Text by: Li Bowen 撰文：李博文
Image Courtesy of: The Hepworth Wakefield Gallery 圖片提供：赫普沃·斯維克菲爾德畫廊
ART.ZIP: Would you tell us about the recently opened exhibition ‘Philip-Lorca diCorcia Photographs 1975-2012’ at the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery?
PD: This is an abbreviated version of an exhibition that has been shown in two other places in Europe. So it is really not a surprise to me at all. The difference this time is of course it is in this museum that is quite nice. All the people I worked with are also quite nice. Maybe because I haven’t had a show of this nature in Great Britain before, the reception has been very positive. So yes, I am happy with it. I don’t really consider it a retrospective though, because retrospectives are made from a choice of what you have done over your entire career. In the case of this, and its other versions, it was more or less what was available, and that has to do with the cost, more than anything else. The works have to be borrowed within Europe so that it wouldn’t be too much a hassle, in terms of, say, customs, and all of that. So this defined the choice of what could be in the exhibition. I see it as an introduction to a large part of my work, but not a retrospective. I had to loan them a lot of works that are my own, which was a difficult decision because the methods used to print twenty years ago don’t exist anymore. I loaned the work to the exhibition so that it wouldn’t be limited to whatever was available in various collections within Europe.
ART.ZIP: 能給我們介紹一下最近在英國赫普沃·斯維克菲爾德畫廊(Hepworth Wakefield Gallery)開幕的攝影展“Philip-Lorca diCorcia Photographs 1975-2012”嗎？
ART.ZIP: How do you find your teaching experience at Yale University School of Art?
PD: It began in 1996. It was more a casual role. I was invited to co-op and to critique the work of the students, and then I began to actually teach some practical courses about lighting and the methods of doing things. It is a graduate school, so its emphasis is really not on training professional photographers. It is within the art department. So in some way it’s not very good as a means to learn how to work professionally. There is a desire to have some of the skills necessary to do that, and I have been working professionally, so among other things, I was asked to do that. Eventually that was phased out, I just sit on a panel with up to four other people, maybe five. We review students’ works, they have to present their works twice a semester, and there is a final critique, so I sit with others on that panel, then I give lectures about my own work or something. But it is not like I go and teach the history of photography or even workshops on technical matters because it is just not something I really want to do anymore. The people who sit with me on the panel change all the time, including the head of the department, and a few permanent members of the faculty. My position is described as chief critic. So I guess I am a critic.
I am not sure exactly if I am going to continue to do it. To some degree that has to do with the nature of the photographic practice, and the policy of the institution. Frequently now the students, who are all graduate students, are not even making photographs in the traditional sense. At first that was okay but I really don’t feel I have that much to say. It is the nature of photography itself in the art world now: you rarely see a straightforward photograph. I am really not interested in trying to have a meaningful dialogue about abstraction or heavily conceptual work, that just doesn’t interest me. So that makes my presence somewhat irrelevant.
ART.ZIP: Do you think you contribute somehow to such a change in photography as an artistic practice?
PD: I cannot speak for the medium at large. It is something I think about and it is an aspect of the work that I do. But I don’t think there is anyone that owns any particular aspect of photography solely by himself/herself. If the question suggests that somehow I out of thin air evolve this particular aspect of my work, which has been noticed, I would say no. Everything comes as result of smaller steps, the awareness of the history. The one thing I would say is that, as an artist, I chose to try and investigate that and emphasise it, and a lot of people were not interested in that. So the re-emphasis on that is something that I can claim responsibility for, but inventing it, no.
ART.ZIP: You mentioned the policy of the school, can you say a little more about it?
PD: It is the same thing that you see in the art world in general. I really don’t think that for instance identity politics is a particularly interesting thing. To investigate your sexuality is fine, but to do it with emphasis on you yourself is to me ultimately boring. I don’t think that there is anyone in the art world and anywhere else that is that interesting. Suddenly everything is me me me. Let’s say that people who have decided in what direction to go, at Yale for instance, they are all about having a career in the art world, and investigating notions of yourself and art itself. So it is art about art, it is art about ego, it is art about career. Those are the three things I couldn’t care less about, so I am not interested in continuing.
