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2022寧文個展訪談「性愛攝影師/AV導演/藝術家」



訪談原文:

https://neocha.com/magazine/niam-wong/


Writer : Brandon Kemp, a Taipei-based writer focusing on queer art and media in the Sinophone world and East Asia more broadly.


 

毫無疑問,過去數十年裡,台灣就性別和性多元化的話題上,舉世矚目。在這裡,藝術家與社運人士站在同一聯盟,以美麗的、多彩的、豐富的人際和戀愛關係,不斷推動著人類生存意義的邊界。儘管近來所舉辦的社會運動主要圍繞婚姻平權、家庭生活展開,但仍有一部分藝術家嘗試持續突破這一狹窄的範疇。居住在臺北的藝術家寧文(Ning Wen)正在用自己的作品極力證明:性關係和性別的流動性,是和人類出生、結婚以及死亡同等重要的事情,值得被紀念與慶祝。他最近的“性愛攝影”(Sex Story)便是圍繞該主題展開。


而就在臺北一片開放的氣氛當中,寧文的項目還是遭受阻礙。儘管作品合法展出,他依然收到至少一次投訴,因而不得不反覆向警方解釋。他並沒有因此退縮,在被動以及社會教條的處境下,他仍舊鼓勵自己,只要一有機會就去展出。也許他的作品存在爭議,但他的初衷絕不只是表面的情色或淫蕩,而是讓觀眾關注性本身,以及更多引人思考的話題。其作品內容大多也是關於人在性探索和性接觸之前、期間和之後發生的故事。我和他就這個正在進行的計畫聊了起來。


 

Neocha

在我們於展覽現場的談話中,你談到在部分作品中,性愛前與性愛後是你想強調的,像是一起洗澡的愛撫,又或是高潮退去後瞬間拉開的距離。對你而言,不以高潮鏡頭(Money Shot)背後的意義是甚麼?


寧文:

有一些特別的時刻,是攝影師獨有的浪漫,就是「開拍之前」與「散場後」。好像在那兩刻,空間與物件成為了慾望的主角。


在性愛攝影之前的空景看似平靜,卻充滿了隱喻。繩子、馬桶、人體穿刺工具 ...等,好像被蒙上一層馬賽克,變得未知而誘人。而性愛攝影之後的空景,殘留了各種氣味、物件、情緒。有時候甚至在高潮結束後,才顯影出人與人之間最赤裸的關係與故事。


雖然在主流情慾影像市場上,關鍵鏡頭幾乎都是「Meat shot」(性器交合特寫)與「Money shot」(射精、高潮鏡頭)。但對我來說,那些攝影師獨有的片刻空景,其實情緒濃烈且充滿幻想。所以我在拍攝這些另類的關鍵鏡頭中,人不再是主體,慾望才是。


也許高潮鏡頭像是拍打岸邊的浪花,激情、綻放、稍縱即逝,常成為目光焦點。但更吸引我的是,當浪潮褪去後,擱淺的是什麼?



 

Neocha

延續上面問題,傅科曾評論:“性是無趣的”,真正的要緊的並非性本身,而是性愛周圍所產生的事物,你認同嗎?你對於這個觀點有甚麼想法?

寧文:

可能因為我是低慾望的人,在生命經驗中,我常覺得性是死的,卻又在各種性經驗中誕生自我。像是參與手天使、性勞推、繩縛、BDSM、性愛攝影、還有一些跟身體對話的工作坊的過程中,發現這些經驗不止於身體愉悅,更多是對自我、禁忌的探索。


「性」常被視為是個人最私密的部分,卻也乘載著社會最普遍的問題。像是我在《素人AV面試》計畫執行超過兩年的過程中,議題涉及個人身體到社會集體,包含童年性侵而厭女、性工作者與消費者的自白、憂鬱症與BDSM、虛擬世界的二次元情慾、香港示威遊行時的情慾流動...。後來發現我在探索的不是在討論色情/情色本身,而是透過色情/情色回望生命經驗。




 

Neocha

你也提到,將「展場」塑造成「片場」,以模特兒與性工作者促發藝術過程與實踐。是否可以稍微敘述一下這背後的理念?

