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張美陵/意識形態的紋身

第一場【去攝影・交流】 在2018年3月24日的討論,黄子明還在進行中的《韓戰反共義士》系列作品的故事,可能是我們這世代與前輩們才有的歷史記憶了。

1954年韓戰反共義士抵達台灣。(照片取自LIFE)
1954年韓戰反共義士抵達台灣。(照片取自LIFE)
1954年朝鮮戰爭反共義抵達台灣萬人空巷的迎接場面。(照片取自LIFE)
1954年朝鮮戰爭反共義抵達台灣萬人空巷的迎接場面。(照片取自LIFE)
1954年韓戰結束之後,2萬1千3百多位「抗美援朝的中國人民志願軍」成為美軍的戰俘,其中1萬4千3百多位脫離中共控制,在聯合國協助之下來到台灣。他們在基隆下船,在台北市區遊行,民眾張燈結綵、人山人海、夾道歡呼。當時他們被視為英雄、民族復興的希望,這是台灣「123自由日」的由來。
黄子明從1989年開始《韓戰反共義士》拍攝計劃:「當年這批的聯軍俘虜選擇投奔台灣,成為冷戰時期,自由陣營重要政治勝利象徵。」尤其他們身體的刺青特別受到矚目,例如「滅共復國」、「誓死回台灣」、「反共抗俄」、「殺朱拔毛」、「效忠黨國」、「青天白日滿地紅國旗」⋯⋯,這些身體刺青被認為代表當時他們選擇到「自由台灣」的決心。他們一念之間的選擇來台,穩定了當時的國民黨政府。
在那個年代,我們從小被教導服從、愛國家愛民族、打倒萬惡共匪。大家都努力與別人想法一樣、滿足現狀、安居樂業。那是個強調「同質性」的年代,政府為了凝聚國家向心力,在人民心理建立「敵我不兩立」意識形態的年代。
那時台灣的電影或電視劇裏的人物,一出場觀眾就知道哪個是好人哪個是壞人,面容猥瑣、行為輕佻、言不及義的人就是壞蛋,那也是簡單二分法的年代。好壞對錯的二元對立的社會思維,使得我在1980年代初到美國的時候,很多電影或電視劇都看不懂,因為歐美影劇裡的角色與劇情大都需要觀眾自己感受、思索與領悟,而不是利用文藝宣導或加強觀眾腦袋裏的意識形態。
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《韓戰反共義士》系列作品。(攝影/黃子明)
《韓戰反共義士》系列作品。(攝影/黃子明)
黄子明的《韓戰反共義士》系列作品,如同之前《慰安婦》系列,都是持續關注「戰爭」對於人民的影響。這些是台灣少見的攝影主題,也是世界歷史的議題,同時兼具國際性與在地性。相較之下,當今台灣許多攝影主題都太千篇一律,缺乏挖掘與操作不同題材的能力。
很多當代國際藝術會處理國家文化認同、社會歷史記憶的身份主體等複雜問題。然而台灣人民對於過去的歷史,則經常或是無知或是選擇遺忘,這當然與後來的政權否定之前政權的歷史文化,使人民噤聲,因此,後輩不知前輩遺緒,太多文化斷層而顯得蒼白與模糊的歷史失憶。
