IMAGES OF CHINA FROM THE FLOWERS GALLERY
圖像中的中國 倫敦弗勞爾斯畫廊


 

Our editorial team has launched an investigation into British galleries that have either direct or indirect links with China. Many galleries corresponded to those criteria, while some in particular attracted our attention. Here comes the case of the Flowers Galleries, which notably represent three photographers – Edward Burtynsky, Nadav Kander, and Ian Teh – that have worked extensively in China.

Art.zip編輯團隊遍訪了與中國有直接或間接關係的英國畫廊,在眾多與中國掛鈎的畫廊之中我們 挑選了特別吸引我們注意力的幾家畫廊,倫敦弗勞爾斯畫廊(Flowers Galleries)便是其中一家, 它憑著旗下三位在中國進行過細緻考察的攝影師而著稱,他們分別是愛德華·博坦斯基(Edward Burtynsky)、納達夫 · 肯德(Nadav Kander)和鄭永仁(Lan Teh)。

First establishing themselves in the 1970s under the name of ‘Flowers East’, Angela Flowers and his son Matthew Flowers (who took over the operation in 1989) have kept on developing their pioneering activities, moving from areas to areas, and consequently manage to achieve their recent success: founding three galleries, one in 20th Street New York and two in London (respectively in Cork Street and Kingsland Road).

In 2010, the Flowers Galleries celebrated their 40th anniversary: this cheerful event was an opportunity to commemorate not only three prosperous galleries, but also confirm their important roles as active publishers, and fervent participants in international art fairs, as well as partners with other important cultural institutions.

Throughout the years, the Flowers Galleries have played a significant part in the dynamism and development of the British art scene. Indeed, at the beginning when some British artists became internationally renowned, the galleries decided to support the young yet promising generation. Therefore, Flowers Galleries’ credo may be indicated as openness rather than exclusiveness, friendly communication with the audience rather than snobbery, loyalty to its artists rather than following artistic fashion. Such positioning explains the rich selection of 41 artists from different generations (from the 1910s to the 1960s), using different mediums (paintings, installations, sculptures, photography), yet all sharing the same creative vigour clearly visible through their contemporary artworks. Photography, among all media, has become a major driving force and represented a growing department with a certain number of prominent photographers since 2008.

Edward Burynsky, Nadav Kander, and Ian Teh have attracted our attention most for their extensive photographic collections about China. This is the reason why we are so eager to present them.

To what extent these Western artists can take part in shaping
the image of China? One might find it difficult to answer the question at first, especially if the artist’s nationality as legitimacy is taken for granted when depicting his country. However in recent decades, these three photographers’ creation allow us to take a transnational and distanced approach while examining the various representations of China. Besides, they shed light on the existing artistic links between China and the West.

 

安祖娜 · 弗勞爾斯(Angela Flowers)和她的兒子馬修斯·弗勞爾斯(Matthew Flowers)最早在1970年 代以“Flowers East”的名義在世界各地開展先鋒藝術活動,1989年後便由馬修斯全權負責,至今取得了相當矚目的成績。他們成功地建立了三間藝術畫廊,一間位於紐約的第二十大道(20th Avenue), 另外兩間分別位於倫敦的庫克街(Cork Street)和金斯蘭大道(Kingsland Road)。

多年來,弗勞爾斯畫廊為英國多元化藝術的發展起著至關重要的作用。起初,當一些英國藝術家在國際上開始展露頭角的時候,畫廊便對這些有潛力的新生代作出了大力的支持。因此弗勞爾斯畫廊的宗旨是開放的而不是排外的,與觀眾保持良好的溝通而不是勢利的,忠於藝術家的原創理念而不是隨波逐流地迎合藝術風潮。在這樣的定位下,畫廊擁有四十一位來自不同時代的藝術家(跨越1910到1960 年代),他們分別運用不同的媒介來進行藝術創作, (如繪畫、裝置、雕刻、攝影等等),但他們的作品都透露著十足的創作活力。而在眾多媒介中,攝影已經成為一種主要的推動力。自2008年以來,在傑 出攝影師的推動下,攝影成為越來越壯大的媒介。

