交陪_1_3

文───龔卓軍.翻譯───黃汝娸

熾陽,黃泉下的無盡等待。
盛開的花,是向神的祈禱,
此生現世,即使吾身悲哀,
夢仍永不消逝,怨恨,任飄零。
百夜的悲傷,於永久黑暗之所,
願以來生,祈祝帝神。
──〈傀儡謠〉,《攻殼機動隊:無垢》

影像作為延續宗教體感的媒介

說來慚愧,生平第一次對寺廟藝術,特別是遶境中的種種現場儀式表演,產生巨大的浸潤神聖感,居然是觀看押井守的動畫《攻殼機動隊:無垢》(2004)中,配合著西田和枝社中的吟唱、和太鼓與川井憲次編曲的〈傀儡謠〉,慢動作的遶境蒙太奇,讓我心醉神迷。重要的是,動畫在此段音樂中呈現的是亞洲民間宗教遶境場景,雖然混搭了香港的街景、印度的象神,但是,包含王爺信仰儀式中的官將首、三太子隊、大身韋馱將爺、大身神尊、移行王船、亭閣樓舫,以及好幾處的背景寺廟影像、火祭影像,都是日本動畫團隊取材自臺灣本地的民間信仰的元素,讓我好奇的是,這些原本熟悉的廟會場景,為什麼能夠脫離本地寺廟藝術的脈絡,在一部享譽國際的動畫中取得如此巨大動情的力量?
如果押井守的動畫可視為當代活動影像藝術的一種綜合成就,在近未來的設定、影像、場景調度、音樂、服裝、表演、腳本上,取得了敘事上的奇異張力,那麼,這種藝術上的「交陪」之力,就不是單單可以用二十億日幣的大資本製作去解釋的。在這篇文章中,我想從媒體流變的觀點,重新思考寺廟藝術中的種種圖像,如何聯結到當代觀者的身體,生產出藝術之力。
為了籌備2017年的信仰藝術節,我和籌備團隊中的藝術家陳冠彰、策展與評論寫作者陳莘、美術設計羅文岑、行政統籌林雅雯、紀錄片導演陳韻如,從今年初開始踏查傳統寺廟,並且開始對彩繪修復師、藝術史研究者、藝術家進行訪談,因而有這一份《交陪》。其實,一直到最近重看《攻殼機動隊:無垢》中的〈傀儡謠〉表演片段之前,我在燒王船、王爺遶境、臺南大大小小的門神彩繪與建築裝飾感到一股迷惑,主要的迷惘之處在於:在疊層繁複與歷史悠久的寺廟藝術中,我們當於何處尋找到它們的「當代性」?它們要在何處與當代藝術接軌?尤其,當我耽讀寺廟史料時,發現有許多的原樣交趾燒、彩繪、門神均已煙滅,甚至要面對1936年到1941年日治時期毀廟燒神尊的「寺廟整理運動」與「家庭正廳改善運動」造成的歷史空缺;當下觀看熱鬧的遶境儀式時,又看到推陳出新的流行文化滲入,聖俗難辨。因此,在〈傀儡謠〉表演片段的刺激之下,我想先為當代的信仰狀況假設一個近未來的時間點:2040年。我想討論的是,假設到了2040年,寺廟藝術的當代性會通過什麼媒介、樣態,表現為什麼樣的動情力量?
從媒介的角度來看,陳芯宜導演在2015年獨立發行上映的《行者》,以舞蹈電影加上紀錄片的形式,呈現林麗珍「無垢舞蹈劇場」的《花神祭》、《醮》、《觀》三部曲的創作歷程,對我來說,就有一種面對近未來神祇,以盛開的花向神祈禱的準宗教意味。《行者》的開場帶來的觀者體感經驗,恍如以貓身潛行於低霧森林,隨著霧氣拂過我們的皮膚,鈴磬低吟突然襲捲,浸入我們的內臟共鳴,讓我們想要撥開輕霧中看清舞者的身姿時,已經不知不覺投身於那片深森的密儀中,隨之漫步起舞。進一步說,什麼是這種影像的宗教體感經驗?

