工作坊一 Workshop 1; 攝Photo: 張志偉 Cheung Chi-wai;
圖片由西九文化區提供 Photo provided by West Kowloon Cultural District
今天展覽跟表演藝術分野模糊，跨界合作，早是尋常，美術館或商業畫廊不時成為舞蹈展演及行為藝術的實驗場域，但如何不只是一場耍弄剪貼魔法的奇觀？對舞者來說，沒有四牆所限，有何新意？我更好奇的是，舞蹈作品的公共性及劇場性，當觀演時間和空間在本質上都有變異時，可以跟觀者建立更有趣的關係嗎？可以跟觀眾共享怎樣的美感經驗？只是表面的肢體互動？一場善意的邀請？一次自以為是的挑釁？觀眾的能動力有機會被釋放嗎？今年一月1 ，有幸參加了Xavier Le Roy（Xavier）在港的工作坊，對編舞者如何編構舞者、觀者、空間、身體及主體性之間的微妙關係，多了想像及理解。
Exhibitions and performing arts are hard to distinguish from each other these days, as interdisciplinary cooperation is common. Instead of ending up with merely a spectacle of magic, how can art museums and commercial galleries become the experimental arenas for dance performances and performance arts? Without the limitations of a ‘fourth wall’, what are the new ideas for dancers? What I wonder about more concerns the publicity and theatricality of dance productions: is it possible to develop a more interesting relationship with the audience when the performing time and space are changed in nature? What kinds of aesthetic experience can we share with the audience? Will it just be a superficial physical interaction, a well-meant invitation, or, a concerted provocation? Can the power of the audience be released? In January 1, I was honored to have joined a workshop given by Xavier Le Roy (Xavier) in Hong Kong, which stimulated my imagination and understanding on how choreographers construct subtle relationships among dancers, audience, space, body, and subjectivity.
Xavier is a renowned French choreographer and dance artist who has performed in art museums worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. He is frequently considered under the “non-dance” umbrella together with Jerome Bel by global media. He is, for sure, very resistant to this simple generalization and classification, since subjectification is his core concern, and his stress on diversity always comes though integration. Naturally, he also dislikes words like ‘cross-border’, as admission of ‘cross-border’ implies recognition of the border.
Dancers’ awareness of questions
「問題」兩個字，是在工作坊聽得最多的。Xavier多次說，他創作前得先建構一個好問題（formulate a good question）。是的，回看他的作品，指向清楚，每每把問題意識注入身體，以身體提問，時而指向舞蹈本身，基要地問：為何動？身體如何動態地在特地的社會文化脈絡下被生產及污染？舞作又如何在特定的文化生態及市場下被放置？動作和音樂的關係，觀眾和表演者的主體及客體有沒有轉化可能，肉身和機器的關係，分離的界線在哪等等。說來似是概念先行，但其實，清清明明，用身體來作為探究的方法，以動作來建構及回應問題。
‘Question’ is the most frequently heard word in the workshop. Xavier repeatedly says that he had to formulate a good question before creating art work. With his injection of an awareness of questions into the body, we can find the direction of movements are clear when we review his previous work. Several fundamental questions that point to the nature of dance are raised with the body: Why move? How is the body dynamically produced and contaminated under specific social and cultural contexts? What are the positions of dance productions in certain cultural ecologies and markets? Is it possible to convert the relationship between movements and music, as well as the subject-object relationship of the audience and performers? What is the relationship between bodies and machines? Where is the line separating them set? Concept seemingly comes first, but in fact, the body is used as a medium for exploration, with the movements being the formulation and response to the questions.
Interestingly, asking questions was also the focal point of the workshop. Every morning, about twenty participants bundled themselves up and formed a group in a small circle, earnestly discussing questions about dances and creative works in the face of the piercing wind.
