Focus Beijing – De Heus-Zomer Collection


2014.06.14 – 2014.09.21

Zhao Yao, I am your night nr 9, 2011, Collection De Heus-Zomer

This summer Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is showing a selection of contemporary Chinese art from the collection of Henk and Victoria de Heus-Zomer. Acquaint yourself with two generations of Chinese artists in the galleries around the Bodon Gallery. The exhibition provides a broad survey of developments in contemporary art in Beijing. The works are being publicly exhibited for the first time.

The exhibition ‘Focus Beijing’ features the work of two generations of prominent artists from Beijing. The first generation grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. They include Zhang Dali (Harbin, 1963), Zhang Xiaogang (Kunming, 1958), Hai Bo (Changchun, 1962) and Ai Weiwei (Beijing, 1957). Their work shows a strong sense of political engagement, referring to China’s traumatic history and the social and cultural revolutions of recent decades. The second generation grew up in the 1970s and 1980s: the period of China’s Open Door Policy. Artists such as Qiu Xiaofei (Hoerbin, 1977), Wang Guangle (Fujian, 1976) and Liang Yuanwei (Xi’an, 1977) were born in a period in which Chinese society became more oriented towards the West, a period of massive economic growth and new markets. Individuality and intuition are key to their artistic practice. They are informed better about international art developments than their Western counterparts are about current developments in Chinese art. The exhibition highlights the different standpoints of each artist, presenting a broad view of contemporary art developments in Beijing, with Shanghai, as the capital of Chinese Art.



The Armory Show /纽约军械库艺术博览会 2014

 Private View: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 2pm to 5pm (by invitation only)
Vernissage: Wednesday, 5 March 2014, 5pm to 8pm (by invitation only)
Public Days: 6-9 March 2014

Zhao Yao’s diverse practice incorporates installation,painting, video, photography, and other media. With a conceptual rigor, wry wit, and critical imperative uncommon for an artist his age, Zhao’s artwork reects on and deconstructs modalities of production and dissemination within contemporary art.

For Armory Focus: China, Beijing Commune will present a set of new works from Zhao’s series “A Painting of Thought”along with a new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things . “A Painting of Thought” appropriates the visual language of brainteasers to form quasi-modernist painting installations on found fabric. A more direct translation of the series’s title is “Very Clever Painting,”hinting that the artist is not merely interested in the abstract aesthetics of mental puzzles, but also in the individual and cultural constructions of meaning, by both artist and viewer, that mediate the experience of art. The tongue-in-cheek name of the series may refer to the tendency among audiences to “decode” and reduce artworks into packaged, easily digestible messages.

Zhao’s new installation piece The Form of the Ten Thousand Things inspires its title from renowned East Asian art historian Lothar Ledderose’s book Ten Thousand Things. The book describes modular systems of cultural production in ancient China, that is, the production of objects and cultural systems out of standardized parts. For his piece, Zhao takes as his medium die-cutting molds used in printing. The artist is interested in the metaphorical implications of these molds, which embody a peculiar conceptual duality of form and formlessness, abstract concept and physical product.The plating of the metal and imitation monumental appearance of the work imply a sense of reverence, though not without skepticism.

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Great Performance/伟大的表演

The 2ndCAFAM Biennale/第二届CAFAM双年展
Performance, installation

This work is derived from the two media images above. The images are photographed again with the built-in kaleidoscope special effects filter of the Apple iPad camera software, and the new distorted image is printed onto synthetic leather. Elements of revelry, riot, rally, and game convene and constitute this piece. A myriad of relationships involving form and content, image and narrative, as well as image and meaning are present within this performance. By liberating an image from a discourse and reinserting it back into discourse, the multiplicity of visual culture within contemporary society is discussed. “Great Performance” is another focused attempt on the relationship between form and content where content interferes with form and form is used to reflect upon content. Great performances are therefore not a specified narrative response, but rather a humanistic practice with form and content.

