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她用刺绣重新连结朝鲜半岛

更新时间:2018-9-15 10:37:20 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

An Artist Unites North and South Korea, Stitch by Stitch
她用刺绣重新连结朝鲜半岛

SEOUL, South Korea — Growing up here in the 1970s, Kyungah Ham would occasionally find propaganda leaflets sent from North Korea via helium balloons. Like her classmates, Ms. Ham turned in the leaflets at school, where she was given a reward for doing a small part in South Korea’s simmering ideological war with its neighbor.

韩国首尔——1970年代,咸京我(Kyungah Ham)在这里长大的时候偶尔能发现朝鲜用氦气球送过来的传单。像同学一样,咸京我把传单交给学校,能得到一份奖励,因为在韩国与邻国细火慢炖的意识形态战争里出了小小的一份力。

In 2008, when Ms. Ham found another North Korean leaflet — this one under the gate of her parents’ home — it felt like an alien object, blown in from a different planet. By then, she was a multimedia artist who had come to distrust much of the history she’d been taught, and she knew that South Koreans were sending leaflets of their own over the border. That got her wondering: Could she communicate directly with people who, through a geopolitical tragedy now 65 years old, she is forbidden to contact?

2008年,咸京我又发现了一张朝鲜传单——这次是在她父母家的大门底下——它显得如此遥远,就像是从外星球飘来的。那时候她已是一名多媒体艺术家,早已不再相信过去学校里教的历史,她也知道了韩国以前也往国界那边撒自己的传单。这让她陷入思考:在已持续65年的地缘政治悲剧里那些她禁止接触的人,她能否与他们直接交流呢?

It was the birth of what might be the art world’s most extraordinary, ongoing collaboration. For a decade, Ms. Ham has been producing designs on her computer that are printed and smuggled into North Korea through intermediaries based in Russia. Then a group of anonymous artisans, whom she has never met or spoken to, are paid to convert them into embroideries, using exquisitely fine stitching. With bribes and subterfuge, the works are smuggled back out. Ultimately, they are shown and sold at galleries and exhibitions.

一场或许是艺术世界里最不寻常的、仍在进行中的合作,就此诞生了。十年来咸京我不断在电脑上设计出图案,打印出来后通过在俄罗斯的中间人偷运进朝鲜。然后,一群与咸京我素未谋面的不具名工匠,受雇用精工细作的针脚把这些图案变成刺绣。通过贿赂和花招,这些作品被偷运回来。最终,它们会在画廊或艺术展览上展出和销售。

The most ambitious pieces are large-scale renderings of luminous, glittering chandeliers, some nearly 12 feet wide and 9 feet high, that from a distance look like photographs set against black backdrops. Get closer, and a filigree of stitches appear. Both chandelier and backdrop have been painstakingly composed of silk thread.

最宏伟的是一些描摹闪亮枝形吊灯的大尺幅作品,有些近12英尺宽、9英尺高,远看就像黑色背景下拍摄的照片。凑近看,细密的针脚就显现出来。枝形吊灯和背景都是一针一线精心绣制而成。

On one level, her embroideries are an attempt to reunite through art people who were forcibly separated in 1953 through war. The work marries the strength of the South (technology) to the strength of the North (craftsmanship), and it is confected through a hazard-filled maze.

某种程度上,她的刺绣作品试图用艺术让1953年因战争被迫分别的人们重逢。作品结合了南方的优势(技术)与北方的优势(手艺),整个实现的过程危机四伏。

A lot of artists talk about taking risks, but few mean it as literally as Ms. Ham. International sanctions prohibit commerce with the Hermit Kingdom, so at least theoretically, she could face criminal prosecution for these cash-for-work transactions.

许多艺术家都谈论冒险,但很少有人像咸京我这样真的冒险。国际制裁禁止与朝鲜这个隐秘王国进行贸易活动,因此至少从理论上讲,她可能因为这些作品的现金交易面临刑事起诉。

The potential penalties for her collaborators are far graver. If caught, these residents of the world’s most repressive regime could be imprisoned or executed. The dangers facing the North Koreans raise ethical issues that, intended or otherwise, become part of Ms. Ham’s art.

与她合作的那些工匠可能受到更严重的处罚。全世界最专制政权之下的这些居民,一旦被发现做这种工作,可能入狱或被处决。这些朝鲜人面对的危险带出艺术伦理的问题,有意也好无意也好,伦理问题成了咸京我艺术作品的一部分。

“With Kyungah’s work, it’s difficult to separate the object from the process of making the object,” said Rosalie Kim, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which acquired one of Ms. Ham’s embroideries in 2016. “The risk isn’t the point, but the risk emphasizes the consequences of the separation of the peninsula and what is at stake in trying to overcome it.”