Reality takes a part in the sense that it is a motivation. The experience of making a photograph is not new to me. Increasingly it could be new, because I have no real digital knowledge but let’s just say starting out, leaving your house, with your camera, and coming back with something that you have made, is not unique for me anymore. So what is unique is where you put yourself and what you experience as a result of that. I chose photography in one way because the idea of going in to a big studio and facing a blank canvas and having anything that I want to register on that canvas just didn’t happen, it is just not something I want to do. So reality comes in to play, because reality is the substance that I work with.
ART.ZIP: So identity politics and art about ego are trendy at Yale?
PD: Oh it is quite trendy. One of the reason why I have a problem currently is because I believe that Yale’s reputation is based upon a certain tradition. That might sound stuffy and old-world or something like that, in an atmosphere in which everybody is looking for the latest development or trend. I think everybody knows the latest development and trend is usually not the latest, it is really a reiteration of something that has been done before, but because there is no cultural history at play, like there is an amnesia. If somebody digitally makes a reproduction of something that was done in an analog manner 50 years ago, is it new? I don’t think so. But that seems to make a difference for some people, and it is not a discourse that I really feel is worth engaging in.
It is not as if there is no sacrifice to being a professor, a critic in Yale, it is work. It is not as if they pay you a lot or you get a lot of benefits or it doesn’t take energy, or a degree of commitment. I see increasingly that people that are invited are just egos. They don’t invest themselves very much in what they do at Yale, in terms of critiques, they just talk about what they do. That’s fine, most people want to know how these people practice, but, you cannot do it year in and year out. That is the difference. I mean the people that have stayed there, the people who are showing up year after year, they are not talking about: “alright this is what I do.” They are trying to engage with what is being done by other people and placing it in a context that is useful to that person. They are not stars to talk about their lifestyle and how they figure out that a giant stainless steel puppy dog would sell for millions of dollars. I am not naming names. There are of course in any institution, any job situation, personality conflicts that arise. But I think my doubts about continuing in the present situation have more to do with a general change. It is not just a change in art education, it is a change in the nature of the practice. And we all see it. I have – I would guess – a very good perspective because galleries that I work with in some ways are quite indicative of the way that the art world has changed. I see it first-hand because, to some degree, although I may not feel this way at all, galleries like David Zwirner or Sprueth Magers are considered to be a symptom of a consolidation of money and power, in the art world which has, depending on whether you are getting that money and power or not, been described as corrupting. You see it quite first-hand how these things work. It is never the way it is described. The people are not what you think they are like. They are all committed, truly believe in the work they are trying to exhibit, promote, and sometime sell. It is also a big myth that everybody that has an exhibition gets rich.
I think I would continue some relationship with teaching, but I may not be at that particular institution. You know there is a cynical aphorism, I cannot quite remember how it goes, but something like: “Real artists do, bad artists teach.” There is within all art institutions a group of people who have basically either never accomplished anything, or accomplished something so long ago that nobody can remember. But they got their jobs, and it is a lot harder to get rid of them, than to get them. All schools are filled with these people. They have a few thankless jobs – not every student is a good student. Somebody has to deal with the very basic levels of art education, and that is usually on an undergraduate level. The people who are privileged, as I believe I am, are those who really just have to deal with already developed artists, and don’t have to do much more than to express their opinions that are valuable to the people there. Not just to the people you are talking about, because you are doing it in front of all the other students as well. So the dialogue is larger than just the specific person that you are talking to. The references can often be seemingly relevant but that is the nature of the practice that you are trying not only to help somebody improve what they are doing but possibly to change it into something else. I cannot put it down into a percentage, but a large part of the people I worked with, they come into the program doing one thing, and they leave it doing something entirely different. It is not the intention of anyone I think to make everybody change into a different beast but it happens, and increasingly it happens in a way that I am not particularly interested in, which is that they change medium altogether. Almost every single person who applies to that department – there are twenty students, so ten are admitted every year – applies with a fairly traditional form of photography: something in a rectangular format, and has an image. I would say that when they leave, at least half of them are not doing it anymore. Like I said previously, they will be doing maybe video, installation, performance… It is kind of difficult to even quantify it in some way. It is not unusual. There are a lot of installations and videos, short films these days. The art world is used to that now. Having a subject has always been a large part of the practice of photography and increasingly that subject has become more and more nebulous and hard to define. When it is truly interesting or well-developed, it can be a really good thing. But when it is just an excuse to avoid the fact that, you are kind of stuck but you need to make work: that is the nature of going to school. That is not the nature necessarily of being an artist. Whatever I do – of course there are all sorts of pressures to finish things, to do them well, and to have them exhibited, all of that – but I do not have to, necessarily. But when you are a student, you have to produce on a regular basis, and you have to show it to a bunch of people, and you have to take the criticism, that is a form of pressure which is somewhat artificial, although it does reflect in some microcosmic way the larger world works. That pressure can take quite an emotional toll. I am not sure the students think of it as fun.
