Part III

Chen Nong’s photographical works are the well-designed achievement. He deliberates carefully the work theme, designs the basic visual structure, selects
a specific props, finds the appropriate model, etc. before shooting; additionally he also stains on the black and white photographs, each group of photos require the corresponding basic tone,
and each photo also needs different
color variations, after the completion of shooting. Final effect of the photo is often an integration of absurd visual situations, malposed time-space relationship, nightmarish color atmosphere and solemn scene feeling. Obviously, regardless of creation method, image structure, inherent concept and metaphor, Chen Nong’s works should be regarded as a very typical conceptual photography.

But it seems these photos do not give the very “contemporary” visual impression. On the one hand, compared with most contemporary photographic works, they look like also leaving a lot of realistic tail: character expression, movement and basic visual scene seem to rely
on too much visual characteristics of documentary photography, dyeing
style and narrative intonation of photos seem also to associate inextricably with a Chinese-style realistic painting. On
the other hand, these photos seem to have a kind of uncomfortable rustic taste – a common bitter flavor of “new documentary photography” in the 1980s – all of which look like to be avoided strongly by all kinds of contemporary photography.

However Chen Nong does not more concern obviously “contemporaneity” of works, but a disturbing social reality –the bottom of society with the farmer as representative can not get rid of social dilemma – his unique visual language stems from his unique experience to this social problem which already becomes commonplace: misplaced characters, overlapped identities and warped sense of time and space construct a cross-era historical perspective; nightmare painting with an official realism is full of color atmosphere with snarled relationship, implies the inherent tension between a kind of social fate can never get rid of and an optimistic progressive era language; then deep poetic care eventually condenses on the wholeheartedly concern to the harsh reality after combination of absurd image structure and solemn documentary feature; furthermore that blast of bitter rustic flavor mixed in the post-modern visual imagery reflects more the artist’s keen insight to a kind of “era truth”.

From the Forbidden City series presenting and questioning on a social reality to the Mask series surveying
on the rural industry filled with decline atmosphere, Three Gorges series emerging vividly on the never changed fate of the bottom of society, then Yellow River and Lotus Pond series tracing
on the history of protesting this fate,
and then Apsaras series playing …… on fatalistic vain effort of contemporary trying to get rid of this fate, Chen Nong’s works reflect not only beyond the grim and bitter image showing the depth of thought from the “new documentary photography” of the social reality of
a representation, but also the elite attitude with a strong social rebellious mood and dispelled mainstream values, and contemporary photography with condescending wise intonation – a deeper social care and more lasting self evolution potential in a continuous concern
on seemingly commonplace social
reality – relative to those contemporary photography with more timeliness.

E6.Yellow River Photography Handcolored 2007-2008


陳農的攝影作品都是精心設計的結果。拍攝之前要仔細推敲作品的主 題,設計基本的視覺結構,選擇特定的道具,尋找相應的模特等等;拍照 完成以後還要在黑白照片上染色,每一組照片都需要與之相應的色彩基 調,每一幅照片又需要各不相同的色彩變化。照片最終的效果往往是荒 誕的視覺情境、錯位的時空關係、夢魘般的色彩氛圍、以及一種冷峻的 現場感的綜合。顯然,無論是就製作方法、圖像結構、還是內在的觀念隱 喻而言,陳農的作品都算得上是很典型的觀念攝影。

但這些照片給人的直觀印像似乎並不很“當代”。一方面,與大多數當代攝 影作品相比,它們似乎還留有許多現實主義的尾巴:人物表情、動作以及 基本的視覺場景似乎都過多依賴於紀實攝影的視覺特徵,照片的染色風 格和敘事語調也似乎總與某種中國式的現實主義繪畫有著千絲萬縷的聯 繫。另一方面,這些照片似乎都有一種讓人不舒服的土腥味兒——一種 常見於八十年代的“新紀實攝影”的苦澀氣息——所有這些,似乎都是形 形色色的當代攝影所極力迴避的。

但陳農更關心的顯然不是作品的“當代性”,而是一種令人不安的社會現 實——以農民為代表的社會底層無法擺脫社會困境——獨特的視覺語 言源於他對這種早已淪為老生常談的社會問題的獨特體驗:人物錯置、 重疊的身份和恍如隔世的時空感,建構了一種跨時代的歷史視角;夢魘 般的、卻又與一種官方化的現實主義繪畫有著糾纏不清的關係的色彩氛 圍,隱含著一種從來不曾擺脫的社會宿命與一種樂觀、進步的時代話語 之間的內在張力;荒誕的圖像結構與冷峻的紀實特徵的結合,則將深沉 的詩性關照最終凝結在對殘酷現實的傾情關注;而混雜在後現代的視覺 表象裡的那股苦澀的農民氣息,更體現出藝術家對一種“時代本相”的敏 銳洞察。

從《故宮》系列對一種社會現實的呈現與追問,到《面具》系列對瀰漫著 衰敗氣息的鄉村行業的審視,《三峽》系列對社會底層從來不曾改變過的 宿命的逼現,再到《黃河》與《荷塘》系列對抗爭這種宿命的歷史追溯, 再到《飛天》系列對當代人試圖擺脫這種宿命的虛妄努力的扮演……在對 一種看似老生常談的社會現實的連續關注中,陳農的作品不僅體現出超 越於以嚴峻、苦澀的形象呈現一種表象化的社會真實的“新紀實攝影”的思 想深度,也體現出相對於那些更具時效性的當代攝影——有著強烈的社 會叛逆情緒、消解主流價值觀念的精英姿態、以及高人一等的睿智語調的 當代攝影——更深切的社會關懷和更持久的自我演化潛力。

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