交陪_4_2

時間───2015年8月16日
受訪人───陳伯義
參訪人───龔卓軍、羅文岑、王鼎元、林雅雯
地點───小卷合作社
整理───侯昱寬
翻譯───藍文婷

相機內的宗教活動

高中時我是天文社社長,為了做天文科學 紀錄開始攝影。當時不止社團時間,相機隨時都在我手中,而相片沖印店老闆想讓我多洗點照片,就會帶我到處去拍荷花、美少女等題材。但是我並不喜歡拍攝這類題材,所以他改帶我去拍攝廟會,這也是我第一次拍攝跟廟會有關的題材。記得有次他帶我去拍嘉義城隍遶境,那時我為了取個與別人完全不同的角度,就跑到城隍廟後方的高樓用一只望遠鏡頭拍攝,但因為器材不好,拍出來的照片我並不滿意,就沒有繼續拍攝廟會。之後拿著相機參與宗教活動就要等到大學攝影社的活動了。
輔仁大學攝影社最著名的活動就是每年參與大甲媽祖遶境的外拍。對我來說,當時參加遶境並非是為了信仰,而是基於知識青年接近大眾、進入田野的思維。在那次遶境中,我很少拍攝神像、媽祖轎等,反而多是拍攝扛媽祖轎的轎夫、隨香客,或媽祖經過村莊時一旁參拜的民眾。那時覺得所有參與的人都相信媽祖,大家彼此出錢出力一起執行共同的目標,突顯出人與人之間的信賴才是真正的信仰,而不是燒多少金紙、捐多少錢,或多少人跪在媽祖面前叫做信仰。走完大甲媽祖遶境行程的代價就是我期中考考得很慘,期末又拉不起來,就被輔仁大學退學了。被退學之後,我就來到成功大學,或許也是媽祖冥冥中希望我讀公立大學,替家裡省點錢。來到臺南看見臺南市區內古老的廟宇建築後,我覺得廟宇本身比廟會更吸引我。
因為我在考試這關摔了一跤,所以大一時都在唸書很少拍照,但還是會抽空騎著腳踏車晃遊臺南的古蹟。對照我成長的嘉義廟宇,雖然每間都標榜有一、兩百年歷史,但每間都被翻新過,可能建築本身才二十年而已,根本感受不到古樸的味道。所以來到臺南之後,我最喜歡的活動就是在午後時光,先叫杯紅茶、點個烤魷魚就坐在大天后宮的廟埕,在木板凳上悠閒地喝紅茶、吃魷魚,累了就靠著牆小憩一下。那時大天后宮的廟身沒什麼整修,廟裡沒有太多香客,臺南市區也沒那麼多觀光客,我很享受那種緩慢的步調,花一整個下午就坐在廟裡的板凳上看著人與廟之間的關係。
大學前幾年,我都在認識臺南廟宇和空間,這個興趣也改變了我觀看廟宇及對所在環境的思考。當時我最欣賞的藝術家就是郭英聲,也常跑「新生態藝術環境」,記得有次我就待在郭英聲所拍的一面突尼西亞的牆壁前,邊看邊傻笑地待了半個小時。那時的我追求著如同郭英聲鏡頭下那般既漂亮又有色彩的景觀,因此1993年海安路要拆之際,我感受不到城市更新所帶來的震撼,也沒想到要拍拆除中的民宅廢墟,時間就這樣過去了,海安路也整建完畢,現在想到沒早一點來記錄,還是會覺得遺憾。
1998年我帶著成大攝影社的人徒步跟隨大甲媽祖遶境,當時最大的目標就是想感受一下人與土地的關係。我們原本預計半夜十二點到南瑤宮,然後跟著媽祖的神轎一起走,但是不知道什麼原因,到達南瑤宮時已經是半夜兩點。南瑤宮沒有半個人,廟門也關起來了,我們邊想著是不是跑錯地方,邊在廟口拍照,直到有人告知我們說:「媽祖神轎現在已經走到北斗了,你們還不趕快去追!」我們一群人最後坐上凌晨五點的第一班省道公車往北斗方向前進。公車一路追著遶境隊伍,當我們在南靖下車時,媽祖神轎也剛好進到南靖,我們就開始跟著遶境隊伍拍照,隨著媽祖神轎從南靖到溪口繞了一圈,準備上西螺大橋。我們走到西螺大橋那邊剛好走完一天,也就結束了我第三次的媽祖遶境。那一次我對參加遶境的印象不太深刻,不像第一次跟著遶境時,觀察到許多人與人之間的親密、信賴感情;第二次我反而看到了很多商業元素滲入遶境的活動中,掩蓋了人與人之間的感情,而感覺有些哀傷。後來我在路上看到廟會就會停下來拍照,但並沒有規畫及組織要怎麼拍。