Xavier言行合一，他尊重個體的差異（包括沉默），敏於事、強分析、善聆聽，平等、開放、持續的對話及交流成為可能。我們談及的問題很多很多，如「how becomes why」的創作基要選擇，這不只是概念上討論形式和內容的張力，而是具體針對美術館的脈絡，在時空都被定式後，舞者如何去佔領特定的情境？如果有心要去跟觀眾分享，如何找方法？他的選擇是：令觀眾一起參與作品的生成過程（be in the process of doing something with audience），作品不是一件已完成的作品，觀眾不能只停在「看」（watching），而需要生產（producing），過程中，觀眾無法確認些甚麼，得要去轉化、理解自己在看甚麼，找自己解讀的方法。這個做法，對我而言，有趣的不在當中的「互動」。事實上，有很多劇場及視藝創作人都在做類似的作品，但卻沒有Xavier如此認真看待「觀眾」的生產力，那是基於對人的信任、對觀眾有權力去尋找、翻譯、開展自己的閱讀及建／解碼的旅程的肯定，也似是暗合了洪席耶（Jacques Rancière）所說解放觀眾的可能性不再著眼於知識的再現，而是權力的實踐。
Xavier is a man who practices what he preaches. He respects individual differences, which include being silence; he is also a sensitive and analytic good listener, which allows him to sustain an equal and open conversation and exchange. We touched many questions, for instance, the fundamental choice of taking “how becomes why” as focus in an art work. This is not a conceptual tension of the form and content of discussion, rather a concrete aim at the context of art museums: how can dancers take up particular circumstances when the time and space is set? How to find ways to share with the audience? Xavier chooses to be in the process of doing something with the audience. A production is more than a finished work. The audience cannot only remain in the process of ‘watching’; they have to move to the next step of ‘producing’. They may not be able to confirm a thing during that process and therefore, they have to understand what they are watching and discover their own interpretation by transforming. I am not interested in the element of ‘interaction’ in his choice; in fact, plenty of theater artists and visual artists are doing this. What they lack is Xavier’s deep regard for the productivity of the audience, which is based on the trust in people, as well as the affirmation of the audience’s power to look for, translate and, start their own journey in reading and decoding. This also seems to coincide with the theory of Jacques Rancière: the possibility of emancipating the spectators no longer focuses on the intellectual reconstruction, but the praxis of power.
Xavier的作品《Retrospective》是很好的說明，形式就是內容，它善用美術館white cube 四正又打通的空間，有一個容讓變化而又固定的「機制」：展場四角輪番有不同的身體呈現：固定的身體雕塑、重覆不斷的機械人動作、兩段舞者自由地從Xavier在1999年的演講及演出《Product of Circumstances》中取材的動作，變奏成為自己作為舞者／創作人的回顧展演。就動作而言，同一框架，卻是「body-specific」的— —十來個不同身體，就是十來個存在的個體，展說不同的故事，套Xavier的話，不要「same difference」。就時間而言，只有一位自選回顧的舞者可以決定展演長短，其他三組動作會因應不同觀者進場而突變，也有跟觀者互動的時間。因此，同一時間，觀者有機會看到固定又流動的風景，需要很長時間才可以看盡不同的故事。換句話，觀者的去留時間決定了自己的觀賞經驗，就似一口氣翻看幾本看不完的身體的書，而且不用順序，也可用不同的角度及位置去細味。
Retrospective is a prominent example explaining that form is content. Taking advantage of the open cubic space of White Cube, a fixed ‘mechanism’ allowing changes is founded. The four corners of the area with dancers with different body expressions. With still body sculpture, repeating robotic moves and two sets of movements drawn from a lecture performance of Xavier’s in 1999, Product of Circumstances, the production becomes the dancers’ retrospective performance as a dancer or a creator. In terms of the movements, they are within a framework, yet body-specific. About ten different bodies tell various stories about ten extant individuals . In Xavier’s words, that is what the unacceptable “same difference” is. In terms of time, only the dancer can determine the duration of the performance, the other three groups of movements may change according to the entry of thr audience. As a result, the audience can appreciate stationary yet also moving scenes at the same time, requiring a long time to read all the stories. In other words, the audience decides their own viewing experience with the length of their stay. As if reading never-ending books of the bodies without following the order, they can savor every moment of the performance from different angles and positions.
Xavier Le Roy; 攝Photo: 張志偉 Cheung Chi-wai;
圖片由西九文化區提供 Photo provided by West Kowloon Cultural District
Theatricality and Publicity
Xavier reminds us to question the operation of the theater, and whether the production can allow the audience to rethink what movements are socially disciplined, such as their viewing positions, ways of appreciation, distance from the production, and thoughts on the logic of the production. To Xavier, this is not a question about whether there is democracy or not, rather the extent of democracy and how to achieve it. The focus is on how the conditions of the space and social restrictions allow the production to run, and how the audience and dancers adjust and negotiate. The audience is not a group of people in a public space, but unique individuals who happen to become a collective at this particular time and space.
