殖物 PASTICHI | a video triptych with six-channel audio|Color | HD Video | 22′ |2019
Pastiche, a video triptych with six-channel audio, is partly based on excerpts from the classic of Kun opera, “The Peony Pavilion”. The excerpts are mainly taken from three scenes, namely “A Walk in the Garden”, “The Interrupted Dream” and “Pursuing the Dream”. The choreographed movements of the performers convey changing emotional states such as melancholy, delight or disappointment. In her work, the artist separates visual elements from both the melodies (music) and the lyrics (language and vocal expression), and combines them with an additional element, the story of Bauhinia x blakeana, a sterile hybrid plant species native to Hong Kong.
The text used in Pastiche is made up of three stanzas, each consisting of phrases of four or more characters in Chinese. These phrases are taken from different sources including, on the one hand, “Declaring Ambition”, the second scene of the original play of “The Peony Pavilion”, as well as three scenes from later, adapted versions of the play, namely “A Walk in the Garden”, “The Interrupted Dream” and “Pursuing the Dream”. Other sources include Yu Kwang-chung’s poem “The Bauhinia”, the novel “Androgyny” by Dung Kai-cheung. Using poeticised language and word combinations, Pastiche attempts to recreate the air of melancholy and perplexity in which our city is shrouded.
做為六聲道三頻道錄像裝置，羅玉梅在香港視覺藝術中心展映的《殖物》，是一件場域特定（site-specific）的作品。《殖物》重新組合拼貼嫁接影像、音樂與文本，以或發聲或無聲的腹語術儀式讓歷史還魂，解構與重構香港身份認同，創生出一株似曾相識，來歷不明，身不由己而美麗綻放的雜種主體。作品名稱饒富深意，以同音字「殖」與「植」，帶出1965年獲選為香港市花的本土植物洋紫荊（Bauhinia blakeana）實是殖民產物。1880年代一位法國神父在香港島薄扶林海濱廢墟發現洋紫荊，就近移植到讓傳教士療養熱帶疾病的伯大尼修院，再移植到為西方人提供公眾休憩空間的香港植物公園（Hong Kong Botanic Gardens）。1908年洋紫荊以港督Sir Henry Blake的姓氏命名，1997年香港回歸後中文版基本法第十條規定特區區旗和區徽圖案是紫荊花而非洋紫荊，以新譯名「滅洋」，進行最表面的解殖。洋紫荊的身世便是打開《殖物》的鑰匙：天然混種不育的洋紫荊，開花不結果，以嫁接繁殖，如今見到的洋紫荊，竟都是香港植物公園那株「移民」的後裔，《殖物》豈不是拼貼嫁接香港神話的嘗試？這使我想到九七回歸期間策展人何慶基在香港藝術中心的半人半魚盧亭考古展覽，以虛構想像的香港人始祖，逃難而來的盧亭，作為香港邊緣、居間、混種、反抗的文化隱喻。
羅玉梅移株《殖物》到香港植物公園附近的香港視覺藝術中心，在觀眾看到作品前的樓梯轉角處低調放置一幅抽象洋紫荊的黑色剪影，彷彿一株無聲吶喊的幽蘭（洋紫荊又名香港蘭），提示作品的精神核心。《殖物》分為三部分：第一部分複訪居港荷蘭人Michael Rogge於1953年以16毫米攝影機拍攝的無聲彩色香港植物公園。華人往來如織，噴泉和各色花卉的特寫，寫實搭配腳步簇簇和蟲鳴鳥叫的聲景，寫意配樂高妙使用管平湖演奏的六世紀南朝古琴曲《碣石調幽蘭》的空靈泛音段落。《幽蘭》的文字譜是中國現存最古老的琴譜，飄零海外由東京國立博物館珍藏。羅玉梅以《幽蘭》讓香港蘭始祖還魂發聲，代替歷史影像裡無聲演奏的殖民軍樂隊。畫面淡出後，琴聲仍悠悠，段落間留黑不留白，給觀眾呼吸思索的餘韻空間。第二部分呈現粵劇乾旦王侯偉粉墨登場前對鏡為自己梳妝，撲粉、畫眉、貼片子的過程，突出身份形塑的展演性（performativity of identity formation），段落結束前環境音先淡出，畫面後淡出。第三部分由一才鑼鼓即興開場，展開精彩的聲畫搭配與錯位。崑腔畫外音先獻聲，王侯偉後現身，四字成語般的唱詞摘自《牡丹亭》、余光中的《紫荊賦》，甚至混入羅玉梅自己創作的短句。四字只唱頭兩字，餘下的是感官盛宴：舞蹈化的嫵媚動作，一才鑼鼓的情動伴奏，中英文字幕與黑屏，錯落有致勝過千言萬語。有意思的是，王侯偉曾為跨性別電影《翠絲》（2018）中的粵劇花旦角色打鈴哥／花艷紅（袁富華）幕後代唱，《殖物》的崑腔畫外音卻是由崑小隊（Kun Platoon）女成員「若初」操刀，花非花，霧非霧，安能辨我是雄雌。《殖物》尾聲是素顏的王侯偉回返本真，模仿梅蘭芳顛倒眾生、扭轉乾坤的手勢。作品結束在董啟章《安卓珍尼》裡的「我喜歡花，是因為花是兩性同體的」。羅玉梅對香港（蘭）的愛，隱藏在《殖物》精彩紛呈的雜種文化基因裡。
Re-Ventriloquism: Law Yuk Mui’s Pastiche
byDR. CHEN CHIH-TING, TIMMY,Research Assistant Professor at the Academy of Film of Hong Kong Baptist University
A video installationwith six audio tracks and three channels,Law Yuk Mui’s Pasticheis a site-specific workexhibited at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre.Pastiche reassembles collages of grafted images, music and texts that restore history through both vocal and ventriloquised rituals, which in turn deconstructs and reconstructs Hong Kong’s identity. All these cultivate a déjà-vu-ques hybrid entity of unknown origin blossoming involuntary yet gorgeously. The work’s Chinese title ‘殖物’ embodies profound connotations. The homophone of ‘殖’ (‘to grow/reproduce’ and the first character of the term ‘to colonise’) is ‘植’ (‘to plant’), underlining the fact that Bauhinia blakeana, Hong Kong’s native species and the regional flower selected during the colonial period in 1965, is actually a colonial product. In the 1880s, a French priest discovered Bauhinia blakeana in the ruins along the Pokfulam shoreline on Hong Kong Island. He replanted the flowers at Béthanie, where missionaries were recuperating from tropical diseases. The flowers were subsequently planted in the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens, a public leisure space for Westerners.In 1908, Bauhinia blakeana was named after Governor Sir Henry Blake’s family name. After the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997, the Chinese version of Article 10 of the Basic Law stipulated that the pattern of HKSAR’s flag and