經過一年後,我認為若要對廟會有更深入的理解,應該要設定一些方法,譬如要如何把人與土地間的情感表現出來等。那時我覺得要有些目標,依循著這些目標才能堅定自我意志,所以1999年決定再去走一次大甲媽祖的遶境,這次我希望不僅僅是拍照,而是親身進到遶境的場景內體驗。我要從大甲媽祖起轎的那一刻開始,在不休息的狀況下,看自己能夠走到什麼時候。我要在體力跟精神完全透支的狀況下進行拍攝。我想體驗也考驗自己成為戰地攝影記者的感覺,考驗自己如何在身心俱疲的狀況下還能夠確保拍攝的工作。我把這件事當成攝影鍛鍊,當天背了個小背包就出發,從大甲鎮瀾宮開始,拜廟後就等著神轎隊伍啟程出發。一開始我走在神轎後方,但神轎走太慢了,就決定超越神轎的隊伍。我發現很多信眾也都走在神轎前方,大家一路上就是走路,沒有太多思考,持續地走在省道上。在某些路段甚至只有我一個人背著小背包,背包上插著媽祖進香的旗幟,行經廟時就拿廟的信物,綁在旗子上。我很身體式的去做這件事,其實跟信仰也沒什麼關係了。我純粹用身體去回應走路、進香、遶境,一路走到天快亮時已經從大甲走到清水。
到達清水時是凌晨四點,我身體已經受不了,雖然還有體力但非常想睡覺,其他信眾也說媽祖的神轎要等到早上七點左右才會到這裡,所以我決定在廟埕八角涼亭的石椅上休息一下。在睡夢中,我突然聽到鞭炮聲,被吵醒後,整個人從涼亭石椅上彈了起來,一眼就看到媽祖神轎進來,當時我完全傻住,心想怎麼會被媽祖追到?我急急忙忙吃了些東西,抓了瓶水、拿了兩顆菜包,趕緊繼續走。接下來我就一直保持在媽祖神轎前大概一、兩公里的位置,過了大肚溪之後就進到攝影師口耳相傳的攝影熱區:彰化的茄苳王。我記得輔大攝影社的學長有說,第一個熱區就是彰化的茄苳王,第二個熱區是彰化民生地下道。地下道是因為那邊搶轎搶成了風氣。媽祖鑾轎走時上方不能有遮蔽物,擔心會有不好的東西趁亂跑進來,所以一旦行經有遮蔽物的地點時就必須撒很多紙錢並且快速通過,在扛轎的人衝下地下道的那一刻開始,地下道兩旁會施放高空煙火,滿天的紙錢,讓人感覺那個現場就像被設定好的一個充滿張力的場景。
回到茄苳王,三月份茄苳王周邊都是剛新插好一片鮮綠的秧苗稻田,媽祖鑾轎與信眾一同穿越稻田。茄苳王是傳統三合院,村民們就在門口虔誠地祭拜,祈求媽祖保佑來年的平安,再再顯現了傳統農業社會與信仰之間緊密的連結。我走到茄苳王時,身體已經不行,雙腳也起了水泡,想著今天拍攝的戰場就是這裡了。拍攝前我先閉上眼睛思考一下之前走過、看過的畫面,以及要如何進行拍攝才能跳脫原本的窠臼。思考清楚後,我拿起相機開始拍攝。等我拍到媽祖鑾轎進到茄苳王時,剛好父親想知道我走到哪裡也開車來,而我這時也走不下去,爸爸就把我接回家了。那是我唯一一次參與大甲媽祖遶境時總共僅拍攝兩卷底片,但那兩卷底片開啟了一個可能性,讓我之後在處理宗教、廟會這議題時,保有自我的想像,觀念也隨之改變,廟會或宗教是作為提供我書寫的素材,我則變得比較像劇場導演,將現場扭轉成我自己內心的世界。

