摘要:当世界进入工业文明时期以来,原有的农耕文化受到了巨大的挤压,相应文化区域的文化面临转型。但这个转型过程不但没有完结,反而多数只是刚刚开始。两种不同文明下的文化,目前仍在强烈地冲撞与融合之中。那么,牢记自己的来历与需要面对的问题,就成了当下最为紧迫的问题。武强的“中原”摄影,也正是在提出这一问题的时候展出,意义重大。

01 中厅北-SCAN_A_045 巨幅微喷

02 中厅南SCAN_C_127 微喷


“中原”与要消逝的乡村生活

鲍昆

 

文化是人类生产方式和生活方式的集大成。任何文化的诞生和发育,都是根据其生存条件的基础物理条件决定的,并在其之后的发展中再被各种偶然的因素所扰动,形成一些特点。但是,绝大多数的偶然也难逃基础条件的限制,至多是在基础形成的系统内改变文化的“成色”。

 

中国是地球文明中的一个独特的产生农业文明的地域,在世界历史上有悠久的农耕文明历史。近些年,在中国各地出土的文化遗迹证明,非常典型的农耕文化在八千年前的中国就存在了(湖南澧县彭头山发现了的碳化稻壳遗迹,距今年代为九千年至八千年)。如果按人工生物技术进化(选种、杂交)的角度推断,农耕的历史在中国应该有逾万年的历史了。显性的中国农耕文化,诞生在最符合农耕条件的中国中原黄河流域。这一区域,气候上属于典型的季风气候带,四季分明,夏季多雨高温,十分适合植物的生长和管理。春种秋收,一年一度,渐渐养育了中国独特的农业文明。

 

在这个文明之下,是相关的乡村农民文化。中原农耕地区的农民,守土为生。他们既不需要像北方游牧民族那样逐水草而流动迁徙,也不需要能够在提供基本吃喝生存的环境之外去冒险求异求新,所以他们鄙视商业行为,很少有货币交易。他们的空间和时间是固定的,生活是程式化的,日出而作日入而息,随日月运行的位置安排自己的生存。土地,是中国农民最大的生命之源,食物、吃饭,是他们最大的生命目标。他们所有的社会生活基本也是局限在他们集居的村庄里,其政治生活也围绕着宗族、邻里之间的关系而展开。中国文化最深层的密码在这里,所以在中国区域内使用的主流语言汉语中,“守土有责”、“民以食为天”、这样的思想意识衍生的话语概念群,结构了整套汉语言基础,并在此基础上展开相应的文化伦理和思想意识。

 

在汉语为先的中国,能够对应和决定这块土地上文化特征的只有“汉族”语言了。也就是说,汉语才是维系现代性标准中 “民族国家”中国这个概念下的根本。但为什么是汉语?很久以来,民族主义者们总是说华夏文化的伟大,因为任何暴力进入中国的外族,都最终会被消化和皈依到汉文化系统中,成为“中国人”。但,是因为“汉文化”的魅力吗?“汉文化”又是什么呢?许多说法都局限在“伟大”、“悠久”、“深厚”这些表层次的形容词上面,却不能指向背后的真正的原因。真正的原因就是,这块土地只适宜农耕,只能种地。在现代工业文明以前,这块土地上的一切法则都要从农耕这一根本的生产方式上解读。多么强悍的草原民族,一旦进入长城以南,也只能入乡随俗、马放南山了。这块土地上阡陌遍布,没地方放牧畜群,没有游牧的生产和生活,那只能安居,并遵从阡陌之上村庄的生活方式和社会制度。

 

中国历史上的农耕生产方式和乡村生活方式是高度统一的,体力劳动——吃饭——生产、收获——再生产(含繁衍)——,——循环往复,单调而且漫长。古代中国的农耕文明就是以这种几乎没有创造力的状态延续了几千年。“活着”,这句民间普遍的感叹,贯穿了整个中国现代性前的古代史。活着,就要吃饭和劳动,吃是一切之中的重中之重。吃饱了,才有力气,才能劳动,才能延续后代。吃,就是生命的概念,就是人生的关键词,就是中国文化内蕴的价值。不深刻地看到这一点,就无法解开许多中国文化的奥秘。

