L'être et le néantet still

L’être et le Néant(1962, Chang Chao-Tang) video color/mute 5’00” loop 2016

This work is an attempt to reassemble(not interpret) Chang Chao-Tang’s famous photo piece Being I (the translation of Chinese title is supposed to be Being and Nothingness). The atmosphere of 1962 was darkened by the shadow of martial law and the White Terror. It was an era when people’s thoughts and the feelings had nowhere to go. This sense of stifling and emptiness happened to resonate a little in tone with existentialism, the prevailing “trend in the world thought” at the time. While this resonance had very little to do with comprehension, and may have even been little more than a similarity in title (Jean-Paul Sartre had published his book Being and Nothingness in 1943), it still precisely captured the zeitgeist – a marginal zone of longing for freedom that was unattainable, longing for truth that  lay out of reach. Today when revisit the scene of Chang’s Being I, we can’t help being abruptly shocked. That experience of being suffocated, being incarcerated, that sense of being tightly constrained or even a little terrified seems not so far away.

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Chang Chao-Tang, Being I, 1962

1962年,還是學生的張照堂在屋頂上拍下了午後斜陽下的這張照片,一個無頭男人的身影映在圍牆上,模糊的遠景依稀可見。本作試著透過對張氏《存在與虛無》的重新組裝(而非解讀),再訪1962年的那個氛圍,那是戒嚴與白色恐怖時期人們思想與情感無處可去的時代,這種苦悶與空虛,巧合地與「世界思潮」有了那麼一點味道上的呼應,這種與「理解」不那麼相干的呼應,甚至在標題上那麼素樸的呼應(沙特於1943年發表的《存在與虛無》一書),恰恰點出了那個年代的情境,那是個渴求自由而不可得,渴求真理而不可得的邊緣地帶。而時至今日,當吾人再重新面對張氏《存在與虛無》的那個情境之中,不禁猛然驚覺,那種種令人苦悶的,感到禁錮的,似有什麼被緊緊限制甚至帶有一點恐懼感的經驗,恐怕並未遠離。