「不」傳統宗教攝影

之後我也陸續參與許多的宗教活動,我拍了臺南喜樹的王船,也拍了東港的王船等等。1999年年底的某天晚上,我跟學弟聊天時,我把之前媽祖遶境在茄苳王拍下的照片與東港王船的照片全攤開來,並談論著應該如何以新的想法拍攝臺灣廟宇時,學弟很不屑地說:「你現在講得一口好照片,但你沒辦法拍出好照片,所以不要說了,有辦法就辦個展來證明。」頓時讓我覺得有些思考出現了,但竟然覺得自己拍不出來。
在受到學弟的挑戰後,我開始瘋狂地拍,想把我的想法拍出來。當時我覺得廟會就是一場荒謬的大災難,是突顯人性詭異、扭曲的現場,而那詭異、扭曲的現場是由我去製造的。我從那時開始一直拍廟會,拍到在廟會現場遇到在追廟會科儀的人,後來都變成朋友,每次見面都會互相打招呼討論科儀。但那些人不知道我是去取材、去創作。我並不是要處理科儀、信仰,但他們還是接納我為同一群。在很多已經封鎖起來的廟會現場,他們會讓我進去,因為他們覺得我不僅是為了攝影而已。當我進去看科儀時,也更深切認為科儀可以用另一種方式表現,且能經由科儀本身去處理其他的議題。這部分我一直埋在心裡,直到2002年,我隱約發現過去想拍攝的個人觀點的廟會已經慢慢出現了其他可能性,雖然我還不確定如何處理,雖然僅有一隱約的影子,但我就是從那時候開始處理我所想像的宗教攝影。
即便到現在,宗教信仰與廟會一直都還是我創作中非常重要的脈絡。我在宗教信仰中拉出了幾條線,從2002年到2005年間的「神變」系列,包含著更早期的「黑色嘉年華」系列;2005年碰觸到當代攝影後,我進一步處理「神殿」系列,談論廟與環境的關係,我認為在臺灣社會裡,廟宇與環境的關係是很特別的,因為臺灣的空間使用上沒有分區,所以常常能看見廟蓋在奇怪的地方,這也表示臺灣人在生活困苦、土地利用困難的移民社會中,才會出現這種「拼貼」的狀態;第三個系列是「神隱」,在廟會進行時,某些時刻人會通通消失,當人都消失時,只剩下廟會形式的空殼,那時就產生非常奇怪的疏離感,我稱之為「神隱」,神把人通通隱除掉。那樣的廟會現場,如同僅存信仰的形式卻不具信仰的力量般,凸顯了人為操作下信仰的荒謬。所以我也確立了「神的三部曲」的創作:「神變」,人想變成神;「神殿」,信仰空間跟環境;「神隱」,宗教慶典裡資本所堆砌出來的虛像。
2012年的某天,倪祥找我參加在新浜碼頭的展覽「出神紀」,原本我預計展出作品「黑色嘉年華」,但到了展覽現場,作品佈置上去後,我開始覺得這作品與展覽調性不合,因為我在「神變」中處理的是劇場性的畫面,但倪祥策畫的「出神紀」是惡趣品味為基調,所以當下我把作品拿了回去,開始重新看我之前拍的其他照片。因為我在拍攝黑白照片時,同時也會準備一臺小相機拍彩色照片,那臺相機裡存著的通常是些廟會裡發現的搞笑場景。我從彩色照片中挑了大約十七、八張,貼在展場的牆上,我跟倪祥說這組作品叫做「NG廟會」。作品的內容包括轎班人員扛著媽祖像但穿著討債公司的制服、白袍女法師在寫有「救救外星人」祭臺上作法、 女乩童穿著白雪公主衣服手拿仙女棒指揮土地公和土地婆等。我發現很有意思的是,能透過廟會去看社會的現象,看信仰、作者自身的心理狀態等等。廟會的穿著也吸引我注意,我常在廟會現場觀察拜拜的人或參加宗教祭儀的人怎麼穿衣服,他們通常都穿很奇怪的衣服,例如有些歐巴桑可能會穿著卡通「冰雪奇緣」的衣服,手裡捧著一尊觀世音菩薩,那些畫面實在太有趣了,所以我也拍了一系列廟會中奇裝異服的人。也因為如此,我不喜歡穿制服的廟會隊伍,尤其臺南這幾年的廟會越看越不有趣,只剩鄉下地方的進香團才能看見那些有趣的事情。
「NG廟會」系列算是我處理宗教議題時所拉出的一條支線。兩、三年前我開始進行「食炮人」系列,因為我認為鹽水蜂炮中最厲害的不是蜂炮,而是去吃炮的那些人。這也促使我之後更進一步地去思考如何經由臉孔去傳達在廟會中的人的肖像,這件事也持續進行到龔卓軍後來提議的「友境的交陪」。當初聽到這個議題時,我有個隱約的影子,覺得做科儀的人其實有很多的材料能被當代藝術挪用。

