註一 關於班雅明在〈歷史哲學史綱〉中論及此幅作品的原文段落譯文：「保羅‧克利的《新天使》畫中，一個天使看來正要從他入神地注目的事物旁離去。他凝視著前方，他的嘴微張，他的翅膀展開了。人們就是這樣描繪歷史天使的。他的臉朝著過去。在我們認為是一連串事件的地方，他看到的是一場單一的災難。這場災難堆積屍骸，將它們拋棄在他的面前。天使想停下來喚醒死者，把破碎的世界修補完整。可是從天堂吹來了一陣風暴，他猛烈地吹擊著天使的翅膀，以致他再也無法把它們收攏。這風暴無可抗拒地把天使刮向他背對著的未來，而他面前的殘垣斷壁卻越堆越高直逼天際。這場風暴就是我們所稱的進步。」Benjamin, Walter.”Theses on the Philosophy of History”, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, New York: Schocken Books, 1969: 249.
As resisting accepted history and reinventing identity have become such a common social practice for our generation, we cannot help reflecting on how much desire, meaning and affection have been projected onto history, a subtext that runs through art production today. The exhibition Portrait Portrait creates an imaginary machine to explore the complex interactions between individuals, collectives and institutions in relation to the figuration of histories. Paradoxically, it both examines our desire for not being dispossessed in the process, and asks how we can act to construct different relations with it. Why do we, as individuals, aspire to transform history when what manifests as more than the totality of archival material, narration and memory that one could ever fully access is so often deployed as an institutional tool by the ruling class? This project does not illustrate direct answers to this question, nor does it seek to provide any better version of history, or suggest what bad history might be. Instead it asks if we can grow a radically new conception that follows Walter Benjamin’s reading on Klee’s Angelus Novus, and see the storm, the violence, the progress and the paradise differently. And if we can, where will such new perceptions lead?
Our motivation began from a curiosity in re-identifying the primal scenes of the birth/burst of local contemporary aesthetics as a way to understand the writing of the art history outside of current empirical or post-colonial readings. To achieve this quest, we created our own methodologies to conduct our research, namely “bio archive”, “group portrait” and “imaginary institution”. Each was intended to capture some essences of history’s figuration. We employed “bio archive” to collect biographical and professional data, and record labor conditions, personal memories and so on. “Group portrait” inquired into the formation of collectives, communities or ideologies. “Imaginary institution” sought to depict invisible force or to replace the existing power construction in the social context. Working within these research frameworks, we discovered a generative space among the continuous reassembling of methods and materials. There lies an authenticity to each alternate composition or assemblage. It inspired us to perform this discursive space as an exhibition that reflects the subject and methodologies of our research in both its form and its content.
Portrait Portrait is a conceptual installation in nine progressive scenarios that present the work of fifteen artists in different configurations that unfold over time. Taking the chaotic motion of a double pendulum as its metaphor, it traces the interrelated movements of narrative and history. Through building this dialectical system, in order to engineer alternative domains of conversation, the exhibition exposes invisible relations and movements. The boundaries between condition and situation are dissolved to generate uncertain dynamics among the exhibits. As an imaginary machine, Portrait Portrait is an apparatus that relentlessly reproduces images from the past to expose contemporaneity’s reliance on historicity in flashback. It is a machine that travels stories relentlessly.
It is this relentlessness, perhaps, that is the key to understand the weight of time, our present condition, our relations with the past and with this exhibition. Henceforth, you are invited to visit the imagery worlds of the nine scenarios more than once, where artworks speak and engage with the power invested in memory and historical materials. The works may lure you in with the smell of the street vendor next to your childhood home; a song your parents sang as teens; the image your grandma used to project her fantasies onto as she grew up with; or the movies you watched together with your childhood friend. However, this is intended to be neither nostalgic nor melancholic. The artistic appropriation of these everyday experiences suggests new possibilities for the production of history apart from such affective associations.
If fact, as a machine to parse and re-conceptualize history, Portrait Portrait intends to operate at a distance from human agency and experience in order to pay attention to both the exhibits as aesthetic events, and their reference points as historical evidence. Just as history cannot be fully grasped, Portrait Portrait functions neither as a collage of references, as documentation, nor as a representation of past events. Quite in opposition to the classical white cube, it refuses to be a neutral space, but embraces subjective readings. In its metaphorical movements, the exhibition illuminates how these seemingly separated aesthetic events can keep producing new meanings and act as carriers for one another. That is to say that its various articulations amplify the dialogue between its component parts. In this way it aims to expand the aesthetic domain to acknowledge art as conceptual objects, while simultaneously seeing them as a cultural currency where their interplay allows for further generative production. They do not stand only to be gazed upon, and their modes of being should not be simply consumed, but actively engaged with.
Through this Portrait Portrait suggests that the real challenge in facing history is not how we come to re-engage it, interpret it, or rewrite it, but how we comprehend its dimensions, principles, patterns, even its movements. Extracting knowledge and deeper perceptions from the chaos is an exhausting labor. But we would dare to believe that such a composition can be a gesture to bring both yesterday and tomorrow together, revealing the power of fiction and the path to imagination as a method for constituting the present.
 The original quote from Walter Benjamin on the painting: “A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.” Benjamin, Walter. “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, New York: Schocken Books, 1969: p249.
 The Chinese title 肖像擺 directly translates as “Portrait of a Pendulum” implying an “image in motion”.