新世代語(身)體介入舊語體的綜合力量

首先,《行者》不僅放大了眾多布料纖維或是編織緹花的物質性表面,直到手製紙質的佈景道具,同時也呼應了眾多舞者的皮膚的畫妝、汗斑、淚痕鏡頭,並延伸出男舞者精疲力竭、相互撞擊、扯身嘶吼、出神抖動、男女舞者身體交媾時的多重皮膚質地,冷不防地,畫面便出現《觀》當中乍現的漫天捲地的紅布幔、《花神祭》排練時揮動白布披裳任其飄舞的畫面。其次,對肌肉顫動的體感而言,畫面強調出不時強烈顫動的指甲、花草、香轎、長飾羽、長棍與抖動的燭火,就像是影片的肌肉與肌腱,從編舞家與舞者的身體力道順勢迸發出來,某種影片表面神經線條的顫動,特別是《醮》中四位男舞者如起乩般將大串細布條、銅鈴串、芒草花束、大束焚香與低胯、奮力爬行和嘶吼併置為一時,我們感受到了整個影片的骨架張力運動,被這般的場景所撐開,我們的身體因而也在此片刻達到最高的張力。最後,宗教體感最核心的毋寧是跨越俗世的悠長超越感,我們在這部影片中,看到了林麗珍帶著女性的眼光與身體,跨著低姿勢的有力緩步,走到了一處多麼遙遠偏僻的祭場:從鬼魂之靈到花神之馨香,從花神之馨香到自然的生死之流。然而,如何觸碰鬼魂之陰鬱、如何接引花神之欲力,又如何擁抱自然無情的生死齊一?《行者》用了一百四十七分鐘、十四個段子,在反覆的吟唱、鼓點、氣力用盡的濁重呼吸中;在反覆的嘶吼、出神舞蹈、日常談話、練習的指導解說、演後的激動釋放中,指向一個無法言說的、內在平面的強力運作。容我說,那正是當代藝術與未來神祇交會的時刻,它會透過影像的媒介,將宗教的體感延續到2040年之後,甚至更加久遠。
朝向近未來的神祇,而非過去式的民間宗教鄉愁,它原是一種潛在的可能,但如今,透過不同的媒體形式,透過新一代的藝術家,它可以落實為一種現實化的語體。就此而言,臺灣寺廟文化中並非沒有南管、北管與相關的戲曲,也不是沒有和太鼓之類的鼓樂,不是沒有姿態繁複的官將首七星步法,我們的問題,似乎是應再行思考如何將傳統的民間信仰藝術重新編制在不同媒體的組裝中。這需要當代創作者的介入。這種介入,似乎不太可能做單面的呈現,動畫與電影是目前最難,但又是最具有綜合力量的思考方式,是的,我是想說,表現的語體本身就是思考方式。如果缺少了新世代的語體,舊的語體的力量,就只是潛在的力量,仍舊只是壁堵、樑堵、藻井、龍柱上的忠孝節義與歷史成語故事,只是廟門上的神荼、鬱壘、韋馱、伽藍、秦叔寶、尉遲恭。如果我們今天已經失落了廟埕前的歌仔戲、布袋戲、南管與北管的音樂敘事經驗,失去了唸歌與廟口說書講古的故事載體,不再對廟畫廟刻中龍飛鳳舞的漢文詩感到興趣,那麼,對於當代藝術而言,未來的神祇所可能具有的暗所祈願之力,不正是有待於當代藝術作為一種脫寺廟的媒介藝術,將寺廟藝術的種種內在精神與表現形式,像林麗珍將乩身與作醮轉至當代舞蹈劇場,陳芯宜又把這種脫寺廟的舞蹈轉為活動影像那般,轉化到嶄新的表現媒介上嗎?
除了新媒介的思考外,我們似乎需要一種相應的新身體,在直接降神的乩童、鸞生、官將首身體之外,以接榫數位影像串流文化下的資訊身體。或者換一種說法,如果傳統寺廟就是一座美術館與博物館,展示著建築空間樣式、漢詩文題詞、木石雕刻、神像、交趾燒、剪黏、樑堵壁畫、廟體與門神彩繪,那麼,遶境、燒王船、香科、作醮時的儀式、藝閣、陣頭、戲曲表演就是一座座的流動美術館、無牆博物館,那麼,我想要在此討論一下現代美術館與寺廟的分道揚鑣,是在什麼樣的時間點上發生的。這個分道揚鑣的過程,又如何拉開了現代美術體制與傳統寺廟的美學政治距離,讓傳統寺廟並未與現代藝術俱進。為了避免這篇文章的焦點過度分散,我想集中在一個非常引人興味的臺南傳統畫師身上,潘春源。

