Layman poetry

Reading "Blood Sacrifice" by Layman

Reading “Blood Sacrifice” by Layman

 

This summer I spent some time with an interesting writer. His name is Leiman (“Layman” in English), a highly successful entrepreneur, business executive, engineer, inventor–the list of occupational identity labels could go on. Most recently, though, which is to say since he turned the age of 60 five years ago, he focused in making a name as a poet.

In early September Leiren was in town for the Boao Forum, an annual event usually held in Hainan but this year taking place in Seattle. Leiren was one of the attendees, and the list of speakers is certainly an impressive bunch (Governor to Bill Gates himself). Leiren’s contribution, meanwhile, is the following poem. We read the poem the poem, along with some others later in the week at the Art Rhythm art exhibition held at the Ryan James Gallery where the photograph above was taken.

 

 

 

Blood Sacrifice for Humanity

——To The Boao Forum for Asia Seattle, 2014

人类文明血祭——诗致2014博鳌亚洲论坛

 

Yiou-Yiou-

悠悠

Humanity!

人类

Yiou-Yiou-

悠悠

Vicissitudes

万年

Woohoo — humanity

呜呼,人类

Woohoo —  Alas!

呜呼,哀哉

 

All war

所有的战争

Is

都是

The war of rulers

统治者的战争

All defeat

所有的亡国

Is

都是

the defeat of rulers

统治者的亡国

All independence

所有的独立

Is

都是

A ruler’s independence

统治者的独立

 

Whether

无论是

For conquest

为了拓疆

Or

还是

Defense

为了守土

Whether for

无论是

New doctrine

新教

Or

还是

Old doctrine

老教

 

People

平民

Everywhere

在哪儿

Are all

都是

Heads lowered

低着头

and bent at the waist

弯着腰

 

*****

 

Still water makes no current

水平不流

War after punitive war

征战不止

 

The strong win; the weak die

优胜劣汰

Dynasties come and go

改朝换代

 

Humanity

Lacking leadership

无头

Goes nowhere.

不走!

 

Birds

Lacking a leader

无头

Don’t fly!

不飞!

 

Civilizations

文明

Start naked

从赤裸

Sprout leaves, then

到树叶,再

Come the robes

到长袍

And then, after robes

再,从长袍

Comes BIKINI; and then

到三点式,再

Naked again

到赤裸

 

From

Knives and spears

大刀长矛

To

Guns and A-bombs

枪炮核弹

 

From

Cold weapons to

冷兵器到热兵器

Hot weapons

再从

And from

热战

Hot wars to

Cold wars

冷战

 

And now

而现在

Still hot and

依然热

Still cold

依然冷

 

Civilization

文明

Blood-stained through

一路血迹斑斑

Civilization

文明

All swaggering braggart

一路狰狞招摇

 

Wherefore civilization?

何以文明?

Civilization wherefore?

文明何以?

 

Boundless, the sea of bitterness

苦海无边

But the shore is there, if you look back

回头是岸

 

Human beings

人类

Are no more than

不过是

The ink

书写人类文明史的

Of human history

墨汁

 

Civilizations

文明

Are no more than

不过是

The last breath

人类和人类史的

Of the humans

延喘

And their history

 

Between

The cracks of thunder and lightning

雷电交加的缝隙里

Light all-encompassing

普世的阳光

Manages

得以

To emerge

泄下

 

Bronze is cast into cauldrons

青铜铸鼎

Iron, crafted into cannon

铁器造炮

 

Steam

蒸汽蒸开一个活塞的时代

Steams up an age of pistons

电火花

Sparks electric

点燃了

Have ignited

国界

The borders of nations

 

The PC

PC

Makes the Earth

让地球

Flat

扁平

 

*****

 

Human civilization

人类文明

Is a strongbox

是一个保险柜

Opened

For the first Time

华盛顿

By

第一个

Washington

打开

 

Ever since

从此

The Sun

太阳

Is Apollo no more

不再是太阳神

The Sun

太阳

Is becoming

成了

Sunlight’s tool

阳光的工具

 

Two centuries since

200年之后

One and all

一股脑儿

Out comes

走出来

Mahatma Gandhi

圣雄甘地

Out comes

走出来

Chiang Ching-kuo

蒋经国

Out comes

走出来

Mandela

曼德拉

Out comes

走出来

Gorbachev

戈尔巴乔夫

There’s also

还有

The King of Bhutan

不丹的国王

Who will be the next?