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28 Chinese/中华廿八人

December 4, 2013 – August 1, 2014

28 Chinese is the culmination of the Rubells’ six research trips to China between 2001 and 2012 where they visited one hundred artists’ studios in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xi’an and acquired artwork from twenty-eight artists.

These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations. This will be the first exhibition in North America for many of these artists. The oldest artist in the exhibition was born in 1954 and the youngest was born in 1986. A fully illustrated, 262 page catalog in Chinese and English with text from all of the artists will accompany the exhibition as well as a complementary audio tour. This exhibition will occupy the Foundation’s 28 galleries, 40,000 sq foot museum.

All of the artwork in the exhibition is from the permanent collection.

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“Archipelago”,group exhibition /群岛

15 September – 6 October 2013

V-Art Center and Art-Ba-Ba Mobile Space is proud to announce “Archipelago”, an group exhibition academic guidanced by Liu Xinghua consisting of six individual artists; He An, Zhao Yao, Ding Li, Zhang Jiebai,Lu Pingyuan and Liao Guohe presenting their newest works at V-Art Center. Archipelago is by definition a cluster or collection of islands. Based partially in Beijing and Shanghai they have come together as a set of islands forming an archipelago for the audience to explore. “Archipelago” is a condition a state of mind, together they share the same values acting as a dispersed force. As with today’s society, where we emphasize individality, separating, sometimes even isolating, ourselves from the idea as an collective. What “Archipelago” is about is that although in the midst of today’s society where an individual may seem as an isolated islands, we’re actually a part of something larger. If we’re willing to step outside our own islands, there’s more to discover in our near surroundings. In a lot of senses we need to take our environment into account. Therefore “Archipelago” is not a theme, there’s no hidden agenda but rather a condition of these five artist’s at the same time refecting today’s society.

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Spirit above all III-69_acrylic on denim_200x222x8cm_2012-2013

Zhao Yao: Spirit Above All

Voon Pow Bartlett

Yishu Volume 12, Number 4, July/August 2013

According to Pace London Gallery press release, the artworks for Spirit Above Allwere brought to Tibet to be blessed by a “Living Buddha.”[1] This is documented through mural photographs of the Tibetan landscape that provided the backdrop on the walls of the gallery upon which the paintings are hung. The press release also informs us that the artist is “fascinated by the relationship between art and its audience,” creating an “on-going cycle of self-assessment, and reconstruction of the old to produce the new, a process the artist describes as ‘self-consumption’.”[2] Zhao Yao expresses the wish to challenge how art is perceived, that ‘‘the attention should never be on the paintings themselves, which I deliberately repeat in different series to deconstruct their visual power, but the concept behind the forms. I am interested in the way we look at exhibitions and how our pre-existing knowledge, whether cultural, religious, or political, affects our perception of art. I like to provide context for my works, but not to disclose my own opinion so the discussion can remain open. In the same way that the puzzles I use aim at training one’s brain to think logically, I want my exhibitions to challenge people’s conventional way of looking at art.”[3]


Spirit Above All consists of a series of paintings, nine in all, executed with acrylic on denim, averaging a size of 250 x 200 x 8 cm. The colour scheme of the installation gives an impression of a grey day in London. Nevertheless, I found myself drawn to the shapes and patterns on the canvases and challenged to recall my mathematical training. There were circles combined with triangles to look like rabbit ears, circles on squares, cuboids that look like square rooms placed on their sides and some on their oblique sides, with their roofs sliced off, providing views from the top, like scenes from ancient Chinese paintings. Pentagons, octagons, parallelograms, and intersecting rings, executed in black, white, and light grey on stripy bluish denim canvases.

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“China China”, a group show of Chinese artists

18 May 2013 – 6 October 2013

PinchukArtCentre presents “China China”, a major group exhibition including eleven Chinese artists of different generations, focusing on the tension between individuality and collective thinking – a subject, which not only defined Chinese history and continuously shapes contemporary society but equally gains importance in the West.

