Tag Archives: Artist-in-residence

藝術家駐留週記《第比利斯》4

藝術家葉啟俊參與格魯吉亞首都第比利斯 GeoAIR 舉辦的駐場計劃,將當地建築物Chess Palace(「棋宮」)化成大雕塑,進行研究、定位 (Site-specific) 藝術創作。

關於葉啟俊

yipkaichun-feat

2016年5月25日

(一)  現代主義

葉里溫棋館(Chess House)的比賽終於完結,棋館再次對外開放,終於可以走進去。看門口的伯伯大概是用俄文問我來做乜,我不懂「睇吓啫」的俄文,只能說我最常說的「我唔明」。雞同鴨講咗一陣佢叫我畀一百蚊阿美尼亞幣(港幣四圓)佢,以為係入場費,原來係租棋費,我指手畫腳話唔使。相比起格魯吉亞第比利斯棋宮(Chess Palace)的亂七八糟,棋館似乎保存得很好,整座建築物由活動到裝飾都很「棋」。據棋館職員說,建築未曾大加改建,故保持原來風貌。

但棋館是個異數。因為這個計劃,特別留意街上的蘇聯時期現代主義建築。這些建築龐大,簡結有力,風格鮮明,很易認。在葉里溫和其他前蘇聯地區,卻多遭受冷(虐)待。例如葉里溫的當代美術館建築,實為全蘇聯第一座,由數座圓桶型的兩層建築組成,好像數隻飛碟。現時,當代美術館卻被安置到附近一座細小的建築物;這座原本的當代美術館,意義重大的建築物卻遭丟空。又例如葉里溫的大型電影院,就變成一個有如女人街的雜散場,精緻的裝飾和影院荒廢。同樣建於蘇聯時期的舊機場,政府還要不明不白地想拆它(據說是使黑錢用),招來市民大力反對。看着漂亮的現代主義建築被糟蹋,也真有點惋惜。

和駐場計劃的Susanna講起棋館為何待遇優厚,她說有傳聞說當今總統甚好棋藝,更是當地棋會的會長,是以棋館得以保存云云。但見其他蘇聯建築的慘況,此說也有幾分道理。另外,Susanna說阿美尼亞和大多數前蘇聯國家一樣,在獨立後差不多所有東西都私有化,就連阿美尼亞政府的外交部大樓都賣給了商家!實在難以想像。

當代美術館建築

(二)大屠殺

一九一五年至二二年,於鄂圖曼帝國境內生活逾四世紀的阿美尼亞人被種族清洗,為數至少八十萬的阿美尼亞人被殺,阿美尼亞社區、歷史建築、教堂被夷平,史稱「阿美尼亞種族大屠殺」。葉里溫有座博物館及紀念碑悼念此慘痛經歷,位於近市中心的小山上,四周空曠。紀念碑是十數塊圍成圓型的巨石,微微傾向中心,走進中間好像一個保護罩,輕聲說話都因回音變重,晴朗的藍天好像高了。紀念碑中間有團火,播放着這些和晴朗天氣不搭調的樂曲。

按此聆聽:阿美尼亞種族大屠殺紀念碑的聲音 (Armenian Genocide Monument)

(三)深夜校園

駐場計劃位於一間藝術高中內,日間小孩眾多人氣旺,晚上就人影都冇。晚上在校舍內走了個圈,只聽見遠親校工看更的電視聲,水喉的滴水聲,以及錄音機的沙沙聲。想起金田一少年事件簿的七不思異殺人事件 . . . . . .

按此聆聽:深夜校園的聲音

(四)行山、烤肉

好好味!
好好味!

週末到了離葉里溫三小時車程,有「阿美尼亞瑞士」之稱的迪利然(Dilijan)。每到外地都愛行山,然後每次都想起香港的行山徑是多麼的城市化:路標清晰,地圖處處。這裏有個面積甚廣的自然公園,內裏也有不少行山徑,但標示和地圖只在起點才有,而那地圖也像是隨手畫的,高度座標欠奉。我拿着人人手執一本的寂寞星球,依着完全跟不上的指示,亂行一通,山景還是很優美,空氣亦很清新,週日除了我這個行山客就是牧場的牛和豬。

我越行越高,完全不覺書中說的落山跡象,背囊中只有一隻蕉,半日未吃,好像唔對路,所以決定原路折返。沿公路一直行落山,發現處處都有一家大細或後生生火燒阿美尼亞人最愛的Khorovat — 烤肉是也。本地人對外地人熱情是真的,在街常被喊來喊去,肚空空走落山又俾半醉阿伯叫停,一味講我只識噏單字嘅俄文,指手畫腳捉我食烤肉同飲伏特加,其家人個個拿起相機手機攝錄機拍拍拍,猶如觀賞動物園的熊貓吃竹葉一樣,而我亦相當習慣被當成奇珍異獸。只想講,新鮮烤起的肉味美!

阿美尼亞的公家燒烤爐
阿美尼亞的公家燒烤爐

 

原文刊於 yipkaichunss.blogspot.com

藝術家駐留週記《第比利斯》3

藝術家葉啟俊參與格魯吉亞首都第比利斯 GeoAIR 舉辦的駐場計劃,將當地建築物Chess Palace(「棋宮」)化成大雕塑,進行研究、定位 (Site-specific) 藝術創作。

關於葉啟俊

yipkaichun-feat

2016年5月25日

(一)  孟加拉

坐了六個鐘頭的士來到阿美尼亞葉里溫, 駐場計劃位於當地一間藝術高中。從第比利斯GeoAIR的工作人員得知,駐場計劃Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory所在地位於「Bangladesh」,重覆了數次以為自己聽錯,但原來堅係同一個孟加拉,而且人人都咁叫,花名叫到真名都冇人記得嗰隻。問駐場計劃策展人Susanna何故以冇雷公咁遠兼冇乜交情嘅孟加拉為地名,才知此區本為堅係乜都冇荒蕪之地,於七十年代尾發展。昔逢孟加拉爭取獨立,蘇聯施以援手。當時阿美尼亞為蘇聯一員,故電視日日講一向冇相干嘅孟加拉點樣點樣,其時人人都說唔想搬去這唔知邊度嘅地方,就說這「新市鎮」係「孟加拉」:又遠又窮又唔知做乜,一直叫到而今。此地的確空曠,四處都是屋村樣的屋,離市中心半小時,未至於是孟加拉,但也不可算方便 — 我想起天水圍。不過,此地也是個小社區,要乜有乜,而且有個大市集,蔬果新鮮又平宜。孟加拉還是不錯的。

(二)棋館

一直以為葉里溫也有個Chess Palace(棋宮),但原來正名是Tigran Petrosian Chess House,就姑且譯作「棋館」吧 — 有點切磋的意味。棋館正值舉行殘障人士國際棋藝大賽,所以閒人不得內進。葉里溫棋館比格魯吉亞棋宮細,但保存得似乎不錯,沒有棋宮那種亂嚟嘅加加減減保育災難。而棋館在地下還有商店,售賣棋書、棋盤、棋精品等,比棋宮認真。橫館設計成三角型,牆身刻有皇后、騎士等棋子。這次葉里溫沒人碰過這題目,可能要花更多心思摸路,查查找找了。