其中,攝影師愛德華·博坦斯基(EdwardBurtynsky) 、納達夫·肯德(Nadav Kander)和鄭永仁(Ian Teh) 大量關於中國的系列攝影引起了我們的高度關注, 所以我們希望在本期介紹這幾位攝影師。

西方藝術家在塑造中國形象上起著怎樣的作用呢?起初面對這個問題的 時候,許多人或許會摸不著頭腦,不知如何作答,尤其當人們普遍認為一 個國家的形象應該由該國的人民去塑造的時候。然而近幾十年,這三位 攝影師的作品從跨文化跨國界的視角來呈現了一個多面化的中國。除此 之外,他們為中西兩邊的藝術鏈接提供了新的可能。

Edward Burynsky

Over his 25 years career, the Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky (born in 1955) developed keen eyesight of man-made alterations upon nature caused by the pursuit of modernization, which he conscientiously captured across Northern America. Burtynsky’s anxiety to engender the audience’s awakening of such disrupted sceneries led him to China, where he was engaged in a series of photographs depicting human and environmental costs of the tremendous economic boom that China is undergoing. For five years starting from 2002, Burtynsky explored the ‘Middle Country’ by scrutinising the urban revolution with his series Urban Renewal, and at the same by following the industrial production processes: from the collection of energy with his series on the Three Gorges Dam, and the human labour with Manufacturing; the steel producers with Steel and Coal; the collapsed heavy industry due to mid-90s restructuring with Old Industry; the ships production in ports with Shipyards; to finally the recycling process with Recycling. His large-sized photographs offer a paradoxical commentary vacillating between deadpan and bleak impressions on the world’s changing landscapes.

愛德華·博坦斯基(Edward Burtynsky)

加拿大攝影師愛德華·博坦斯基生於1955年,在過去的二十五年職業生涯中,他著眼於探索人類現代化進程對大自然的影響,他在北美地區已經發現了其中的變化。博坦斯基希望喚醒大眾來關注已受破壞的自然生態,他前往中國拍攝了一系列關於中國經濟飛速發展下人類和環境所付出代價的照片。自2002年以來,博坦斯基用五年的時間完成了系列作品“ 城市更新(Urban Renewal)”,他透過細觀現代化改革去探究中國。“三 峽大壩(Three Gorges Dam)”系列跟蹤觀察了工業能源的開發而“製造Manufacturing)”則關注了勞動力的問題;“ 鋼鐵和煤礦(Steel and Coal)”系列拍攝了煤鋼生產者;“舊工業(Old Industry)”系列記錄了因90年代工業結構改革而沒落的重工業;“船 塢(Shipyards)”系列跟蹤拍攝了碼頭的制船 業;“環保(Recycling)”系列則捕捉了廢物回收的過程。博坦斯基的大型攝影作品引起了針對現代人對大自然形態異變卻視若無睹的爭論。

 

Nadav Kander

As to Nadav Kander (born in 1961 in Israel), his contribution to the shaping of China’s image is also significant. His Yangtze series – which resulted from five trips initiated in 2006 – shows an interesting account that mingles the pictorial tradition by portraying the river sceneries, and an unavoidable social commentary of the unnatural development within natural settings, and its consequences on the population. Although he tried as much as he could to maintain a distance because of his awareness of being an outsider, Kander ultimately re-enacted individual and collective sentiments of rootlessness commonly felt by not only the Chinese he met, but also himself as an Israeli-born South African living in England. His photographs propose a journey navigating by the river in traditional boats, walking across broken bridges, ending in nearby cities with leisured people.

