An interview with Hsiang-Lin Chien | 簡湘霖藝術家訪談
English and Chinese
採訪人: Maria Dolfini( 以下簡稱M )
藝術家: 簡湘霖 ( 以下簡稱Y )
M: Hello! Could you first tell me a bit about your background and education? When was your first encounter with art?
H: I started painting when I was a child and until high school I only painted on a flat canvas. It wasn’t until I enrolled at the Tainan National University of the Arts for my BFA that I began to engage with three- dimensional materials and create ceramic sculptures.
M: You use ceramic to create sculptures, which is a very peculiar combination, since usually sculpture is associated with stronger materials such as fiberglass or marble. Ceramic is instead a very fragile medium. When and why did you start using ceramic for your sculptures?
妳長期使用陶瓷媒材進行雕塑，之所以我認為這種選擇很特別是因為照常雕塑是一門重 視穩定、權力的藝術形式，使用玻璃鋼這類堅固的媒材，而瓷器卻傳達出脆弱純 淨的理念，總是處在碎裂邊緣。妳何時並為何開始以陶瓷為創作的媒介? H: After university and before graduate school, I mainly used pottery. Ceramics comes from clay; after being fired in the kiln at high temperature, the clay becomes solid, turning into an almost eternal medium. I personally think clay is a beautiful medium. During the production process, its appearance changes depending on the pressure, the regulation of moisture and air temperature. Eventually after the last firing process, the clay comes back to the original shapes I have endowed it initially. I think clay is a very perceptive material, it has its own language.
Ceramic sculptures are not popular in Taiwan, since most people think of ceramics as everyday utensil such as cups and bowls. I hope I can push the medium and make people understand and value it as art.
從大學到研究所階段我都是以「陶」 為主要創作的材料。陶瓷來自於土， 經過高溫燒製後，土成為了堅固又永恆的媒材，我個人覺得土是非常美的媒介，在製作 上會因為力道、水分控制、氣溫等，變化他的樣貌，並再最終燒成後還原了你當初施予 在土上的痕跡。我覺得這個媒材很感性，有自己的語言存在。
陶瓷雕塑在台灣是偏冷門的 一條路，大眾對「陶」的印象多半停留在杯子與碗等生活器皿，我希望能讓這塊 被更多人見到與了解。
M: Can you briefly speak about the practical process of making ceramic sculptures?
能不能請妳介紹妳創作陶瓷雕塑的過程?妳注重哪些步驟和次序? H: I usually make an armature by hand as support and then mould the clay. For larger works I apply wire on the side of the clay to stop it from collapsing. I fire the clay at 1200 degrees and colour the sculpture at the end of the process.
我的製作是以手捏盤條而成，製作大型作品時通常會在土壁上加上土條防止倒塌，燒到 1200 度後，再用一些顏料上色。
M: In your sculpture you merge human and animal bodies. For example, in 《禁錮之 形》 Imprisoned Figure (2017), a man’s chest is embracing a proboscis, seemingly an extension of the human neck. In Overly Possessive (2017) a woman’s upper body transforms into a duck face. What do you want to convey or subvert in merging figure of humans and animals?
在作品中，妳將人類的器官與動物的面貌相互融合，例如在《禁錮之形》中，一個男人 的胸部擁抱著一個長鼻，似乎是他脖子的延伸。而且在《過度飽滿的佔》女人的上身变 成了鸭脸。以結合動物與人類的型態作為創作表現你想表達什麼看法?
H: In these two artworks, humans imitate the postures of animals. Animals accompany everyone’s childhood: from shadow games, to Elephant Nursery Rhymes, The Eagle and Chick and so on; animal imagery has always been in our lives. They are not positive or negative figures, but merely play silent and supporting roles.
When imitating animals, we often use our limbs in very expressive and natural manners. This was the starting point that combined the two sculptures you just mentioned. I wanted to convey the spontaneity of animal nature and a sense of being constrained by the social framework.
In Imprisoned Figure (2017) the two ‘parts’ depicted in the work don’t have a necessary power structure; I leave the work ambiguous. These two languages co-exist and influence each other. The human imitates the animal posture and the elephant’s proboscis stands for a universal human hand, while the other hand grabs the elephant head from below. The two bodies merge into one, subject and object are closely intertwined; they coexist like repression and freedom. There is a sense of comfort and loneliness between them. They cannot abandon one other nor separate.
擬人化動物深入陪伴著每個小孩的童年。兒時的影子遊戲、大象兒歌、老鷹抓小 雞等，動物形象一直以來如影隨形地輕巧出沒在生活裡。動物對人類並沒有利害 關係，對於人類牠們是沉默的配角。起初在作品中，我將「動物」擺放至被動角 色，它是被施暴者的那一方，而對比於手的部分則是人類縮影的轉化。
作品出現的兩者，並沒有絕對的主宰，我讓作品裡頭保有曖昧。這兩個語言都是 存在並相互影響彼此的。《禁錮之形》從人模仿動物的舉動發想，象鼻子就像是 人類萬用的雙手，兩體融合為一，而另外一隻手又反向地抓住象頭。如壓制如安 撫般存在。主體與客體之間緊密牽絆，兩者存在著依慰與孤寂的感覺，無法棄捨 與抽離彼此。
M: In your works bodies appear distorted and convoluted, as if wanting to escape a system of suppression and imprisonment. What is the role of bodily distortion in your art practice? What is the power dynamic you are hinting at?