乩童身影再現常民生活

當龔卓軍提到「友境的交陪」時,也同時重啟了我的一個思考,科儀的人與內容有沒有可能成為藝術創作的素材?之前我沒有能力處理,但我現在大概有些頭緒,其中就是延續乩童的內容,臺灣的廟宇都有各自的乩童,這個角色有點像是這村莊的心理醫生。在我一開始做「神變」時,是經由劇場方式來處理乩童在慶典中作為跟神溝通的角色,也就是「人想變成神」這件事情,拍攝時我也做了些初步的調查,知道這是哪個村莊、哪間廟的乩童。而這些乩童的照片與資訊,就變成我在下個階段的材料。
在村莊裡,東西不見了問乩童,婆媳不合也叫乩童處理,又或哪一戶家中有人長年生病,要請乩童調整一下家中擺設等等。乩童在臺灣鄉野中非常重要,如同社區警察、心理醫生,甚至是鄉公所所長的角色。所以現在我思考著如何能把現在的創作跟十五年前的「神變」做連結。
十五年過去了,當年的乩童已變成老乩童,當年的老乩童現在變成更老的乩童,他們身上累積了十五年,甚至超過十五年,在村莊內擺平的事情。藉由他們的口述歷史,就能連結到村莊當地人的故事,就成了能經由各種藝術形式呈現的劇本。
我希望經由這田調的過程來討論當地乩童的傳說故事。南鯤鯓代天府在廟宇彩繪中能畫上王建民的故事,那我為什麼不能做關於廟方乩童的磁磚壁畫?如果我將乩童曾經擺平的事製成磁磚壁畫,之後讓廟方直接鑲在廟的牆壁上,當地乩童的故事就能經由廟方的建築裝飾重新被大眾閱讀。另一方面,我也在思考能經由一群人去「王船」的所在地進行考古,包含使用燒王船現場的現成物來做作品。
我想,我所有的思考都是以攝影為中心,包含著廢墟、包含著宗教等。對我來說,攝影就是我如何用影像在思考,也是我所有的思考的全部。我之後的創作也會依循著影像,思考我未來的創作。


 

Photography is Everything to Me
───────── Po-i Chen

Time: August 16, 2015
Interviewee: Po-i Chen
Interviewers and Guests: Jow-jiun Gong, Mirr Lo, Ting-yuan Wang, Juliet Lin
Location: Ika Commons
Compiled by Yu-kuan Ho
Translated by Wen-ting Lan