韓戰結束之後的中國戰俘,有些曾經是國民黨的軍隊,後來被捉而被迫成為解放軍;有些是效忠共產黨;絕大多數是在時代與戰亂中的身不由己。他們來到台灣之後,大多仍舊編入軍隊、建造橫貫公路、分散於台灣各地榮民之家。但他們不被政府信任,遭政府嚴密監控。他們濃重的鄉音、特殊的軍人身份,使得他們很難融入台灣社會,而他的故鄉被隔離在台灣意識形態的對立面。
1988年,「韓戰的反共義士」可依規定前往中國探親。他們身體的刺青,30多年前象徵認同中華民國政府的「反共」決心,現在卻顯得不合時宜,他們之中有的甚至擔心這些刺青可能招來中共政權的政治迫害。因此他們在回鄉之前,把刺青銷毀或進行皮膚縫合手術,尤其那些謾罵批評中共的字句,以及中華民國的國旗,更必須隱藏。於是,隨著時代變遷,「敵我不兩立」二分法的意識形態年代已經過去,深刻在身體的政治記號,無論當年是自願的還是被迫的,也必須改變,從鮮明清晰變得褪色模糊,如同當今他們作為「反共義士」的尷尬身份。
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《韓戰反共義士》系列作品。(攝影/黃子明)
《韓戰反共義士》系列作品。(攝影/黃子明)
黄子明以平實手法,拍攝個人肖像,描述「韓戰的反共義士」個人身體的現況。如今他們垂垂老矣,若不是身體的刺青,看不出他們與一般老者有何不同。至今還存活著的,大都是當年10多歲就參加韓戰,因緣際會到了異鄉台灣。他們被中國稱為「流落台湾的志愿军战俘(流落台灣的志願軍戰俘)」,他們的命運是大時代國際政治關係的產物,他們是政治棋盤上的棋子,在國民黨與共產黨之間來去,一生軍人身份只許服從,喪失人權;他們的紋身即是國家對身份主體的馴化與控制。
美國有個紀錄片:〈韓戰:被遺忘的戰爭〉,台灣的「韓戰的反共義士」更是被遺忘戰爭下的被遺忘族群。從前我們大多是以「大敘事」論述歷史,忽視個人生命史的獨特性,大時代之下的個人是渺小「不可見的」。在當時強調集體而忽視個人的年代,「韓戰的反共義士」被認為是個「集體意識」,他們個別差異的生命歷程,卻被忽視。他們不是一個同質的群體,卻終生被貼上「反共義士」政治標簽,當作「象徵自由陣營勝利」的樣板。
《韓戰反共義士》系列作品。(攝影/黃子明)
如今我們習慣於打諢插科、詼諧逗趣的歷史劇情,似乎戰爭與歷史的沈重悲情,已經距離我們非常遙遠。但我仍是老派思維,偏好深厚的歷史脈絡,因為「韓戰的反共義士」就是個複雜的文本,環環相扣不少值得深思的問題,例如:我們如何毫不迴避的面對現實回顧歷史,表達誠摯想法與感情?這文本的時間性,只是當今狀態?或者應該呈現過去到現在的政治權力操縱的意識形態,在個人身體烙下的刻紋?如何表達「韓戰的反共義士」個人身份認同的錯綜轉折?這些問題也必須同時思考,當代的台灣攝影如何發展更多樣的敘事概念與方法?
每個社會有其必須面對的歷史傷痕,我們需要細膩反省「戰爭、人性、創傷」,以及難以言喻的戰爭代價。黄子明的作品,提醒了我們,台灣還有很多因時代動盪而被扭曲的個人生命需要我們關心,需要我們以不同史觀、擴大對於歷史文化的感知、感同身受那些歷經創傷而被歲月遺忘的人們。