傳統畫師反殖民與抗拒殖民現代性的姿態

我之所以對生於1891年的潘春源感興趣,是因為他的畫師生涯,恰好經歷了臺灣美術史上的一個轉折點:臺展與府展美術體制的建立,東京美術學校的臺籍畫家,以殖民美術體制下的曖昧前衛姿態,取得近代藝術上的發言權,而廟宇的畫師,雖然在日治時期阻滯了大陸寓臺畫師的發展,因而得到較為獨立的發展空間,卻也同時漸漸被上述的近代美術先鋒貶抑為過於傳統保守,因而與學院、現代美術體制漸行漸遠,終至無甚交集。
自1928年至1933年,以書畫和寺廟繪事行世的潘春源,以自修遊學和留學汕頭集集美術學校三個月之力,連續六年,以七幅畫入選臺灣美術展覽會,在東洋畫部的表現,相當突出;與此同時,他參加了1928年成立,於1930年臺南公會堂辦展的「春萌畫會」,但也是1932年春萌畫會戛然分裂時的主要人物之一。在傳統水墨與廟宇畫師、近代美術東洋畫家之間,潘春源於1934年之後選擇了前者,我感興趣的是,他在這個臺灣近代美術交叉點上所做的選擇。
在日治時期,選擇了水墨與寺廟繪事,幾乎等於選擇了一個全然不同的載體、美術展覽體制,選擇一個全然不同概念的美術館。潘春源參與臺展入選的七幅畫,分別是1928年第二屆的《牧場所見》、1929年第三屆的《浴》與《牛車》、1930年第四屆的《琴笙雅韻》、1931年第五屆的《婦女》、1932年第六屆《武帝》、1933年第七屆的《山村曉色》。
依據蕭瓊瑞、謝世英、林保堯的分析與討論,《牧場所見》、《浴》與《牛車》中的炭精筆素描與寫生手法,主題切合殖民美術之要,同時也表現了重彩膠墨的「色度之效」與「能量之美」,這種遽烈的媒材與技法上的轉變,非有過人的學習意志,難從原本水墨傳統與寺廟藝術中脫出,但潘春源辦到了。不過,謝世英提到了潘春源的炭精筆素描工夫,亦可能為其所從事的先人肖像畫,依據相片而進行的轉置素描技法有關。至於《琴笙雅韻》與《婦女》兩幅美人畫,轉向了更高難度的人物寫生畫,在室內家具、服飾、體態、地磚、空間格局與物件配置與花飾紋樣上,在短景深的佈局裡,顯示出特別熱鬧繁複中具有「臺灣味」的幽雅情態,頗具有日治時期臺日/漢和文化交錯的特殊現代性格,不同於陳進等畫家趨近浮世繪平塗裝飾傳統的東洋美人畫風味。最後,《武帝》和《山村曉色》乍看之下,頗有傳統水墨意境與廟畫人物的主題趣味,但仔細一看,猶如穿著戲服的關公與周倉的細緻姿態表情與陰影處理,家具與物件配置,以水膠表現,和有如實景寫生的水墨鄉村風景、木橋流水,似乎顯現漸次迴返水墨傳統的混融現代趨向。
有趣的是,蕭瓊瑞與謝世英在詮釋潘春源臺展參賽歷程時,提出了兩種截然不同的觀點。蕭瓊瑞在《丹青廟筆:府城傳統畫師潘麗水作品集》(1996)中設問:「春源翁是否有意先以膠彩寫生來獲取認同,表示傳統水墨畫家也有寫生創作的能力,然後再回頭從事他所認同的水墨創作?」肯定他對水墨的堅持。謝世英則在他的〈妥協的現代性:日治時期臺灣傳統廟宇彩繪師潘春源〉(2008)強調「畫師的生意技能」與「維持家計的手段」,「對於一位只靠自學打造建立起生涯的畫師,臺展的成功,無疑是他藝術技巧及繪畫最好的宣傳,建立個人的知名度,也會為他帶來更多的生意。」對於潘春源參加臺展的動機,蕭瓊瑞與謝世英分別從「水墨傳統」與「家計維持」提出詮釋。這兩種詮釋並不必然矛盾,可以同時並存,而且,謝世英也提到參與臺展的六十六位臺籍畫家中,至少有十四位東洋畫家的背景是營裱畫店的職業畫家,這個傳統畫師職業的脈絡,並不為一般臺灣近代美術史的研究者所重視。而本文的觀點,是想要強調潘春源的選擇不繼續參加臺展,不論動機為何,他選擇的顯然以傳統寺廟為媒介平台,以傳統意義下的美術館或博物館,以原本水墨傳統和廟埕信眾的身體為設想的觀看者,來構成他的圖像表現。
若放到更大的歷史脈絡下,潘春源所投注的表現媒介與載體,後來遭遇了一波極大的打擊。對民間畫師而言的臺灣美術史,1936年至1941年是不能略過的黑暗期。日治時期的皇民化運動,有一個比較不為現代啟蒙型知識分子重視(或者當時知識分子只能選擇對此噤聲)的「國有神社.家有神棚」倡議。張耘書的《臺南媽祖信仰研究》一書提到,從1937年(昭和12年)中日戰爭開打後,日本殖民者在全臺各地廣設神社,提倡日本神道,壓制民間信仰,以取代臺灣傳統寺廟的功能,同時透過「寺廟整理運動」與「寺廟神昇天」(拆除寺廟、燒燬或集中管理神像)、家庭正廳改善運動,施行其宗教皇民化政策。根據臺北帝國大學土俗學講師宮本延人1942年的統計,全臺在此運動中,被毀的廟宇有361座,移作他用的有819座,其中以臺南州最為慘烈,被毀廟宇共計194座,有419座移作他用(共613座,幾乎佔了全臺1180座被整理寺廟的52%)。「寺廟神昇天」波及的神像,據宮本延人統計,共有13726尊被燒燬,被沒收的有4069尊,其中以臺南州被燒燬9749尊,被沒收1268尊,最為慘烈(共11017尊,幾乎佔了全臺17795尊被昇天神像當中的62%)。
這個激烈的壓制民間信仰運動,包含「家庭正廳改善運動」(拜祖先一定要同時拜神道),其實從1936年「迷信打破.陋習改善」的「民風作興運動」就開始了。後因有礙帝國南進國際宣傳形象與恐米糖來源不穩,至1941年10月始下令停止。但比較特殊的是臺南市的狀況。依據臺師大蔡錦堂教授的研究,臺南市遭到整理的寺廟僅有六座、齋堂乙座、神明會兩座。(《師大臺灣史學報》,第4期,2011年9月,頁83。)可能有不少的廟與日本佛教信仰進行聯結以自保,或者與當時臺南市長的態度有關。以此上述數字推論,市區以外的臺南州地區,被整理的狀況應該甚為慘烈。1958年重建,由潘春源、潘麗水父子進行彩繪的關廟山西宮是其中一例。
當時廟畫無生意,家庭正廳的神祇與祖先祭拜亦被限制,畫像生意一落千丈,加上戰爭動盪,至少,潘春源的兒子潘麗水必須改行去畫電影看板才行。我在想的是,這段時間時局那麼壞,具有參展實力的潘春源和他兒子,若為了家計,這時為何不回頭參加府展?就此而言,我比較同意蕭瓊瑞的觀點,依潘春源自公學校不適應退學、漢文學與水墨背景、又去過汕頭集集美術學校與福州遊學的背景,若沒有任何對殖民美術體制的抗拒之心,很難令人相信。因此,選擇傳統廟畫工作與抗拒殖民體制,或可能有間接的關聯,或可能就是一種不合作。推論至此,就廟畫所座落的社會場域,我們反而隱隱看到了某種反殖民與抗拒殖民現代性的前衛美術姿態,而非妥協。
蕭瓊瑞說,一直到「1954年,由於臺灣社會廟宇興修風氣已完全復甦,潘麗水才正式結束戲院工作,全心回到廟畫崗位。」然而,其實從1895年的金包里衝突,1901年崙背支署與油車派出所衝突,1915年的西來庵事件,即可見殖民者對民間信仰的違和與忌憚。但許多的臺灣知識分子與進步大眾媒體,在當時與民間宗教的關係毋寧是疏遠的,甚至有時會與殖民者同聲一氣,指責民間信仰的不衛生、迷信與鋪張浪費。而國民政府來臺後的美術教育體系,亦大抵排斥將廟畫納入學院之中,直到更為西化的現代美術興起至1980年代,潘春源這樣一代代的畫師,始終被留滯那在未曾被視為美術館的民間美術館的載體中,未曾轉化,而廟宇中的神祇與環繞的圖像,亦不曾脫離寺廟,被投向近未來的視野,與當代藝術與當代社會的觀者身體接軌,得到新的凝視影像。