“说到京我的作品,物品与制作物品的过程很难分开,”伦敦维多利亚和阿尔伯特博物馆的策展人罗莎莉·金(Rosalie Kim)说,该博物馆于2016年购藏了咸京我的一件刺绣作品。“关键并不在于风险,而是风险凸显出半岛割裂的后果,以及要试图克服它所需的代价。”

Ms. Ham protects the covert network in her employ with a spymaster’s care, and would not discuss the size of the lump sums that cover the cost of intermediaries, artisans and bribes. But she hides neither her art nor the basics of her methods. The Embroidery Project, as she calls it, has been part of museum group shows in London, Vienna and Singapore, and wall labels beside each piece succinctly explain how it was made.

咸京我像个情报组织头目一样小心地保护她用到的秘密关系网,不肯讨论在中间人、工匠以及打点关系上都要花费多少。但她并不隐藏她的艺术,也不隐瞒她的基本方法。她命名为“刺绣项目”的这些作品参加过伦敦、维也纳和新加坡的美术馆群展,每件作品旁边的标签都简要解释了它是怎样制作的。

“North Korean Hand Embroidery,” reads one label. “Silk threads on cotton, middleman, anxiety, censorship, ideology, wooden frame, approx. 2200 hours/2 persons.”

“朝鲜手工刺绣,”一个标签上这样写道,“棉布面丝线,中间人,焦虑,审查,意识形态,木框,用时约2200小时/2人。”

On first meeting, Ms. Ham seems wildly miscast for the role she has created for herself. She would be the first to admit that she is lousy at coping with stress, now a permanent feature of her life. Once, on a flight to meet an intermediary, she collapsed with a stomach ailment so painful and severe that as soon as she landed, she was put on the next plane back to Seoul and admitted to a hospital.

初次见面的咸京我完全不像她把自己塑造成的那种角色。她会抢先承认她极不擅长应对压力,而压力现在是她生活里的固定成分。有一次她飞去见一位中间人,半路上胃病发作疼痛难忍晕倒了,飞机落地后她马上被送上下一趟回首尔的航班,然后住进了医院。

If her nerves are fragile, other parts are made of steel. During interviews in both Paris and Seoul in recent months, she was adamant and particular about nearly everything. Before dinner at a brasserie, she rejected three different tables offered by a host. (Her final choice, it must be said, was superior to the others.) She issued demands about virtually every aspect of this article, including who would photograph her.

如果说她的神经脆弱,那她的其他部分却是钢铁造就。最近几个月在巴黎和首尔的采访中,她几乎对所有事情都有坚决而具体的要求。有一次在小饭馆吃晚餐,她拒绝了东道主建议的三张餐桌。(必须要说,她最后选的桌子确实比别的都好。)而对于本文,她几乎对所有方面都提出了要求,包括谁来给她拍照。

And though an introvert by nature, once she overcomes her natural shyness, she is bursting with words.

尽管天生内向,一旦她克服了本性里的羞怯,她的话就会滔滔不绝。

“If we take it step by step,” she said with a smile early in our first meeting, preparing to describe her life and work, “this will take five hours.”

我们第一次见面,她一开始正准备讲述自己的人生和作品,“要是按部就班地讲,”她微笑着说,“那得花五个小时。”

As Ms. Ham explained, her chandeliers are a symbol of the foreign powers that divided Korea along the 38th Parallel after three years of fighting the Korean War. (The golden age of those powers passed, she said, which is why these chandeliers are either falling or already on the ground.) The border was largely imposed on the peninsula by non-Koreans; Ms. Ham’s favorite word to describe this fact is “absurd.”

咸京我解释说,作品中的大吊灯象征持续三年的朝鲜战争之后将朝鲜半岛沿三八线分开的各种外国势力。(这些势力的黄金时代已经过去,她说,这就是为什么画面里的吊灯要么正在坠落,要么已经掉到地上。)这条分界线很大程度上是外国人强加给半岛的;咸京我爱用一个词来描述这个事实:“荒谬”。

As she conceived her embroideries, she was inspired in part by a moment in a documentary about the Mass Games, Pyongyang’s socialist-realist extravaganza of tightly choreographed music, dance and gymnastics. The production includes a crowd, thousands of people strong, holding flip books in front their faces with blocks of colors on each page. The pages are turned in uncannily timed unison, a vast human billboard of seamlessly changing words and images.