The exhibition includes the works of Ai Weiwei, Cao Fei, Chen Zhen, Sun Xun, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Xu Zhen, Yan Xing, Yang Fudong, Zhang Huan, Zhao Yao, Zhao Zhao.

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 July 23 , 2013 | Tag in: LEAP 21 | TEXT:Sasha Zhao / TRANSLATION: Katy Pinke

So as to preserve a sense of mystery—and weaken, to as great an extent as possible, the audience’s romanticized versions of what happened—this is the only “evidence” available to prove that the event truly transpired.

In his work , Zhao Yao has found a sound and sustainable mode of exhibition that he calls “serial performance.” Born out of his suspicion with regard to all of the formalized complacencies created by contemporary art, the method allows him to engage in ongoing strikes against mechanisms of the exhibition as well as of his own working process.

In “You Can’t See Me You Can’t See Me,” his 2012 solo exhibition at Beijing Commune, Zhao Yao was extreme, nearly exactly copying his 2011 “I Am Your Night.” Some of the same works were made with different material, or with enlarged mass or geometric proportions, while others were borrowed from collectors who had already purchased them, for the purpose of re-exhibition. The show even opened on the same day, one year later. The result of the 2012 exhibition made Zhao aware of the fact that even when an artist does nothing, the audience is still able to enjoy the same thrill that would come with seeing an entirely new exhibition. Worth noting is that Zhao still identifies himself as a member of the media. He is therefore both a creator for and a professional member of the contemporary art audience, and uses his own exhibitions to test out the significance and efficacy of exhibitions themselves, the traditional relationship between artist and audience—formed as it is by the same one-time-only exhibition dynamic. This way of thinking is also extended to his latest solo exhibition, “Spirit Above All.”

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Zhao Yao Spirit Above All at Pace London/中文

Chinese artist tells Phaidon about 200 mile journey to Tibet to have new paintings blessed by living Buddha

We were reflecting on Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher’s views on Chinese art as we took in a show that opened at Pace London yesterday. The works by Beijing-based artist Zhao Yao in his exhibition Spirit Above All are a prime example of Glimcher’s assertion of the importance of the narrative in Chinese art right now. We’ll recap briefly in case you missed it first time round.

“There’s an urgency there that does not exist here (in the west). The Cultural Revolution destroyed the entire history of China for a generation. So you’re dealing with the oldest country in the world and the newest country in the world and that schism between who they were and who they are and what is happening in China – that’s the narrative.”

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Zhao Yao: Spirit Above All/中文

2013.05.16 Thu, by Christopher Moore Translated by: 梁舒涵

Spirit Above All,” Zhao Yao solo exhibition

Pace Gallery (6-10 Lexington Street London, UK)Feb 12 – Mar 16, 2013

Painting is difficult and is getting more difficult. Most of the most interesting and provocative art of recent decades has not involved paint at all. Challenged first by photography and then by the rise of conceptual art in all its forms, including performance, the potential for painting, perhaps the most ancient art form, to contribute to new thinking now seems exhausted, condemned to be a talent of social instruction, an middle-class pedagogic discipline, like piano playing or sonnet composition, redundant and effete.

And yet its power to hold our gaze remains compelling. So what are we to do? How we expand its definitions now, our understanding of its conceptual registers, historically and as physical action, must be approached in unexpected ways. Its basic definition of the application of pigment to a surface must be challenged. Painting may even become a practice that may not involve anything we traditionally understand as paint at all (look, for instance, at the work of Katharina Grosse, Ann Veronica Janssens or Wolfgang Laib) Details »


Post in: Reviews | October 18 , 2012 | Tag in: LEAP 16 | Reviews Date: 2012.06.12-2012.08.12 | Reviews Venues: Beijing Commune