Religious Events in the Frame

I was the leader of astronomy club in my high school, the reason I started to learn photography was to keep astronomical records and I had a camera not only during the club session but with me all the time. At that time the owner of a photo shop wanted me to make more photographs so he took me to photograph lotus and beautiful girls, but I was not too keen on these kinds of subjects, in consequence, he took me to photograph temple fairs. That is the first time I shoot about a temple. I still remember he took me to shoot Chiayi Cheng Huang pilgrimage, in order to get a picture from an angle totally different from others, I went to a tall building behind the temple and shoot with a telephoto lens, but the equipment I used at that time was not good enough and I was not happy with the result, so I did not continue to shoot more temple fairs. It was until I went to college and joined activities of the photography club that I started to shoot religious events again.
The photography club in Fu Jen Catholic University is known for shooting the yearly Tachia Matsu Pilgrimage. The reason I participated the pilgrimage was not for the religious purpose, but because I thought a young intellectual must be close to the public and do fieldwork. I rarely photographed god statues or the sedan chair. On the contrary, I shot lots of sedan bearers, pilgrims or worshipers when Matsu passed by their village. I thought everyone who participated in this event believed in Matsu; therefore, people contributed financially and physically to accomplish the very cause. It showed the trust between people, and that is the true value of a religion, instead of how much paper money have been burned, how much have been donated or how many people have knelt before Matsu. The price of participating in the pilgrimage was the brutal score of my midterm exam. To make the matter worse, my final exam was not good enough to raise the overall score, and as a result, I was expelled from Fu Jen Catholic University. Later, I went to National Cheng Kung University in Tainan. I think this may be Matsu’s will to let me study in a public university and save some money for my family. After I came to Tainan, I saw old temple structures in the city, and I understood a temple itself fascinated me more than temple fairs did.
I studied hard as a university freshman to warn myself not to be expelled again, so I seldom went shooting, but I still managed to find the time to ride a bike around the city to visit some historical sites. Compared to temples in Tainan, the temples in Chiayi, the city I grew up in, have a history as old as one or two hundred years, but each of them had been renovated and their structures may be only twenty years old. I cannot feel the primitive simplicity at all. My favorite activity in Tainan was fooling around in the afternoon, I would order a cup of black tea and a baked squid, sitting on the square of Tainan Grand Matsu Temple and enjoying my food on a bench, being relaxed or taking a nap against the wall when tired. At that time, the Grand Matsu Temple had not been renovated too much, there were also not many worshipers nor tourists. I enjoyed much of this kind of slow pace, spending the whole afternoon to sit on a bench in the temple watching how people interact with the temple.
In the first years of my university, I was trying to know temples and spaces in Tainan. This also changed the idea I had toward the temples and environments surrounding them. The artist I admired the most at that time was Ying-sheng Quo. Therefore, I visited “New Phase Art Space” very often. I remember one time I stood in front of a picture of a Tunisian wall taken by Ying-sheng Quo. I looked at it with smiles for half an hour. At the time I was seeking a scene as colorful and beautiful as those in Ying-sheng Quo’s pictures. In consequence, when Haian road was torn down in 1993, I could not feel the impact of the urban renewal nor did I think of shooting the ruins of houses, and as time went by, the Haian road project was finished, and I am regretful for not having all of it documented when I had the chance.
In 1998, I led Chen Kong University Photography Club to follow the Tachia Matsu pilgrimage on foot; our goal was to feel the relationship between people and the land. We were supposed to arrive Nanyiao temple at midnight to follow the sedan chair of the deity, but for some reasons, it was already two o’clock in the morning when we arrived. There was no one in the temple and the door was closed. I was thinking maybe we were in the wrong place while taking pictures at the temple’s front door, till someone told us “Matsu is already in Beidou, why are you still standing here? Go and chase the sedan chair!” We ended up taking the first highway bus of the day at five in the morning to Beidou. The bus followed the pilgrims all the way to Nanjing. Just when the Matsu sedan chair got there, we arrived in time and started to shoot the pilgrimage. We followed the deity to circle around from Nanjing to Sikou and get onto the Xiluo Bridge where the first day of pilgrimage ended. It was also the end of my third pilgrimage, though I was not impressed. Unlike my first pilgrimage in which I observed many close and trust relationships between people. In the second pilgrimage, I saw it crawling with many commercial elements which concealed interpersonal relationship, and that saddened me. Since then, whenever I bumped into a temple fair, I would stop and take a picture without planning beforehand.