在耶魯擔任教授和評論家並不是沒有犧牲的。這是工作。這並不是拿著高額的酬勞或大量的福利而不需付出精力，不需履行職責。我看到越來越多被邀請來學院教學的人只關心自我。他們在耶魯的工作中並不投入。在評價作品的時候，他們只提他們自己的創作。這沒什麽問題，人們想了解他們是怎麽創作的，然而你不能沒完沒了地這樣做。這就是不同。我的意思是，在學院內工作的人們，全身心投入學院之中的人們，他們不僅討論自己的創作。他們嘗試介入他人的創作之中，並為他人創造有益的語境。他們不是那樣的明星：只會討論自己的生活方式，或吹噓自己是怎麽想出來做一只價值幾百萬美元的不銹鋼狗的。我不在針對任何人。當然，在任何一個機構中，在任何一個工作環境中都會存在性格沖突。但是我想我目前關於繼續教職的困惑與整體環境的改變有關。這不僅僅是藝術教育的改變，這也與藝術實踐本質的改變有關。我們共同目睹了這些改變。我想，我有一個非常好的視角，因為與我合作的畫廊在藝術界的改變中有指標性意義。我有發言權，因為在某種意義上，儘管我自己沒有這種感覺，大衛·茲維爾納畫廊（David Zwirner）以及Sprueth Magers等畫廊被視作金錢與權力媾合的產物，而藝術界因為這種畫廊的存在而被視作是——視你是否是既得利益者而定——腐敗的。我親眼見證了這一切的運作，而這一切與那些傳聞大相徑庭。在這些畫廊裡工作的人們也不是你想像的那樣。他們非常投入，真正相信他們嘗試展出的作品，宣傳，並偶爾完成交易。每一個能夠辦展覽的人都能變得富有，這也只是一個大神話。
ART.ZIP: You described once the relationship between you and the subjects in your work as “I just tell them what to do.” What is the relationship between you and your students?
PD: I try as often as possible to not tell them what to do, because I think, in my experience, both of my own work and others, a lot of the quality that comes out of things is something that results from the practice of making it, and not from a specific suggestion. I mean, yes, there are specific suggestions, buy a new camera, whatever. But the idea that you could say “you need to really just stop taking pictures of your mother” is not something I would be willing to do. I would approach it more like, “well, if you are going to take pictures of your mother, you need to stop doing it in this particular way.” That is about specific as it gets.
ART.ZIP: 你曾經這樣描述你跟攝影對象的關係：“我告訴他們該做什麽。” 那麼你跟學生的關係會這樣嗎？
PD: 我嘗試儘量不去告訴他們該做什麽，因為我從自己的經驗中了解到，無論是我的作品或是別人的，作品本身的特性往往與某個特定建議無關，而很大程度上來自於創作的過程。我的意思是，是的，我可以給很特定的建議，比如去買個新相機等等。但是我不願意說這樣的話：“你別再拍你媽了。” 我會這樣去處理：“嗯，如果你要拍攝你母親的肖像的話，你需要停止繼續以這樣的方式拍攝。” 這是我能給予的最具體的建議了。
ART.ZIP: Internet and digital technology – could you say you have a problem with it?