Zhao Yao’s latest solo exhibition, “You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me,” is an almost total replication of last year’s “I Am Your Night.” It would be easy to take this exhibition as one-time-only event, a disposable strategy; such an opinion would not be baseless. “You Can’t See Me” is a direct attack on the exhibition system and contemporary art production. It is not particularly fresh, nor is it difficult to comprehend. Its effectiveness is closely related to the present environment. The exhibition can be seen as an active response to the sluggish, pressurized status quo, pronouncing a warning without breaking the rules. Zhao puts a variety of questions on the table, from the issue of newness in contemporary art to the significance of duplication, serving as starting points for deeper discussions. Upon closer inspection, Zhao’s courage lies not in his grievances with the exhibition mechanism, or in the risk of raising doubts and conspiracy theories—well-trained audiences are unlikely to be moved, and anyway, perceptible, surface-level “newness” is not a necessary condition of contemporary art discussions—but in the bold, inward-looking move of putting himself on a point of no return: where can one go from there? This easy escape serves as the starting point for a more challenging artistic journey.

View of “You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me,” 2012 Beijing Commune

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A Painting of Thought I - 171

A Painting of Thought I -171
acrylic on found fabric
148 x 130 cm

A Painting of Thought series/很有想法的绘画

2011 – ongoing

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Zhao Yao:Spirit Above All/精神高于一切

Feb 12, 2013 – Mar 16, 2013

6-10 Lexington Street, London, W1F 0LB

12 February – 16 March 2013

Opening: Monday, 11 February 2013, 6 – 8 p.m.

Pace London is pleased to present Spirit Above All, the first solo exhibition in the UK by the conceptual Chinese artist Zhao Yao. Spirit Above All will be on view at 6-10 Lexington Street from 12 February to 16 March 2013. The exhibition is a collaborative project between Pace London and Beijing Commune. Spirit Above All features seven new works created by Zhao Yao in 2012 and marks the first time that he has contextualised his paintings with photographic backdrops in a gallery. The exhibition features abstract geometric compositions painted in black, white, and grey on pieces of denim, a material that is recognised for its durability. Once completed, the artist brought the artworks to Tibet to be blessed by a “Living Buddha”, a reincarnation of a previous Buddha according to the Buddhist religious doctrine. Zhao Yao documented this process through photographs of the Tibetan landscape, which not only provide backdrops in the gallery but will also be presented in albums for visitors to look at while seated on the straw mats that form part of the installation.

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Zhao Yao: You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me /赵要:你看不见我,你看不见我

June 12 – August 20, 2012 | Beijing Commune, Beijing, China

“You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me” is a continuation of Zhao Yao’s solo exhibition from 2011, which opened on the same day in the same month this year. The paintings and installations showcased are reflections of time and space through a déjà-vu-esque approach re-examining the validity and meaning of an exhibition. This show features reproductions, enlargements, and scaled-down versions of works from the previous year. In addition, few pieces from the prior show are borrowed back from collectors to be included in the 2012 show. Zhao deliberately intertwines the relationship and roles of artists, viewers, gallerist, and collectors by presenting these works
together in this show.

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You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me

Zhao Yao 2012 June 12 – 2012 August 12

The “Ah” (ha) Moment

by Edward Sanderson


Zhao Yao,You Can’t See Me You Cant See Me Exhibition View; Courtesy of the artist and Beijing Commune

Last year’s solo show of the work of Zhao Yao, his first with Beijing Commune, left me with a less than positive feeling. To then have that (rather strong) feeling overturned by this new presentation of what is ostensibly the same work is surprising.

The development of Zhao’s two solo shows with Beijing Commune are important starting points for an analysis of this change of heart. In 2011 Zhao’s first solo show, entitled I Am Your Night, collected together a set of works that I disliked for being overly derivative of current stylistic clichés in internationalised contemporary art. Their aggressive shapes, mannerist constructions, and vibrant colours all seemed to smack of a style seen too often elsewhere in the world and possibly revealing a symptom of a globalisation of artworks. One nice touch however were the strings of the Chinese character 啊 (an “ah” of various kinds of interjection) in long, pulsing lines around the room, following the walls and floors to provide a physical thread holding the other objects together.