After a year I thought I had to have some plans in order to know temple fairs through which I would like to capture the relationship between the land and people in my pictures. I believed I must set up some goals to bolster my determination, so I decided to participate in Tachia Matsu Pilgrimage again in 1999. I did not want it to be just about the shooting but physically joining in the pilgrimage to feel it by myself. I had to follow the sedan chair once it started its journey from the beginning without taking a break to see how far I could go. I had to be able to shoot even when I was totally drained. I also wanted to experience the feeling of being a war photographer, and to test myself how to make sure the job was done when I was a physical and emotional wreck. I saw photograph shooting as a training so I took my small backpack and started the journey, which began in Zhenlan Temple in Tachia. I waited for the group to start going after I had prayed in the temple. At first, I was behind the sedan chair, but later I surpassed it as it was too slow. There were actually many worshipers walking in front of the sedan, and they just kept proceeding without thinking too much in walking on the highway. I was even alone on some roads with a Matsu pilgrimage flag on my backpack. Whenever I passed by a temple I would go in, take a keepsake and tied it on my flag. I participated in the event physically and it had nothing to do with the religion: all I wanted was to walk, to continue the pilgrimage and to follow the sedan chair, more of a physical sense. When the sun started rising up from the horizon, I had traveled from Tachia to Qingshui.
It was four o’clock in the morning when we arrived in Qingshui. My body was going to collapse and I wanted to sleep so badly. Although I still had some energy left in me, I decided to rest on a stone chair at an octagonal gazebo in front of the temple square, when other worshipers said the sedan would arrive here at around seven. The next thing I remembered was I heard the sound of firecrackers in my dream and I jumped from the stone chair and was stunned after being woken up by the sound, because the sedan chair was just about to come in to the temple. I was very shocked and thinking: how on earth could the sedan caught us so fast? I then ate something in a rush, grabbed a bottle of water and two vegetarian buns just to keep up with the crowd, since then I would always walk one to two kilometers ahead of the sedan. After passing Dadu River, where there was a popular site among photographers: King of Qie Dong Temple in Changhua. I remembered a senior in Fu Jen University once told me so, and the second most popular site was the Minsheng Underpass in Changhua. The reason of the underpass being so popular is because some people will try to take over the sedan chair. Matsu’s sedan chair cannot pass under structures for there are always risks some vicious spirits may come to mess around. As a consequence, whenever the sedan chair has to go under some shelters or structures, the worshipers will spread loads of paper money and the sedan must pass through the shelter very quickly. Once the sedan bearers rush into the underpass, people will light fireworks and scatter paper money all over the place, and the whole atmosphere is like a scene which has been set to be full of tension.
Let us move back to the King of Qie Dong Temple. The sedan chair and worshipers passed through rice fields full of green seedlings that had just been planted in March, and the temple itself was a traditional Sanheyuan (a U-shaped building with a courtyard). I could see villagers gathering at the gate and praying to Matsu for the safety of the year. This once again represented the close relationship between an agricultural society and religions. When I reached the King of Qie Dong Temple, my body could not take it anymore, and both of my feet had blisters. I told myself, this was it, the battlefield of photographers. I closed my eyes to think about the scenes I walked by and saw during this journey, and thought about what I should do to shoot out of the box. Once I was clear about what to do, I took my camera and started to shoot. Just when I took the image of the sedan chair coming into the temple, my father, who wanted to know where I was, drove a car and took me home for I could not walk anymore. I used just two roll films in that Tachia Matsu Pilgrimage, but these films created new possibilities and changed my concepts. Whenever I deal with subjects like religion or temple fairs, I will retain my imagination and turn them into the topics to write about. I have become more like a director of a theater who turns scenes around to present my inner world.