【去攝影·交流】

【去攝影·交流】是由張美陵主持的攝影交流討論會,每次會邀請創作者、評論者與現場觀眾深度交流討論,參加者均須事先報名,討論聚焦於創作的發想、過程、方法、美學、脈絡…;鼓勵長期熱衷創作的攝影藝術家,促進交流、討論與支援,是台灣少見的攝影交流討論會。

🄴🄽

The Tattoos Resurrecting Taiwan's Forgotten War

Sixty-five years ago, these Korean War POWs were determined to be repatriated to the Republic of China on Taiwan. The price was a tattoo that proved their loyalty.
At an exhibition and discussion about Huang Tzu-ming's (黄子明) photography, I realized that the stories he was telling through his ongoing photo series about "Anti-Communist Fighters in the Korean War" may only exist in the historical memories of my generation and the one before us.
With the end of the Korean War, more than 21,300 members of the "Chinese People's Volunteer Army" became prisoners of war of the American military. 14,300 of those prisoners broke free from the control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and came to the Republic of China on Taiwan under the assistance of the United Nations.
They arrived in Keelung on January 23rd 1954, and were soon paraded around downtown Taipei. The public decorated the city in advance, and crowded into the streets to catch a glimpse of the soldiers.At the time, this group of former POWs were seen as heroes and symbols for national rejuvenation. The events of that day were then celebrated annually in Taiwan as "World Freedom Day."
Huang began his photo series on these Korean War POWs in 1989, more than three decades after their arrival in Keelung. "During the Cold War, their decision to defect to Taiwan became an important symbol of political victory for the 'free world'", says Huang.
The tattoos on their bodies were especially attention-grabbing, and reflected their Nationalist (KMT) loyalties. The tattoos included phrases such as "Annihilate the Communist Party and revive the nation", "Swear upon death to return to Taiwan", "Anti-communism and resist the Soviet Union", "Kill Zhu De and Mao Zedong", "Pledge allegiance to the party-state," and "Our national flag is the blue sky, white sun and a wholly red earth. "
These tattoos laid bare the POWs' determination to seek residence in "Free China" and their at-a-whim decision to come to Taiwan also helped stabilized the KMT government at the time.
During that era,young Taiwanese were taught to obey, love the country and the nation, and defeat the vicious Communist bandits. Everyone strived to hold the same opinions as everyone else, be satisfied with the status quo, and settle for a happy and secure life. The KMT government emphasized homogeneity, and in order to make this solidarity a national ethos, they instilled an ideology of "with us or against us" in the public psyche.
It was a time period of easy binaries — good and bad, right and wrong. You didn't need to second-guess whether a character on a TV show was good or bad in those days; the bad guy was the one with the sleazy face using frivolous language.
When I first went to the US in the 1980s, it was difficult to understand American TV shows, because I was so used to the simple logic of Taiwan's TV programming. Most American or European shows required the audience to feel, think and reflect upon characters and plot lines. They didn't use media and art to propagandize or strengthen a particular ideology in the minds of the audience.
Huang Tzu-ming's series on anti-Communist fighters continues his focus on the impact of war on everyday people, just like his previous series titled "Comfort Women." This is a rare theme, and it's a topic of history with both international and local dimensions. In comparison, contemporary Taiwanese photography often follows the same monolithic norms, and thus lack the ability to discover and operate across a range of different themes.
In other parts of the world, contemporary art pieces address complex issues of a nation's cultural identity and historical memories. But the Taiwanese people are often ignorant or selectively forgetful of the past. This is of course tied to Taiwan's current political situation, where new administrations denounce the histories and cultures propagated by past administrations,silencing the people. Younger generations do not know the legacies of previous generations, and there are many cultural fractures that reflect blurred historical memories.
Of the 14,300 Chinese POWs that came to Taiwan after the Korean War, many were former members of the Nationalist military, who fought on the losing side during the Chinese Civil War in the late 40s. When the Chinese Communists entered the Korean War in 1950 to aid North Korea, former Nationalist soldiers were forced to join the "Chinese People's Volunteer Army."
After arriving in Taiwan, they were re-enlisted into the military, or participated in the construction of Taiwan’s central cross-island highway, or scattered across military dependents' villages all over the island.
They were not trusted by the government and were strictly surveilled by the state. Their thick accents and special identities made it difficult for them to integrate into Taiwanese society.
In 1988, a ban that prevented them from visiting China was lifted, and these "anti-Communist fighters" could legally visit their relatives.
Their tattoos, which symbolized their solidarity with the Nationalists and its anti-Communist fervor, now seemed out of touch. Some of them worried that their tattoos could lead to political persecution by the CCP. So, some removed their tattoos before returning home, or underwent skin suture surgeries, especially over words and phrases that insulted the CCP. More importantly, tattoos of the ROC flag would need to be hidden.
As time went on, the era of "with us or against us" eventually passed. The political markings engraved into their bodies also changed, regardless of whether these symbols were voluntarily adopted or not. As the tattoos faded in colour and visibility, the identity of the anti-Communist fighter also became an awkward one.
Huang photographs the anti-Communist fighters in a simple and unadorned manner, as a way of recording and narrating their physical state.
The fighters have aged, and if it were not for their tattoos, it would be impossible to tell them apart from other elderly people in Taiwan. They joined the Korean War as children as young as ten, and eventually ended up in Taiwan by chance.
Their fate was a product of the Cold War, and they were treated as pieces on a global chessboard, straddling the Communist and Nationalist regimes. Their identities as soldiers only allowed them to exercise obedience, and stripped them of their human rights. Their tattoos are a form of state domestication, controlling their bodies and subjectivities.
We tend to discuss history in broad narratives, in a way that ignores and overlooks the uniqueness of personal life experiences and stories. Taiwanese society perceives the actions of the anti-Communist fighters as those of a collective consciousness, with their individual differences concealed in historical discourse, but they were never a homogeneous group.
Today, we are used to comedic, satirical representations of historical plots, and the deep sorrow of war and history seem distant. But the anti-Communist fighters are complex historical subjects, and their story connects to deeper issues worthy of examination.
For example, how can we look back at history, and express genuine thoughts and emotions in the present day? Is what happened to them just a circumstance of history? Do these historical power structures and politically manipulated ideologies only manifest themselves in the form of a tattoo, or do they have other forms? How can we make space for these anti-Communist fighters to express their individual identities?
These issues need to be considered simultaneously, along with questions about how contemporary Taiwanese photography can develop more diverse modes of storytelling.
Every society has its own historical trauma and wounds that they must face. We must critically reflect on the nuances of war, humanity and trauma. Huang Tzu-ming's work reminds us that Taiwan is still home to many unique individuals, who are wounded by turbulent histories.
They need our care and attention, and we must expand our understanding of history by incorporating different perspectives. We need to empathize with those who have experienced trauma, those forgotten in the shadows of history.

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