(三)現狀

Susanna口中的阿美尼亞和格魯吉亞差不多,都在蘇聯解體後經歷迅速的私有化、士紳化,一時間資本主義西方世界的東西湧入。但Susanna說阿美尼亞情況比格魯吉亞壞,因為格魯吉亞脫離了由俄國主導的前蘇聯國聯盟,而阿美尼亞仍在其中,事事受俄羅斯牽制,加上在任已八年的總統Serzh Sargsyan又親俄,所以和格魯吉亞努力入歐盟有所不同。在葉里溫大多數地區,小商戶維生,窮等人家依賴的市集被剷走,換來貨色可能好少少,但價錢貴多多的高級超市。葉里溫一定平過香港唔少,但又冇覺得好平,在市中心食個阿美尼亞比薩Lahmajoon加個沙律要港幣四十圓。Susanna說這裏人工低,駐場計劃所在的藝術高中教師也是美金二百圓,衣食住行柴米油鹽不知怎辦。所以,阿美尼亞人都走得就走,只為找工作。
談着談着扯到藝術,Susanna說阿美尼亞完全沒有任何政府或私人資助,要搞藝術都得靠外來資金,但這些對高加索有興趣的金主都十成在格魯吉亞,所以阿美尼亞分到的餅自然少。另外,金主都是西歐國家,有次歌德想搞個前蘇聯國家的交流合作。前蘇聯國家都沒有文化藝術資助,所以國家之間聯繫甚少,所以這交流合作當然是美事一樁。可是,美中不足的卻是,合作須由金主德國主導,前蘇聯國家未能當家作主 — Susanna批這是「新文化殖民」。可是,她和我都想不到可以怎樣做。

(四)巴士

bus

孟加拉沒有地鐵,出入要搭巴士,但班次似乎頗密,次次都好快上到車。巴士型號條條線唔同,有些像大巴,有些像小巴,也有些像企唔到起身的保母車。因為車上標誌只得阿美尼亞文,而且係落車先畀錢司機,總覺得這巴士更像香港的小巴。大巴和小巴還好,有日坐了次保母車,車上坐位已滿,上車後發現企唔直,車身可能只到我個胃,要企就要捲起個人,好似寵物店的大狗,所以索性跪下。其他當地人見到好像覺得很奇怪,他們都比我矮,但企直身根本不可能,所以都是垂下頭的。我由低處向上望,一個個垂下頭,覺得好笑,對面婆婆以為我對她微笑,也向我笑了一下。
在這種局促的面包車上,當地人守望相助。一個婆婆見另一個婆婆冇位坐,叫佢畀個手袋佢擺喺大脾;又有另一個婆婆見我手撐地,示意叫我扶車頂攔杆,而讓坐予老少也是常見。我以為自己訓練有素,蹲個跪個三十分鐘車程沒有問題,但過了一會就小腿酸軟,得不停更換姿勢。
其實我最喜歡坐這面包車。

(五)的士

除非是往返機場,又或是揀無可揀,甚少在異地坐的士。一來言語未必通,二來怕被騙,三來坐交通工具或行路看到更多。不過,這晚和Susanna及其他當地人喝酒後已無巴士,只得坐的士。Susanna 教了我地名的阿美尼亞文,上了的士,對講機、音樂、安靜的路、遠處漆黑的雪山、蹩腳的阿美尼亞文、俄文和英文,四十圓港幣有找。

按此聆聽: 的士的聲音 Yerevan Taxi to Bangladesh

(六)教堂

自中學後就再沒正式到過教會,這個週日倒想看看孟加拉內的教堂禮拜。就街上所見和Susanna所講,阿美尼亞雖將基督教視為國教,卻未有如格魯吉亞狂熱。可是,在教堂中見到女子以頭巾包頭,不少人跪下懺悔,人人湧至牧師前親吻錦旗和十字架 (以及教堂內所有肖像),又上前走到牧師前被摸頭,為當地人的虔誠感歎(慨?)

按此聆聽: 教堂的聲音 Yerevan St Trinity Church Bangladesh Sunday

(其實已來到阿美尼亞,只是其實算是同一個計劃,也就不轉標題了。)

 

原文刊於 yipkaichunss.blogspot.com

藝術家駐留週記《第比利斯》2

藝術家葉啟俊參與格魯吉亞首都第比利斯 GeoAIR 舉辦的駐場計劃,將當地建築物Chess Palace(「棋宮」)化成大雕塑,進行研究、定位 (Site-specific) 藝術創作。

關於葉啟俊

yipkaichun-feat

2016年5月18日

(一)  棋

話說駐場計劃的主題為棋宮(Chess Palace)。為建築拍了好些照片,又在地圖上寫寫畫畫,也看了好些蘇聯時期的建築和第比利斯歷史後,決定做一副棋來說棋宮的事 — 其建築、現時由何人佔據、當中的權力關係,以及公共和私人間的界線。為此,又看了不少關於棋類的東西(找到七國象棋是一大收獲!)。圖中的棋是現時的版本,以西洋棋為本,有八隊陣容型(棋宮內的七個機構和大眾)。平時冇捉開棋,目前日日自己捉自己盤棋捉幾粒鐘,確實勞腦又傷神(怪不得人說棋是「心智運動」!)。而今希望做到講到故仔之餘,又唔使太多解釋,令人難以投入。最終目的是將棋做好,拿到棋宮外的公園和人玩。想到這裏,突然覺得時間緊迫 D :

(二)展覽

到了一個第比利斯最大的攝影節 KOLGA Tbilisi Photo (kolga.ge)。想像中以為跟香港的攝影節一樣,誰不知一進去就見人山人海,個個光鮮,多人到令我想起藝術巴塞爾。展覽還有廣告商的攤位,以及賣貴到離普的酒水。這個攝影節有個國際攝影比賽,開幕當日就是頒獎時刻。照片都以雜誌排版形式一列排開,作品質素似乎不壞,但人太多,相太細,也沒有好好欣賞。頒獎過後,還請來搖滾樂隊演唱,展覽𣊬間變成演唱會也是有的。

同行的駐場計劃策展人Nini 很坦白,說這攝影節以前較平易近人,現在則更像一個展覽會。而她也醉翁之意不在酒,甫進場就說起這個場地的前身 — 絲綢工廠。格魯吉亞在蘇聯解體前,絲綢業一直馳名,但在獨立後無以為繼,此廠也荒廢,當中昂貴的器材大概是被偷走了。後來,身無分文的藝術家看中此處,佔用了好一段時間。及後,格魯吉亞首富 Bidzina Ivanishvili 買下此地,卻也未有重用,只有間中一兩個活動如此。Nini 說對她而言,絲綢業凋零為格魯吉亞獨立後的大憾事,又批首富無遠見,買下工廠可重新發展絲綢業云云。看着眼前潮人型人藝術人處處的光境,又有誰會想起這些前塵往事?

(三)家庭日

格魯吉亞在西亞地區內算是開明(西化)之地,但三年前的LGBT遊行卻被宗教團體和極端右翼團體襲擊,自此之後每年都有零星活動,但遊行卻不再。每年將近五月十七日國際反恐同日,LGBT團體和宗教右翼團體都會各有準備。後來,宗教右翼團體又將五月十七日定為宣揚家庭價值之日。有如香港,遊行要向警察申請;當LGBT團體向警察申請於五月十七日在市中心大街遊行時,遭警察拒絕,說宗教右翼團體會於當日佔用整個市中心,並建議他們到邊陲地區遊行,是以 LGBT 團體決定今年不做遊行。

我純粹好奇這種集會是何等模樣,決定前往。駐場計劃人員說他們可以兇狠,三年前見到任何非我族類就打,叫我小心云云。但見場內播着似是民族風強的宗教歌曲,國旗飄揚,人人手執聖經、肖像,宗教人士左穿右插,市中心最旺的大街空空如也。本年陣容鼎盛,連阿美利堅的 World Congress of Families 都請到場,一時間Rustaveli 大道正氣凜然,很好。

(四)操場

週日想四處走走,在網上搜到一條由一個叫Vazisubani到市中心的遠足路線,查了巴士路線就出發。駐場計劃的機構位於市中心,這Vazisubani 四處也有些四四方方,有些殘舊,似乎是建於蘇聯時期的住宅,除此之外可真是一望無際。

在這地區走着,有點像置身舊日公共屋村中,又因此地依山而見,真有蘇屋邨的味道。後來才知道現在格魯吉亞 是 沒 有公共房屋的!