构思刺绣作品时,一部讲述朝鲜大型团体操的纪录片中的某个时刻启发了她。那是平壤的社会主义现实主义盛会,以精心编排的音乐、舞蹈和体操著称。团体操演员数以千计,每个人都在面前举起色板册,每一页上有不同的色块。这些色板以神乎其技的同步性翻动,组成一个巨大的人工广告牌,流畅地变换着标语和图像。

Ms. Ham watched and saw the face of a young boy peeking over his color book.

咸京我看到了一张男孩的脸从色板册下向外张望。

“He was like a pixel in a digital image,” she said. “I wanted to bring this idea to my chandeliers. Behind them are highly skilled embroidery workers, whom you can’t see, but they memorialize themselves, stitch by stitch.”

“他就像一幅数码图片里的一个像素,”她说。“我想把这个想法用到我那些枝形吊灯作品里。这些作品背后是技术高超的刺绣工人,你看不到他们,但他们一针又一针地让自己为世人铭记。”

Pieces typically come back folded up in black plastic bags, reeking of cigarette smoke. Her first move is to hang up the work and air it out. The round trip to and from North Korea can take as long as a year, a process she likens to shouting from a mountain top and hearing her voice 12 months later.

这些作品通常是叠好了装在黑色塑料袋里偷运回来,散发着香烟的臭味。她头一件事就是把作品挂起来散味。从设计稿送往朝鲜到刺绣从朝鲜运回,时间可能长达一年,她把这个过程比作站在山顶呼喊,12个月后听到自己声音的回响。

Ms. Ham is not idle while she waits, and the embroideries are just one facet of a varied career. Since earning an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York, in 1995, she has been making videos, sculptures, photographs and an assortment of installations. One recurring impulse is to highlight the ways power is abused, and for whatever reason, she is drawn to methods that give her agita.

等待时咸京我并没闲着,刺绣作品只是她多彩事业中的一面。自1995年从纽约视觉艺术学院获得美术硕士学位以来,她已经创作过雕塑、摄影以及各种各样的装置作品。作品中一个反复出现的动机就是重点刻画权力滥用的方式,不知什么原因,令她焦虑的创作方法总是特别吸引她。

With an installation called “Museum Display,” in 2010, theme and practice were combined. She has long been irked by the many Western museums filled with cultural treasures from other countries — think of the Elgin marbles, originally part of the Parthenon in Greece, which have spent the last 200 years in the British Museum. With wit and irony, Ms. Ham pilloried this tradition by stealing hundreds of mundane objects from museums around the world, including forks, saucers, knives, vases, salt and pepper shakers. She then displayed them in a huge glass case, under lights, labeling each item with the gravity befitting a looted masterpiece.

在2010年的一件装置《博物馆陈列》(Museum Display)当中,她把主题与实践结合了起来。长久以来她已厌烦了那些装满别国文化珍宝的西方博物馆——想想埃尔金大理石雕塑,原本是希腊帕特农神庙的一部分,却在大英博物馆里过了200年。咸京我机智又反讽地批判了这种传统,她从世界各地的博物馆偷走数百件日常物品,包括餐刀、餐盘、餐叉、盐瓶胡椒瓶,然后装进巨大的玻璃盒子,陈列在灯光下,郑重其事地给每一件物品加上标签,如同介绍一件掠夺来的艺术杰作。

“Sign, ‘These doors are alarmed,’ 10cm x 10 cm, the British Museum, 2009,” reads one.

一个标签是这么写的:“标牌,‘此门装有警报器’,10cm x 10cm,大英博物馆,2009年”。

Her other great passion is connecting to strangers, and the Embroidery Project is an expression of that urge. Among the first images she conceived for her artisans were stylized words, rendered in both Korean and English, and set against abstract and colorful designs. One simply read “I’m sorry,” in the two languages.

另一个让她极有热情的事是与人建立联系,“刺绣项目”就是这种欲望的表达。在她为工匠们构思的第一批图案当中,有一些是风格化的文字,英韩双语。其中一幅很简单,就是两种语言的“对不起”。

“I wanted to tell these artisans, ‘I’m sorry about the situation,’” she said. “‘I am sorry about what history has done to us.’”