結語

當代的藝術創作,為什麼要思考傳統信仰的寺廟藝術?因為它有兩萬多座,也因為它已累積了兩三百年以上。因為它不僅典藏了豐厚的傳統水墨與廟宇工藝,也經歷過嚴酷多變的近現代歷史的棄置與考驗。它是臺灣文化的重要現實條件之一。就此而言,脫寺廟藝術,並不是要忘卻、脫離與切割掉寺廟藝術勇於以民間之力面對近現代的藝術精神,反而是如何在當代藝術創作的可能條件中,思考讓寺廟藝術脫胎換骨的路徑,面向近未來的神祇。有春源翁第一代本土畫師奮力自學的典型引路,有潘麗水等第二代畫師精進脫俗的東山再起,當代藝術創作者或可回頭審視這一大塊有待轉置與轉化的、圍繞著廟體與遶境隊伍的萬千圖像、層疊媒介與觀演身體,讓怨恨飄散,讓不逝之夢穿越百夜悲傷與暗黑之所,綻放新圖像、新媒介與新身體的盛開之花。


 

Gods of Near-future:
Contemporary Art and the Art Transcending Temples
──── Jow-jiun Gong.Translated by Ju-chi Huang

The scorching sun
For which I wait endlessly in the underworld
The blossoms are
My beseeching prayer to gods
How grief- and suffering-stricken this life is
Yet my dreams shall never die and let resentment evaporate

In the sad perpetual darkness of hundreds of nights
I pray for a next life with full devotion to gods.
——“The Ballade of Puppets,” Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.

