⟨ Art ⟩

The Teddy Bear Projects

Ydessa Hendeles

Words / Vennes Cheng
Translation / Ian Tsang

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。

Hendeles將照片以主題、背景、拍攝姿勢、地區等分類,然後把照片鑲在一模一樣的相框中。泰迪熊計劃曾在不同的美術館展出,她把展覽室的每面牆都掛滿大小相約的照片並附上照片文字資料,場地中間以那種常見於自然科學博物館,以展視標本的玻璃箱來展視泰迪熊,佈局像是在自然科學、生物演化的展覽,泰迪熊像是演化終極的圖騰,而熊本身早已經是成人小孩們的收藏對象或幻想。但若不細心觀察會忽略牆上的照片中也存在這個「圖騰」。當中有些主題帶點古怪,如軍人與泰迪熊、小孩為泰迪熊拍照、二十世紀初女子藍球隊與泰迪熊、裸女與泰迪熊等,不太像日常家庭照片。這四面遠看一樣的照片,近看有不同情景下的泰迪熊是偽造出來的,那種一致性的圖騰是Hendeles後來以電腦技術加進去。

整個計劃似是一個騙局,Hendeles將照片及泰迪熊以自然科學形式展視,彷如人類進化歷史。這場進化史以泰迪熊為圖騰,最理想的狀態是眾人看來相同,那些不同的都被縮細至難以辨認,但一切如泰迪熊般都是物化的幻像,都不真實。我們都不相同,也不能勉強不同的變成相同,那根本是一個幻想,理想是在一致中能夠包容不相同。

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.