走到這個好像操場的大草地,對面是羣山,腳下都是較富裕的地方,還眺望到市中心 — 這樣的一個好地方。

(五)市集

市中心附近有一個遊客必到的市集,為着各種理由去過幾次。現在每隔兩週,年輕人就在這市集的公園另起爐灶,二手衫褲鞋襪手工麵飽茶點乜都有。喝了一杯黑色的「手工檸檬汁」,頗酸,但也有甘甜味,似乎放了不少香草,感覺有點像喝涼茶。

 

 

原文刊於 yipkaichunss.blogspot.com

藝術家駐留週記《第比利斯》1

第比利斯 GeoAIR 駐場地點屋外風景
第比利斯 GeoAIR 駐場地點屋外風景

藝術家葉啟俊參與格魯吉亞首都第比利斯 GeoAIR 舉辦的駐場計劃,將當地建築物Chess Palace(「棋宮」)化成大雕塑,進行研究、定位 (Site-specific) 藝術創作。

關於葉啟俊

yipkaichun-feat

2016年5月10日

 

(一)  棋宮

棋宮

格魯吉亞首都第比利斯和不少前蘇聯國家一樣,都有一座Chess Palace(姑且譯作「棋宮」,想起「少年宮」)。據GeoAIR策展人Nini所說,蘇聯時期政權推崇棋藝,藉以「教育」(操控)低下階層,而國際棋賽和奧運一樣,都是西方蘇聯兩邊的角力場。蘇聯棋手亦屢有佳績,其中格魯吉亞的Nona Gaprindashvili更是首位獲特級大師殊榮的女棋手,所以第比利斯的Chess Palace門外刻有她的名字。

雖然格魯吉亞捉棋唔失威,但第比利斯棋宮就在蘇聯解體後無王管,分租咗畀餐廳美容院健身室不特止,各個租戶不理原有設計和種種蘇聯時期建築的佈局裝潢,又拆又釘又改想點就點,加牆霸露台都好閒,令這座本該屬於公眾的建築變成四不像。

Nini說棋宮的遭遇,正正是格魯吉亞不少蘇聯時期建築(以及更舊的建築)的命運,也所以重要。實不相瞞,第一眼親身見到棋宮的反應,是「咁就係㗎嗱?」點都似座社區中心多啲。到Nini介紹時,方始明白其重要之處。香港古蹟被虐之例比比皆是,但咁徹底嘅半死不生自生自滅也不多見。而Nini又說,「保育」這個概念並未見於大眾心中。想到這裏,才感受到GeoAIR何解要以此棟建築為題。

策展人Nini(左二)和當地藝術家實地考察
淘寶

(二)  簽證

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原本要在第比利斯留兩月,但香港護照需簽證,而最近的格魯吉亞領事館在北京,所以托北京旅遊公司辦理簽證。聽來穩妥可靠的小姐說妥當,我也放心。在護照臨寄回的時候隨口問問,才知他們只替我取得一個月的簽證,好像我不問就毋須提的樣子。大驚,一個月的簽證是可以網上辦理的!穩妥的小姐以無可奈何的口吻說,北京的格魯吉亞領事館只能批一個月。雖然我明明在他們網站看到他們有三個月的商務簽證,但我也無可奈何的接受,攞返護照已經要還神。後來收到護照,駭然發現簽證不是印在護照上,而是兩張A科紙!

又原本的計劃是到步後申請延期,又或是出境數日回巢,但因為我的簽證有效期至今年八月,竟然兩種方法都行不通!GeoAIR想到的辦法是我申請成為格魯吉亞 居 民 — 但要有當地戶口,專業資格證明,還要多付千五圓港紙,得唔得也是未知之數。所以,第二個方法就是將駐場變成兩部分,一半在鄰近的阿美尼亞。阿美尼亞首都葉里溫也是前蘇聯國家,所以也有座棋宮,可跟格魯吉亞作比較,放至計劃中。

一聽到這個主意就覺得極好!一來冇去過阿美尼亞,二來兩地棋宮對照亦有趣。所以,現在五月底會到葉里溫留一個月,再回來第比利斯待十日,將作品/計劃完成。

這種簽證難題竟是焉知非福,真有爛牌變成十六不搭之感,砌吓砌吓就水到渠成。

(三)  駐場

二樓
二樓

GeoAIR這個駐場計劃只有一個藝術家。這棟建於上世紀二十年代的屋有兩層,下層為GeoAIR的辦工室和一個五臟俱全,有不少高加索地區和土耳奇藏品的圖書閣,上層為共用的廁所、廚房,以及駐場藝術家的工作/寢室。以參與駐場計劃為業,經驗豐富的朋友知道得我一人,都說罕有。只得一人的好處是可以把東西隨意亂放,但獨自工作的感覺和在香港的自由身生活差不多 — 一日到黑都在家。

一樓

(四)  麵飽

他自己擺的這個英姿!

我並非第一次來第比利斯。上次來是四年前,做齊所有遊客會做的事。今次會留在這裏一個月,而且有正事做,心態有點不同,有點像住在這裏。最令我有在這裏生活之感是和當地人擠在面包店前,等新鮮出爐的格魯吉亞麵包Shoti。這樣一大塊的麵包只是四圓港幣有找,早午晚餐餐都食得,有如纏頸的救命光酥餅。店內總是熱烘烘的,都有一個大圓爐,新鮮過唔新鮮的Shoti圍在邊邊,有點像蟲。從來不太喜歡麵包,但到了這裏真是日日食,而且未厭。這是入鄉隨俗。

(五)  地鐵

第比利斯的鐵路和其他前蘇聯國家一樣:深長而極快的電梯,宛如運送貨物; 有點暗舊但裝飾不少的車站,圓栱型的頂,以及響得有如哀號的列車到站聲音。車門在車未停穩就開,飛快的落車,飛快的上車,一副「你上唔到關我屁事」的作態。第比利斯的鐵路建於1965年,在蘇聯中為第四,算早,所以也舊。 上次坐蘇聯地鐵是三年前在俄羅斯。可以再坐,其實真有點興奮。而今次我特別喜歡列車關門後啟動的聲音,那咆吼的叫聲,那急速的震盪,那掩蓋所有聲音的移動,那股近乎高潮的亢奮,使我不禁想起<慾望號快車>這齣電影。

按此聆聽: 地鐵的聲音 Tbilisi Metro Rustavelito Samgori

(六) 乾杯

因為顯然是個外地人,加上東及東南亞人在這裏甚少,搭訕是不少的。週六下午獨自在餐館吃飯,成間餐廳得我一個外國人,獲鄰檯相贈數杯Cha Cha(格魯吉亞伏特加),只好敬酒。敬吓敬吓坐埋落去再飲,到呢檯人走咗後又被拉去另一檯,又唱歌又祝(啤/格魯吉亞白/格魯吉亞伏特加)酒,後來是真醉了,被「請」走,也遺失了兩件不算貴重,但還是有用的隨身物品。我只記得我想付錢時遭拒絕,說是Georgian Hospitality。這Hospitality有點烈,吃不下還是以禮婉拒好些 : <

按此聆聽: 餐廳的聲音 Tails Samgori Restaurant SING

 