 

二十多年前,河南平顶山摄影家武强开始用摄影纪录中原农村的生活。他的镜头包括中原农民的田间生产,和乡村背景下的经济文化活动。武强基于对农民的深刻理解,看到了农民最深层的需求,就是吃饭。武强还注意到乡村农民吃饭的空间背景,就是最典型的日常场景“饭场”。饭场,是中原地区河南的方言,指农村中人们在村落公共空间聚集在一起吃饭的场地和场景。其实饭场无处不在,并非专一的场所,只是村中空地和街道两旁居家门外。每到饭点,乡村里的人们都会将在自家做好的饭菜,盛在一个大碗里到户外或站或坐,与一样行为的邻里共享吃饭的时间。在这不长的时间内,从无聊的寒暄套近乎,到社会政治新闻和市场行情,到家长里短别家隐私,到地里的庄稼,各种话题可能都覆盖到了。于村庄的居民来说,这是一个非常重要的空间和时间,是他们生活的基本内容。邻里关系、家族亲情、村政舆情、社会传闻,甚至电视文艺八卦,都是饭场上可能触及的话题。饭场,是乡村重要的文化生活内容,是农民的信息集散地,是村庄社会的缩影。

 

在武强的摄影中,饭场生动、真实,充满了细节。在这些细节中,我们可以从那些影像的密码中解读许多历史文化的奥秘。武强拍的饭场非常丰富,有集体大场面的聚餐,也有个体蹲在自家门口和有行走途中的进食、有男女老少在一起的餐叙、也有清一色妇女们的快餐。所有的影像都有一个共同的特点,就是几乎所有的进餐都不是我们认知的那种坐在专门的用饭空间,正襟危坐地进食,他们或蹲或站,有时顺势坐在一块石头上。这说明他们还是自然的一部分,还没有从自然环境中间离出来。而最多的姿势都是端着一个有饭有菜的大碗,或者一只手拿着白面馍一只手端着一碗菜。这些细节都说明,吃饭对于传统的农民并无仪式感,也谈不上对于“吃相”有何选择意识。吃饭,就是一个自然的行为,是活着的程序内容,而且非常简单与随意,并无现代社会以来的有关的吃的规矩与禁忌,当然也谈不上从欧洲现代性以来建立的形体“美感”要求,更谈不上源于17世纪西欧的“绅士”优雅风范。昔日的乡村和生活在那里的人们,绝无产生“绅士”的土壤和条件,泥土和陋舍与粗粝的饭食,就是让中华文明源源不绝的基本保证。

 

语言是文化传承的最主要的途径。但是在声音语言之外,形体动作产生的肢体语言在文化传承中的影响也不可忽视,甚至也应该是文化研究的重要内容。因为身体语言是生活方式的直接表达方式,是不能忽视的一个重要文化符号。对身体语言的记录研究,可以让我们更为直观地反观自己的历史,并在历史的演变之中对比过去与今天和未来。武强对于“饭场”记录的文本意义就在这里。武强的摄影在“饭场”之外,还包括了大量的中原河南乡村生活的纪录,都可以让我们全景化地了解在三十年内社会转型中快速消逝的历史场景。我们无奈地看到,中国延续上万年的乡村与小农经济正在消失。中国农业正在向规模性和集约型的现代农业转型,历史正在翻篇的过程中。

 

我们必须牢记的是,中国是以农耕立国和构建文化的东方古国,和西亚两河流域的古巴比伦、印度河流域和恒河流域的古印度,以及埃及尼罗河流域的农耕文化并称于世界历史的四大古代文明。当世界进入工业文明时期以来,原有的农耕文化受到了巨大的挤压,相应文化区域的文化面临转型。但这个转型过程不但没有完结,反而多数只是刚刚开始。两种不同文明下的文化,目前仍在强烈地冲撞与融合之中。那么,牢记自己的来历与需要面对的问题,就成了当下最为紧迫的问题。武强的“中原”摄影,也正是在提出这一问题的时候展出,意义重大。