“Not” Traditional Religious Photography

I joined several religious events after that and shot the King Boat at Sishu, Tainan and the King Boat at Donggang. One night, an the end of 1999, I showed my junior the pictures I had taken in King of Qie Dong Temple during the Matsu Pilgrimage and those of the King Boat at Donggang. Meanwhile, we discussed how to shoot Taiwanese temples with new perspectives. My junior said in a contemptuous tone, “Now you talk good photography but you don’t do good photography. Knock it off and show me what you’ve got with an exhibition.” Suddenly I had some ideas, but I was not confident enough to realize them.
After I accepted the challenge from my junior, I started to photograph crazily and tried to deliver my ideas through those shots. At that time, I thought temple fairs were ridiculous disasters and they were the ground zero of bizarre and twisted humanity. The desire to show this aspect of temple fairs has driven me to shoot temple fairs ever since, and have even made friends with people who have been following temple ceremonies. We greet each other and discuss ceremonies whenever we see each other. But those people do not know I am there to be inspired for my creation not to concern about the ceremonies and the religion. However, they still see me as one of them. They still allow me to join in some temple fairs which are no longer open to visitors, because they believe I am not there just for taking pictures. When I observe a ceremony, I can deeply feel that the ceremony can be presented in a certain way, and other topics can also be discussed via the ceremony. But I had been keeping these thoughts in my mind. It was till 2002 that some new possibilities emerged, and I was able to carry out what had been in my mind, though I was not sure about how to deal with these possibilities as they were as vague as a shadow. From that moment, I started to process religious photography with my imagination.
Even till now, the religion and temple fairs are still a crucial part in my creation. I have had several series of work on this very motif, like the “The Exorcist” series from 2002 to 2005, which included an early series of “Black Carnival” ; year 2005 was the year I encountered contemporary photography, and I used it to further develop “The Temple” series which explored the relationship between temples and the environment. I believe in the Taiwanese society, the relationship between temples and the environment is very special for there is no obvious space compartment, and we can often find temples built in peculiar places. This suggests the livelihood hardship and the difficulty in land use featuring an immigrant society like Taiwan. All the above result in the state of “collage.” The third series is “Hidden by The God.” During temple fairs, people disappear at certain moments. When people are off the scene of a temple fair, there is a huge void followed by a strange sense of alienation. I called this as being “hidden by gods.” When gods hide all people, the only thing left is the form of a belief lacking the power of it. That highlights the absurdity of religion being manipulated by people. As a result, I had “The Trilogy of Gods”: “The Exorcist,” which focuses on the desire of human wanting to become god; “The Temple”, which explores the relationship between a religious space and the environment; “Hidden by The God,” which dwells on the false image piled up by the amount of money spent on religious ceremonies.
One day in 2011, Hsiang Ni invited me to participate in the Maya exhibition in Sin Pin Pier. I was thinking about displaying “Black Carnival,” but when I saw my creation in the venue, I knew it did not match the tone of the exhibition. It is because I put quite a few dramatic scenes in “The Exorcist,” but Xiang Ni had set the tone of mischief and fun, and the two just did not match well. As a result, I took my piece back and started to reexamine the photos I took. I like to have a small camera with me for color photographs while taking black and white pictures, and it is usually used to photograph funny scenes of temple fairs. I chose about seventeen or eighteen color photos, and stuck them on the wall, then told Xiang Ni that this piece was called “NG Temple Fairs.” This piece had a variety of contents, such as a picture capturing the Matsu sedan bearers in uniform making them look like debt collectors, or another one capturing a female exorcist in a white robe performing magic on an altar on which there was a sign saying “Save the alien”. There is still another one showing a female jitong (spiritual medium) in snow white costume with a sparkle wand in her hand guiding Tudigong (the Earth God) and Tudipo (Wife of the Earth God). What I found interesting was that temple fairs served as a window for me to study social phenomenon, beliefs and the mental state of a creator. The outfits people wear in temple fairs has also drawn my attention, I often observe the clothes people wear when they go to worship or attend religious ceremonies. They are usually bizarre. For example, an old lady wore the costume similar to that in the animation “Frozen” and had an Avalokiteśvara’s figurine in her hand. It was so funny. Therefore, I also have a series of people in bizarre outfits in temple fairs. I do not like groups of people in uniform when attending temple fairs. In particular, the temple fairs in Tainan have become less interesting in recent years. Only in the countryside can I find some interesting scenes in the pilgrimage.
“NG Temple Fairs” was an extension of the religious topic I was processing. I started the “Those Baptized by Fireworks” series two or three years ago, because I thought what made the Beehive Firecrackers in Yanshui so great was not the beehive firecrackers per se but the people who were willing to be submerged by the firecrackers. That also prompted me to think about my next step of how to present the portraits of people in temple fairs. I had been doing this project till Jow-jiun Gong proposed the concept of “Kau-Puê”(to associate and to befriend.) When I first heard about it, I just had some vague ideas, and indeed, people performing religious ceremonies are rich inspiration themselves for contemporary art.