在你的雕塑中，身體通過扭曲和變形表達壓抑和甚至禁錮的情感, 似乎好像要顛覆一某系統在你的藝術實踐中，身體扭曲扮演什麼角色?妳要暗示權力面向如何? H: My works often depict distorted figures as an interpretation of society. The deformed skin makes the figure alive and particularly powerful, as if reflecting human’s fragmented shadow.
For instance, in my sculpture ‘Animal Basic Defense’, the posture draws from the body language of animals when they are hiding or helpless. I want to depict a state of constraint and powerlessness, and deliberately exaggerate the action of the hands grabbing the skin to create tension. It highlights our defence system and echoes the hidden sense of restraint in the work, but it also contains a playful vocabulary. There is no trace of the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed, yet, in fact, they are both hurting and influencing the other.
如動物基本防衛此件作品的舉動是動物在躲藏或無助時會展現出的肢體語言，我想把一個束縛又 無力的狀態展現出來，並刻意誇張了手部抓肉的動作來營造緊張感。是突顯生物 在防禦體制下的動作，呼應作品隱藏的束縛感，並夾含了戲謔的語彙在裏頭。施 壓者與被施壓者之間的行為舉止看視了無痕跡但實際上都造成了傷害並附帶著 影響。
I would use the word ‘absurd’ to describe my art practice and views, so that I can slowly unlock and deconstruct myself. I still have no way to define the creatures I sculpt and their roles in the world. Therefore, they are grotesque and absurd. In terms of their position in this world, they are created by non-creatures, they do not exist in this world but just dwell. At birth, they are already lost and controversial.
I always wonder: if I lost language, how could I express my emotions? I deploy animals’ language to weave the interactions between humans and animals and convey exaggerate states of life within the current social framework. My art practice carries my feelings and thoughts, narrating the claustrophobic feeling of living under a social system.
我將取「荒誕」一詞來形容自己近年來的創作，也即是在形容進入研究所這個階段中對於生活事件的感觸，從中讓自我得以解套。在作品新生物種當中，我依然 無從定義他們在世上的角色，因此怪誕、荒謬，在定位上由非物種的形象，不存 在於世間而生。在誕生的起因下牠們既失序且矛盾。
如果有一天我們失去了語言，沒有了文字，我還可以透過什麼來表達情感，來傳 遞情緒?我將動物這個語彙移入作品裡，並連結人類與動物的相處方式，抒發生 活當下、社會框架下的過渡狀態。作品有如承載我所有思緒的氣囊，闡述在社會 體制下的窒息感。作品有如承載我所有思緒的氣囊，它的形態又如同蓄勢待發的 猛獸，闡述在社會體制下的窒息感。
M: Why do you often depict limbs or other parts of the body detached from the body, instead of portraying the entirety of the human body?
在你的雕塑中，為什麼你經常聚焦於一個肢體或身體的部位，而不是描繪整個人體? H: Hand is the part of the body we use more often, so I often depict the hand as a substitute for the entire body. I think human hands, from the skin, muscles and blood vessels, are so unique. Hands and limbs better capture the feelings I want to convey, rather than the face or the whole body.
我的作品裡經常可以看見肢體，像是「手」。手為人類最為慣用的部位，我經常用手取 代整個人體。每個人的手，從肌膚到肌肉和血管都是獨一無二的，我覺得比起臉或是身 體，更貼近我想傳達的情感。
M: If on one side your art is very realistic in the skilful rendering of the human skin, on the other it appears quite surreal and absurd. How do you relate to the art categories of realism and surrealism? 在一方面妳的藝術極其真實，例如你塑造身體和皮膚的方式。然而另一方面，妳的作品 超過現實主義而描繪超現實的情況。您對現實主義與超現實主義藝術標籤有什麼立場的 觀念? H: I really like Surrealism since it allows more space for creation and flexibility: it can be extremely absurd, but sometimes more realistic than Realism itself. I like to make realistic sculpture, yet what I truly want to convey in my art is an unsettling sense of discomfort and fragility.
我喜歡超現實主義，超現實主義多了一些空間，有時候荒謬至極，有時候卻寫實到超越 了現實主義。我喜歡把作品做的寫實但卻會讓人感到恐懼，那份恐懼與詭異正是我想留 給觀者的。
M: Can you speak about your main artistic influence?
那一些藝術家最啓發妳的藝術? H: Tip Toland is my guru. When I saw her ceramic sculptures in person in Portland, they looked as if they were alive. In her realistic rendering of the body, blood and water seems to be truly flowing underneath the skin. 我很喜歡Tip Toland，某一次在波特蘭的展覽空間看到她做的陶瓷作品，實 在太逼真了!他的寫實人體作品中，皮膚像是真的有水與血在流動。
M: In 2018 you participated in a residency at California State University. You also have just been awarded the Next Art Tainan Prize and had a duo-show at the Daxin Art Museum with acclaimed artist Li Xiaojing. What is your next step? 妳今年得了台南藝術獎而在大新藝術館與著名藝術家李曉靜舉辦了一場雙人展覽。目前 你下一步要做什麼?你有什麼計劃或展覽? H: Actually at the moment I am moving into a bigger studio as ceramic sculpture needs a kiln and a lot of space to be produced.