最後一夜

文/周慶輝

「一個小女孩陪著即將死亡的痲瘋病人過夜,小女孩耽心無法分辨病人何時過世,就將衛生紙黏在病人的鼻子上,如果衛生紙沒有浮動就趕緊通知值班護士!」這是一位樂生人的童年記憶。

在編輯這本書時我常常有一種幻覺,這組照片好像總是重覆相同的宿命,像劇場一樣紀實與虛幻交融,腦海裏緩緩浮現1995年台灣攝影家群象專輯出版時我曾寫到「我在面對死亡時,常自以為很冷靜,環顧四周病榻上的人也十分寧靜,神情若愫,但說實在的,潛在意識裡的恐懼和不安,或許才是大夥所共有的經歷!常常在我拍完亡患之後,取而代之的是罪惡感那是一種拍到真實死亡面貌的興奮和事後良心道歉的矛盾交集吧!」

當初拍攝這組專題是在高速反覆的新聞勞作之外,希望能找到獨處獨白之地,我常被觀者問到為何對死亡、痛苦、消失…議題如此感興趣?我想我還是很難完全感受只好盡量接近,我無法預知這組照片能對社會產生何種化學作用,我只是一個攝影師。這組照片當初就預言樂生療養院的消失,在我拍攝12年後樂生療養院就像痲瘋病人進手術房截肢∙殘落面目全非(1) 。這組照片就像對樂生療養院進行複印但無法看到全貌,我只對觸動心弦的事物進行複印。大衛∙瑞夫(David Rieff)曾說「我們可能透過敘事去理解,但卻憑藉攝影去記憶」這也是我當初拍攝的意圖之一。我相信憑藉著照片中展開的生命意像能喚起讀者一些記憶。

外界的事物總是騷擾著相機的暗箱,我內心的暗箱總是打擾著外界的事物,如果我的攝影真有目的,該不會如此困惑模糊。
細江英公(Hosoe Eikoh)認為「一個攝影家是以自己最感興趣的方式拍攝最感興趣的題材。重要的是用自己的方式來拍攝,即使不是攝影也不在乎」
我總是違逆現實環境又太多的妥協,自以為聰明用各種方法來換取攝影的自由度卻讓自己陷入泥沼。設定攝影計劃是因為讓自己的靈魂有一飄流的方向,我反覆告訴自己透過攝影能使心情平靜,但往往內在撕裂,掙扎衝突不斷,好像自我衝突是完成計劃的必要條件,當孤獨面對衝突時是將自己推進分裂的邊緣,我迷醉死亡、痛苦、消失的幻影,我想我會持續拍攝下去是因為我耽心我不會再拍了。

1. 2002年樂生療養院因捷運新莊線新莊機廠的興建而進行拆遷步入歷史,並轉型為社區迴龍綜合醫院。

The Last Night

Text/CHOU CHING-HUI

“A young girl spends the night accompanying a terminally ill leper whose time is almost up. The girl frets that she won’t be able to tell when he has died, and affixes a tissue over his nose, so that if it stops fluttering from his breath she can quickly inform the nurse on duty.”

This is the childhood recollection of a Happy Life patient.

While compiling this book I have had a frequent illusion that this set of photographs is constantly repeating the same destiny, like a mélange of documentary and fictional theater. Something I wrote upon the publication of a collective portrait of Taiwanese photographers in 1995 kept running dreamily through my mind: “I often think of myself as calm in the face of death, observing how peaceful the patients lying about are, wearing unruffled expressions; yet the fear and anxiety lurk within my subconscious – perhaps everyone goes through the same things.” Often after I have photographed the death of a patient, the thrill of witnessing the true face of death is replaced by feelings of guilt. I guess the two go hand in hand together.

I took this set of photographs in my spare time away from the fast-paced and repetitive work of news photography in hopes of finding a place of my own. Viewers often ask me why I am so interested in the topics of death, suffering, and disappearance. I suppose since it is impossible for me to feel it completely I can only get as close as I can to it. I cannot predict in advance what kind of chemical reaction these pictures will cause in society, for I am just a photographer. These photographs foretold the disappearance of the Happy Life Leprosy Hospital, as a dozen years after I took the photographs Happy Life entered the operating room like its leper subjects, coming out unrecognizable (1). Making this collection of photographs is like not being able to see all of Happy Life’s aspects, and photocopying only the things that might pull some heartstrings. David Rieff once said that we may understand through narrative, but we remember with photography. This was one of my intentions in taking these pictures, and I am confident that the vitality that comes out in these photographs will stir up memories among readers.

Things all around and outside us are always disturbing the hidden box of the camera, while the hidden camera on my mind is constantly interfering with the things going on around me. If there were a purpose to my photography it wouldn’t be so confused and nebulous.

The great Japanese photographer Hosoe Eikoh said, “A photographer shoots the subjects that most interest him in his own way. What is important is shooting in one’s own manner, even if it’s not strictly photography.”

I find myself invariably transgressing the real world outside while at the same time making too many compromises. Fancying myself clever, I use various ways to gain freedom in photography, while getting myself stuck in the mud. Setting a photography plan is a way to give my soul a direction in which to drift, and I repeatedly tell myself that even if my heart is uneasy, through photography I can be torn up inside, struggling with incessant conflict as if self-confliction is a necessary condition for completing a plan. When loneliness meets conflict one pushes oneself to the brink of coming apart. I am infatuated with images of death, suffering and disappearance, and I believe I will continue to shoot photographs because I’m afraid I might stop.

1.Construction of the power plant in 2002 for the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system’s Hsinchuang Line forced the demolition of the Happy Life Leprosy Hospital, which has been incorporated into the Huilung Community Hospital of Hsinchuang.