of personal inditing, but also unfolds according to the meaning of behavior; it surpasses the range of knowledge and moves forward to revisiontalkers have intentions, and listeners have minds; we prove, educate and cultivate together, from this point, the Listening and Speaking of Marathon not only link to the interviewee and interviewer, but also link to all the participants, which constitute a public flowing event. 3. Theater From interviewer to interviewee, interviewer to audience, present audience to non-present people, Marathon at the very beginning emerges necessarily as a public event, which convokes individuals, shows overlapping of individual consciousness and creates theatre in a certain time and calls for personal expression. The behaviorism of Marathon itself makes it more like theater consisted of dialogues. What differentiates it is the performance of the drama of thinking(let us think about the thinking poetics tradition from Socrates, Zhuangzi, Diderot to Dostoevsky), over

city culture

2. Michael Diers (In nite Conversation Or the Interview as an Art Form) 1Michael Diers (Hans Peter Feldmann) (Hans Georg Gadamer)

. . Hans ulrich Obrist (1968) (Do it, Cities on the Move,)1993 Migrateurs al Muse dArt Moderne de la Ville de (Zurich, 1968), art curator. He lives in London, United Kingdom. As well as creating some of the most important exhibitions during the 1990s (Do it, Cities on the Move, etc ...), he curated the Migrateurs al Muse dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris exhibition programme since 1993. He has published Interviews, a collection of conversations with dozens of leading exponents of modern-day culture. He has also published books on Cedric Price and Gerard Richter. He is co-director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London.





( ) ( ) 3. 20067(Rem Koolhaas)

Serpentine Marathon( ) (2007Olafur Eliassong) (2008) / , 4. ( 10 ( )

there. Audiences go ups and down along with the thinking, change from fanciers into doers, and it is the interior confession that achieves the energy movement inside and outside the theater. Unlike dramatic performances, Marathon is performed without a script, for, the script in the heart of every participant. Therefore, it is an unpredictable performance, just like any excellent Marathon runners can only know the result after the match. Here the realistic uncertain factors are ever present, making Marathon more realistic and becoming a kind of realistic drama. Started from July 2006, when Little Hans cooperated with Holland architect Rem Koolhaas and held Serpentine Marathon in the Summer Pavilion of London serpentine gallery, Marathon not only developed different subjectsfrom Scientific Marathon (2007, cooperated with artist Olafur Eliassong) to Declaration Marathon (2008), but also came to different cities and different spaces; every Marathon differed according to different situations, thus establishing different realistic quality. In Beijing, Marathon took place in This Shop, which was founded by Independent Art Space Vitamin. This Shop attempts to get through and syncretize the space limit separated from social/ artistic system, aims at inspiring the organic relationship between artistic creation and daily life and the public, and exploring a new mode of public space. This Shop practiced this Beijing MiniMarathon as a public event, interacting with different communities in Beijing via network media and bringing city and personal living space into dialogue; correspondingly, the interviewees invited by Beijing Marathon ranged widely from artists, writers, directors, architects and media workers and businessmen. Besides, it included in a discussion presided by Jiang Jun, the chief editor of magazine City China; Sound art performance by Yan Jun and improvisational writing by the Yangjiang Group of the contemporary calligraphy group. While Beijing, a city which faces the challenge of the global financial crisis after attracting worldwide attention during the 2008 Olympics, is becoming a world wonder for its fast changes. This city itself is a unique environment to display the imagination of Post-Olympic; although this era is rather noisy, we have reason to believe that thinking can be a clue for placidity. This Marathon in Beijing, together with this book of Marathon,

is rightly born between unfinished and finished, a book of calmness born out of tumult, a city secret map which can be read repeatedly and always discoverable, a drama of thinking prepared for a second departure. 4. An Open Mind Back to the problem at the very start: what will one think about when he takes long-distance running alone? Murakami Harukis latest book What I Talk about When It Refers to Running, elaborates his serendipity with long-distance running and marathon. When refers to what he thinks about when he runs, he said: I run, I am just running. In principle, I am running in a blank. May be I run for gaining the blank. Even though in this blank, sometimes thinking insinuate into my mind, this thinking which insinuate into my interior spirit, or say idea, is no more than the appurtenant of the blank. They are not content, they are just gradually developed thought based on the blank. On certain point-in-time of Marathon(for example, 10:00 at the night or the moment of finishing), maybe because of temporary malajustment of physical condition, or because of striking and hovering by too much words, I felt a kind of blank, although it was fleeting, such blankness suddenly equipped me with a stimulation of ignorance(whether it is what the Buddhist said: ignorance because of hollowing the heart?), it seems that the world is open thoroughly because of these thoughts surging forward in the flow of time. Now think about this, maybe it is reasonable for such kinds of feeling in reality: if dialogue presents so much parallel reality, then a sort of objective trueness may emerge from this crossover, this wider world over personal horizon. She never says turkey to one and bazzard to another; she just let it be, without an end, and make people keep an open mind. She would help the persistent runners to build up the body. If Little Hans tag sleep is bad for your health is beneficial, then consider your physical strength, maybe we should start another Marathon.