原文刊於 yipkaichunss.blogspot.com

藝術家駐留週記《阿拉斯加》4

藝術家馮捲雪參與阿拉斯加州 Island Institute 舉辦的駐留計劃 ,獲邀請到阿拉斯加州東南部進駐創作,並與一眾藝術家交流、探索自然、生活、文化與歷史。

關於馮捲雪

2016年4月19-28日

阿拉斯加遊歷的駐村終於成為過去式,一個星期以前發生的事情感覺已經很遙遠,而每天發生的一點一滴好像不太重要。當然,在海上過了三個晚上橫過阿拉斯加海峽,在Kodiak的表演上遇到華人,觀鯨淋雨變成一隻落湯雞,在Homer和Anchorage兩天之內吃了三打生蠔,以及最後參加阿拉斯加省藝術發展局兩年一度的研討會,大大小小的回憶為這個地方堆砌成立體的塑像。

反而我想說說的是在還沒有經過長時間的過濾之時,這個月對我的改變。這次我們的旅程之主題是氣候變化,我的作品開始對環境問題關注大概是兩三年前的光景,還是一個新人。其實我對許多環境變化問題一知半解,於是在出發前的一兩個月拼命惡補,讀了十本八本有關的書籍。可是我看的書角度都是偏向都市的,國際視野的,而阿拉斯加這種對地球暖化已經開始有切膚之痛的偏遠地方,他們的聲音總是比較少聽得見。

在此以前,想起保護環境,由自身出發的話,我總會想減廢,減碳排量,少消費,多吃本地食糧,多菜少肉。在阿拉斯加呢?吃本地食材是一種無庸置疑的生活習慣,也是出於必須。在北美的原住民從一千五百年前從希柏里亞走路過來北美洲後,一直和他們置身的環境和諧相處,他們認為身邊的一草一木都是有靈魂的,並對一切生命的消耗感恩。經過殖民時代的洗禮,原住民的文化經過一代人的真空,現在積極為自己的文化復興。

這是我第一次對於原住民的哲學開始有個人的深入接觸(原住民的部族繁多,我這次只接觸到Innupiaq和Tlingit兩族),捕獲一隻鹿,肉當然吃了,鮮肉吃不下的會燻掉以助保存,前小腿的骨頭會用來做刀以及針,而吃不下的經絡曬乾以後會做縫紉的線。我在Sheldon Jackson Museum裏聽到一個故事,在歐洲人剛開始和原住民接觸的時代,原住民很喜愛買麵粉。而又粗又耐用的麵粉麻布袋很受歡迎,會被手巧的原住民縫製成上衣,可是當時的交易一年就只有一兩次,家裏的媽媽往往要等兩年才儲到足夠的麻布縫製一件上衣。反觀當代人兩年已經消耗多少速食時裝,哪是對裝麵粉的麻布袋都珍而重之的心態?

在阿拉斯加的居民對環境改變很敏感。絕大部份的居民多多少少賴地而生,出海打魚,上山打獵,入林摘果,一是傳統,二是必須。阿拉斯加位置偏遠,而氣候也是不太適合耕種,在外地運來的食物的貴得驚人。而許多移居阿拉斯加的人也是想過和土地更接近的生活而過來的。他們認為,這還是一個我們能靠山吃山,依水吃水的好地方。先別論他們的想法是不是過於浪漫化,反正他們平均花百分之三十的時間準備他們的食物。

離開之後,我才發現阿拉斯加對我的烙印如此的深,在翌日芝加哥的一家小小的文具店,我受不了感官的過度刺激,逃跑了出來。在街上,我四處望,我的海洋呢?我那走五分鐘就到的海洋呢?可是視線以內的只有轟轟而過的車,匆匆忙忙的行人,以及無窮無盡的街道。我開始明白為什麼阿拉斯加對於這些移民為什麼那麼吸引。生活不一定要是這樣的。生活其實可以很簡單,時間可以花在摘藍莓釀果醬,而不是營營役役地在計算別人。

經過半天,我開始再適應都市煩囂的節奏,畢竟,我是在這種環境長大的。我希望我永遠不會高高在上的以城市人之角度看不起在小鎮生活的人,也希望我不會把他們的生活浪漫化。


 

Invited by Island Institute in Alaska, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung participates in an overseas artist residency program in Northeast Alaska, to explore the nature and for cultural exchange with other artists.

About Michelle Kuen Suet Fung

19 – 28 April 2016

My Alaskan touring residency finally drew to an end. What happened a week ago seems very faraway and unimportant now. Of course, I will never forget our three-night crossing of the Gulf of Alaska, my encounter with the local Chinese residents at our Kodiak performance, me drenching wet during my whale-watching trip, eating three dozens of oysters in two days, and the grand finale of the Constellate conference organized by the Alaska State Councils for the Arts. These bits of memories will paint a three-dimensional portrait of Alaska for a long long time.

However, I would like to talk about the changes I have observed on me during this short month. One month is really not a long time in a lifetime. Our residency theme is climate change. For someone who has only been doing works on the changing environment for the past two years, I really don’t understand this issue nearly as well as I feel like I should. Right before the trip, I read almost a dozen books on climate change to stuff myself with emergency knowledge. Almost all perspectives I have read were international, metropolitan, as if the rural and remote areas matter not.  However, these faraway locations such as Alaska experience more and faster impact than the rest of the developed world.

At home, we worry about being carnivore versus vegetarian, organic versus conventional or driving versus walking. Here in Alaska, they are concerned with the berries coming out one month sooner, the sea otters eating all their shellfish, and the disappearing snow. For the Alaskans, a subsistence lifestyle is not only a traditional way of life, but also out of necessity. The North American Natives crossed Siberia some 1,500 years ago to settle in the new world. They have always insisted on living with the natural world harmoniously. For them, even a blade of grass has spirit. They express immense gratitude for every life perished to sustain theirs.

This is my first personal in-depth encounter with the Native philosophy. (There are dozens of different native tribes. I only met Innupiaq and Tlingit culture on this trip.) Upon catching a deer, one would of course eat the meat. Whatever can’t be consumed fresh would be smoked. The bone in the front shin would be made into a knife and needle. The hard-to-digest sinew is carefully washed and used as precious sewing thread. I heard a story at the Sheldon Jackson Museum—when the Europeans first traded with the Natives, the Natives loved flour. They particularly found the canvas flour bag tough and durable, an ideal material for a top. However, due to the infrequent trading, one may have to wait two years to collect enough canvas materials to sew one top! Two years! Just imagine how much fast fashion we consume in two years!

One must be sensitive to the changing environment in Alaska. Most residents live a (semi-)subsistence lifestyle. They fish. They hunt. They gather. It is out of necessity and also out of respect for their way of life. Alaska is far from the rest of the world and not very suitable for farming. Therefore, all imported food has staggering price tags. Many adopted Alaskans move to this place wanting a closer connection to the land. They think this is their last frontier, the only place left where they can still live off the land. Let’s not discuss whether they have a romanticized notion of this place and this life. In reality though, they spend on average 30% of their time preparing their food.

It wasn’t until I had left Alaska did I realize the deep imprints this place has left on me. The day I arrived in Chicago from Anchorage, I found myself hyperventilating in a small stationary shop. The sensory stimulation was too much for me and I ran onto the street. I looked around and felt cheated. Where is my ocean? Where is my ocean that’s supposed to be five minutes walking away?

All around me were only zooming cars, hustling pedestrians and endless concrete streets. I began to understand why Alaska is so attractive to these immigrants. For a split second, I felt like I could move to Alaska. Life does not have to be like this. Life could be very simple. You could spend your time picking berries and making jam, instead of calculating every step in life.

At the end of the day, I began to feel at ease in the busy city. After all, I did grow up in the urban environment. I hope I will never be the snobbish urbanite looking down on small towns and rural villages, and also never romanticize their lives.