納達夫·肯德(Nadav Kander)

納達夫 · 肯德(1961年生於以色列)對塑造中國 形象也作出了不可磨滅的貢獻。自2006年起, 他五次前往長江拍攝名為“長江(Yangtze)”的 系列圖片,從新穎的視覺角度及傳統的圖像技法捕捉了長江的形態,揭發了人為的社會發展對長江所產生的變化以及對人口流動的影響。肯德認為自己是一個局外人,所以要盡可能地 保持一定的距離,以中立的態度去進行拍攝, 然而由所遇到的中國人身上,他一次又一次地 感覺到了無根的落寞感和漂泊感。作為一個生 於以色列的南非籍人,如今在英格蘭生活,他自身也是個背井離郷的漂泊者,所以感觸良多。看著他的作品仿佛在進行著一次旅程,乘著傳統的小船沿著河流划行,穿過破舊的橋梁,到達鄰近的城鎮,遇見那裡悠閒自在的人們。

 

Ian Teh

Finally, the Chinese-British Ian Teh (born in 1971) also has experience in China since 2006 for
a solo initiatory journey with the intention to discover the industrial hinterlands. For his latest exhibition Traces: Dark Clouds, the gallery based in Kingsland Road selected photographs of Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Liaoning and other provinces in China that Teh chose for the reason that they reveal another side of the so-called ‘China’s miracle’: the environmental sacrifices
of perfecting the country and their side-effects left for the future generations. Besides, Teh is currently working in China for three of his projects entitled Merging Boundaries in which he looks into the Sino-Russian and Sino-Korean limits, The Vanishing about altered landscapes and displaced lives on the Yangtze River, Tainted Landscapes 1 reveals birth to a new coal power station, and Tainted Landscapes 2 accounts heavy industry in Linfen, China’s most polluted city.

鄭永仁(Yangtze)

鄭永仁(生於1971年)曾於2006年獨自來到中國探索中國的工業腹地,他的最新攝影展“痕跡:烏雲(Traces: Dark Clouds)”展於金斯蘭大道展館。永仁挑選了其在內蒙古、山西、遼寧等地拍攝的照片,他認為這些照片揭露了所謂“中國奇 蹟”的另一面──為了完善國家而對自然界作出的犧牲,以及對子孫後代的負面影響。永仁正在中國密鑼緊鼓地籌備他的三個項目,分別為“融合的疆界(Merging Boundaries)”拍攝的是中俄和中韓 的邊界境況, “消逝(The Vanishing )” 是關於長江沿岸被改變的地貌,“被汚染的景觀1 (Tainted Landscapes 1)”記錄了一座新煤礦發電站的創建過程,而“被汚染的景觀2(Tainted Landscapes 2)”描繪的是中國汚染最嚴重的城市-臨汾市的重工業情況。

Interestingly, although these three photographers belong to different cultures, thus assumedly possessing dissimilar cultural conditions, they nonetheless share astonishing similarities. First, they reify the timeless Western attraction for Chinese cultural and aesthetic paradigm. Second, all combine verve with highly aesthetic and documentary-inflected viewpoints to create panoramic photographs that transform the urban or natural landscape into paradoxical sites of quietness, unsettledness, alienation, and sublimity at the same time. Third, none of them dictate an easy answer to such destructions, but instead they aim to leave the spectator free of deciding whether there is any ethical implication.

Rather than affirming these three photographers’ gaze as condemnations of Chinese harsh disruption of either natural or urban landscapes, the Flowers Galleries chose a more insightful path in problematising these photographs’ capacities of showing diverse intuitive and emotional responses to another culture environment, which eventually stand for a more general questioning on global issues.

這三名攝影師分別有著截然不同的文化背景,理應當有著不同的文化 遭遇,然而有趣的是,他們卻有著驚人的共同特徵。他們都將西方的永恆美學應用到中國文化和審美觀上,結合高度藝術性的和紀實的角度去進行景觀攝影創作,通過把城市或自然景觀轉化成一種無聲、動盪、孤立但又高高在上的矛盾體。他們同樣沒有輕易地給這些現代化 所造成的毀壞而妄下定論,而是留有空間讓觀眾自己判斷是否存在倫理內涵。

弗勞爾斯畫廊作為這三名攝影師的代表機構,並沒有一味地支持他們 譴責中國對大自然和城鎮景觀的嚴重破壞,而是選擇一種更為有見解 的方式來考驗透過這三位攝影師對別種文化環境所做出不同的理性和感性判斷,因為他們所關注的問題將會是一個全球性的問題。

Interview

Chris Littlewood, Director of Photography at Flowers Galleries since 2008, generously accepted to answer our questions, providing additional information about the galleries and the photographers.