/ Hu Fang

(1970) 1992 (Vitamin Creative Space) / // 12 (document 12 magazines) 2007 2008 (China, 1970). Graduated from Chinese Literature Department of Wuhan University in 1992. He is one of the founders of Vitamin Creative Space. As a novelist and essayist, his works are published on various magazines related to art, architecture and literature. He also fullls his art curation in different domestic and aboard circumstances. He is coordinating editor of documenta 12 magazines, a player of Lyon Biennial 2007, as well as the member of the curatorial team of Yokohama Triennale 2008.




/ text by Umi

interview on interview
Abitare: How did the marathon come about? Hans: In 2005 at a theater festival in Germany, the late Mary Zimmerman and also Christine Peter invited me to come up with something related to the theater. I said I had never really curated in the theater context, but its always been interesting to me. I suppose its a little bit like architecture. When one gets these invitations to do things one has never done, in a typology or a context one has never worked, it sometimes can be incredibly liberating or stimulating. To some extent my conversations that I do with artists all the time, they could be staged and it could become like a talk show. A lot of my friends were always saying it would be good to have a talk show on TV. I thought it could be interesting to make it more transgressive, so I thought maybe we could do it for 24 hours, non-stop. At the Serpentine in London, where it started in 2006, it became a slightly dramatic situation, a theatrical situation, but its also very beautiful, in the sense that youre in the park, you have insects, and even when it gets dark you dont need to bring in light. Its really like an open air concert. And to some extent it just has to do with the fact of changing the rules of the game, setting up new rules, injecting new energy. One of the things that it so important about my experience in London is the possibility to bring together different disciplines and fields. Some people came because they wanted to listen to an artist or some came to hear an architect. Some people came because they just didnt know where to spend their night. They needed to hang out somewhere instead of going to the club. Some came for an adventure. There are all kinds of reasons that people will come. Rem has said that a building should also be a content machine, which is something that happens again with the CCTV building, and its not unlike the marathon. Abitare: The just-deceased John Updike called interviews a form to be loathed; a half-form like maggots. How did the interview become so important to you? Hans: I think to some extent, it was interviews David Sylvester did with Francis Bacon, or Brassaldid with Picasso, that really pushed me to get into art. They were like triggers. My interviews are productions of reality, they produce books, exhibitions, buildings, it produces community and hopefully one day, new cities. Its very pragmatic. When I spoke with Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD, who was 100 years old, he drew on a napkin formula of LSD. That then gave me the idea to do a book of a hundred formulas by artists which came out in 2007 (see Abitare 2009). Abitare: Why the timeframe of 14 or 24 hours? Hans: There are different kinds of timeframes. We live in a context where as globalization fosters homogenization, it is true also in the field of art and architecture, and it is not only spatial but also temporal, which means you have more and more homogenized formats of time. But I think its interesting to resist that homogenization of time and introduce

AbitARe 2005 Mary Zimmerman (Christine Peter) ( ) 24 2006

David SulvesterFrancis BaconJerome Secker Picasso David Sulvester Albert Hofmann 2007(ABITARE20091) AbitARe1424

Rem Koolhaas CCTV ( Rem KoolhaasHans Ulrich Obrist) AbitARe John Updike

Jan Fabre





David Deutsch e Fabric of Reality

, DO IT(

AbitARe John Cage(20 ) Craig Venter AbitARe / Yona FriedmanCedric Price DO IT AbitARe 07 Soho e Shop AbitARe

different formats. The interview marathon doesnt have to be 24 hours, but it definitely has to be a longer stretch of time. For me it really has something to do with my memory of adolescence. I remember going to theater plays of the Belgian director Jan Fabre and they went on forever. We would go to his theater, and sometimes go out for dinner and drink and later come back, and I would meet a lot of people in the bar and then later in the theater again. Ultimately I would say that this creates a community, some sort of forum, and maybe what happens around the event is as important as the event itself. Therefore I felt that it might be interesting to apply it in my practice. It creates a different structure of conversation, a more multi-layered conversation, another layer of conversation, maybe a more multi-dimensional conversation. I think David Deutsch in The Fabric of Reality talks about many different dimensions of reality, and thats what were really trying to achieve. Abitare: Like a curator of an exhibition, do you consider yourself a director within the marathon? Hans: I think its less that because in a way, it has a lot to do with self-organization. Its a quite open system, not like directing a play. Of course it grew out of a theater context. Chance plays a very important role. It is not only the time obsession I share with John Cage, but its also the idea of having a system that allows for chance to happen. And I always have some questions which are recurrent and part of my obsessions, such as unrealized projects, utopias, how one connects to the other, and the future. I was reading an article about Craig Venter this morning, and Venter was describing how at the beginning, when a scientist does research and collects information, he doesnt really know what the unifying principles are to explain what hes witnessing. Thats a very interesting remark that describes how I work.