寧文:

從《性愛攝影師系列 》到《素人AV面試系列 》,我試著去顯影不可見的影像,像是檯面下的禁忌與告解。然而,這次個展顯影的對象不再只是「人」,而是擴展到「空間」。過程中充滿許多驚喜,像是茶會小便斗、精液山水畫、繩縛投影、人體簽名本、人形犬...。


其實,他們都不是我特地安排的「表演者」,有些人原本就是現場觀眾。這次透過參與式藝術,讓參與者慢慢改變這個空間的調性,去移動公/私領域的界線,顯影空間不可見的樣貌。我覺得這條界線像是隱形的牆面,慾望成為材料,而空間成為雕塑品。


一開始,大家靜靜的聽我導覽、看作品,空間還是藝廊裡的「展場」。接著,開始有人試探界線,空間漸變成B1的暗房,慢慢顯影出不可見的潛影畫面。最後,每個角落有著不同的情慾實踐。大家習慣性的拿起手機生產自定義的情慾影像,像是一座Twitter museum。空間從展示影像轉為生產影像,逐漸成為「片場」。


在看與被看之間,觀眾成為作品;而生產的片段影像,成為這一部參與式影片的分鏡。參與者在「消費者」與「生產者」之間游移,同時也切換著導演、攝影師、被攝者、觀者的身份,重新建構身體界線、性/別、影像權力等關係。



 

Neocha

在這個程中有讓你感到驚喜的事嗎?

最讓我意外的是,展覽最後一週連警察也加入,成為參與式創作的一部分。公權力介入情慾後,呈現了「性」從禁忌>釋放>壓制的過程。我開始延伸思考著:真正危險的是性還是對他人自由的侵害?權力如何以道德之名行壓制之實?色情如何成為禁忌?性禁忌與歷史、文化、政治、宗教、帝國主義擴張的關係...。許多被視為理所當然的規範,越深入了解背後的脈絡,越讓人驚喜。到了最後,我替這個展覽辦了一場告別式。



 

Neocha

在你的介紹影片中,你提到相對於時常受聘的婚紗或葬禮等職業攝影師,性愛攝影在這生活中的空缺。但同時你將作品放到藝廊空間中,與大部分其他受聘職業攝影師有別。過程中你似乎將傳統藝廊與博物館的空間脈絡重新架構,能多聊聊你的想法嗎?

寧文:

現在幾乎每個人都能生產影像,但在生命中的重要時刻,許多人還是會找專業攝影師來記錄。好像攝影不只為了生產影像,而是將專業攝影作為某種儀式,與生命中的重要時刻一同寫入經驗。

然而這些儀式,卻在觸及「性」時成為禁忌。所以我創造出「性愛攝影師 」這個職業身份,創作一系列虛擬專訪、網站、展覽等。並以「專業拍攝性照」這行為作為觀念、藝術收藏品。

這計劃不限性向、性別、身體,包含各種慾望形狀:香草性愛、戀足、繩縛、人形小便斗、BDSM、野裸、戀物…。我拍攝在Gayle S. Rubin的性階級制度中好與壞的慾望,好像是高高低低的音階,共譜成一首關於慾望的樂章。然而這些音符並不固定,不同慾望會在不同時空背景下切換階級,成為一個不斷變動的有機狀態。


「性愛攝影師 」這個身份雖然是從藝文空間誕生的,但我希望他不只是個藝術計畫,也會以更多元形式介入社會。其實很感謝授權參展的被攝者們,誠實揭露慾望的多樣性,整個過程有人覺得像自我告解;有人覺得像心理諮商;有人覺得是社會運動,我也正持續探索藝廊、美術館等空間的可能性。





 

Neocha

你的許多作品有別於傳統、靜態或單方面的觀看體驗。將實體展覽空間發生的事情上傳到你的網站上的決定,你的作品似乎帶著漸進、持續、 過程性的創作方向。你怎麼看待自己作為藝術家的角色,是一位促進者、一位合作者、一位傳遞者、一位偷窺者還是其他角色?

