The Moviegoer : Agent Seven-Son-Flower — Chen Tong’s Project for a Revolution

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Under private context, or in mysterious yet open imagination, the film trilogy of Chen Tong’s “Project for a Revolution in Hong Kong” can be understood as a “narrative” game using objects, human and space as narrative material and moving images as the narrative tool. And yet, Chen Tong’ “narrative” is in its own an inadvertent but intentional subversion of the idea of “traditional narrative.” In his solo exhibition “Agent Seven-Son-Flower”, the trilogy is combined with Chen Tong’s performative paintings and present a new round of reconstruction of the narrative space. In Shanghai, this “narrative space” transforms the somewhat reserved city of Guangzhou and the flamboyant city of Hong Kong into distant, fictional, symbolic existence, hanging afloat like lonely shadows, generating unspecified types of uncertainty.

 

The film trilogy is about a man carrying on a secret mission. He is forbidden to use any modern communication tool, but only methods such as distributing handwritten notes to complete his mission. The entire process circles around three intriguing key actions – writing, distributing, and erasing, also titles of the three respective films. As the fall edition in the Cinema Lovers series, there will also be a few “film still paintings” in the exhibition hall accompanying the screening, to illustrate a few important scenes in the film. “Agent Seven-Son-Flower” is not only the code for this mission, but also the code for his handlers and the flower plant on his windowsill when he sends out messages.

 

Chen Tong’s film work, like his literary work, is conceptually and intellectually tied to the French Nouveau Roman movement. It’s also a tribute to Alain Robbe-Grillet, who he worships. He even directly alludes to Robbe-Grillet’s Project for a Revolution in New York through intertextuality, as in the film, a secret note is hidden in one of a row of this Robbe-Grillet novel on a book shelf, when the handler recites a number, with his fingers sliding across book spines, and accurately opens one of them to find the note.

 

This fictional revolution started by some global radical communication cell might have been designed by Chen Tong himself. Why not? He adopted most of his political incorrectness from Robbe-Grillet, and some more from The Green Book of Gaddafi. He can never forget how Pierce retrieved his stopwatch. He thinks about Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter when he sees Vermeer’s paintings. The diaries he wrote in one of the islands of the Indian Ocean may or may not be connected to WeChat. The thing he is most interested in the best-selling book Small is Beautiful is the idea of Distributism. And when he talks about “tradition,” he is really talking about the rules that to this day still failed to fail…(Wrote by Chen Tong)

 

From Guangzhou to Shanghai, from the Libreria Borges to Hong Kong, the fictional ground for the revolution, the exhibition shows not only an imagination of a revolution on “world drawing paper”, but also includes an obscure channel toward the real world through his video and paintings. As a follow-up to Chen Tong’s project, the solo exhibition of “Agent Seven-Son-Flower” will force us to re-evaluate his efforts in various artistic areas.

 

在私人语境下,或在隐秘而又开放的想象中,《香港革命计划》三部曲可以理解陈侗以物品、人、空间为材料,以影像为手段构建的“叙事”游戏。但是,陈侗的“叙事”恰恰是对“传统叙事”的看似漫不经意实则有意为之的一种颠覆。而在《代号“七子花”》的个展中,当这三部曲与陈侗的行动绘画结合起来共同呈现时,又完成了新的一轮叙事空间的建构。在上海,这个“叙事空间”将使得隐遁的广州与突显的“香港”都化为了虚拟符号式的存在,同时又像淡漠灰影似的悬浮在远处,隐含催生着某种不确定性。

这三部录像作品的背后是一名男子在香港执行某项秘密任务的故事:他被要求不准使用任何现代联络器材,只能用传递纸条一类的方式来延续他的任务。整个过程围绕着耐人寻味的三个关键动词:“书写”、“传递”、“擦拭”,而它们也正是三部录像的片名。作为“电影爱好者”的秋季版,展览现场还将出现的一些“静物画”,画面内容再一次让人想起讲述地下行动的电影:“七子花”既是行动暗号,也是接头人的代号和他发出信号时的窗台上的盆栽。

 

事实上陈侗的影像作品正如其文字作品一样,在观念和趣味上跟法国新小说,尤其是他向来推崇的罗伯-格里耶总是有着千丝万缕的关系。在“传递”中,他甚至采用互文性手法直接告诉了我们三部曲的名字来自于罗伯-格里耶的《纽约革命计划》:一个神秘的纸条就夹在书店货架上的一排《纽约革命计划》的一本当中,接头人心里念着数字,手指滑过书脊,准确地打开其中一本,找到了小纸条。

 

这场虚构的由世界通讯极端组织发动的革命其幕后主谋或许就是陈侗本人。为什么不?他的政治不正确一部分来自罗伯-格里耶,另一部分来自卡扎菲的《绿皮书》;他始终不会忘记的故事是皮尔士如何找回他的怀表;他看到维米尔的画就想起爱伦坡的《窃信案》:他在印度洋岛上写的日记跟他没有微信有着某种关联;整本《小的是美好的》中他最感兴趣的就是“中间技术”;当谈到“传统”时,他指的是那些没有失效的规则……(此段为陈侗本人所加)

从广州到上海,从博尔赫斯书店艺术机构的房子到假设的革命现场——香港,这次展览呈现的不仅仅是陈侗在“世界图纸上”的革命想象,还必然包括他以录像及绘画构建的一条通往他所要面对的现实世界的不明通道。作为陈侗年初项目的后续,《代号“七子花”》个展将会迫使人们不得不换个角度,重新审视他在各个领域所做的一切尝试。