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Wu Yue, Red Lights go Gray
Wu Yue, Red Lights Go Gray

In Twilight — Home and Family in Wu Yue and Chen Zhe

 By Yan Tong / 童妍

 摄影作为媒介如何能够进行跨文化,跨边界的交流。表达观点,讲述故事,摄影作为一种艺术形式,承载了摄影师对于文化、社会的理解。

“As a medium, photography is equipped for this: images are shareable, accessible and can transcend borders, languages and cultures. As an art form, Photography carries the photographers’ understanding of culture and society.”

Peer to Peer系列将在Open Eye Gallery和St. George’s Hall展出,聚焦于14位中英优秀的摄影艺术家。其中,我将主要讲述摄影师陈哲和吴越的作品。

Peer to Peer, an exhibition at Open Eye Gallery and St. George’s Hall, spotlights fourteen leading artists from China and the UK. Here, I will reflect on projects from two of the artists featured: Wu Yue and Chen Zhe.

摄影师吴越和陈哲就将镜头聚焦到家庭,与西方社会重视个人不同,中国的传统儒家文化使得中国人更加强调家庭的重要性。无论年轻人还是老人,无论你生活在乡村还是城市,中国人都对家有一种眷恋,这种眷恋是基于家所给予的依恋、温暖和亲情。这是诸如学校、养老院所不能代替的。吴越的照片显示了养老院中老人对家庭的思念,而陈哲的镜头则以一种意象化的触感,让人们感觉到中国人对归家的探索与追寻。基于这两组照片,中国人对家庭的态度显示的淋漓尽致。

Perhaps due to Chinese Confucianism, Chinese people are more concerned about family instead of the individual. No matter whether people are young or old, are living in cities or the countryside, people have always held a strong sense of attachment towards family and home. This sense of attachment includes all the love, warmth and affection of home; it cannot be replaced by someone from school or a caring facility. What Wu Yue’s Red Lights Go Grey seeks to spotlight is, perhaps, the longing for a sense of family of people living in a care home. Chen Zhe’s photos, on the other hand, use more abstract imagery to serve this theme. Chinese people’s attitude towards family and home is expressed in these two series.

Red Lights Go Grey

20世纪70年代,中国实施独生子女政策,为了解决人口过多,劳动力过剩的问题,同时也使中国的家庭结构产生了变化。独生子女将要独自负担老一辈的赡养问题,这无疑是对现阶段年轻人的一种压力。如何在小家庭与大家庭之间找到一种平衡的相处方式,这是对年轻人的考验,也给人们提供了一个契机,能够思考关于家庭和人口老龄化的问题。

In 1978, the Chinese government started a new population policy — one-child Policy, which meant that parents can only have one child. The policy aimed at easing overpopulation in China, and overcoming the labor redundancy.

This transformation led to the change of Chinese family structure; the only child in a family became responsible for the older generation, however, this kind of responsibility became a pressure for the young generation. How to keep their immediate family and their extended family in balance? How to deal with this ‘heavy’ responsibility? It is a challenge for Chinese young people. Red Lights Go Grey offers a space in which to think about these issues of family and ageing populations.

《红灯灭,白发生》记录了东莞红灯区改造后,在原址上改建的养老院中老人的生活状态。浮华精美的装饰和老人佝偻着的背影形成强烈的对比,巨大的旋转楼梯和儿童玩具前的老人,粉色的假树站在走廊尽头,无不显示着照片主体和背景的违和感。这组照片一定程度上反映了当代中国的现实问题—即旧有思想与新的生活状态的冲突。在中国传统文化中,孝道始终是其中的核心思想,然而当今社会,人们都忙于自己的事情,把父母远远的甩在身后,把他们送到养老院,寄希望于这些养老机构能够代替他们照顾自己的父母,距离越来越远,差距越来越大,再精美的装修也变得突兀,我们又该如何弥补缺失的亲情? 

Red Lights Go Grey is a record of elderly people’s lives in a caring home. The care home used to be one of the most popular nightclubs in the southeast of China. There is a strong contrast between the magnificent, fantastical setting of the nightlclub and the people that now inhabit it, whose health has declined. A huge spiral staircase arches away from a man using a wheelchair, no longer able to climb it. Colorful children’s toys and pink fake trees stand at the end of a corridor, showing the strangeness of the subjects and background.

It reflects the realistic issues in current Chinese society, the conflict between the old traditions and modern lifestyles of the youth. In Chinese traditional culture, it is essential to be dutiful and accompany one’s parents. People will regard this as a virtue that needs to be inherited. However in current society, people are occupied with their own business and usually ignore their parents. Some of them send their parents to the caring center and hope someone else can take care of their parents instead. The further the distance, the further the relationship. The exquisite decoration of seems abrupt, out of place. How to make up for our lost family affection?

 同时,这也是一场跨文化的交流,因为不只是中国,世界上许多国家都在面临人口老龄化的危机.

This series is also a part of cross-cultural communication: not only China, but also many other countries around the world are dealing with a shift towards an ederly population.

