Place of Making Interview with Ben Johnson
造物之所 專訪藝術家本·約翰遜

ART.ZIP: It’s always tricky with art because you can’t plan everything and you discover things as you go along so it is difficult to oversee a team of people.

ART.ZIP: 藝術創作是複雜的,因為你不能早早地計劃好所有事情,而只能在創作的過程中發現新方向,所以在藝術創作中管理一個團隊是困難的事。

BJ: Yes, but they are mainly doing pretty mechanical things. I am the only one who paints and the trouble is, I give them more to do than I can cope with on any given day because I am planning things for a week, two weeks, three weeks or sometimes months ahead. Occasionally I have got through to two o’clock in the afternoon and I have been answering so many questions about future projects that I have to say, I am not going to talk to anybody else about anything else – I’ve not done any painting. I’ve been talking about future paintings but we can’t live for the future, we have to live for now and get on with now. So the idea of having a shared studio or sharing with assistants, is another interesting one. I couldn’t have done it a few years ago but I can do it now, I can switch off. I certainly had to when I was working in a museum in Liverpool in 2008 – we had ten thousand people a week coming and watching me work. I worked for two years here in the studio on a cityscape of Liverpool and then went to Liverpool and finished it in public.

So a studio is a very peculiar set of spaces. It’s a chapel, it’s a workshop, it’s a second home, it’s the place where the war cabinet decides on the next battle.

BJ: 是的,但是助手們一般只進行相對機械的工作。在這個工作室里,我是唯一一個在進行創作的人,因而問題是這樣的:因為我需要為接下來一兩個星期或一兩个月的工作作出計劃,在有些日子里,我創作的速度趕不上他們工作的速度。有時候,到了下午兩點鐘左右,我已經回答了那麼多關於未來計劃的問題,以致於我要宣布,我不能再與任何人就任何問題談話了--我还沒有開始動筆呢。我們在討論未來的繪畫,但是我們不能為了未來生活,而只能為了現在生活,生活於當下。所以與別人共用工作室或與助手們一齊工作是另一件有趣的事情。在幾年前我完全不能這麼做,但是我現在可以了,我可以把他們屏蔽掉。舉例來說,在2008年,當我在利物浦的一間美術館內創作的時候我必須要旁若無人地畫畫,可每週大約有一萬人前往該美術館看著我創作。那一次,我在這個工作室里花了兩年時間創作一幅有關利物浦城市景觀的大型畫作,並在最後階段前往利物浦在公眾面前完成那幅作品。


ART.ZIP: Base camp.

ART.ZIP: 大本營。

BJ: Yes, it’s base camp. It’s also where I get exercise because we play table tennis at lunch time. The studio is such an important part of my life but I have kept this building very, very simple. Downstairs is an absolute disgrace and it’s just about under control up here. Also I have two boys, who, when I took this place over twenty years or so ago, were just about leaving home, so I’ve got surf boards, old bicycles, their sketchbooks, portfolios, bits of furniture.

BJ: 是的,大本營。這也是我鍛鍊的地方,我們在午休時打乒乓球。工作室的確是我生命中重要的一部分,然而我把這裡佈置得非常簡單。樓下非常讓人難堪,而咱們所在的這層還算過得去。我有兩個兒子,在我二十年前入駐這個工作室的時候,他們剛剛要離開家出外闖蕩,所以地下室里堆滿了他們的衝浪滑板、老舊自行車、草稿本、作品集以及傢具。

ART.ZIP: Do you ever think about living in your studio and combining your studio with your home?

ART.ZIP: 你有沒有想過生活在工作室空間之中,更緊密地結合工作空間和生活空間?

BJ: I’m thinking about it because I have this wonderful studio at home. It’s not quite big enough – unless I go back to having a one-painting studio, which is a very attractive idea – the idea that I just work on one painting with nothing else around except the drawings and the colours relating to that painting and when that painting is finished it either goes out or it goes to a dealer or it goes into store and then I work on the next painting. Having said that, though, I have really enjoyed having all of these paintings going on at the same time – these two are not quite finished, these two are finished, this one is just starting – so I can jump around.

In the eighties I was going out and taking castings from old walls and stones and pavements. They were totally random and I never knew how I was going to use any of them. A lot of them just fell apart, but I learned a lot. That was me just using my studio as just a dirty room – I mean, you couldn’t do it at home.

A lot of people have said over the years that my studios looked like a laboratory or a dentist’s surgery because the last studio before this one, every evening – it had a white floor – I used to wash my way out. The trouble was when I got to the doors I would realize, I’ve left my shoes on the other side of the room – so I used to have to sit outside until the floor dried or if I was in a rush I would have to walk across and wash my way out again! I wanted it to be a fresh start everyday. It was sort of the monk’s cell. That is the other thing, it is a place of meditation, the studio. It’s meditation in action.

Now the question was about what I would call the studio – but I can’t just call it home or second home because it it is also the monk’s cell, it is a place for exercise, it’s a place of laughter, it’s a place of silence – although we also listen to a lot of audio books and I listen to music. It is just a very, very big part of my life. Last week I had an interview about my childhood and I came from a very dysfunctional family. There was a lot of violence and my father was a very wild and eccentric man, my mother was fairly wild as well, and they said to me, but you’re so calm. I replied that, if I hadn’t had a studio, if I hadn’t had art, I probably would have been wild like my father and my mother. I’d have killed myself – drink, drugs, violence – great passions. But my passion is my art. It is also the vehicle for containing and allowing my passion to develop. And it’s a positive passion, it is not a destructive passion. I am a maker, not a breaker.

BJ: 我在考慮這件事情,因為我家里有一個不錯的工作室。那個空間並不夠大,除非我想要回歸到之前的單幅作品工作室創作形式,而這是一個非常吸引我的想法:每次只進行單幅作品的創作,直到那作品完成,在作品離開我之前,除了那幅畫和有關的草圖以及色稿之外不留一物。儘管我很喜歡這個主意,但現在一系列作品同時進行的狀況也很讓我很滿意。




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