Extending the Religious Sensory Experience by Means of Videos and Images

Ashamed to say, the first time I soaked up in the massive sense of divinity toward the art of temple, especially the various ceremonies performed live in a pilgrimage procession, was actually when I watched Mamoru Oshii’s animation Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (2004). The chanting of Nishida Kazue Shachu, the drumbeats of Taiko, and the slow-motion procession montage made me intoxicated by the “Ballad of Puppets,” the theme song arranged by Kenji Kawai. What’s important in the animation is that the ballad is presented with a scene of pilgrimage processions residing in Asian folk religions. Other than Hong Kong’s street views and the Indian deity, Ganesha, the Japanese animation team extracts plenty elements from Taiwan’s folk religion. Important deities in Taiwan’s Wang Yeh (Royal Lords 王爺) worship all make their appearance in the procession, including Guanjiang Shou (Senior Officers 官將首), Third Prince (三太子), and a huge Wei Tuo Jiangye (韋馱將爺). Big statues of other deities, along with a moving King Boat, pavilions and towering boats all have their shares in the scene. Images of temples and fire festivals that constitute the background also come from Taiwan. I was curious, asking: why the scenes in Taiwan temple fairs, so familiar to me, are able to transcend their local context and accumulate a massive emotional power in an internationally acclaimed animation?
If the animation directed by Mamoru Oshii can be seen as a collection of achievements in contemporary motion imaging art in that it creates a bazaar tension in narratives from its near-future setting, images, changing scenes, music, costumes, performances, and scripts, then the artistic power of “kau-puê” (which means social interaction and association in the Min Nan dialect) cannot be explained merely by the huge capital invested in the production (two billion yen). In the article, I would like to revisit various images regarding the art of temple from the perspective of media’s development. I will further elaborate on how these images can be connected with the bodies of contemporary viewers and thereby produce an artistic power.
In order to prepare the 2017 Religion Festival, our team members—artist Guan-jhang Chen, curator and commentator Hsin Chen, art design Mirr Lo, coordinator Juliet Lin, and documentary director Yun-ju Chen—start a field investigation into traditional temples. In addition, we have interviewed a color painting restorer, scholars doing research on art history, as well as artists. Then comes the zine Art Associate (kau-puê). In fact, before I watched the scene of “Ballad of Puppets” in Ghost in the Shell: Innocence again, I felt confused about the King Boat burning ceremony, the Royal Lords processions, the colored portraits of door gods in various sizes, and the architectural decorations. My biggest confusion was: where could we find “contemporaneity” in the art of these multi-layered, long-established temples? From where does the art and contemporary art converge? Particularly, when I immersed myself in reading historical materials on temples, I found many of the original artifacts, including Koji Pottery, colored paintings, and those of door gods, had already been ruined. What’s worse, I was encountered with an opening in history created by two Japanization movements. From 1936 to 1941, when Taiwan was still under the Japanese colonization, the “Temple Reorganization Campaign” and “Household Main Hall Reform” had destroyed temples and burned deity statues. When I watched the lively procession, I saw evolving pop culture infiltrating into it, which blurs the difference between the secular world and a sacred one. Therefore, inspired by the scene in which “Ballad of Puppets” is performed, I want to assume a time point in the near-future—2040—for the following discussion of contemporary religions. What I want to discuss is: providing we were in the year of 2040, by what media, in which form, and what kind of emotional power would the contemporaneity in the art of temple reveal?
From the perspective of media, the dance documentary film The Walkers independently released in 2015 by director Singing Chen documented the creative process of Lee-chen Lin’s Legend Lin Dance Theatre trilogy: Hymne aux Fleurs qui Passent, Miroirs de Vie, and Song of Pensive Beholding. To me, the trilogy carries a quasi-religious meaning: praying with blooming flowers in front of a near-future deity. At the opening of The Walkers, we viewers get a series of sensory experience: we are prowling as cats in a forest, the lower part of which is shrouded in mist. While the mist is creeping over our skin, the crooning of bells and stone chimes sweeps through our body, infiltrating our organs to resonate, encouraging us to brush aside the mist for a better view of the dancer. Unknowingly, we have plunged ourselves into the mystery of the deep forest, roaming and dancing with it. To expand the idea further, what is the religious sensory experience of this image?