PD: Problem… Well I do not have anything good to say about it. If that is a problem, I guess I do. I just find it to be idiotic, to be honest. I know there is a huge generational gap concerning people who seem to be constantly pecking at their mobile device, and the sharing of the most banal details of their probably very banal lives, constantly. Yes, I think that is really a sort of waste of your time on earth. I really don’t practice social media. I don’t think I have ever posted anything on Facebook, I don’t have Twitter. And I become to realise that, Facebook and Twitter are not even relevant anymore, they are almost like old school, with other stuff out there. And Instagram? I just don’t get it, and I wish people would stop taking my picture, and putting it on Instagram. I get an email from somebody and it says “oh I saw a nice picture of you on Instagram” and I am like “what?” I got sued for taking a photograph of a man and putting it in an art gallery and selling it. So I guess I have no right to complain about people posting things on the web that I was not even aware were done and certainly didn’t give permission to do, but they do it. It is sort of like there is this great big digital community out there and you are sharing something really in need of attention with this entire community. I just don’t think it is really relevant. I do see the need through the Internet to share information and to exchange ideas and to motivate political discourse and resistance. But I would say 99.99% of it is not at all about that. Everybody knows that most of the Internet traffic is pornography. Nobody would deny that the Internet is a great and revolutionary thing. The fact that most of it is used to absorb pornography… it just goes with the territory I guess.
PD: 對於這些，我沒有什麽好的評價。如果這是有意見的話，我想我的確有意見。我覺得這很蠢，說真的。我知道這與代溝有關：一代人無休止地擺弄他們的移動設備，無休止地分享他們無聊生活中最無聊的細節。是的，我覺得這是浪費時間。我真的不使用社交網路。我想我從來沒有在Facebook上發表過什麽，我沒有Twitter賬戶。我也發現：Facebook和Twitter等社交網路已經不重要了，與別的東西一同已經是老舊的事物了。還有那個Instagram？我真的不明白，我也希望人們能停止在Instagram上發布我的照片。有人給我發郵件，告訴我：“我在Instagram上看見一張你的照片。” 而我說：“什麽？” 我曾因為在畫廊展示並交易一張隨機拍下的人像照片被別人起訴。因此，我想我沒有權利抱怨人們在我不知情的情況下在互聯網上發布我的照片；但他們的確喜歡這樣做。我感覺互聯網上有一個巨大的數碼社區，而人們與這整個社區分享著些什麽亟需關注的事情。我不覺得這真的重要。我清楚有在網上分享信息、交流以推動政治話語或抵抗的必要，但我會說網上99.99%都不是這些。所有人都知道互聯網傳播最廣泛的是色情內容。沒有人會否認互聯網是一個偉大的、革命性的事物，而其中一大部分是色情信息可能是我們被迫要接受的現實。
ART.ZIP: What about your student life. What was it like?
PD: It was very, very different. For one thing, I made the commitment to be a photographer, let’s say, late. It was not the only thing I ever did. When I decided to commit myself to it, the practice of photography was very different. There was no art market for photography. I believe there was one gallery in New York City that devoted itself to photography, most art galleries did not include photography, there was very little interest in it. It was considered like a subdivision of the art world, a poor relative. The perspective was very vague. Going to Yale was of course buying into the legacy of Walker Evans who established the department. But the department had been, until he established a separate photographic department, a subdivision of graphic design. Not art, graphic design. And a lot of people sort of treated it that way. So the idea that one day I would have my work mixed in with a group of people who do sculpture, video, painting, it didn’t really exist. And so I am not sure I had a clear idea of the outcome of two years of studying at Yale, where I was a graduate student. Before that I was in an art school which, as I said, was like a process of discovery, where I tried this, I tried that, and eventually found my way to photography. But it was certainly not the only thing that I did. That was very useful, but at the end of it, I was basically trained to do nothing. I chose to go to graduate school to kind of evade that reality, not that going to graduate school really trained you for a professional career, it absolutely did not. As a matter of fact, I think that they almost considered commercial photography to be some sort of corruption of the media. People like me basically have developed a postmodern attitude towards commercial work: it reflects society, therefore its qualities can be used in different contexts in a way that is relevant. Not only that, but you can use the skills necessary to do it to do other things as well. I don’t think there is anything wrong with having some skills. I didn’t learn that many skills, but I did learn a lot. I was really forced to challenge my attitude about things. I would say that that is part of what any good school does. It’s not really to change you, to mould you into what they think you should be, but to challenge your conceptions of what you are doing. That was pretty much what I got out of it.