寧文:

我在這次作品中的角色不是固定的,而是跟其他觀眾一樣流動。我們一同在作品中切換著導演、攝影師、觀者等多重身份。而我像是一個待了最久的觀者,看到作品從無到有,慢慢長成跟我個性很不一樣的個體,再意外死去的過程。最後,我也在告別式上,替這展覽拍了遺照。




 

Neocha

在你某些作品中,你採訪了非職業的匿名者對於性的經驗,談談你對匿名的看法,以及它如何讓你的素人AV面試者得到釋放。

寧文:

我覺得性愛可以是公共藝術,也可以是私人收藏。在《素人AV面試 》計畫中,我開放讓參與者自由選擇匿名、變聲、反轉馬賽克部位等。這件作品重點不在處理性慾,而是挪用Fake Interview的形式,建構出超越自己身份、身體、性別等框架的想像。

《素人AV面試系列 》的參與者並非AV演員,而是生活在禁忌之內的「素人」。其實在這短短三年間,我就可以感受到禁忌界線的移動。但無論禁忌如何移動,總是有些「不入流」的故事。讓我想起Walter Benjamin在《說故事的人》中提到的寓言、民間傳說。那些檯面下的AV幻想與禁忌故事,雖時常存在各個文化邊緣、禁忌之處,卻更能誠實地反映了整個世代的集體潛意識。

我在VR中透過「反轉的全景馬賽克」創造一個讓受試者能夠陳述自我而自在「赤裸」(Nakedness)的內在空間;同時也讓畫外觀眾重新檢視自身窺淫「裸體」(Nudity)的慾望。而除了視覺上被馬賽克,敘事也被馬賽克。作品中每個人的故事都被剪碎重新拼貼,像是一條條相異質地的線交織成一面新的網。觀者看得見整體時代下的故事輪廓,卻無法窺視其中個體的隱私。

曾經有受試者跟我說,他在面試時感到既擔心又興奮。一邊擔心秘密被發現,一邊興奮於馬賽克下的自我告解。甚至有其他受試者會帶朋友來看VR,但他朋友並不知道馬賽克下的人就是他。好像「馬賽克」成為觀者與受試者共同玩弄禁忌的一層薄膜,太多或太少都將失去美感。



 

Neocha

哪些人是你的靈感來源,對你具有影響力的?在更廣泛的藝術與文化語境下,你是如何看待自己的作品?

寧文:

如果「瀕死的自己」也算是一個人的話,他是最具影響力的。我常常在做一些人生中看似荒謬的決定時,會回想起曾經瀕死的自己,並詢問他意見。因為在死亡面前,所有的阻礙會變得渺小,而選擇變得清晰。

除此之外,我覺得素人、演員、保守派民眾、警察、家人、曾傷害我的人、愛過我的人,都是我的靈感來源。

目前我喜歡曖昧、流動、不確定的探索階段。我試著在當代藝術跟情慾影視之間創作,找尋新的路徑。像是有些作品可能適合去藝文空間,有些作品適合流浪去各國的Porn film festival遊玩。



 

Neocha

最後,你認為你的作品未來會到哪裡,有期待哪些挖掘出不同的樣貌嗎?

寧文:

現階段的《性愛攝影師》、《素人AV面試》只是個起點,無論最終演變成什麼形式,我想我會一直執行到死。在更長的時間中,才能顯影出我現在還看不到的部分。最後不再是我帶作品去探索什麼,而是讓作品帶我去探索。透過色情/情色,除了向外探索,也向內挖掘自己。



 

It’s no secret that, over the past few decades, Taiwan has become a regional and global leader in promoting gender and sexual diversity. Here, artists and activists routinely push the boundaries of what it means to be human, with all the messy, beautiful, complex attachments and relationships that this entails. While much of the recent movement focus has been on marriage equality and family life, there are a number of artists challenging this narrow purview. Ning Wen, a Taipei-based artist, is someone whose work makes a forceful case that—no less than birth, marriage, and death—sexual relationships and dynamics are important milestones in life worth documenting and celebrating in their own right. His latest Sex Story exhibition dealt with this theme.


Despite the generally open-minded atmosphere of Taipei, this project wasn’t without its hiccups. While his exhibition was entirely legal, Ning Wen ran into at least one complaint that led to him having to make the case for his artistic vision to local police. Still, he’s undeterred—encouraged to have to the chance to showcase his work even in these circumstances to these enforcers of social propriety. Despite the potentially controversial subject matter, though, his work isn’t just about sex itself exactly or the merely pornographic, prurient side of contemporary art. It’s about what happens between real people before, during, and after sexual exploration and encounters. I spoke with him about this ongoing project.