下一个是谁?

 

Community

根申国

Is

是一个

A chorus

大合唱

Who will be

下一个

The

大合唱

Next

Chorus?

谁?

 

*****

 

Science is a treasure-trove

科学的宝藏里

Of inexhaustible treasures

有取之不尽的宝藏

 

Air

空气

Can become grain

可以变成粮食

Sea water

海水

Can become oil

可以变成油

 

You, Sir

只要

Need only

Agree

To bend a bit

弯一弯腰

Need only

只要

Sir

Agree

To think a bit

用一用脑

Why is it

为什么

Some people

有的人

Always

总是

Whet their knives

磨刀霍霍

Gazing

盯着

At other people’s cake?

别人盘子里的蛋糕?!

 

Stop the blood stench of five millennia

不要再用5000年的血腥

From expanding our desires.

鼓胀我们的欲望

 

We have to use the bloody spots

我们要用斑斑的血斑

To shine

擦亮

Our

我们

Truly-civilized eyes

真正文明的眼睛

To be a World Citizen

做世界人民

 

 

 

 

雷人  作/译written and translated by Layman Lei

revised by Paul Manfredi

Zhong Biao short introduction

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Here’s a recent version of Zhong’s short bio. Paragraph one, of course, not a problem. The second is another story. Any comments on translation welcome.

钟飙简介

钟飙,1968年11月11日生于重庆,1991年毕业于浙江美术学院(现中国美术学院)油画系。四川美术学院副教授,硕士研究生导师,中国美术家协会会员。现居北京。

钟飙试图透过现实深处潜行的力量,来对历史与未来展开双向追问,并运用创新的美学语言,把现实世界的人生观与能量世界的宇宙观结合起来,在多维时空中建构现世的理想国。其视点与时俱进,视野与趋势同行。二十多年来,钟飙创造出一个个极具想象力的画面和艺术现场,业已成为中国文化新的视觉记忆。

 

A Brief Introduction to Zhong Biao

 

Born in Chongqing on November 11, 1968, Zhong Biao graduated in 1991 from the Oil Painting Department of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art). He is an associate professor and master’s advisor at Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, and a member of the China Artists Association. He lives in Beijing.

Zhong Biao uses latent energies buried in the deepest recesses of the phenomenal world to open careful examination that travels unfettered  between future and past. With a new aesthetic language, he finds an accord among the disparate energies of the quotidian and the universal, building from them an ideal nation amidst multi-dimensional spaces. His perspectives have advanced with time, while his vision moves in concert with changing trends. For twenty years and more Zhong has created countless individual paintings and art happenings that have collectively situated his work as its own site for the visual production of contemporary Chinese cultural memory.

Visual Poets Series, Episode 2: Xu Demin 许德民

Here is the second installment of my Visual Poets series. This one features the work of abstract painter and poet Xu Demin. In fact, Xu is one of the leading figures in both creating and theorizing abstract expression in contemporary China. His studio (formerly the Jiaodu Gallery 角度画廊) in Shanghai is a locus for such activities, but so are his courses at Fudan University, where he teaches history and practice of abstract art and poetry. The latter of these media, of course, the more extraordinary. The poem in this video is a good example of his abstract writing, and presented such translation challenges that I included Chinese characters as well. Feedback, as always, most welcome:

 

 

 

 

 

Visual Poets Series: Episode 1 Ouyang Jianghe

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Here is the first episode of the Visual Poets series. This episode features the reading of an excerpt of Phoenix by Ouyang Jianghe. The poem was inspired by a sculptural work of the same title by Xu Bing. Xu Bing’s sculpture, actually two sculptures–a male “feng” 鳳 and female “huang” 凰– is comprised almost entirely of objects found on worksites in Beijing. Phoenix, created between 2008 and 2010, has been on view in both the US (Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, MA) and China (Today Art Museum).