I had a fairly successful academic career. I got a lot of resistances, but then I got a lot of acceptances. That’s encouraging, of course when they set you free and when you have to decide what are you going to do with the rest of your life, it’s good to feel like you don’t have to go back to your hometown and try to get a job in a high school.
PD: 那時跟現在非常不同。首先，我很晚才決定要成為一位攝影師。這是我從事過的許多創作中的其中一件。當我決定要進行攝影實踐的時候，這種實踐面臨著非常不同的狀況。在那時，對於攝影來說，並沒有一個藝術市場。我相信那時在紐約只有一家展示攝影作品的畫廊。大部分畫廊不接受攝影，一般來說，人們對攝影並不感興趣。攝影被視作是藝術界的一個分支：一個窮親戚。在那時攝影並沒有什麽前景。去耶魯進修，當然是對攝影系建立者沃克·埃文斯（Walker Evans）遺產的繼承。但攝影系由埃文斯獨立出來以前一直是平面設計的一個分支科系，不是藝術，而是平面設計。很多人也的確這樣看待攝影。所以在那時我並沒有想到，在未來，我的作品將與雕塑、影像、繪畫等作品放置在一起進行展覽。當我是一名研究生的時候，我並不清楚在耶魯兩年的學習能帶來什麽。在那之前，我在另一所藝術學校進行各種探索，並最終決定進行攝影創作。但這肯定不是我唯一一件做過的事情。這些學習非常有用，但在最終，我並沒有接受過什麽訓練。我進行研究生學習也是為了逃避這個現實，而不是因為研究生學習能夠為你未來的職業生涯進行訓練——你絕對不會在研究生學院接受到這種訓練。事實上，我想學院幾乎認為商業攝影是對攝影媒介的褻瀆。而像我一般的攝影藝術家對待商業作品有一種後現代態度：這種商業攝影反映社會，而這攝影的各種特質可以在不同的語境中以有效的方式被挪用。其次，你也可以使用習得的相關技能進行其它的創作。我不覺得有技能是一件壞事。我沒有學會太多技能，但我學會了很多。在學生時代，我被迫挑戰我自己對事物的態度。我覺得這是所有好藝術學院的特質。這與直接改變一個人、以一個既定模型塑造一個人無關；這種學習挑戰你對自身創作的既定概念。這是我在學院中學到的事情。我有一段頗為成功的學習生涯。我遇到了許多抵抗，也得到了許多認可。這鼓勵了我。當然，當你從學院出來、決定了未來的人生軌跡之後，知道自己不必回到家鄉的中學去擔任老師讓人感覺很好。
ART.ZIP: Theatricality in your work, you picked that up in school as well?
PD: In the late 70s, the idea of staging photography didn’t really exist. Of course there was Cindy Sherman, but I wasn’t really aware of her when I was a student. That’s about as close as I can remember. Once you make the move to stage things, theatricality is a natural result of it. As a matter of fact, one of the problems is to keep that theatricality from being the only quality of the work.
I know that the system that exists in China for instance is very different from the system that exists in the United States. Even within the United States, there are different systems. If you want to be a photographer, and if you want to know everything you could possibly learn about, everything digital, technical, every piece of equipment that you could possibly use, there are schools that teach you that. I didn’t and don’t participate in those programs, I don’t think there is anything bad about it, it is just not the way that I approach it, not the way that Yale approaches it. And most of the programs that I am aware of or have contact with, they don’t either. They are usually sort of like what they used to call the humanistic education. It’s not to train you to do something, it’s to train your mind to be able to do something later. That’s kind of the way that it is approached. If you, as increasingly you do now, need training in Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, whatever, you can get it. If you are going there to master your Final Cut Pro, forget it. It’s not the right place for you. I would say that my knowledge of Chinese education in the arts is that it is more technically oriented. They train people to have the skills to reproduce things, for one, quite accurately. It’s more of an industrial education.