#tidelinesjourney

 

 

藝術家駐留週記《阿拉斯加》1

藝術家馮捲雪參與阿拉斯加州 Island Institute 舉辦的駐留計劃 ,獲邀請到阿拉斯加州東南部進駐創作,並與一眾藝術家交流、探索自然、生活、文化與歷史。

關於馮捲雪

2016年3月28 – 4月3日

在飛機上向下望,雪山比高樓大廈多,是真的到了阿拉斯加了。下了飛機,在Sitka逛了一圈,第一個感覺是,好像三年前在冰島小鎮Olafsfjordur的駐村啊!緯度相若,氣候相像,也是一個捕魚的小鎮。

我沒有看過這樣的風景,平滑如鏡的水面上點綴大大小小的島嶼。藝術家看見新鮮風景,總是會為視覺思維帶來衝擊。就算在遍地好風光的阿拉斯加,Sitka的美貌也是薄有名氣的。

我很喜歡在駐村的第一天早上到處逛。在灰濛濛的毛雨下走石灘,一走就是兩個小時。不時遠眺群鳥,不時瞪著天色發呆。感覺越發和冰島的時候一樣,那時候我也是住和海邊距離一分鐘的路程,常常到我最喜歡的皇座想事情。有的時候是真的在想東西,更多的時候是看著海水出神發呆,不過回到工作室以後頭腦總是更加清晰。

早來了幾天,為了省下之前租工作室的費用,一張四呎長的畫就打算在這幾天就地畫了。開始的時候還想可以畫幾張不同大小的,很快就發現根本是癡心妄想。Island Institute大佬Peter Bradley的家客廳像是歌德式教堂的尖塔,斜斜的牆上貼滿了從各方朋友得來的作品。我在想像,搭著女朋友肩膀躺在中間的沙發,聽著黑膠唱片(沒錯,他的家有一部播黑膠唱片的唱機),好有電影感!

我很快就發現這個地方原來和冰島的小鎮根本不一樣,雖然人口只有八千人,這裏是卻是全省第四大城市!對於一輩子都住在人口百萬以上的城市人來講,當然是小鎮。不過,我居然很快就嫌棄這裏太多建築物。在冰島駐村的小鎮八百人口,是名副其實的小鎮。在那裏我們的活動範圍除了工作室以外,就是游泳池和四周的山。

這次的駐村是流動式的,我們一行十人將會探訪阿拉斯加東南部的九個社區,跟本地的居民分享我們關於氣候變化的作品。我自己這個月有兩個目的,首先和學生設計我作品寶綠達的建築,另外希望會為我的獨腳戲劇本帶來頭緒。

星期四是出奇的暖,早上我跑到了一間私立學校做分享,這是我見過最特別的學校。創辦的老師是一對結了婚二十年的女同性戀者,而她們現在有十三名助養的孩子,正在準備收養第十四個。她們第十三個孩子才二十二個月丁大,白天卻待在學校,不時跑出來課室,讓學生好不開心。這羣六歲到十九歲的學生,是我遇到最有創意的小藝術家。第一間學校就把標準定得那麼高,以後的學校實在很難跟上。

因為天氣如此的好,下午我不顧一切往山跑,直上了二千公尺。在山上的頂端還有未融化的雪。在山頂向下望,實在不難明白Sitka的風景為何有名。

星期五,是我們藝術家的重頭戲「表演」。同行的劇作家Chantal Bilodeau即場演讀她兩幕戲劇,在七十年代的挪威,是石油興盛的日子。籍著爸爸抱著孩子的喃喃細語,當中對未來慈祥美好的盼望,延伸至第二場孩子長大了的落差。我聽得好感動,戲劇本來就是應該反映人生。裝置藝術家Alison Warden還會rap,即場就把她本來一百分鐘的獨角戲抽演了一段,描述北極熊媽媽帶孩子游出浮冰,孩子卻在中途不支。Alison本身就高大,聲音和表演都是那麼的強而有力。相比起我分享了茫亡膠海的繪畫裝置,動畫以及寶綠達,安靜得多。這天晚上的答問環節非常踴躍,流連和藝術家交流的觀眾也是不少。全球暖化對於阿拉斯加來講是非常真實的問題,環境改變對於很多世代依賴大自然維生的居民,不是一個遙遠的未知之數。很多人一輩子只吃家人和朋友打的海魚,卻因為商業捕魚過量,以及海洋污染和暖化令他們近年獲魚量減少。自從七十年代起,阿拉斯加就沒有經濟的壓力,由於產油豐盛,這裏的省民沒有省級入息稅,每年政府還分紅,秋天每人都收到兩千美元的支票!近月油價急跌,本地的學校醫療等公共服務受到腰斬,本月底政府就要決定接下來的財政政策,是不是從此以後阿拉斯加居民就要跟以往美好的經濟揮永別之手。

轉眼間第一個星期的駐村就過去了。短短的六天,卻比在家的幾個月要完成得多。我提醒自己藝術家為什麼要駐村,第一是離開平日的生活,毫無雜念地專心創作;另外,創作實在很難在一個孤島上,和其他想法相像的藝術家交流,會感覺世界如此的大,也提醒藝術本來就不應因為種族分隔。(碰巧我們三個的作品裡都有加拿大原住民神話裡的海洋女神Zedna!)而觀眾的感官和心靈受到衝擊以後,是特別容易打開心窗交流。

我在拼命地看,看四周的景致,看阿拉斯加的本地文學,看這裏不同原住民部族精緻的藝術以及他們與自然和諧的哲學;我也使勁地聽,聽同行藝術家的理念,聽居民擔心的現實,聽孩子沒被羈絆的幻想世界。

現在我們坐在輪船上,享受著兩旁像明信片一樣的雪山。我在想,在下一個小鎮,有什麼驚喜等著我們?


 

Invited by Island Institute in Alaska, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung participates in an overseas artist residency program in Northeast Alaska, to explore the nature and for cultural exchange with other artists.

About Michelle Kuen Suet Fung

28 March – 3 April 2016

I looked down from the plane. Yup, mountains everywhere and not a building in sight. Welcome to Alaska! Island Institute director Peter Bradley gave me a grand tour of Sitka after we picked up my bags from the airport. Isn’t this just like the small fishing village Olafsfjordur where I went on an artist residency three years ago? These islands both feature similar latitude and climate, and they are both small fishing towns!

Sitka is well-known for its beauty, even with the Alaskans who are seasoned connoisseurs of natural beauty. I had never seen anything like this, a smooth mirror-like water dotted with islands, large and small. I finally understood Island Institute’s logo and was equally taken by this place as everyone I have talked to.

It is my habit to stroll around on my first day of residency in a new place. In a feather-like drizzle, I sauntered on the rocky beach until my water-resistant coat was heavy with moisture. I stared out onto the grey sky decorated with ducks, seagulls and birds I couldn’t name. The Listhus Art Space was also a minute away from the shore in Olafsfjordur—I used to sit by the ocean in my favourite spot. Sometimes I went to think through a problem. Sometimes I just lost myself in the salty breeze, yet I always came back to the studio feeling more acute.

I arrived a few days before the official programme. In order to save myself from renting a studio before this trip, I decided to make a painting in these extra days. The painting of course took longer than I thought it would. It is accelerating to finish a large painting in such a short span of time.

The Island Institute’s director Peter Bradley has the most mind-boggling living room. Think gothic cathedral tower. The walls, decorated with artworks from his artistic friends all across the country, are slanted to meet at a point. I looked at the couch, the centrepiece furniture in the room, and thought of Pulp Fiction when I imagined Peter listening to his vinyl records with his girlfriend. Yes he has an extensive collection of vinyl records. Sorry no picture.