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“You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me” 

If, as Wallace Stevens once remarked, “Sight is a museum of things seen”, then Zhao Yao bore this out with his most recent show.

Heaving open Beijing Commune’s metal door and stepping into the light, one paused in one’s tracks, surveying a scene which seemed strangely familiar. Densely spiked silhouettes, a coiled figure, fabric paintings and bent sculptural lines for an instant entertained one’s glance before memory intervened – puncturing the expectation of a brand new exhibition. Gradually, and with a mixture of discomfort and intrigue, it became clear that this was the sight of things already seen.

For “You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me” Zhao has effectively restaged “I Am Your Night”, his first solo outing of last year. Some works were simply shown again or recalled from collectors; others, such as the clicking TV sets on the floor (“You Can’t See Me No.2”, 2012) which now numbered not two, but three, were multiplied or compressed; where last year there had been a blue human figure in a fencing mask, this time one appeared in white. The two exhibitions opened on exactly the same day, 12th June, one year apart.

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The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art opens its 2013 program with ON | OFF: China’s Young Artists in Concept and Practice. This groundbreaking exhibition, which will occupy all UCCA exhibition spaces, marks the most comprehensive survey to date of the generation of artists born after the death of Mao and the end of the Cultural Revolution, and at the dawn of the country’s era of opening and reform. Unparalleled in scope and unprecedented in concept, ON | OFF will feature 50 commissioned works by 50 artists and artist groups.

Curated by Bao Dong and Sun Dongdong, ON | OFF is an effort to effectively document a new generation of Chinese artists born after 1975 who have “grown up in a society and culture beset by binaries, constantly toggling between extremes.” The title ON | OFF, which comes from the graphical interface of a common VPN (virtual private network) software used to scale China’s Internet firewall, represents this binary condition at its simplest and most direct. Details »

Don’t trust me: Zhao Yao

Time Out finds an artist who asks as many questions as he answers
First published on 12 Jun 2012. Updated on 21 Jun 2012.

You Can’t See Me, You Can’t See Me is on at the Beijing Commune from June 12 until August 12Back in 2008, when firereworks rained down upon the Beijing Olympics and affirmed China’s status as a rising global power, Zhao Yao produced the video piece ‘I Love Beijing 999’. Made from more than 30,000 still photographs, each featured the Beijing cityscape with the sun at its centre.‘I didn’t have much to do at the time, so I spent around 200 days hopping onto buses,’ recalls Zhao. ‘I must have criss-crossed the city on nearly every bus route in Beijing.’ The images were all taken from bus windows, and are a journey through the city in space and time, taking viewers through the deep, dry winter with its pale, hard-blue skies and faraway sun to the melting summer of the capital’s Olympic heyday.That work’s beauty and symmetry stands in stark contrast to the pieces now littering his studio. Made from flat wooden boards slotted together like paper cut-outs, crooked paint-sculptures – covered in gunk-like masses of acrylic, wire and other materials – lie among keyless keyboards, an electric saw, assorted spray cans and other evidence of Zhao’s recent endeavours. In places, edges of the sculptures are cut into a close pattern of spikes, reminiscent of a digital sound wave.

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October 12 , 2011 | Tag in: LEAP 10 | Reviews Date: 2011.06.12-2011.07.31 | Reviews Venues: Beijing Commune

The phrase “I am your night” could essentially be interpreted as a blunt statement aimed at the audience, and especially at the artists, or socalled experts, who showed up to Zhao Yao’s latest solo show. And if this audience adopt this rather poetic phrase for their own rhetorical needs—by turning it into one of those stock phrases used when responding to an exhibition—then they’ve unfortunately missed the joke. For in comparison to the work featured in the exhibition, the title seems to be reserved for those in the know.

