Interview with Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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。


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