Jitong Returning to Daily Life

When Jow-jiun Gong mentioned the concept “Kau-Puê,” I thought twice about whether people participating in temple ceremonies could become part of art creation. I was not able to deal with the issue in the past, but now I have some clues. One of them is to continue the series about jitong. Each temple has its own jitong and his/her role is like the psychiatrist in the village. Using a theater form, I presented jitong as someone who communicates with gods in a ceremony in “The Exorcist”; and focuses on the idea that “human beings want to become gods.” I did some research before shooting the ceremony, so I knew in which village and with the jitong pertaining to which temple the ceremony was held. The information and the pictures of jitong become the materials to be processed next.
When things go missing in a village, people go to a jitong. If there is a problem between a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law, they also go to a jitong for help. It is the same when someone has been ill for a long time, the family consult a jitong to change the house’s decoration in the hope of helping the patient to get better. Thus it is fair to say that jitong plays a very crucial role in the Taiwanese countryside: s/he is like a police officer in the community, a psychiatrist, even a township office director. Therefore, I am thinking how to link the present creation with “The Exorcist” fifteen years ago.
Fifteen years have passed, a jitong then has become an old one, and an old jitong then has become an even older one. They have accumulated problem-solving experiences for fifteen years or more. Local stories can be connected to the oral history given by a jitong and that is a script which can be presented by all kinds of artistic genres.
I want to discuss the legend of local jitongs by doing field research. If Nan Kunshen Daitian Temple can depict the story of Chien-ming Wang (a Taiwanese baseball player in MLB) in a temple painting, then why can I not put the story of jitongs in mosaic? If I create a mosaic work about jitongs’ personal experiences in solving local problems on a temple’s walls, the public can learn the stories directly from the temple decoration. Besides, I am considering gathering a group of people to visit the exact location of the “King Boat” for archaeological research, and use the remains of the burnt King Boat to create art pieces.
My mind has been occupied perfectly by photography which has led me to issues of ruins and religions. Photography to me means to think in images, and it is everything to me. My future creation will also surely be driven by images.

分享文章 Share this post


Notice: Undefined variable: post in /home/actaina5/public_html/wp-content/themes/sento/admin/main/options/05.blog.php on line 622

Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in /home/actaina5/public_html/wp-content/themes/sento/admin/main/options/05.blog.php on line 622

Notice: Undefined variable: post in /home/actaina5/public_html/wp-content/themes/sento/admin/main/options/05.blog.php on line 622

Notice: Trying to get property of non-object in /home/actaina5/public_html/wp-content/themes/sento/admin/main/options/05.blog.php on line 622
[related_post themes="flat" id="363"]