 

 

採訪

克里斯 · 利特伍德(Chris Littlewood),由2008年至今擔任弗勞斯畫廊的攝影總監。在這次的採訪中,他慷慨地回答了我們所有的問題,並且提供了更多的關於該畫廊和旗下攝影師的信息。

Q: Are there differences between your London galleries, and why?

A: There are indeed differences according to the areas they are based in, although they all represent the same artists. While the one in Mayfair area enjoys an assured establishment and a specialised audience (art consultants, collectors and etc.),
the one in Kingsland Road benefits from its biggest space, Old street area creative hub, and its wider audience (artists, schools). Consequently, it has allowed the team to develop there the photographic department as well as more experimental exhibitions, such as the project space that shows younger or emerging artists.

 

Q:位於倫敦的兩間畫廊有差別嗎?為什麼會有這樣的分別?

A:雖然這兩間畫廊都代理相同的藝術家,但是他們有著地域的差別。位 於梅費爾(Mayfair)地段的畫廊名聲更響,會吸引更專業一點的觀眾,例如藝術顧問和收藏家等等,而位於金斯蘭大道的畫廊有更寬敞的空間, 處於老街(Old street)地區的創意中心地帶,吸引更廣泛的觀眾群體, 所以畫廊能够進一步拓展它的攝影部門,做更多實驗性的展覽,例如專門為新生代藝術家開設的展覽空間。

Q: Do you think the above-mentioned photographers created divergent and/or similar representations of China?

A: On the one hand they obviously explored a common subject, yet all possess a different gaze. Kander for instance, took a very indirect, poetic, personal approach opposite to documentary considerations. His Yantze series reflected an atmosphere that embraced a wide range of sensations and feelings, such as alienation or sadness. Contrarily, Burtynsky’s gaze is direct, almost rough, highly distanced – literally and judgementally. The magnitude of his panoramic photographs mingled documentary and pictorial approach to landscape through which he strived to provoke sustainability awareness. As for Teh, his method to first spend days in the place in order to gain trust and proximity with the people, then taking photographs, recalls somehow journalistic practices. Ultimately, the trio were engaged in a ‘China-centric’ photographic dialogue that possesses highly intuitive and pictorial dimensions, thus leading the viewers to be visually overwhelmed and trapped.

Q:你覺得上文提到的三位攝影師在他們的作品中,呈現的是相同的還是不一樣的中國呢?

A:他們雖然研究的是同一個對象,但是卻採用不一樣的手法,有著不一樣的觀點。肯德沒有選擇紀實的手法,卻用了間接的、詩意的、 比較個人化的表達方式。他的作品“長江”包含 著各樣的情感色彩,例如孤寂和悲傷。相反地, 博坦斯基的表達卻是直接的,幾乎不加任何的修飾,不帶任何個人情感色彩。他結合了紀實構圖的手法做景觀拍攝,希望引起持續性的關注。永仁在拍攝人物之前,通常會跟拍攝對象生活接觸幾天,更加熟悉彼此和得到他們的信賴後再開始拍攝,這種拍攝方式與新聞攝影手 法相類似。總而言之,三位攝影師在進行以中國為話題的圖像對話俱有較高的洞察力和形象化緯度,因此讓觀者感動視覺上受到震撼和並投入其中。

Q: How do you select your photographers in general?

A: There are two standards that needed to be considered. The first is the galleries’ interest in large format or epic photographs. The second corresponds to the project space’s profound involvement in artworks that challenge and experiment the medium.

Q:你是如何挑選攝影師的呢?

A:我們會用兩個標準去衡量。首先,我們的畫廊青睞大型或敘事的照片。其次是作品是否有深度並進行挑戰和實驗此媒介做創新的拍攝。