Introducing the New Genre to the Old for a Comprehensive Power

First of all, in The Walkers, we see enlarged surfaces of numerous materials, from clothing fabric and Jacquard weaves, to hand-made paper props. These images correspond to the shots of many dancers’ skins, which focus on their makeups, sweat stains, and traces of tears. The shots further extend to various skin textures exhibited when the male dancers feel exhausted, collide with each other, pull their clothes screaming, shaking in a trance, and having intercourse with female dancers. Suddenly, the movie takes us to the overwhelming red drapes abruptly appearing in Song of Pensive Beholding and the rehearsal of Hymne aux Fleurs qui Passent, in which performers wave their white draping clothes to make them freely drift in the air. Secondly, as for the sensory experience of trembling muscles, the movie emphasizes the images of things vibrating violently, including nails, flowers, incense palanquins, long feather ornaments, sticks, and quivering candlelit. These shots function as muscles and tendons of the movie, bursting out from the choreographer’s and dancers’ body strength, as a certain kind of tremors of linear neurons in the movie. In particular, while the four male dancers in Miroirs de Vie, wearing low rise pants, are clawing their way roaring, juxtaposing huge bunches of cloth strips, copper bells, miscanthus flowers, and burning incense, we feel the framework of the entire movie stretched by such scenes and our bodies reach the utmost tension at the moment. Last but not least, the essence of religious sensory experience lies in a lingering sense of transcending the secular world. In this movie, we see Lee-chen Lin lean forward, hold at a low position, and step forward slowly with a female’s vision and body, and finally reach a remote, isolated ritual place: from ghosts’ spirit to flower deities’ fragrance to the intersection of life and death in nature. However, how does the movie touch the gloomy darkness of ghosts, approach the libido of flower deities, and embrace the sameness of life and death in the ruthless nature? In the 147-minute movie composed of fourteen sections, we see repeated chanting of dancers, beats of percussion instruments, heavy breaths after exhaustion, repeated roars, dances in a trance, everyday conversation, instructions in rehearsal, and exciting emotional discharges after performance. All these episodes point to an unspeakable, internal strong operation on the screen. I would say it is a moment when the contemporary art meets future deities. Taking videos and images as media, the religious sensory experience will be extended to the days after 2040, and even further.
Facing toward near-future deities rather than dwelling upon the nostalgia for folk religion used to be a potential possibility. However, with the help of different media, as well as the creativity of a new generation artists, today it can be realized as a practical genre. In this regard, it is not to say that the culture of Taiwan temples does not feature unique music styles—nanguan (南管) and beiguan (北管)—or related opera. Nor does it exist without percussion instruments similar to Taiko. Neither does it not boast complex Seven Stars Footwork practiced by Guanjiang Shou. Our problem seems to be: how do we rethink and come up with a method to integrate traditional folk religion into the assembly of various media. This requires the participation of contemporary creators. Their participation seems less likely to be presented from one side. Animations and movies are the most difficult, yet comprehensively the most powerful way of thinking. Yes, what I’m trying to say is, the genre they choose to present with is by itself the way of thinking. Providing the genre of the new generation is absent, the power of the old genre is simply unrevealed. They are still decorations on wall and beam, or caissons, or characters of traditional virtues carved on dragon pills, or historical stories giving meaning to Chinese phrases. They are still portraits of door gods—Shen Tu (神荼), Yu Lei (鬱壘), Wei Tuo (Skanda), Garan (伽藍), Qin Shubao (秦叔寶) and Yuchi Gong (尉遲恭)—remaining on gates of temples. Today we have lost the musical narratives performed in the front of the temple yard, such as Taiwanese Opera, glove puppetry, nanguan, and beiguan. We’ve lost the forms of story-telling such as the changeable liam-gua (read song) and legend-retelling at the entrance of the temple. We’ve lost our interest in the flamboyant Chinese poetry appearing in paintings and carvings of temples. If so, the future deities’ hidden force is awaiting contemporary art to exert its power as an art of media transcending temples and releases the hidden force by transforming the internal spirit and external performance of temple art and further makes it onto a brand new performance media. For instance, Lee-chen Lin has moved Jitong (乩童 a spirit medium) and the Taoist sacrificial ceremony to modern dance theater, while Singing Chen has transformed the dance transcending temples onto videos.
In addition to thinking of new media, we seem to need a corresponding new body. It should be different from the bodies of Jitongs, Luanshengs (鸞生another spirit medium), and Guanjiang Shous, on whom the deities descend. The purpose of the new body is to connect with the information body in the era of digital video-streaming culture. Or, to put it another way, if traditional temples can be seen as art galleries or museums, which exhibit architectural space and styles, the inscriptions of Chinese prose and poetry, wood and stone carvings, deity statues, Koji Pottery, porcelain carvings, decorations on beams, murals, frames of temples, and paintings of door gods, then pilgrimage processions, the burning of King Boats, Xiang-ke (香科 a general term to describe the processions in five Tainan temples), rituals in the Taoist sacrificial ceremony, Yi-Ko art parade (藝閣), parade formations, and opera performance are figuratively temporary art galleries and museums without walls. If that’s the case, I would like to discuss when the temples were separated from modern art galleries. And how the process of their separation widened the gap between the system of modern art and the aesthetic politics of traditional temples, and thereby the temples failed to advance with modern art. To avoid too much digression and remain focused, I want to concentrate my discussion on a very interesting traditional Tainan painter—Chun-yuan Pan.

A Traditional Painter’s Resistance
to Colony and the Colonial Modernity Conclusion