The Chinese artists that are known in the United States, a lot of them didn’t develop in China. It’s well known that the Chinese art market is now huge, but it’s mostly traditional Chinese art, it’s not contemporary. I don’t have any regrets about having chosen to pursue art as a profession if you want to call it that. But I never really consider myself a professional artist. The one thing about the current relationship of the art world to culture in general is that there is a lot of myths about what it takes to be successful or even survive in this environment. Everybody thinks you can be a super star in a couple of years – that does happen. But it’s much more unusual than people think. Very often, just having an exhibition or being included in an important group show, that doesn’t really change things that much. You do need to figure out a way to survive, while being able to still make your work, and keep it from disappearing. That’s not quite so easy. One of the ways that a lot of people survive, and one of the reasons why there are programs like Yale’s which gives you a Master of Fine Arts degree, is that they teach. To work in a university in the United States, you pretty much need a master degree. I am not sure how many people that enroll in the program have that in the back of their mind: I need this degree in order to be a teacher. I never thought of that I was going to be a teacher, when I graduated thirty – something years ago. The vast majority of my professional life has nothing to do with being a professor. That’s the way it should be done – teaching should include at the very least, practicing artists. Sometimes the act of teaching excludes the capacity or time or whatever to actually do what you need to do. Or, you get a job in the middle of nowhere, and you suddenly are isolated. That happens quite a lot. Teaching can be a kind of curse. You can start teaching right away, and never be anything more. It’s just a diversion. It’s so hard to be so methodical, to say: okay, every Tuesday between 2 and 6 pm, I am going to work on my own project. Universities don’t pay you very well, that’s one thing. If you are teaching full time – and I do not teach full time, never have – you have all the benefits, health care, whatever. But that’s probably at least three times a week, and all the peripheral things you have to do. The time in the classroom amounts to about three days – that’s the minimum – before you are considered to be full time. Believe it or not, that’s a lot. Three days doesn’t sound like much, most people work five days a week. But it doesn’t really leave much time and energy to do other things. Universities and colleges are social contexts as well. There are other people and other things. I am not talking about a lot of money, people have to do other things. There are a lot of stars, they fly in for a day… I don’t know, I don’t even know if that kind of thing exists anymore. Well they did exist. For instance, I think Gary Winogrand used to teach in Texas. He would just fly to Texas, stay there for two days, and then they would give him a lot of money and he just goes wherever else. He was not from Texas, I don’t even think he liked it.
PD: 在70年代末，編導攝影（Staged Photography）並不存在。當然，那時候辛蒂·雪曼（Cindy Sherman）已經開始創作，但作為學生的我並不熟悉她的作品。其它以相似方法創作的藝術家並不多。一旦你開始布設場景，戲劇性就會隨之而來。事實上，避免這種戲劇性成為作品的唯一特質是我經常要面對的問題。
我知道中國的藝術教育體系與美國的現存藝術教育體系非常不同。就算在美國境內也存在著許多不同的藝術教育體系。如果你想成為一名攝影師，如果你想知道所有你能學習到的東西——無論是數碼科技的或是技術層面的——所有你可能將要用到的器材，你能夠在某些學校裡學到這些事情。我從未也不會在這些課程中任職，儘管我不覺得這樣的課程有什麽不好。這不是我的方法，不是耶魯的方法。我知道的或接觸到的課程也不這樣做。他們很像是人文教育課程。這些課程不嘗試訓練你去做些什麽，而是嘗試訓練你的頭腦，以在日後完成什麽事情。這是一種常見的方法。如果你現在的普遍狀況一般，需要學習使用Photoshop或Final Cut Pro一類的工具，你能夠輕易地進行這種學習。如果你為了掌握Final Cut Pro而進入到學院之中，算了吧，學院不是適合的地方。我想，我印象中的中國藝術教育更多地關注技能訓練。他們訓練人們精確復制事物的技能，更多地像是一個工業教育。在美國聞名的中國藝術家，他們中的很多人並不是在中國得到職業發展的。中國藝術市場非常巨大是眾所周知的，然而這個市場更青睞傳統中國藝術，而不是當代中國藝術。