Ouyang’s poem was also a two-year project, extending between 2010 when he saw Xu’s sculpture in New York, and 2012, when the work of 19 stanzas was finally published. At roughly 400 lines, the poem was first published in 2012 by Oxford (Hong Kong), and then re-published by Chinacitic Press this past July. The recording of the poem in the video took place on July 5, at the Central Academy for Fine Arts in Beijing where Chinacitic was promoting Ouyang’s book, along with two others (a new work of fiction by Liu He and an edited volume of poems for children by Bei Da0).  Xu Bing was also present at the event.

 

 

Ouyang_Manfredi

Yan Li “killing haze”

 

 

I’m fortunate enough to be curating an exhibition coming up next month at the Ryan James gallery. More on that project in the coming weeks.

Part of the display will be six new works by Yan Li. One of these is his seal script performance of the following poem:

 

一觉醒来

发现这个早晨比平时美好

还发现手上有血迹

这才想起来

昨晚我杀掉了一群雾霾

 

2014.

 

The moment I awake

I discover this morning

Is more beautiful than ever

I also discover

My hands have blood marks

Then I remember

Last night I killed a patch of haze

 

2014.

 

 

Poem and calligraphy by Yan Li

Poem and calligraphy by Yan Li

 

Zhong Biao Updates

Zhong Biao, Abstract Work on paper, June 2014

Visiting with Zhong Biao at his studio in Beijing this month, and taking a brief look at the few pieces not yet sent off to Montenegro for his “Blown Over” exhibition. I discovered in Zhong’s work, there’s nothing new, but everything’s changed.

Actually, I started looking at new work waiting (endlessly, as it is these days in Beijing) for a cab on the street. At first glance I thought I saw the familiar figures–detailed, hyperreal, uncannily chosen and exquisitely placed into a bed of abstract swirling ethers. It was not until I arrived at the studio and looked more carefully at the paintings that I discovered that there are no figures in these actually entirely abstract works. Below two examples:

 

 

Zhong Biao New Works

 

 

Zhong Biao, Abstract Work on paper, June 2014

Zhong Biao, Abstract Work on paper, June 2014

 

He’s currently working on these on paper and ink (among other materials), but plans to return to canvas as he expands. He’s also begun experimenting with actual photographic fragments printed onto canvas, something that his earlier work suggested, but was not technically possible. Looking forward to the results of that experiment.

Coming up for Zhong is a exhibition in January at Pompidou in Paris, followed by one in spring (date not yet set) in Chengdu. Below a few photos of Zhong, Acang (faithful painting assistant) and Mantou, the dog;

 

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Mr Wu (faithful manager, framer, occasional cook, all-around helping hand), working on some serious kabob in Blackbridge-area repurposed factory-cum- restaurant. We know Blackbridge is coming into its how when they start serving food like this!

 

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Also, a nice series of images from Blown Over opening, courtesy of :

 

MONTENEGROCLICK

 

Visiting Lo Ch’ing (羅青)

 

Recently visiting with poet-artist Lo Ch’ing in his Shanghai studio where he kindly gave me one of his paintings (“manyuan” 满园), a full garden, on occasion of the publication of my book.

LoChingManYuan1 LoChingManYuan2

Lo was just back from attending events in conjunction his “In Conversation with the Masters” exhibition at Masterpiece in London. Below are remarks on his work by Michael Goedhuis:

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/95917539″>Lo Ch’ing at Michael Goedhuis</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/gallerylog”>GalleryLOG</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>