 

2018/7/30


03 中心厅-东-3SCAN_E_224 巨幅微喷

03 中心厅-西-2SCAN_D_175 巨幅微喷

07-10SCAN_C_146

03-5


 

 

The Central Plains and Vanishing Rural Life

Bao Kun

 

Culture is the synthesis of humanity’s ways of living and working. The birth and growth of any culture is determined by the basic physical conditions of its existence, and its subsequent development is disturbed by chance occurrences, creating distinctive features. However, the vast majority of these chance occurrences cannot transcend the limitations of those basic conditions; at most, they can alter a culture’s “purity” within its own foundational system.

 

China is a region with a distinctive agricultural civilization, and it has a long history as an agrarian society. In recent years, the cultural artifacts unearthed in various places in China give evidence for the existence of typical agricultural civilizations eight thousand years ago. (Traces of carbonized rice husks from eight to nine thousand years ago were found on Pengtou Mountain, Li County, Hunan.) In terms of the evolution of biotechnologies (seed selection and hybridization), agriculture in China is more than ten thousand years old. The dominant Chinese farming culture was born in the Yellow River drainage basin, the part of the Central Plains that was most suited to farming. This region has a typical monsoon climate with four clear seasons. The summers are rainy and hot, which suits the growth and management of crops. Annual planting in the spring and harvesting in the autumn gradually nurtured China’s unique agricultural civilization.

 

All of this is part of rural farming culture in China. The farmers of the agricultural region of the Central Plains live by protecting the land. They did not need to move from place to place, following the water and grass like the northern nomadic peoples, nor did they need to risk seeking out something new and different outside of this environment, which already provided basic necessities for survival. They despised commercial activity and rarely used currency in their transactions. Their space and time were fixed, and life had a formula. They rose with the sun and rested at sunset, and they arranged their lives based on the movements of the sun and the moon. The land was the source of life for Chinese farmers; food and eating were their greatest life goals. Their social lives are essentially limited to their villages, and their political lives center on clan and neighborhood relationships. This is the deeper code of Chinese culture. In the mainstream language used in Chinese territory, a group of linguistic concepts derived from this way of thinking, such as “a responsibility to protect this land” and “the people see food as god,” lay the foundation for the entire Chinese language; corresponding cultural ethics and ideologies have developed from this foundation.

 

In a China that prioritizes Mandarin Chinese, the only thing that can correspond to or determine the cultural traits of this land is the Han language (Hanyu is literally the “language of the Han people,” but it is now synonymous with “Chinese” or “Mandarin Chinese”). This also means that only the Han language can support the modern goal of the “nation-state” of China. But why the Han language? For a long time, nationalists talked about the greatness of Chinese culture, because any outside group that invaded China was absorbed into or converted to the Han cultural system, thereby becoming “Chinese people.” But was that because of the charms of Han culture? What is “Han culture” exactly? Many of the phrases used are limited to surface-level adjectives such as “great,” “long-standing,” and “deep,” but they do not tell us anything about the true cause of this assimilation. It was really because this land was only suited to farming. Prior to modern industrial civilization, all the laws of the land were rooted in the basic method of farming. Once the intrepid plateau peoples made it south of the Great Wall, they had to let their horses go and adopt the local customs. The farmland was crisscrossed with footpaths, and there was no place to pasture animals. They could not live or work as nomadic herders; they could only settle down, follow village lifestyles, and fit into social institutions.

 

In Chinese history, agricultural production methods and rural ways of life were highly similar, a monotonous, endless cycle of manual labor, eating, farming, harvesting, and reproduction. Ancient Chinese agricultural civilization persisted for several thousand years in a state almost entirely devoid of creativity. “Surviving,” a word often sighed by ordinary people, permeated the ancient history of China prior to the modern era. Surviving meant eating and laboring, and eating was the most important thing of all. Only when you had eaten your fill would you have energy, and only then could you work and produce the next generation. Eating is a part of life, the key to life, and an inherent value of Chinese culture. If we don’t examine this more deeply, we cannot uncover many of the profound mysteries of Chinese culture.