Abitare: Clearly your curatorial work impacts your interview marathons, and vice versa, but in these and other pursuits, how do you seek connections with the public? Hans: Curating is about building bridges, and I wouldnt say its between art and the public because that would be to assume theres such a thing as a public. There are many publics. So a curator builds many bridges, he throws passerelle into many directions. The question is always how we can bring in visitors in the marathon, that depends on each different locale. Im always in the marathon talking to a lot of people, and then during that twelve to 24 hours many other conversations are happening. We realized when we led the first marathon in Stuttgart, there were all kinds of events, dinners, salons happening around town which we couldnt attend. In this sense, one can say its a polyphony of conversations, and the marathon is the trigger. It produces community and hopefully new encounters for people who otherwise wouldnt meet each other. DO IT ( home.html) is another form of participation. We always have to be careful with participation to not assume what people are going to do. Thats the limit of participatory art. When we look at the people on the street, its very unpredictable what people do and how they move. How do we develop models of participation, thats something people like Yona Friedman and Cedric Price have beautifully pioneered, thats why Ive always learned a lot from urbanism, for my practice as a curator. So DO IT is a participatory exhibition, it can happen on the internet, in the book, in museum space, it can happen physically and virtually. But its just one possibility. Abitare: And once in a city, how do you choose the location -- and how does the location affect you?





19962007 Rem Koolhaas AbitARe 21 AbitARe Rem Koolhaas 21

Immanuel WallersteinUtopistics Molly NesbitUtopia Station(50Utopia Station Utopia Station h p://www.e- AbitARe

Hans: Last Christmas [a year ago], we did it in Cairo and that happened in an open town house and people came in from the street. Here it happens at [Jianwai] Soho. So it always happens in some specific neighborhood. I go to a place and listen to a place, getting the feel for a city, so from that point of view its a way of arriving, landing, connecting to a city, not transiting. Abitare: But can you really get a feel for a city, do your mapping of the city, in such brief visits? Hans: It would be a great pretense to think we can make a portrait of a city in one night. These things are fragments. Ive come to Beijing many times in the past since 96. We (with Hu Fang) recorded many interviews one night in 2007, and now we are doing it as a minimarathon, and we are planning a big marathon with Rem Koolhaas and Ou Ning. Its very much a work-in-progress. We cannot simply grab the whole city, draft the portrait of the city, because the city is far too complex. Even after coming to China 30 already, I am still just starting to understand it. For me, my whole relationship to China is a marathon where there are still many trips to come. Abitare: What is your impression of exhibitions and museum spaces in China? Hans: Obviously there has been a lot of built hardware: there are a lot of spaces open in China now. The question is what is going to happen now in these spaces? In this post-Olympic moment, whats going to be the content of these spaces, whos going to program them, and what is the curators role in China. Its not only about bringing in exhibitions from outside but also how are they going to be generated from inside, from here. In China, where art was often shown at home, there is not necessarily a tradition for museums. That lack of tradition offers an opportunity to invent museums of a different type and not just to copy museums in the West. I think theres a great opportunity in the next few years to see how new forms of museums and new content production

can happen here. The internet is also a museum for the 21st century. We shouldnt underestimate the importance of it. Ai Weiweis blog is an important space, as important as any hardware museum. Abitare: What large questions linger about China for you? Hans: Memory is the urgent matter for China. Memory not in a static way, but in a dynamic and progressive way, in a dynamic way. Freedom. The relationship of the city and the countryside. Is the future, as Rem Koolhass puts it, the countryside? The idea also of dynamic loops, which leads back to your question of interaction and dynamic systems and how we can actually map such dynamic systems. Im very interested in new maps for the 21st century, how we can develop such maps, and I will investigate that with a book and an exhibition. Particularly over the last years, the idea of only thinking about oneself in relation to capitalism has been such a strong focus, and I think you are living at a time now when its interesting to think again what could be the social contract of architecture and art. It is something Immanuel Wallerstein in Utopistics addresses very beautifully, and something we try to address in Utopia Station with Molly Nesbit (http://www.e-flux. com/projects/utopia/). The whole question of the social contract of art will be back. Abitare: The Utopian instinct is often tied up with a kind of optimism, isnt knowledge and logic optimism, as Nietzsche puts it? Hans: Optimism to some degree has to do with knowledge, and with knowledge production. And thats what all our projects are about: they are all about finding new ways of knowledge production. But it is also important to inject doubts. To some extent, we only know so little, our knowledge is so limited to be aware of that. I grew up in a monastery city in Switzerland where all the knowledge is stored in books. And I always believed that cities are like monasteries, repositories of knowledge. And yet at our time it is no longer possible to know everything, and the desire to want to know everything, knowing that its impossible, creates an interesting tension.

Marathon map

Stuttgart, Beijing, Kassel, Dubai, Cairo, London, London, London, London, Berlin for twice and soon we might have, Delhi, LA, Moscow, Tehran, Istanbul