ACTING AGAINST ONE KIND OF FATE
對一種宿命的扮演


Part II

It is different from contemporary paintings which can be concocted arbitrarily a variety of non-realistic visual illusion,
the photograph with sense of unique reality tells us, the cock head and armor of the “cock head man” are artificial props, “he” is not a monster, but is one man who hides his true face in a special “appearance of an actor”. Although it is impossible to determine the identity of the actor, but the absurd combination of this “appearance of an actor” and daily situation with
obvious social metaphor not only suggests the spirit conflict between the character and the social environment, but also
is the necessary buffer of people’s nervous and intense inner experience – in the dual identities of the “real me” and the “actor”, the natural expression of the true emotion is transformed into a “performance” – hence, the “cock head man” either reveals frankly his true emotion, or need not scruple the various possible consequences from straight expression.

The “cock head man” is wearing a crude and cheap stage costume, but gives a unique color effect for the photo – in
the Forbidden City 06, Chen Nong used the artificial dyed color and repaired color technologies on the black and white photographs. It was a popular exquisite polished skill in photo studios in twenty or thirty years ago. Until now, many Chinese families also preserve this kind of “photochrome”. However, it is very different from the rigorous and careful polished effects of this old photo, Chen Nong’s colored method often has freehand painting-like rough, interest and charm – summons in common a kind of era atmosphere which is rapidly vanishing. Because, “grass stage troupes” around villages and towns were just an important characterization of Chinese mass culture in twenty or thirty years ago.

While the characters’ faces are presented clearly in the Forbidden City 02, Forbidden City 07 and other works. There are the cheap clothing in paper costumes, awkward posture, naive, perplexed and lost farm children’s faces – they are not
the trained theatric actors, further are not “a bunch of angels”, look really like temporary supporting roles in the “grass stage troupe” – their identities seem very awkward in this particular scenario of the Forbidden City: they are not the master, unlike the hired labors, can not be the invited performers, or even leisurely tourists; the kind of naive expression is full of confusion and loss, also is far from the mettlesome and handsome temperament “armor” implied. Perhaps, here, are armor and wings a metaphor for already lost dreams? Are confusion and embarrassment
their chilled reality? In any case, Chen Nong’s Forbidden City series are obviously different from that kind of conceptual art
of mainstream values of deconstruction as the purport, they
are clearly trying to present a survival reality of the “socially vulnerable groups” characterized by these farm children.

E.Upriver of Three Gorges Photography Handcolored 2006          E4.Downriver of Three Gorges Photography Handcolored 2006

(二)

與可以隨意臆造出種種非現實的視覺幻象的當代繪畫不同,照片特有的 真實感告訴我們,“雞頭人”的雞頭、甲胄都是人工製作的道具,“他”不是 什麼怪物,而是一個將自己的真實面孔隱藏在特殊“扮相”中的人。雖然無 法確定扮演者的身份,但在這副“扮相”與具有明顯的社會隱喻的日常情境 的荒誕組合中,不僅暗示出人物與社會環境之間的精神衝突,同時,它也 是人物緊張、激烈的內心體驗必要的緩衝——在“真我”與“扮演者”的雙 重身份中,真情的自然流露被轉化為一種“表演”——於是,“雞頭人”既可 以率意地表露真實的情感,又無須顧忌直抒胸臆可能引發的種種後果。

“雞頭人”粗陋、廉價的戲裝,還與照片獨特的色彩效果——在《故宮06》 中,陳農採用了在黑白照片上人工染色的修色技術。在二三十年前,它是 流行於照相館的一種精緻的潤色技巧。直到現在,許多中國家庭還保存 有這種“彩色照片”。不過,與這種老照片嚴謹、工細的潤色效果不同,陳 農的染色往往有著寫意畫般的粗獷意趣——共同召喚出一種正在急劇 消逝的時代氛圍。因為,在二三十年前,遍及鄉鎮的“草台戲班”正是中國 大眾文化的重要表徵。

而在《故宮02》、《故宮07》等作品中,人物的面孔被清晰地呈示出來。 紙質戲裝裡的廉價服裝,笨拙的身姿,憨樸、迷茫、失落的農家子女的面 孔——她們不是訓練有素的戲劇演員,更不是“一堆天使”,倒像是“草台 戲班”裡的臨時配角——在故宮這個特定的場景中,她們的身份顯得很 尷尬:不是主人,不像僱傭的勞工,不會是受邀而來的表演者,甚至也不 是悠閒的遊客;那種憨樸的、滿是迷茫與失落的神情,也與“甲胄”暗示的 英姿勃發的氣質相去甚遠。或許,在這裡,甲胄與翅膀隱喻的是一種早已 失落的夢想?迷茫與尷尬才是她們冷硬的現實?無論如何,陳農的《故 宮》系列顯然與那種以解構主流價值觀念為主旨的觀念藝術有很大的區 別,它們顯然試圖呈現這些農家子女所表徵的“社會弱勢群體”的一種生 存現實。