 

More than twenty years ago, Wu Qiang, a photographer from Pingdingshan in Henan, began to take photographs of life in the Central Plains countryside. The series encompasses Central Plains farmers working in the fields, as well as rural economic and cultural activities. Wu thoroughly understands farming people, and he sees their deepest need: eating. He also noticed the spaces in which the farmers ate, typical “eating places.” “Eating places” (fanchang) is a word in Henan dialect that refers to a space or setting in the countryside, a public place in the village where people gather to eat. Eating places can be anywhere and are not dedicated spaces; they can be in an open area in the village or simply in the street outside the gates of two homes. At every meal time, people in the village will pile the food that they have made in a big bowl and bring it outside. People stand or sit, sharing this meal time with their neighbors who are doing exactly the same thing. In this short period of time, they might cover a range of topics, from conventional greetings and small talk to social and political news and market prices to family issues and other families’ private matters to the local crops. For the village residents, this is a very important space and time; it is a basic part of their lives. Relationships between neighbors, clan and family ties, opinions on village governance, hearsay, and even TV show gossip are subjects that can be discussed at these eating places. They are an important part of cultural life in the village, they are places where farmers gather and disseminate information, and they are microcosms of village society.

 

In Wu Qiang’s photographs, eating places are vital, authentic, and full of little details. From the details and codes in these pictures, we can decipher historical and cultural secrets. Wu has photographed a wide array of eating places, whether grand scenes of collective dining or individuals squatting at their own front gates or eating as they walk. Men and women, old and young chat and eat together; there is also fast food made by groups of uniformed women. All of the images have one thing in common: almost all the meals do not take place in specific eating spaces as we understand them, with people sitting up straight and eating around a table. Instead, they squat or stand, and sometimes they sit on rocks. This shows that they are still part of nature, that they have not entirely distanced themselves from the natural environment. Most often, these villagers hold a big bowl with rice and vegetables in both hands, or hold a steamed bun in one hand and a bowl of vegetables in the other. These details show that there is no ceremony to eating for traditional farmers, much less “table manners.” Eating is a natural act, part of survival. Here, eating is very simple and casual, without the rules and taboos related to eating that have arisen in modern society. Of course, they have even less need for the “beauty” standards established with the modernization of Europe, or the grace required of the “gentleman,” a type that originated in Western Europe in the seventeenth century. The villages of the past and the people who lived there did not have the conditions necessary to produce gentlemen; the earth, simple homes, and rough food provided a basic foundation for Chinese civilization.

 

Language is the most important conduit of cultural transmission, but in addition to verbal communication, we cannot ignore the influence of body language in perpetuating culture, or as an important part of cultural research. Because body language is a direct expression of lifestyle, it is an important cultural symbol that cannot be overlooked. Recording and studying body language allows us to more directly reflect on our own history and compare the past, the present, and the future in the evolution of our history. This is the textual significance of Wu Qiang’s records of these eating places. In addition to the eating places, Wu’s photographs include numerous records of rural life in the Central Plains in Henan, which give us a panoramic view of historical situations that have rapidly disappeared in the last thirty years of social change. We unfortunately see that the country lifestyles and small-scale farmers that have persisted for thousands of years are disappearing. Chinese agriculture is transitioning to larger-scale, more intensive modern farming methods—moving on to the next chapter.

 

We must keep in mind that China is an ancient Eastern nation that built a country and a culture on agriculture. China, along with the agrarian cultures of ancient Babylon in Mesopotamia, the Indus River and Ganges River valleys in ancient India, and the Nile River valley in Egypt are collectively known as the four great ancient civilizations of world history. When the world entered into the industrial era, existing agrarian cultures faced massive pressures, and there was a corresponding transformation in the cultural realm. However, this transformation process has not ended; much of it has just started. The cultures from these two different types of civilization are still undergoing an intense process of collision and fusion, so even as we remember our origins and the problems we must confront, this is the most urgent issue today. It is immensely meaningful that Wu Qiang’s pictures of the Central Plains are presented just as this issue is being raised.

 

30 July 2018


IMG_20180916_135607IMG_20180922_174525


评论区
最新评论