WEEKLY

UNVEIL THE INTIMATE SELF
自我 揭秘

自小我們便被灌輸這樣的信息:面對逆境與困難要時刻保持樂觀正面,不要輕易在人前暴露自己脆弱的一面。內心的痛苦與掙扎在主流社會內似是禁忌般,人們都想盡辦法把它抑壓至心底最深處,不讓人輕易察覺。法國具影響力的當代行為藝術家Sophie Calle,,卻沉醉於自揭瘡疤。用照片和筆記,窺探人們在社會生活中的 「Vulnerability」(脆弱),把個人隱私性揉進藝術裡。

窺探的快感
從私密的視角出發,Calle的作品總是由照片伴隨著詩意的字句。早期作品偏向天真爛漫,如孩童般滿佈好奇心和幽默感。1979年的Suite Venitienne便是為一個陌生男子所建構的社會檔案。畢業後遊歷了七年,回到巴黎的百無聊賴下,她在街上即興跟蹤了一个陌生男人,為他取名Henri B,作為作品的「Subject」。她花了兩星期邊偷偷摸摸地拍下他的一舉一動,邊寫下跟蹤日誌,記下自己的解讀與想象。這個作品探討了個人身份在社會上是如何透過「時間」、「數據」、「行動」等硬性條件所「構成」的,同時質疑了这種「照片文字」記錄的真實性和可行度。後來她玩得開心,更專門讓母親雇用一個私家偵探跟蹤自己一天,記下了自己作為「Subject」在社會表象層面的文字和影像紀錄。

其他早期作品如邀請陌生人到自己家裡睡覺的藝術實驗 The Sleepers (Les Dormeurs) (1980)、心血來潮到酒店當了一星期清潔工後創作的 The Hotel (1981)及開玩笑式地亂打電話而來的Address Book (1983)等,但凡包括私人生活的空間和場所,都能引起她的興趣。她的作品最獨特之處,正是赤裸裸地呈現了觀看者和被觀察者之間的關係,模糊了公共和私人空間的界限。

自揭瘡疤的勇敢
Calle的後期作品更偏向自傳形式,以揭露或重塑的形式,直面心中的情感痛楚,細看下去很感人。筆者特別喜歡她2007年的作品Take Care of Yourself,用富感染力的方式把分手的悲哀淋離盡致地呈現出來。作品講述的是她收到一位曾經深愛的人寫給她的一封分手信,收到信後的她,不甘心地請來了107位從事不同職業的陌生女性,以各自職業的專業知識的方式自由解讀這封令她傷心欲絕的信件,並用相機和攝錄機紀綠她們讀信的時刻。

這107位「收信人」當中,有人為分手信配上了音樂,有人把這段字演了出來,更有為填字遊戲出題的人把每一個字完全拆解,設計成一個填字遊戲。每個人的解讀和反應都不一樣,有時Calle與她們一起發笑,有時抱頭痛哭。Calle收集了所有圖像和影像,完成這個讓人心碎,卻又療癒的傑作。一遍又一遍的重新讀信、紀錄,慢慢學會理解對方,放下悲哀。把內心的脆弱坦露於公眾眼前,以抽離的方式處理傷痛,像在訴說自己的故事,又像在說別人的故事。這個作品簡單、真實,流露出的淡淡悲傷背後是心安、坦然。

Sophie Calle的作品之所以能征服大眾,也許就在於其作品背後單純又充滿好奇心的出發點,和那坦率無畏的表達手法。看她的作品,就像在看一部追溯其生命軌跡的紀錄片。若對她的作品有興趣,可到網上書店先看看Take Care of Yourself,一同理解她與107位女性的內心世界。

撰文:許佩琳
美術:王曉澄

We’ve been taught to deny and suppress all our negative emotions since birth. We’ve been taught to avoid exposing emotional vulnerability which feels like a taboo in a cultural setting where confidence is the key way to success. Vulnerability is always repressed by most of us, and not letting others realize our discomfort seems to be the best evidence of living a good life. When everybody’s struggling with how to cope with negative emotions and trying to hide away from them, Sophie Calle, the influent French Conceptual artist, chooses to free herself from exposing all her inner conflicts. In her works, she dives deep into the human vulnerability through photos and words.

The Excitement of Stalking
Calle’s work is often comprised of documentary photographs and explanatory texts. Her early works are often filled with curiosity and a sense of humor. She reprised the role of the private detective in Suite Venitienne (1979), following a passer-by in Paris who she refers to only as “Henri B” to Venice where she photographed and recorded his day-to-day actions secretly for two weeks. The work is an example of conceptual portraiture of an unwitting subject, investing how an identity is constructed through ‘time’, ‘data’ and ‘action’. She even asked her mother to hire a private detective to follow her and noted how that day she visited all the places in Paris which held some emotional significance for her.

Her other early works such as ‘The Sleepers (Les Dormeurs) (1980)’, The Hotel (1981) and Address Book (1983), all tested the limits of surveillance. They are, in no doubt, an assault on privacy, autonomy, untaken without permission and enacted for the public that blur the lines between personal identity and intimacy.

Embrace Vulnerability
Calle’s later work documented and exhibited the most intimate details of her life. She recycles her pain and heartbreak into her later art pieces, amongst all I am particularly obsessed with “Take Care of Yourself”. Calle takes the tag at the end of a break-up email from her former lover, Take Care of Yourself, as an ironic yet sincerely therapeutic prescription. She invited 107 women from various professions to reinterpret and analyze the email according to their own professional skills, and recorded all those touching moments through the lens of her own camera.

The women all interpret the letter in their own ways- writing a song for the letter, generating dramatic dialogues, decoding every single word in the letter and turning it into a word game. They all spitted apart the personality of the lover and the dominion of the abandoned party into a certain number of described and recognizable ‘types’. Collecting all the images and videos, Calle has created an impressive art piece that involves a large social response. In the process of documenting and recording the different interpretations, she gradually propelled herself forward. The art piece is like a trash bin for her to let go of all her negative emotions. Calle’s work are as if telling one engrossing story after another, sharing her most intimate thoughts and feelings with all her dearest friends reading the book. Take Care of Yourself is a simple yet sincere work encouraging every single one of us to leave the painful past behind and set ourselves free.

If you are also interested in Calle’s work, I highly recommend you to read Take Care of Yourself to take a brief look at her pieces before diving deep into her other works. It would probably surprise you.

Text: Natalie Hui
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #263

UNVEIL THE INTIMATE SELF

 

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