他有力的一句：「他們，不是一個」（they are not one），給我很深的印像，同理，我們也不是一個（we are not one）。Xavier提醒我們不要視群體為鐡板一塊，觀眾不是等待我們啟蒙、無面無目的群眾，這一點十分重要。讓我想到洪席耶在《被解放的觀者》 2 一書的第二章中有關批判的批判，他提及解放理論視所有民眾為白痴，有待精英去啟導；而批判理論強調這些白痴被洗腦，錯把符號及意象看成真實，二者都視民眾為無能者，最後得益的仍是生生不息的資本主義。因此，他主張改變原來的先設及前題，才有新可能出現真正的解放。也即是，承認所有人都有不同的能力，共存在一個異識場景（dissensus），不是高低之分，只是看見抑或看不見，把看不見的重置為看得見，集合不同的能力，就是一場政治的主體化過程。
His powerful statement, “they are not one”, has given me a profound impression. Similarly, we are not one. Xavier reminds us not to see the community as an iron plate. The audience is not the faceless mass waiting for our enlightenment, and this point is very crucial. This makes me think of the second chapter of Rancière’s The Emancipated Spectator 2, which is a critique on criticism. He argues that emancipation theory actually postulates that people are imbeciles who are to be edified by elites, while critical theory emphasizes that these imbeciles are brainwashed and mistake symbols and imageries for reality. The two theories both view people as impotent, and the ultimate beneficiary is the thriving system of capitalism. Therefore, he suggests that true emancipation is only achievable when the presumption and premise are changed. We have to acknowledge the different abilities of people coexisting in dissensus; there is no class but the distinction between visible and invisible. Turning the invisible into the visible and assembling diverse abilities is a process of political subjectification.
For this reason, neither do we have to sneer at the silent spectator in haste, nor please the spectator with spectacles. If artists believe that people possess the ability to understand, which may be curbed by certain cultural, historical, and social factors, they should act like translators and transform the invisible into the visible. In Retrospective, the audience can listen to and read the narration of over a dozen dancers on how they have become a dancer and their bodies’ stories on a one-on-one basis in private as if they were friends. This designed trueness is intimate and profound, highly open yet restricted, making it a very unique theatrical circumstance. At the same time, each dancer is equally important. Under the limited time and space, the dancers and audience are not only ‘us’, but also a specific conscious ‘self’.
我曾問 Xavier 會否去社區演出，離開始終較精英的美術館及藝術節。他說他的作品常常被認為抽像或高度概念，但其實人人可懂，動作也不難。他不會走到特定的社區或社群表演，但以去年Xavier與Scarlet在德國Münster共同創作的作品《Still Untitled》為例，雖也是在一個關於公共空間雕塑的藝術節框架下進行，但其實人人可透過公開報名參與。參加者在工作坊提供的共同框架內以自己對雕塑的理解而選取動作，然後這些動作雕塑可隨時、隨地、隨意地呈現。有趣的，因為作品是流動的，在空間四散，與人的溝通及互通也是作品的一部份，看和被看，固定和流散，主體和客體都是同時存在，跟他其他作品一貫地充滿辯證，但同時撤消我們對他其他作品的辯證理解。編舞者設計了機制，再讓作品在不同的時間及空間像流言一樣在大街小巷流瀉、變化、生成、聚散。
When I asked Xavier if he would leave the rather highbrow art museums and art festivals to perform in the community, he replied that he would not perform in a particular community. Although his works are usually considered as abstract and highly conceptual, Xavier thinks that they are de facto easy movements people can understand. Take Still Untitled presented in Münster for example, a work Xavier and Scarlet co-developed in Germany last year. Anyone could participate in the event through open registration in spite of the framework of a public program in a sculpture art festival exhibition for public spaces. Participants embodied their own sculpture form according to their personal concept and the shared framework of the workshops, these human being embodied sculptures were freely addressed to people on the street or anywhere as they wished. This is intriguing, as the works were mobile and moving in the space; communication and interaction with people on the street were also parts of the work. There were coexistences of the gazer and the gazed, solid and fluid, as well as subjects and objects, which were undoing our dialectical understandings as in his other productions.. The artists design a mechanism, and let the work flow, alter, produce, congregate, and disassemble in different time and space.
余美華和Xavier Le Roy在公眾論壇上分享。(Center) Scarlet Yu and Xavier Le Roy at the public forum.