“我想告诉那些工匠,‘我对这种境况很遗憾,’”她说。“‘为历史对我们做的这些事,我觉得遗憾。’”

Later, she began what she calls the “SMS Series in Camouflage,” in which she weaves faint words, in script, into almost psychedelic oil slicks of color. One of these not-so-secret messages reads “Big Smile,” an instruction for performers during the Mass Games. When a gallerist urged her to employ embroiderers in China, arguing it would be far quicker and easier, she felt misunderstood enough to create a new message: “Are you lonely, too?”

后来她开始创作“保护色短信系列”,将隐约可见的短信文本融进水面浮油那种迷幻的色彩。这些短信并无秘密可言,其中一条是“用力微笑”,那是大型团体操当中给表演者的一个指示。一位画廊主劝说她雇用中国的刺绣工匠,那样快得多也更便利,她觉得自己被严重误解,就创造了一条新的短信:“你也孤单吗?”

Many early works were confiscated by North Korean authorities, either on the way in or out of the country. She has gone through several intermediaries, one of whom simply took her money, and has gradually found ways to work with standout artisans, using a code to convey her admiration for certain pieces. The result is a rarity — conceptual art in which the finished product is every bit as compelling as the concept itself.

许多早期作品被朝鲜当局没收了,有的在运进去的时候,有的在运出来的时候。她经历过几个中间人,有一个只拿钱不办事,她渐渐找到方法与优秀的工匠合作,用暗语传达她对具体作品的赞赏。合作的成果是罕见的——一种制成品和观念本身一样引人入胜的观念艺术。

“There are a lot of beautiful things you can buy at Art Basel, and there are a lot of clever conceptual strategies out there,” said Roger Buergel, the German-born artistic director of the 2012 Busan Biennale, which featured work by Ms. Ham. “She unites these two poles in a singular way. The pieces themselves are spectacular.”

“你在巴塞尔艺术展上能买到很多美丽的作品,那儿也有很多聪明的概念策略,”罗格·比格尔(Roger Buergel)说,这位德国出生的策展人曾任2012年釜山双年展艺术总监,咸京我的作品参加了那次展览。“她用一种不寻常的方式统一了这两极。这些作品本身就很壮观。”

Though she has given interviews in the past, she spent months wavering about whether to speak to The Times. Friends have told her “Don’t get too famous.” Citing fatigue, she stopped answering texted questions a few weeks ago, including one about the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore last month. Would a rapprochement change — or even end — her project?

她过去接受过不少采访,但还是犹豫了好几个月是否接受《纽约时报》的采访。几周前她不再回答记者用短信发去的提问,说自己太疲劳。其中一个问题有关特朗普总统与金正恩六月在新加坡的会晤。与朝鲜的和解会改变她这个计划吗,会终结这个计划吗?

After a long silence, she sent a text a few day ago that said that if North Korea joined the brotherhood of nations, her work would be reinterpreted in a new political context and, she wrote, “stay alive in history.”

长久的沉默之后,几天前她发来一条短信说,如果朝鲜与韩国缔结兄弟关系,她的作品将在新的政治背景下得到解读,它们仍然会“活在历史中,”她写道。

Today, her pieces sell for prices ranging from $25,000 to $300,000 in the Carlier Gebauer Gallery in Berlin and the Kukje Gallery in Seoul. But the largest collection of her work is in her storage facility outside Seoul. During a visit in February, Ms. Ham offered a tour of what is little more than a large and bare room, with embroideries neatly stacked against each other on the floor.

如今在柏林的卡里耶-盖鲍尔画廊(Carlier Gebauer)和首尔的国际画廊(Kukje Gallery),她的这些作品以2.5万-30万美元的价格出售。但大多数作品存放在首尔郊外她的作品仓库。今年二月造访时,咸京我提议可以去仓库看看,就是一个大大的空房间而已,刺绣作品一幅幅整齐堆叠在地上。

Ms. Ham roamed around the space, beaming. She is somewhat ambivalent about parting with her chandeliers, especially if they are just going to hang on someone’s wall. Her preference is to lend pieces to exhibitions, or sell them to museums, where the largest possible audience can consider their improbable journey and marvel at their virtuosity.

咸京我信步仓库,满面春风。与这些大吊灯分别会让她心情矛盾,尤其当它们只是去挂在某些人家里的墙上。她更愿意把作品借给艺术展,或是卖给博物馆,因为那里的观众最有可能思考作品的奇特旅程,惊叹它们的精湛工艺。

“I don’t tell the galleries about everything I have,” she said with a grin, “because they will sell it.”

“我不会告诉画廊我都有些什么,”她笑着说,“他们会卖掉的。”

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