My disillusion of the similarities between Sitka and Olafsfjordur quickly disintegrated. Sitka may only have eight thousand people, but it is the fourth largest city in Alaska! For someone who has lived in metropolitans of over one million people all her life, needless to say, Sitka is a small town. It was funny that I became rapidly weary of “so many buildings” in town. In Olafsfjordur, we confined our activities to the studio, the swimming pool and the mountains. In that town of eight hundred people, there was one post office, one bank, one swimming pool, one restaurant and one supermarket.

For this residency, a dozen of us will tour nine different communities in Alaska, sharing with the local communities our works on climate change. I have two main goals—to come up with the architectural design of Polluta through workshops with students and to research for the series of monologues I am about to write.

Thursday was as warm as summer. Two thousand feet and six miles later, I was standing in the snow and understanding why Sitka deserves her reputation as a beautiful town. Before I did that, I had a most unforgettable experience with The Seers School. The school is operated by a lesbian couple, married for twenty years. Currently they have thirteen adopted children and are in the process of adopting the fourteenth. Their thirteenth child is twenty-two-month old and stays at the school during the day. Sometimes she would wander into the classroom and get all the attention a toddler would ever want. Having been prepped by a staff at the Institute, I was slightly worried about the age gap (aged six to nineteen?) on the one hand, yet I was also prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Well, I certainly did not expect to be blown away. These have got to be the most creative group of young artists I have ever taught. They came up with a kitty whose legs were washed away by the acid rain and a runway for the flying elephants.

Our focal point in each town is our “artist performance.” Playwright Chantal Bilodeau read from her play—In the 1970s Norway, a young father cradles his newborn and dreams of a good life with the oil boom. There is no more fishing in the ungodly weather. In the following act, we see the baby as an adult and the reality of that dream comes true. I looked at her on the stage and could see the daughter and her father. I was so touched. Drama IS supposed to reflect life. Rapper and installation artist Alison Warden acted a part of her 90-minute one-person theatre. A polar bear mother swims towards the ice with her two cubs who eventually doesn’t make it. Alison is not a petite person and her theatre was larger than life. I, along with the whole room, could not take our eyes off her. By comparison, my sharing of my drawing installation “Plastic, plastic, every where!”, animation-in-progress and performance work “Polluta, Floating Artist Colonies in the Sky” seemed much quieter.

It was a full house. The community asked us many intelligent questions and stayed behind to chat some more. Here, climate change is not in the distant unknown future. It is an immediate problem for these people. Many local fishermen have a pescetarian diet but pollution, overfishing and global warming is driving their food source away. Alaska has had a free ride on oil money since the 70s. Not only is there no state income tax, but each Alaskan would get an annual cheque from the oil dividend. With the recent plunge in oil prices. things are going to change. Alaskans are facing schools being shut down and medical budgets being cut. At the end of this month, the State will decide whether this is the point where Alaska will kiss goodbye to the good old days of strong economy and adjust to a new reality.

The first week drifted away like snow with traces in my mind so fresh yet so vivid. In only six days, I accomplished more than I can at home. I reminded myself of why artists should go onto artist residencies. First of all to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily lives and throw ourselves wholeheartedly to our work. Also, no art is an island. The interactions with other artists is as essential as creating the work. There IS a larger world out there, and the arts CAN transcend culture. We all got a giggle out of it when we discovered that all three of us, one white American Canadian, one American Iñupiaq and one Hong Kong Canadian, have used the Inuit ocean goddess Sedna in our work. After their sensations have been stimulated and hearts touched, the audiences are much more likely to open their hearts.

I study. I study the landscapes around me, study Alaskan literature and study the exquisite Native American art and philosophy with nature. I listen. I listen to the ideology of my fellow artists, listen to the frightening reality of these local communities and listen to the uninhibited imaginative world of children.

We are now on a ferry enjoying the snow-capped mountains fit for a postcard. I can’t wait. What surprises await us tomorrow?

#tidelinesjourney

 

 

 

藝術家駐留週記《阿拉斯加》3

藝術家馮捲雪參與阿拉斯加州 Island Institute 舉辦的駐留計劃 ,獲邀請到阿拉斯加州東南部進駐創作,並與一眾藝術家交流、探索自然、生活、文化與歷史。

關於馮捲雪

2016年4月10-18日

Petersburg是一個人口三千的捕魚港。每年出口的魚量高達一億磅。閒聊之間,一位居民輕輕地說,這裏用大網打魚的漁民收入每年過百萬美金,雖然看起來他們和所有其他的漁民沒有分別。有賴這幾戶富裕的家庭,捐獻了許多社區的建設。

Petersburg的位置偏遠,我們這艘輪船到達的時間是凌晨兩點。阿拉斯加東南部的潮漲潮退非常明顯,會讓一大片海洋變成一片石灘。由於這個原因,輪船的班次也要遷就海潮。由於交通不便利,Petersburg和上星期的Ketchikan有很明顯的分別,前者靠捕魚吃飯,後者靠遊客。由於Petersburg基本上沒有旅遊業,它的海港都是極度實際,在碼頭,我找不到為遊客而設的觀景台。在岸邊看風景,要不是在停車場站在非常嘈吵的巨型雪櫃旁,就是有許多電線有礙景觀。

在這個人口和香港兩三棟高樓大廈的住戶人數相約的小鎮,參與我們表演的熱情的居然比所有之前的地方要濃烈,當晚不單座無虛席,問答時間,舉起的手更是此起彼落,問題的內容也是經過有深度的思考。

離開Petersburg後,我們來到了阿拉斯加的首都Juneau。人口三萬人來說,實在是一個大鎮。我們得到小道消息,可以在船上逗留至早上六點,怎知道在三點到達之後,我在睡夢中被不講人情的廣播叫醒,我們已經到達Juneau,請所有房間內的乘客離開。隨即便有工作人員來狠狠地拍門,生怕我們真的賴床。

我們睡眼惺忪地跑下船。在東方,日光在山頂的邊緣滲出一條銀線,慢慢染亮寶藍到發黑的的天空。這個時候,有人大叫北極光!我們向手指的方向望去,果然有一條綠色的色帶在西方從地面發射上空,並且迅速移動。我們在阿拉斯加東南大學的校園裏找到一個小亭子,視線不受街燈阻礙,我看著一個天空,有著白天與黑夜最美的景色,心想早上三點起床還是值得的。

驚喜卻不止於此。我們路過一個小小的森林到我們下榻的小屋,天色尚暗,我們需要用手電筒,一下子在十一點方向我們聽到竪竪之聲,我下意識趕望過去,聲音卻已經跑到九點鐘方向,是一隻箭豬!可憐它看見我們一行多人,早已嚇怕!我卻興奮得很,因為在此以前我只看過在動物園的箭豬!走到小屋,看見日出最盛的美景,藍色的夜景漸漸變成紫黃色,再發白。在海水和雪山的襯托下,這是我見過其中最美的日出。

Juneau貴為省都,文化氣息以及人民質素當然都是高的。在我們表演完畢,和觀眾在台下閒聊時,發覺這個地方的居民和美國其他省份的人一樣,忙得不得了,他們明天要坐飛機,後天要坐船,下星期要回東岸。這兩星期我們在小鎮遇到的居民當然也是忙,可是他們忙的是要摘梅子過冬,製作果醬,要打魚打鹿,再把魚肉冷藏入罐。在阿拉斯加他們常常會把自己省份和美國其餘四十八個省拿來對比,在這裡住了短短幾星期後,我也不難明白其原因。