相较于吴越的作品,陈哲的作品更加温暖,以暖黄色为基调,引导人们内心深处对家的渴望。在陈哲的作品中,家是一个虚化的概念,它的意象通过黄昏来传达,可以是任何事物:久违的归属感、温馨的家庭,或者是一天结束后的疲倦感。吴越的作品更多的是希望建立家庭与家这个概念之间的联系,老人们对家的渴望,更多的是对家庭的渴望,对家人陪伴的向往。

Compared with Wu Yue, Chen Zhe creates warmer images. Based on warm yellow sun light, it evokes people’s inner desire of home. In Chen Zhe’s work, ‘home’ is more likely to be a metaphor. The image of ‘home’ is illustrated through twilight. ‘Home’ perhaps can be anything: a long-lost sense of belonging, warm and sweet family or tiredness after a long day of work. Wu Yue’s work tries to establish the connection between ‘home’ and ‘family’. The elderly’s desire of home is their desire of family and companionship of relatives.

 

陈哲 — Towards Evening

太阳通常被视作一个生命体,东升西落,从新生走向衰败,完成了从热烈向上到虚清沉静的转变。黄昏在中国文化中代表着交界,日暮西归,夜晚降临,迎接着新一轮的朝阳喷薄而出。包含着美好事物即将消逝沉落的失落感,人们对于美好事物的缅怀,也是对与新生的期待。同时,黄昏是一天中最为具有安定和平家庭氛围的时刻,柔和朦胧的暖黄光线给人们一种柔软,沉浸,放松的感觉,联想到卧室床头的小台灯,又或是黑夜中始终为你等待的那盏灯。是母亲的包容沉静,也可能是爱人的温言细语。是一个矛盾的时刻,是一个引发人们思考的时刻。

Sun is generally regarded as a lifeform. It rises in the east and sets in the west, from newly born to decay. It portrays a process that from prosperity to the deep calm. Twilight in Chinese literature represents a boundary. Sun goes down and night arrives to welcome the new beginning. People become depressed at twilight for wonderful things are vanishing, but twilight also brings a hope for people to expect the newly born. Twilight, on the other hand, could also be the most peaceful moment full of family atmosphere. The soft and hazy light can bring a sense of belonging. It refers to a lamp beside the bed with yellow and gentle light or the light at night waiting for someone to come home. It is the warm hug from mother or can be gentle words from a lover. It is a contradictory moment. It is an inspired moment.

陈哲的作品《向晚六章》取自古诗《登乐游原》:“向晚意不适。”英译取自特拉克尔的诗作Towards Evening,  My Heart(《向晚,我的心》)。摄影师通过对黄昏时分的探索,找到了另一种表达方式的思考。傍晚的日光将一切都变成金色,夕阳烤化了棱角,时光遗留在闪动着赤红光芒的茧内。人们与黄昏,黑夜与白天微妙而模糊的关系变得泛黄的。她通过模糊的情绪表达引发人们内心深处的共鸣、对家的渴望。对《赤之茧》的拓写是陈哲系列作品中最精彩的部分,她采用了《赤之茧》的叙事结构,以黄昏时刻开篇,鸟雀归巢,人们回家,展开了对“家”的探索。在黄昏中,所有的失落,疑问,斗争都会逐渐归于平静,而黄昏成了唯一不动的支点,永恒的见证。

Towards Evening is a title taken from Chinese poetry, Leyou Plateau “My heart is filled with gloom towards evening.” The English version comes from Georg Trakl—Towards Evening, My Heart. Chen Zhe finds another way of narrative towards evening through this series. The sun light at evening turns everything into gold. Sunset gradually melts the edges. Time was left in the huge cocoon with flashing red light. She tries to explore people’s slippery relationship with the twilight time between day and night. The vague expression of her emotion evokes people’s inner desire for home.

The work on show at Open Eye Gallery is one ‘chapter from the series Towards Evening. In ‘An Expansion of Kobo Abe’s “The Red Cocoon” (Viewing)’,  Zhe hires the narrative structure of The Red Cocoon written by Kobo Abe. The story starts from birds back to their nest and people coming back home. From that, Chen Zhe starts to discuss the image “home”. In the twilight, all the disappointment, doubt and conflict will gradually calm down. Twilight, however, becomes the only supporting point that stands still, the eternal witness.

对于家庭的理解,并不局限,它可以是永恒坚守的信念,漆黑夜里的点点星光;可以是遮蔽天日的参天大树,亦或是脚下深沉的土地。我们从家出发,最终又回到这里。它好像一直在变化,又似乎从未变过,在时间的长河中沉静而坚定。吴越和陈哲展现了他们眼中的家,但是一定还有更多的可能性,等待被发现。

The understanding of ‘family’ is not limited. It can be a belief that can always be adhered or star light in the dark night. It can be a towering tree that covers the sky, or the profound ground. We start from home and finally arrive back here. It seems to have been changing, and it seems to have never changed. It is quiet and firm in the long river of time. Wu Yue and Chen Zhe present their perspective of home and family. In these works, there is always more possibilities about home and family waiting to be discovered.

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