I first encountered Zhao Yao’s work at his solo exhibition in the 51m2 series at Taikang Space in 2010. This time, at Beijing Commune, Zhao’s intention seems to be to push his practice even further towards its fundamental purpose. At last year’s solo show, he used a pencil to meticulously color in the banknotes of various nations, leaving only the smiling face of their leaders. Although not a particularly refreshing idea, this piece did succeed in raising a smile in those who shared with the artist an appreciation for simple logic and subtle transmutation. However, it could very well be this empathic event that engendered greater suspicion among the audience present this time around.
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I Love Beijing 999/我爱北京 999

November 2008 – December 2009Single channel video

“This is a long-term project full of fun. Starting from the winter of 2008, I went out almost everyday when the sun was out. What I did is to ride in a bus for its whole trip and take snapshots of the sun, placing it right in the center of the frame. After taking hundreds of sun pictures, I displayed them in the speed of 9 frames per second. What you see is me passively chasing the sun. The sun that’s always in the center of the image echoed with the capital city—the sun in Chinese people’s mind. The whole project was completed in November 2009, by then I had gone through nine-hundred and ninety-nine bus lines in Beijing.”

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Zhao Yao: I am Your Night赵要:我是你的黑夜

June 12 – August 20, 2011 | Beijing Commune, Beijing, China

Beijing Commune is pleased to announce the opening of Zhao Yao’s solo exhibition “I Am Your Night” on June 12, 2011. The show will last until July 31, 2011. The first solo exhibition of Zhao Yao at Beijing Commune, the artist is showing a series of installations and paintings lately produced.

This exhibition differentiates itself from today’s common idea about the exhibition system. Taking the viewers response as a part of his strategy, the artist explores into the forming and communicating of a concept in a seemingly ridiculous way. It can be regarded as a question or the starter of a discussion: in an exhibition system composed of a series of established concepts, does “interpretation” serve, in fact, as an access to the information or the barrier? Details »

I am your Night

Zhao Yao

2011 June 12 – 2011 August 29

Glad Gazing at the Commune

by Iona Whittaker

Zhao Yao was amongst the emerging artists featured in Taikang Space’s “51m2” series  that stretched from early 2009 to the beginning of this year; one suspects he will not be the only one to have a solo exhibition this or next year partly as a result. The pieces that occupied a single room at Taikang – the graphite-obscured bank notes, coins rubbed smooth, a chat-room-charted version of Beijing time, a long length of material inscribed with a series of numbers – do not reappear here. What does reappear is a strange sculpture effectively composed of a dark green line — with a black sludgy substance sticking to its length in places – that is bent and curved into a strange 3-D form; big but weightless, twisted and somewhat dark but somehow dynamic, not ugly. Attendant to this odd conceptual beast is a Chinese character pasted in a line along the floor and round the walls at floor level, swelling big and small in a wavelike fashion, the sound of which when read aloud is an endless “aaaa.”  It is at first a perplexing and fun discovery to make. Details »




将之前一年的展览(几乎)原样复制,使得“你看不见我,你看不见我”可以称得上是一场“虚拟”(simulated)的展览,或至少是艺术家针对当代艺术的现实展开的一场虚拟的批判游戏。重现一场展览,或者让“旧”展览复活,在此的意义是在亵渎的意义上对于消费性展示方案的一次嬉仿。“虚拟”首先在“错时”(anachronism)的名目下展开:如果说当代艺术的生产以“新”作为其自我周转的命脉,力求持续创造“当代性”的价值与诉求,那么赵要力图批判的恰是这种关于“新”的时间意识形态。“错时”意味着在展厅中“过去”被再次遣返,而当下则在这种闪回(flash-back)中趋于消解——不同时段的重叠、纠缠使得过去与现在变得同步与共时化,不可分辨且相互让渡。而正是在这个过程中,展示的时间生产体制被打破,“不合时宜”导致了真正的时间差异的现身:在这种虚拟的时间粘连中,赵要以强硬的姿态获取了一种独立的时间体验,一种可以不断重新开始的姿态,一种对于历史再建构的权力。 Details »