Juneau讓我印象最深刻的是它的圖書館和冰川。市中心的圖書館高臨海岸,在一棟四層高的停車場的頂樓。在香港四層當然是低樓,不過在 Juneau來講,就一定是高樓。為了趕一些工作上的死線,我在這裏逗留了不短的時間。這裏背山面海,我想,風水一定很好。我坐在落地玻璃前,工作了兩個下午,心想,如果所有圖書館都能有這樣的景色,一定能培養居民的閱讀氣氛。臨行前我和圖書管理員搭訕,不忘讚美這裏難忘的風景。他微笑,是的,你來得正好,假如夏天來的話,整個窗都會被停泊的郵輪擋住,你就只能看到每個船艙裏的風光了。我離開圖書館後,心裏不斷在想阿拉斯加與郵輪旅遊業千絲萬瞜的關係。遊客無疑帶來巨大的金錢收益,然而本地居民卻對如狂風般的遊客又愛又恨。我在除了醉酒鬼以外就沒有其他人的市中心散步,幾乎全部商店在郵輪旺季以前都乾脆不開門,實在不難明白為什麼阿拉斯加人不願讓遊客牽著鼻子走。

Juneau附近的Mendenhall冰川離市中心只有十五分鐘車程。我們趕在上船之前匆匆一探冰山美人的真面目。美是不在話下的,讓我震驚的是,冰川比我相像中小。我想起十一歲是在看見的加拿大的Columbia Icefield,眼睛看到的都是白愷愷的雪,直到幾年前有一半都變成了啡色的石頭。同行的藝術家Teri Rofkar在阿拉斯加生活了一輩子,她說,去年,那塊圓圓的石頭還是埋在冰雪之中,今年已經露面了。不知道下次我能什麼時候來到Juneau,來的時候冰川還在嗎?


 

Invited by Island Institute in Alaska, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung participates in an overseas artist residency program in Northeast Alaska, to explore the nature and for cultural exchange with other artists.

About Michelle Kuen Suet Fung

10 – 18 April 2016

Petersburg is a fishing town of three thousand people. Every year, they export 1,000,000 pounds of fish. In one of our casual chats, a local resident said, a few fishermen look the same as everyone else but make over a million American dollars a year. Owing to these families’ generosity, the town gets a lot of amenities.

Our ferry arrived at the ungodly hour of two in the morning. The Southeast Alaskan ferry system has to take the tide into account when they schedule ports. I have seen the tide transform a rocky beach into an ocean and vice versa. Petersburg is tugged inside a channel sitting on the north side of the Mitkof Island. It is not the easiest place to get to. As a result, tourism is virtually non-existent here. It is worlds apart from last week’s Ketchikan that makes its living more or less on tourism. Without the need to please the tourists, Petersburg’s harbour is as practical as it gets. Although it is as beautiful as the others with the fishing boats in the foreground and snow-capped mountains in the background, I could not find a viewpoint designated for photo-opt! The vintage points I found were either beside three cargo-sized (very) noisy refrigerators, or the view was obstructed by multiple wires.

Its population comparable to that of maybe two or three highrises in Hong Kong, Petersburg showed us its passion for culture. It was the most enthusiastic crowd we had seen on this trip. Not only did we have a full house, but the level of sophisticated questions blew me away. I thought to myself, the calibre of the speaker is often reflected in the Q&A session even more than the prepared speech.

After Petersburg, we arrived at the State capital Juneau, a big town of 30,000. On our ferry ride, we got wind of news that we may stay in bed until six in the morning! That may not sound like good news until the alternative is to get up three hours earlier. However, when the ferry arrived in  Juneau at 3am, a stern voice woke us up through the loudspeaker and told us to leave the boat. Shortly after, there was vigorous knocking at the door.

We escaped from the ferry as fast as we could. In the east, a silver lining was just emerging behind the mountains, staining the royal blue sky with light. This was when someone said, “The Northern Lights!” There it was! A ribbon of shifting green light shooting skyward. We quickly situated ourselves in a pavilion where we would not be disturbed by stray light. Watching two of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the same sky, waking up three hours earlier was definitely worth it.

That was not the end of our surprises though. To get to the cabin we were staying, we would walk through a small woods. It was still dark so everyone had a flashlight in their hands. All of a sudden, we heard some shuffling noise in the eleven o’clock direction. I looked and saw a small mammal scooting past. My first porcupine in the wild! Poor little porcupine must have been scared silly by our entourage and in a moment disappeared into the protective foliage. As we arrived, a most beautiful sunrise greeted us. The cold nightscape quietly merged into a purplish one and then turned white.

A state capital, Juneau is highly cultured. After our performances, we chitchatted with our audiences. I found that these people are as busy as the other Americans in the lower 48 states. They are either flying home or flying somewhere over the next few days. The locals we had met in small towns were busy, but they were busy picking berries and making them into jam for the winter, or they were busy fishing and then smoking and canning the fish.

However, the Juneau library and its glacier left the deepest impressions on me. The downtown library sits loftily on top of a four-storey parking lot. Four storeies are of course nothing in Hong Kong, but it definitely is a highrise in Juneau. To clear some work, I spent two afternoons there. I thought to myself, if all libraries have such million-dollar views, the people would of course be all nurtured into readers! The librarian told me, you picked a good time to visit the library. In the summer, your view would be blocked by a cruise ship. You can only look into he cabins. As I was walking downtown where I couldn’t see a soul except for drunken men on a Sunday afternoon, I was savouring the complex love affair between Alaska and its cruise industry. Of course tourism brings in huge profits. However, seeing all of downtown closed until the cruise season, I was beginning to taste the bad taste in the mouths of those Alaskans.

Mendenhall Glacier is only fifteen minutes away from Juneau. We made a mad dash for the glacier right before our ferry departure. Beautiful? Of course. Yet, I was stunned by how small the glacier was. When my eleven-year-old self first saw the Columbia Icefield in Canada, everything in sight was covered in snow! When I revisited a couple of years ago, half of that has become rocks. Fellow artist Teri Rofkar has lived all her life in Alaska and she commented that the round boulder on the right of the glacier was still submerged in the snow last year. And this year it has emerged clearly in front of the receding line. I don’t know when and if I will come back to Juneau. Will this glacier still be around?

#tidelinesjourney

 

 

藝術家駐留週記《阿拉斯加》2

藝術家馮捲雪參與阿拉斯加州 Island Institute 舉辦的駐留計劃 ,獲邀請到阿拉斯加州東南部進駐創作,並與一眾藝術家交流、探索自然、生活、文化與歷史。

關於馮捲雪

2016年4月4-10日

第二個星期的駐村,我們開始到處漫遊。第一站Wrangell,這個以前是伐木的小鎮。在六十年代,Wrangell曾經興盛,居民有三千人,當中六分之一依賴木業維生。自千禧年代木廠倒閉以後,這裏的經濟開始衰落,現在居民剩下兩千餘。

許多居民一輩子沒有離開過這個鎮,不少離開家鄉上大學的孩子,因為思鄉情深,紛紛都選擇回家,有的是畢業後決定回家落地生根,有的是受不了外面的世界,乾脆回家。

星期二晚上是我們為這個小鎮表演。地點是在市中心邊緣的一個小島上的原住民祭典所,這棟有七十多年歷史的建築物,是Tlingit族人進行重要儀式的地方。小島的兩旁是美不勝收的海港,我看著這座活著的歷史,心想為什麼住了加拿大這麼多年,對北美原住民之文化認識少之又少?