 

Neocha: During our conversation at your exhibition, you talked about how the before and after of sex is something some of your works hoped to highlight: the care of showering together, for instance, or the immediate distancing that occurs after climax. What does it mean, to you, to decenter the “money shot”?


Ning: For photographers, certain moments have their own kind of romantic draw, particularly the pre-shoot and its aftermath. In these moments, it seems, the space and objects themselves become the true subjects of desire.

Before shooting begins, there is simply the serene, empty set, but it is rife with metaphors. Ropes, toilets, body piercing tools, etc. become something like the mosaic blur of an adult film—sensual in their mystery. Meanwhile, the vacated scene after sexhas all kinds of smells, objects, and emotions which linger. Sometimes the most naked relationships and stories between people develop only after the climax.


Although in the mainstream erotic image market, the key shots are almost always the “meat shot” (close-up genital intercourse) and the “money shot” (ejaculation, orgasm shots), to me, the moments that are unique to photographers consist in emotion and fantasy. So, when I shoot these other elements, people are no longer the subject; desire is.

Perhaps the climax shot is like the waves hitting the shore. Full of force, fecund, fleeting, and often attention grabbing. But what fascinates me more is what remains stranded when the tide retreats.



 

Neocha: Is it true, then, in your view, that as Foucault once remarked, “Sex is boring”—and that what’s really at stake is what accrues around sex?


Ning: Maybe because I am a person with a low libido, in my life experience, I often feel that sex itself is lifeless, while I am born through various sexual experiences. For example, in the process of participating in handjobs, sex work advocacy, rope binding, BDSM, erotic photography, and workshops designed to help better understand our bodies, I found that these experiences are not only physical pleasures, but, far more so, explorations of the self and taboos.


Sexuality is often seen as the most intimate part of the individual, but it also communicates the most pervasive problems in society. For example, during the more than two years of my Amateur AV Interview project, issues ranged from the individual body to the social body, including childhood sexual abuse and misogyny, the confessions of sex workers and consumers, depression, BDSM, and the role of the virtual. They reveal, say, the world’s two-dimensional eroticism, or the erotic undercurrents of the Hong Kong demonstrations… It turned out that what I was exploring was not about porn or erotica itself, but looking back at life experiences through these.




 

Neocha: You also spoke of transforming the gallery space into a kind of porn studio, where models and sex workers facilitated the artistic event and process. Can you discuss the reasoning behind this, and what, if anything, surprised you about the outcome?


Ning: From my Sex Story series to Amateur AV Interview series, I tried to develop invisible images, like hushed taboos and confessions. However, the object developed through this solo exhibition is no longer just people but also extends to space. The process is full of surprises and upsets, such as “tea party” urinals, semen landscape paintings, rope binding projections, body writing, human dogs…


In fact, none of these subjectivities were “performers” that I specially arranged, and some of them were originally live audiences. This time around, through participatory art, participants gradually changed the tonality of the space, moved the boundary between the public and private spheres, and allowed for the invisible appearance of the space. I feel that this boundary is like an invisible wall. Desire becomes a kind of material, and space becomes sculpture.


In the beginning, everyone quietly listened to my guidance through all this while viewing my works. The space was still the “exhibition space” in the gallery. Then, someone began to test the boundaries, and the space gradually turned into a basement darkroom, slowly developing an invisible latent image. Finally, each corner has a different erotic practice. Everyone habitually picks up their mobile phones to produce custom erotic images, like a Twitter museum. The space changed from displaying images to producing images, and gradually became a “set.”


Between seeing and being seen, the audience becomes the work; and the segmented images produced become mirrors of this participatory film. Participants move between “consumers” and “producers,” and at the same time shuffle between the identities of director, photographer, subject, and viewer, reconstructing relationships such as bodily boundaries, sex/gender, and imaginal power.


What surprised me the most was that in the last week of the exhibition, even the police joined in as part of the participatory creation! After public power intervenes in eroticism, it lays bear a process of extracting “sex” from taboo, release, and suppression. I began to extend my thinking: Is the real danger the sex or the violation of the freedom of others? How does power exercise the reality of repression in the name of morality? How did porn become taboo? Sexual taboos in relation to history, culture, politics, religion, imperialist expansion… Many norms that are taken for granted, the more you understand the context behind them, the more surprising they became. At the end, I held a farewell ceremony for the exhibition.