The reason I’ve been interested in the painter born in 1891 is that, in his career, he experienced a turning point in Taiwan’s art history. That is, the establishment of two art systems: the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition (Taiwan Exhibition) and the Taiwan Government-General Fine Arts Exhibition (Government-General Exhibition). Under the colonial system, Taiwanese painters in Tokyo School of Fine Arts got a say in contemporary art with their ambiguous avant-garde attitude. On the other hand, although the Japanese colonization had deterred the progress of Mainland painters staying in Taiwan, the temple painters had therefore acquired more independence for development. However, at the same time, they were gradually belittled by the above-mentioned modern art avant-gardes for being too traditional and too conservative. Therefore, they drifted apart from the academia and modern art system, and finally lost all connections with it.
Chun-yuan Pan made his living by painting portraits and temples. He learned painting on his own and had studied in Mainland China’s Shantou Jiji Art School for three months. From 1928 to 1933, seven of his paintings were selected for the Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition. He had made outstanding achievement in the Oriental Section of the exhibition. Meanwhile, he participated in “Chun Meng Painting Society,” which was established in 1928 and held an exhibition in 1930 at Tainan Assembly Hall. Yet he was also one of the key persons that caused the sudden split of the painting society. After 1934, Pan chose to be a traditional Chinese ink and wash painter as well as a temple painter rather than a modern Oriental painter. What makes me interested is the choice he made at the turning point of Taiwan’s contemporary art history.
During the Japanese colonial period, choosing Chinese ink and wash painting and temple painting means that he had chosen a completely different carrier and art exhibition system, as well as an art gallery following an entirely different philosophy. His seven paintings selected for the Taiwan Exhibition include A Scene at the Ranch for the second session in 1928, Bath and Oxcart for the third session in 1929, The Grace of Guqin and Sheng for the fourth session in 1930, Woman for the fifth session in 1931, Martial Emperors for the sixth session in 1932, Dawn at a Village for the seventh session in 1933.
Based on the discussion and analysis of Chong-ray Hsiao, Shih-ying Hsieh, and Bao-yao Lin, the themes of A Scene at the Ranch, Bath, and Oxcart meet the requirements of colonial art, and the conté crayon techniques for nature sketches exhibited in the three drawings present “effects of chroma” and “beauty of energy” with enriched colors and celluloid ink. Without an extraordinary will to learn, it would have been extremely difficult to transcend his original Chinese ink and wash painting skills and the art of temple, which required a profound change in the skills and media he used. But Chun-yuan Pan made it. However, Shih-ying Hsieh notes that Pan’s conté crayon’s sketching techniques may be related to his transposing sketching skills, with which he had painted ancestor portraits according to photos. As for the two portraits of beauties—The Grace of Guqin and Sheng and Women, Pan turned to the more difficult character sketches. The Indoor furniture, figures’ clothes and postures, floor tiles, spatial patterns, arrangement of objects, and floral patterns in a shallow depth of field exhibit a “Taiwan style” elegant mood in a particularly lively, complex and atmospheric manner. The two drawings therefore create a unique modern feature in the Japanese colonial days when Taiwanese, Japanese, and Sino cultures meet. The feature differentiates it from that of other painters, such as Jin Chen, whose work is closer to the horizontal painting style in traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e beauty paintings. Last but not least, at the first glance, Martial Emperors and Dawn at a Village well present the artistic conception of traditional ink and wash paintings and the delight created by temple painting figures. But in a closer look, the delicate expressions and postures, the shading in a costume-clad Guan Gong (關公) and Zhou Cang (周倉), and the arrangement of furniture and objects are painted in gouache. Moreover, the countryside, wooden bridges and small streams painted in vivid ink and wash style seem to reveal a trend to blend the repeated brushes in ink and wash tradition with modern skills.
Interestingly, Chong-ray Hsiao and Shih-ying Hsieh have proposed two distinctly different interpretations of Chun-yuan Pan’s participation in the Taiwan Exhibition. In Painting in Temples: A Collection of Tainan Traditional Painter Pan Li-shui (1996), Chong-ray Hsiao asks a rhetorical question: “Did the respected Chun-yuan Pan intend to get recognition from gouache sketches first, and thereby prove traditional ink and wash painters were also capable of making sketches, before returning to ink and wash creation, which he could identify with?” Hsiao’s question recognizes Pan’s insistence on ink and wash paintings. On the other hand, in his “The Negotiation with Modernity: Taiwanese temple painter Chun-yuan Pan of the Japanese Period (2008),” Shih-ying Hsieh underscores “painters’ livelihood skills” and “means to support a family.” “For a self-taught painter who built his career completely on his own, Pan’s success in the Taiwan Exhibition is no doubt the best advertisement for his artistic skills and paintings. Increasing his publicity would also bring more business for him.” Respectively, Hsiao and Hsieh try to elaborate on Chun-yuan Pan’s motivation for participating in the Taiwan Exhibition from either the view of “ink and wash tradition” or “to support the family.” The two elaborations are not necessarily contradictory. They can coexist at the same time. Moreover, Shih-ying Hsieh also notes that among the sixty-six Taiwanese artists who participated in the Taiwan Exhibition, at least fourteen Oriental-style painters were professional painters running picture frame shops. But the contextual backdrop of these traditional painters’ profession did not catch much attention of general scholars doing research on contemporary art history of Taiwan. In fact, the article wants to emphasize, regardless of his motives, Chun-yuan Pan chose not to continue participating in the Taiwan Exhibition. Instead, he chose traditional temples—the art galleries and museums in the traditional sense—as his media and platform. He chose to constitute his image performance with the original ink and wash tradition as the technique and with temple believers as the potential viewers.
Put under a larger historical context, the media and carriers Pan chose to engage in and express with suffered a devastating blow afterwards. Unignorably, years from 1936 to 1941 are the dark period to folk painters. The Japanization practiced in the Japanese colonial period had an initiative called “Shinto shrine in the country, Kamidana (miniature household altars) in every family,” which drew less attention of modern enlightened Intellectuals—or maybe the intellectuals in that age chose to remain silent on it. Yun-su Chang notes in his book A Study on Matzu Worship in Tainan that since the Sino-Japanese War started in 1937 (twelfth year of Showa), the Japanese colonialists began setting up shrines all over Taiwan. They were doing so to promote Japanese Shinto and suppress folk religion, with an aim to replace the function of Taiwan’s traditional temples. Meanwhile, they carried out Japanization on religion through “Temple Reorganization Campaign,” “Temple Deities Ascension”—which included demolishment of temples along with god statues being burned or collected for centralized management, and “Household Main Hall Reform.” According to a 1942 survey conducted by Nobuto Miyamoto, an ethnography scholar in Taipei Imperial University, in these movements, 361 Taiwan temples were destroyed, while 819 temples were transformed to serve other purposes. The place taking the brunt was Tainan Prefecture, where 194 temples were destroyed, and 419 were transformed (Temples suffered were 613 in total, accounting for nearly 52% of the 1,180 “reorganized” temples all over Taiwan). According to Nobuto Miyamoto, in “Temple Deities Ascension,” there were a total of 13,726 deity statues burned and destroyed, 4,069 were confiscated. The most terrible tragedy happened in Tainan Prefecture, where 9,749 statues were burned and destroyed, 1,268 confiscated (A total of 11,017 statues were gone, accounting for nearly 62% of all the 17,795 “ascended” statues across Taiwan).
These movements violently suppressed folk religion. One of the movement was “Household Main Hall Reform”—people worshiping ancestors must practice Shinto at the same time. The reform had started since the “Old Custom Transforming Movement” in 1936, which advocated “breaking superstitions, transforming bad, old customs.” Later, considering the movement might tarnish the empire’s international image for southern expansion, and the source of rice and sugar was afraid to be unstable, the movement was ordered to terminate in 1941. But Tainan City was in a particular situation. According to the research of Professor Tsai Chin-tang in National Taiwan Normal University, only six temples, one Zhai-tang (齋堂 religious fasting hall) and two Shenminghui (神明會 worship clubs) were reorganized in Tainan city
(Journal of Graduate Institute of Taiwan History in National Taiwan Normal University, Vol. 4, September 2011, page 83.) There might be lots of temples making connections with the Japanese Buddhism to preserve themselves, or it might have something to do with Tainan mayor’s attitude. Inferring from the above figures, temples in Tainan Prefecture outside the downtown area must have been “reorganized” brutally. One of the examples is the Shanxi Temple located in Guanmiao, Tainan.