對於我來說,當晚節目的高潮一定是原住民的歌舞表演,其實他們在迎賓多於表演,他們用自己的方式語言把我們包容在社區其中。我只在華盛頓省看過原住民歌舞表演一次,那是讓遊客嚐一嚐經過濾的原住民文化,是一個純經濟的交易。我付了鈔票,回報是娛樂性豐富的歡愉,不需要深入的了解,不需要跨文化的橋樑。

下一站是Ketchikan,人口八千,是我們目前為止來過最大規模的市鎮。我聽說當阿拉斯加失去它的木業時,每個地方以不同的方法活興經濟,而Ketchikan的策略是郵輪。這市基本上依山臨海而建,和許多阿拉斯加西南部的市鎮一樣都是得天獨厚。在市中心散步的時候,會看見長長的碼頭,預備天氣暖的時候每天四艘郵輪的遊客蜂擁而至。現在是四月,郵輪季節還未開始,市中心百分之九十的店乾脆休息,反正他們主要的收入來自夏天能花得起錢的客人,於是本來的酒吧都變成了珠寶店。

星期三的表演在離市中心十分鐘車程的Saxmen Village Tribal House舉行,這和Wrangell的祭典所相類似。一連兩個晚上在別人的文化聖屋分享我們的故事,實在是一個難忘的經歷。今晚村長還親自上台領辭歡迎我們。在原住民的村落我學會時間的另類定義,節目應該在晚上七點開始,七點四十五分村長徐徐上台的時候,台下的觀眾肅然起敬,沒有絲毫不悅的神色,到節目進行得火熱的時候,我眼角掃一下觀眾席,似乎沒有人記得那四十五分鐘。

離開Ketchikan,我們到達Kake,一條只有五百五十人的原住民村莊。阿拉斯加的輪船本來就稀少,許多原住民的村落更是沒有輪船服務。這個連酒店都沒有的地方,一星期只有一班船。剛剛這週末是他們一年一度的村際籃球比賽。球賽還沒開始,四周的房子已經傳來響亮的音樂,大家都在熱烈迎接這件盛事,以及晚上派對的狂歡。午飯時間,我和其一長老閒聊,從前這地方有一千多人,可是為了生計,不少年輕人都出外闖。除此以外,單是去年,便有六人去世,長老淡淡地說,有的是年老的,有的是年輕的。年輕的是死於什麼?我不禁問。酗酒。

我沒有再問。 酗酒和北美殖民歷史緊緊相勾,在十六世紀,來到新大陸的歐洲人為了想得到珍貴的皮草,開始教原住民喝威士忌,以培養他們對金錢的慾望,就像是十八世紀英國人為了中國茶葉、絲綢、瓷器把大量鴉片輸入中國一樣。

Kake這個地方非常非常美,依林環海。由於位置偏遠,百物騰貴。(這裏一包薯片要六塊美金。)居民主要吃的是都不是買的,春天割筍,夏天摘果,秋天出海,冬天打鹿,還有三文魚,八爪魚,海蜆鮑魚,非不得已才會在商店補充補充。長老說,有一年一個做生意的女人聽說這裏的藍莓是全國數一數二的,出價三塊美金一磅。長老對全村宣報,結果摘了一萬三千磅,可想這裏如何物資豐富。

旅程已經來到第二個星期的尾聲,大家開始有疲態。上文講過,阿拉斯加的輪船服務稀少,於是我們常常在清晨半夜時份啟程,也讓身體沒法長期適應一個地方。我在想,我們已經是以最舒適的方上路,現今的都市人實在都被寵壞了。


 

Invited by Island Institute in Alaska, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung participates in an overseas artist residency program in Northeast Alaska, to explore the nature and for cultural exchange with other artists.

About Michelle Kuen Suet Fung

4 – 10 April 2016
We started our nomadic lives in the second week. Our first stop Wrangell used to be a logging town. It used to house three thousand people, one sixth of which worked at the local mill. When the industry eventually dwindled, the mill closed down in the early 2000s. With the mill, went all the jobs and one third of the population. Today the town has two thousand people.

Many residents here have never left Wrangell and have no desire to. My host Chris shared with me that many college kids are so homesick after their first term away from home that they decide that staying home is more important than finishing college. Many of them, however, do graduate and then decide home is the best place to settle down.

We performed for this town on Tuesday at the Chief Shakes Tribal House just on the outskirt of downtown. It is no ordinary house—it is the Tlingit tribe’s ceremonial house where they hold all important rituals. The location also befits its importance. The house sits on a tiny island surrounded by an incredible harbour view. I stared at the living history dumbfounded. Having lived in Canada for so many years, why do I have such poor understanding of the North American native culture?

For me the climax of the evening was definitely the Tlingit music and dance performances. Well, I felt like they were greeting their guests (us the speakers and the audiences) more than putting on a show. This is their way of saying, welcome, we are happy to have you here. I had seen a Native American dance show once in the Washington State. I remember the salmon feast and the show—a mere spectacle and cultural tourism. The movements and melodies were devoid of meanings. It was solely a monetary transaction. I give you cash. You give me entertainment.

Our next stop was Ketchikan. Going from Sitka and Wrangell, Ketchikan is a large town (population 8000.) I heard when Alaska lost its mill industry, each town had their own strategy to deal with the crisis. Ketchikan’s was the cruise ships.

Like all towns in the Alaskan Southeast, Ketchikan is well-endowed with natural beauty. The whole town is basically built along the waterfront right by the mountains. It is still too early for the cruise ship season, so the long stretch of docks is eerily empty. My stroll downtown was equally spooky. I heard bars gave way to jewelry stores and they weren’t even open. I mean, ninety percent of downtown is closed before the cruise ships arrive! I was practically walking in a living ghost town!

Our Wednesday performance told place at the Saxmen Village Tribal House, ten minutes west of downtown Ketchikan. This house is similar to the one we had just performed in Wrangell twenty-four hours ago. I’m not sure if I can convey the solemnity and gratitude to present in sacred houses from another culture. Tonight the village chief came onto stage to greet us formally. Time seems to take on a different meaning in Native villages. The event was supposed to start at seven. At seven forty-five, the chief strolled onto the stage and the audiences hushed. During the show, I glanced at the audiences. Everyone was absorbed by the performance, and I seemed to be the only person remembering the forty-five minutes.

We arrived at Kake, a Native village of five hundred and fifty people, on Saturday. The Alaskan ferry system is sparse and far between. Many Native American villages have limited or no ferry services. This weekend is Kake’s 34th annual inter-village basketball tournament. Hours before the tournament, the locals played loud music in their houses and were clearly ready for the big party night.

I had a long conversation with an elder and was told that this village used to have over one thousand people. Many left for jobs. Death is another reason for the low population. Just last year, six people passed away, some old and some young. What did the young people die of? I couldn’t help asking. Alcohol.

I stopped asking. During the 17th century, the Europeans lusted after the precious fur the Native Americans hunted in the new world. In order to create a demand, the newcomers introduced whisky to the locals, much like how the British sold the Chinese opium for our silk, tealeaves and porcelain.

Kake is drop-dead gorgeous. Outside the town, it has trees as far as one can see and the ocean just steps away. Because of the remote location, everything imported is incredibly expensive. (Here, one bag of chips costs six US dollars.) Most locals here rely on a subsistence lifestyle, supplemented by store-bought food. They hunt, deer and moose. They gather, berries and shoots. They fish, salmon and octopus. They harvest, clams and gumboots. The elder told me one year a businesswoman heard about their berries and was willing to pay three US dollars per pound for their wild blueberries. They picked 13,000 pounds.

The journey is approaching the end of the second week. Fatigue is creeping onto my fellow travelers’ faces. As mentioned, the ferry service is nothing like what we are used it in Hong Kong. We often get up before the sun rises or in the middle of the night and are on the road constantly. I thought, we are already traveling in style. We first-world people are really really too spoiled.

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