 

Neocha: In your work, you talk about the mysterious absence of sex photography relative to, say, marriage or funeral photography. And yet, you then bring this work, unlike most of those photographers, into a museum space. All this suggests a kind of re-contextualization of the space itself, in contrast to traditional gallery and museum models. Can you say a bit more about this?


Ning: Almost everyone can produce images these days, but many still turn to professional photographers to record important moments in their lives. It seems that photography is not just about producing images, but professional photography as a kind of ritual, written into the experience along with important moments of life.


However, these rituals have become taboo when it comes to “sex.” So, I created a “sex photographer” profession, releasing a series of virtual interviews, websites, exhibitions, and so on, using the approaches of “professional photography” as a concept and mode of artistic collection.


This program is not limited to sexual orientation, gender, or body, and includes all kinds of desires: vanilla sex, foot fetishes, rope bondage, human urinals, BDSM, wild nudes, fetish… I photograph all these desires, good and bad, as taxonimized by Gayle S. Rubin’s sexual class system, as if it were a scale of highs and lows, forming a movement of desire. However, these notes are not fixed, and different desires may switch classes depending on temporal and spatial backgrounds, becoming an ever-changing organic process.

Although the identity of “sex photographer” was born from the art space, I hope this persona is not only an artistic project, but also someone who participates in society in more diverse manners. In fact, I am very grateful to the participants who authorized the exhibition for honestly revealing the diversity of desires. The whole process felt confessional; some approached psychological counseling; some felt it was a social movement, possibility.





 

Neocha: Much of your work really flies in the face of a kind of traditional, static, one-sided viewing experience. In particular, your decision to upload whatever unfolds in the gallery on your website suggests a kind of inchoate, ongoing, and processual approach to work. How do you see your role as artist: facilitator, collaborator, mediator, voyeur, or something else?


Ning: My role in this work is not fixed but fluid, like the rest of the audience. Together, we switch between multiple identities, such as director, photographer, and viewer, in our works. And I am like a viewer who has been there for the longest time, seeing the work evolving from nothing at all and slowly growing into an individual with a very different personality from me, and then dying unexpectedly. Finally, at the farewell ceremony, I took a photo of the exhibition.




 

Neocha: In some of your works, including the VR piece, you interviewed anonymous porn amateurs about their experiences. Can you speak a little about anonymity and how this freed some of your interviewees?


Ning: I think sex can be public art or it can be a private collection. In the Amateur AV Interview project, I opened up to the participants the choice of freely choosing anonymity, vocal change, and revealing what’s beneath the mosaic blur. The focus of this work is not to deal with sexual desire, but to use the form of a fake interview to construct an imaginary that transcends the framework of one’s own identity, body, and gender.

The participants in Amateur AV Interview are not adult film actors, but “amateurs” who live within taboos. In fact, in these short three years, I can feel the movement within certain forbidden boundaries. But no matter how the taboo moves, there are always unpopular stories. This reminds me of the fables and mythology that Walter Benjamin mentioned in The Storyteller. Those AV fantasies and taboo stories under the table, although there are often marginal and taboo in various cultures, can more honestly reflect the collective subconscious of an entire generation.


In VR, I create an inner space that allows subjects to express themselves and feel at ease with their “nakedness” through the “reversed panoramic mosaic”; at the same time, I also allow the off-screen audience to re-examine themselves and their voyeuristic “nudity.” In addition to being visually mosaic, narrative is also mosaic. The stories of everyone in the work are cut up and reassembled, like threads of different textures now spun into a new web. The viewer can see the outline of the story of the overall era, but cannot peep into the privacy of the individuals concerned.


A subject once told me that he was both worried and excited during an interview. While worried about the secrets being disclosed, he is excited about confessing his story. There were even other subjects who brought friends to watch the VR, but these friends didn’t know that the pixelated person was him. It seems that mosaic blur has become a thin veil for the viewer and a subject through which they can play with taboos. If it’s too much or too little, it will lose its beauty.



 

Neocha: Who are some of your own influences and inspirations? How do you view your own projects vis-à-vis the wider artistic and cultural