(Left) Alice Teng, Associate Curator, Visual Art at M+, (Right) artist Youwei Chan
攝Photo: Thomas Lin; 圖片由西九文化區提供 Photo provided by West Kowloon Cultural District
Equity as a Prerequisite
Xavier非常重視平等這個價值原則，他曾說：「我沒有舞者，但我與人合作」（I have no dancer but I work with people），足見這位編舞家跟舞者不是從屬關係，而是合作伙伴。就算他和他的創作伙伴余美華（Scarlet）需要招募演員，都不是用動作來選舞者，而是以密集的對談，去找志趣及想法接近、可以溝通的人。
Xavier highly values the principle of equity. He once said, “I have no dancer, but I work with people.” It is apparent that dancers are not subordinate to the choreographer, rather, they are partners. Even when he and his creative partner, Scarlet Yu, have to recruit performers, they do not choose dancers with reference to their movements. Through intensive conversations, they hope to find communicative people who share similar aspiration and ideas.
討論期間，Xavier也提到法國「無知教師」（The Ignorant Schoolmaster）Joseph Jacotot到比利時教法文的故事。當地學生不懂法文，而這位教師又不懂學生的母語，於是拿了一本十七世紀以雙語出版的法文小說作為教材，成功讓學生學會法文，以證明無知者是可以教懂另一位無知者他不知道的東西。Xavier說，現在老師往往因為要維持權威，不斷以教育來生產無知者，沒有讓無知者知道他不知道甚麼。藝術家往往也自以為是老師，要把看法及情慼傳授給觀眾，把觀眾確立在被動、沉默及受教的位置上，沒去承認自己也是無知者，也在學習。這跟洪席耶在《被解放的觀者》提及的「智性平等」很接近，洪認為公平是先決的條件，而不是目的，知識不分高下，觀眾是有能力去理解及建構劇場的閱讀，有些東西卻可能在特定的情況不被看見，藝術家就是以間距（separation）及再置的「翻譯」技法，重新佔用（re- appropriation）關係，讓觀眾自己跟再現的森林角力，找自已智性的路徑。觀眾的權利不在被教，而是可以用自己的方法去翻譯眼前感知的東西，再回到自己的體系，建構自己的知識歷程。難怪Xavier叫大家創作時，不要簡化，要勇於複雜（touch complexity）。
During our discussion, Xavier also mentioned The Ignorant Schoolmaster, which tells the story of Joseph Jacotot going to Belgium to teach French. Since the local students did not speak French, and Joseph Jacotot as a teacher did not understand the mother tongue of the students, he used a bilingual French novel published in the 17th century as his teaching material. He finally succeeded in teaching students French, proving that an ignorant person can educate another ignorant people about things he or she does not know. Xavier points out that teachers nowadays endlessly produce ignorant people through education to maintain their authority, without revealing the things the ignorant person does not know to the them. Likewise, artists also regard themselves as teachers who have to impart thoughts and emotions to the audience. They place the audience, who they think are to be taught, in a passive and silent position, not admitting that they are also ignorant and need to learn. This is very close to the “intellectual equity” Rancière mentions in The Emancipated Spectator. Rancière holds the view that equity is a prerequisite instead of an objective. The concept of superiority and inferiority is not applicable to knowledge, and the audience possesses the ability to understand and construct a reading of the theater. Something may become invisible under certain circumstances, and this is the time the artist utilizes the technique of separation and resetting “translation” for re-appropriation. The right of the audience is not about being taught; they can wrestle along their intellectual path, translate what they perceive with their own methods, and come back to their own system to construct their intellectual journey. No wonder Xavier advises us to avoid simplification and be courageous to touch complexity.
此外，洪席耶說到因為距離而接近的說法，讓我想及Xavier常說的「take your time」，這個不單是叫大家慢下來，也是用時間來產生間距，當舞者用自己的時間十分專注在自己的動作，讓自己存在飽滿在時間裡時，跟觀眾是最遠又最近的距離。因為美，所以共享，因為向內走，所以獨立。這種慢，未必可以在限時限景的傳統舞台可見，編舞者現在就是重置條件，讓觀演者都可自由決定自己所需的時間。
Furthermore, Rancières argument of “getting close because of distance” rings a bell with what Xavier talks about: “take your time”. This is not only about asking people to slow down, but also using time to generate distance. When dancers are totally absorbed in their own movements and immersed in this very own time, they are at the furthest and nearest from the audience. They share beauty with the audience, yet are independent owing to its privacy. This kinds of slowness may not be seen on tradition stages that is limited by time and setting. The choreographer resets the conditions, permitting the audience and performers to decide the time they need without restrictions.