It was rebuilt in 1958 and color painted by the two generation painters Chun-yuan Pan and Li-shui Pan.
At that time, there was no business for temple painting. Business about deity and ancestor worshiping in household main halls was also limited. Along with the turmoil caused by war, Li-shui Pan, son of Chun-yuan Pan, must have been forced to give up his career and join the team of drawing movie billboards, to say the least. What I’m wondering is, in the difficult situation, why didn’t Chun-yuan Pan and his son rejoin the Government-General Exhibition so as to support the family, considering they were qualified painters for exhibitions. In this regard, I agree with Chong-ray Hsiao’s point of view. When Chun-yuan Pan attended the common school, he dropped out because he failed to adapt to the education under Japanese colonization. He learned Chinese literature as well as ink and wash painting. He had been on study tours in Shantou Jiji Art School and Fuzhou. It is hard to believe that in his mind he had no resistance to the colonial art system. Therefore, choosing traditional temple painting as his career might indirectly have something to do with his resistance to the colonial rule. It might be a form of non-cooperation. Based on the above reasoning, in the social field where temple paintings are located, instead we can faintly see a certain kind of artistic avant-garde attitude that opposes rather than compromises to the colonial rule and the colonial modernity.
According to Chong-ray Hsiao, it was “until 1954, as the trend to restore Taiwanese temples was fully revived, that Li-shui Pan officially ended his work at the theater and completely plunged into temple paintings.” However, the colonists had been unease about and afraid of folk religion. The tendency can be seen from Jinbaoli Conflict in 1895, the conflict between Lunbei Branch Department and Youche Police Station in 1901, and Tapani incident in 1915. However, many Taiwanese intellectuals and progressive mass media in those days would rather estrange themselves from folk religion. Sometimes they would even take sides with the colonists, accusing folk religion as lack of sanitation and full of superstitions and extravagance. In addition, after the Nationalist government came to Taiwan, in general the art education system refused to incorporate temple paintings into academia. Moreover, a more westernized modern art had risen until the 1980s. Painters like Chun-yuan Pan, generation after generation, have always been left in the carrier of folk art galleries—which should have been regarded but have never been transformed as proper art museums. Besides, deities in the temples, along with the images surrounding them, have never transcended the scope of temples. They have never been examined from a near-future perspective. Nor have them been connected with contemporary art and the bodies’ of viewers in contemporary society to get new gazing images.

Epilogue

Why should contemporary art creation need to take traditional art of religion into consideration? It’s because there are more than twenty thousand traditional temples and because they have carried a history of more than two or three hundred years. It’s because these temples have not only preserved a rich collection of traditional ink and wash paintings and temple crafts, they also have undergone a brutal, volatile abandonment and challenges in recent history. It is one of the essentially real conditions for Taiwanese culture. From this point of view, the art transcending temples does not mean to forget, to detach from, or to cut off the power of folks, by which the art of temple confronted the modern art spirit. Instead, we should come up with a way in which the art of temple can be transformed and reborn under the possible conditions for contemporary art creation. Facing towards the deities in the near-future, we have role models from the first generation local painters—the respected Chun-yuan Pan, who struggled to learn by himself, and the second generation painters like Li-shui Pan, who polished his skills and made a comeback. Contemporary art creators may go back and examine the huge chunk left in the art of temple, which is awaiting to be transposed and transformed, which consists tons of images surrounding temples, pilgrimage processions, layered media and bodies of the viewer and the viewed. Let resentment evaporate. Let unfaded dream traverse hundreds of sad nights and eons of darkness. Then the flowers of new images, new media, and new bodies will come to full bloom.


 

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