The Teddy Bear Projects

Ydessa Hendeles


當談及人類與萬事萬物的進化過程,總是逃不過分門別類的結論。己與彼之間的同與不同;從相同演化成不同;然後有黑、白、黃、他、牠與她的分別。但不細心著意看,他們可能都是同一樣。策展人兼藝術家Ydessa Hendeles的〈Partners: The Teddy Bear Project〉將泰迪熊化身成個人種族崇拜的圖騰。她從1999至2001年間,在拍賣網上找來各種的家庭舊照,照片中有一共通點:泰迪熊。




When it comes to the evolution of human beings and other things on earth, one cannot avoid classification in the conclusion. The similarities and differences between your own self and others. Sameness evolves into differences. Then there are distinctions between black, white, yellow, he, she and it. Without examining closely and attentively, they might all look the same. In her work titled Partners: The Teddy Bear Project, curator and artist Ydessa Hendeles transformed teddy bear into a totem for worship by individuals and peoples. Between 1999 and 2001, she collected a variety of family photos from auction websites which share one thing in common: teddy bear.

Hendeles classified the photos based on their themes, backgrounds, poses and regions before putting them inside totally identical photo frames. The Teddy Bear Project was exhibited in various arts museums, where she hung photographs of almost the same size along with description on all four walls of the exhibition room, covering all space. At the center of the room, a teddy bear was exhibited inside a glass box commonly found in natural science museums for displaying specimen. The setting resembles that of an exhibition about natural science and evolution of living things, and teddy bear is like an ultimate totem. For a long time, teddy bear itself has been collected and fantasized by children and adults alike. Without taking a closer look, one can easily miss this “totem” inside the photos mounted on the wall. Among them, some are rather bizarre, unlike regular family photos, such as those featuring a child taking a photo for a teddy bear, as well as teddy bears with soldiers, with a female basketball team in the early 20th century and with naked women. These photographs on four sides, which look identical from afar but up close reveal teddy bears in different situations, are fake. The consistent totem was added by Hendeles using computer technology.

The whole project is like a scam, in which Hendeles presented the photos and teddy bears in the form of natural science, bearing resemblance to the history of human evolution. This episode of evolution history uses teddy bears as the totem. Most ideally, everything seen as the same or different will be diminished to a point beyond recognition. However, all such things like teddy bear are the illusion of materialization, and they are all unreal. We are all different, and we cannot forcefully turn differences into similarities. This notion is no more than a fantasy. The ideal thing is to tolerate differences within the framework of consensus.