工作坊二 Workshop 2; 攝Photo: 張志偉 Cheung Chi-wai;
圖片由西九文化區提供 Photo provided by West Kowloon Cultural District
就在Xavier及Scarlet極富耐性及開放的帶領下，我們每天談及的東西很多，如在互動過程中，我們想從觀眾身上取得甚麼？這個「想」又是甚麼？是表演者的慾望，抑或是想別人跟自己一樣的慾望？又熱切地討論什麼是商業舞蹈，在特定的文化生態及市場主動下，它意味甚麼？當我們以為不簡單地用好和不好去評價時，會不會也是確定了某種主流及藝術的二分法？而我們當中有兩位舞者在迪士尼工作，他們用舞者的工場（a factory of dancer）來形容工作的地方令我難忘，我馬上想到當中的政治性：全球化下的娛樂事業，用亞州的身體去出賣美國夢。但兩位舞者卻給了我故事的另一邊：他們享受工作，因為人工不錯，也很快懂得如何保護自已的身體，有餘力去做自己的創作及善用迪士尼的資源：偌大的排練室、學習不同的舞種及認識不同國藉的舞者。他們的笑容很明亮。所以故事總是複性的。
With the patience and openness of Xavier and Scarlet, we touched on a lot of issues. For example, what we wanted to get from the audience during interaction and what that ‘want’ is. Is it the desire of the performer, or is it the desire to have the others be the same as us? We also enthusiastically discussed what commercial dance is. What does that term mean under specific cultural ecology and market orientation? Do we actually endorse a dichotomy between mainstream and ‘art’ when we appraise simply with good versus bad? Among us were two dancers working at Disneyland, who described their workplace as “a factory of dancers”. This was very impressive to me, as I instantly thought of the politics in it: working with an Asian body at the globalized showbiz of the American Dream. Yet, these two dancers told me another story: they enjoyed their work because of the handsome salary; they had also quickly learnt how to protect their bodies for their own creation and utilize the resources of Disneyland, such as the vast rehearsal room, training of different genres of dance, and dancers of diversified nationalities. With their bright smiles, we understand that stories are always complicated.
我們談到學習舞蹈時，總由模仿老師開始，而且須要百分百準繩，但copy、replicate及mimic有什麼分別（對不起，現仍不懂分別），有沒有不忠誠的模仿？此外，在文化商品化的生態下，甚麼是合作也有過一番討論，而Xavier 說，舞者經常處於自主和被認受（a tension between autonomy and recognition）的張力下，真是對很多獨立藝術家的精確描述。如何選擇，就各施各法，一場修行。
When it comes to dance learning, it always starts with imitating the teacher to the fullest. However, what are the exact differences in ‘copy’, ‘replicate’, and ‘mimic? (Sorry, I have not figured it out yet.) Is disloyal imitation possible? Besides, there has been discussion about collaboration under cultural commodification. According to Xavier, the dancer is under a tension between autonomy and recognition. This is a precise depiction of many independent artists as they face the problem of choice.
Art can redefine power and subject-object relationship, allowing different people to coexist, share aesthetic feelings and provoke contemplation. This is political, poetic, and about love. Thank Xavier and Scarlet again for their generous and sincere sharing, and making me see the light of praxis.
1 2018 年1月，Xavier Le Roy 及同是舞者的創作伙伴余美華（Scarlet）應西九文化區之邀，來港主持一個題為「公共場所之內：情境如何塑造藝術？藝術如何塑造情境？」的兩個工作坊及一個公眾講座。筆者全程參予了以作品《Retrospective》為本，歷時六天的第二個工作坊，而第一個是以《Temporary Title, 2015 》為本。
Janurary 2018, Xavier Le Roy and his partner in arts Scarlet Yu, who is also a dancer, were invited by West Kowloon Cultural Disctrict to instruct two workshops and attend one public forum under the theme “In Public: How Do Situations Choreograph Artworks? How Do Artworks Choreograph Situations?”. The author of this article participated in the six-day workshop 2, which was based on Retrospective, a previous work of Xavier. While workshop 1 was based on another of Xavier’s work Temporary Title, 2015.
2 The Emancipated Spectator， London： Verso， 2009