emblem is Bauhinia, not Bauhinia blakeana, in an attempt to ‘de-westernise’ with the new interpretation – a most superficial form of decolonisation. The history of Bauhinia blakeana is the key unlocking Pastiche: as a sterile natural hybrid, Bauhinia blakeana flowers but does not bear fruit; after propagating via grafting, the species you see today is actually the descendant of those ‘immigrants’ from the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens. Isn’t Pastichean attempt to graft a Hong Kong myth? This reminds me of the half-human half-fish ‘Lo Ting’ in the archaeological exhibition curated by Oscar Ho at the Hong Kong Arts Centre during the Handover period in 1997. A fictional ancestor of Hong Kong, Lo Ting fled to Hong Kong, acting as a cultural metaphor of Hong Kong’s marginalisation, intermediary role, hybridity and resistance.
Law Yuk Mui grafted Pasticheto the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre near the Hong Kong Botanic Gardens. Before the audience was able to see the actual work, they saw a low-key black silhouette of an abstract bauhinia at the corner of the staircase. It stood like a silent orchid (Bauhinia blakeana is also known as ‘Hong Kong Orchid’), reflecting the spiritual core of the work. Pasticheis divided into three parts: the first part revisits Hong Kong-based Dutch Michael Rogge’s colour shots on 16 mm filmof the silentHong Kong Botanic Gardensin 1953. The close-ups captured respectively Chinese walking past constantly, fountains and various flowers. The realistic portrayals were matched with the soundscape of footsteps, chirping insects and tweeting birds. The cleverly selected relaxing soundtrack adopts ethereal harmonics passages of the 6th-century Southern Dynasty’s Jieshi Diao Youlan(‘Solitary Orchid’) played by guqin player Guan Pinghu.The song’s textual music sheet is the oldest surviving music sheet in China, which is now collected overseas by the Tokyo National Museum. Law Yuk Mui has silenced the colonial army band’s performance in the historical footage and replaced it with Jieshi Diao Youlanto let Hong Kong incarnate the orchid primogenitor and speak out. After the scene fades out, the sound of guqin still lingers melodiously, leaving no empty space in between to give the audience a space for breathing and reflection. The second part features a male Dan (female role) in Cantonese opera Wong Hau Wa before going on stage, capturing him putting on make up, powdering, drawing eyebrows and sticking hair extension by himself in front of the mirror. The process highlights the performativity of identity formation. Before the footage ends, the ambient sound fades out prior to the image. The third part starts off with an improvised gong and drum session by The Gong Strikes One, introducing some wonderfully matched and mismatched sound and images. The off-screen Kunqiang singing is heard first before the appearance of Wong Hau Wa. The four-word-idiom-like lyrics are extracted from Peony Pavilion, whereas Yu Kwang Chung’s The Bauhinia is unexpectedly mixed with short phrases created by Law Yuk Mui. Only the first two words of each idiom are sung and the rest is a sensory feast: the dance-like charming feminine movements; The Gong Strikes One’s sentimental accompaniment; Chinese and English subtitles against a black screen. The concoction is worth a thousand words. Interestingly, in transgender film Tracey (2018), Wong Hau Wa sings behind the scene on behalf of Brother Darling’s Cantonese opera Huadan role played by actor Yuen Fu Wah. Pastiche’s off-screen Kunqiang, on the other hand, is sung by Kun Platoon’s female member Ruochu in an ambivalently androgynous voice. The ending of Pastichesees the plain-faced Wong Hau Wa returns to his true self, imitating Mei Lanfang’s disarming and ground-breaking hand gestures. The work ends at Dung Kai Cheung’s Androgyny: ‘I like flowers because they are androgynous.’ Law Yuk Mui’s love for Hong Kong (Bauhinia) is hidden in the fantastic hybrid cultural genes of Pastiche.
現存於漁農自然護理署香港植物標本室編號：Hong Kong Herb. No.1722 的標本相信是最初發現的原樹標本，即是現在所有複本洋紫荊的母樹。
The specimen “Hong Kong Herb. No.1722” at the Hong Kong Herbarium of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department is believed to be the original specimen of the species, the origin of all present-day Bauhinia x blakeana trees.