Shen Wei: Almost Naked

“You can never have a real friendship with foreigners here in New York,” Vivi, a Shanghai native living in New York says to me in a café in Manhattan’s Soho area. By “foreigner”, she refers to anybody who is not Chinese. Several weeks later, photographer Shen Wei tells me his thoughts on the exact same topic in his Wall Street apartment. “I find it much harder to have a deep conversation with a stranger in China, while in the US it’s much more possible to have deeper communications with someone you’ve  just met.”

Shen Wei 1Born in Shanghai in 1977, Shen Wei grew up in the Shanghai of the 1980s and 1990s. “It was then a conservative China,” he recalls. “Individuality was not something important.” Over a decade ago, Shen Wei moved from Shanghai to the US to study photography and video art. Upon arriving in the US, Shen remembers how the relationships between people in American culture came as a shock to him, but they soon grew to become an inspiration for his work. He says relationships between people in America are much simpler and more straightforward. “I wanted to explore the ideas of identity and sexuality,” he says, “and to understand the complexity of emotion, desire, introspection and instinct.”

Shen Wei began to photograph portraits of strangers he met on the street, friends of friends, and random people he found online. He photographed people in their homes, some naked, some half-naked, while others are fully-clothed. He named the series Almost Naked to highlight the fact that these people are revealing their most intimate and vulnerable moments in front of the camera.

My sexuality is an important element which I enjoy exploring, but my work is also about human nature, desire, struggle and rebellion.

After the Almost Naked project, he wanted to take a personal journey to reconnect with his roots, to make sense of the China that existed in his memories but also with a China that is rapidly changing day and night. Shot in various Chinese provinces as well as Shanghai Chinese Sentiment is a mixture of poetic landscapes, nostalgic cityscapes and intimate portraits of people in their personal spaces.

I Miss You Already is Shen Wei’s most recent series, a series of self-portraits of himself in various settings: standing by a waterfall in the mountains, bending his body inside an isolated cave, gazing behind blooming flower trees, carefully posing like a Renaissance statue on top of a white table, leaning against the railing on a balcony of a New York apartment, mostly naked and alone. The photos carry a sense of theatrical mood, as if the man portrayed is wandering around, thinking and looking for something, reflecting on his or man’s relationships with nature.

Lima

For Shen the project is “a process of self-observation and self-discovery. It’s also a way to explore my sense of security through understanding the tension between freedom and boundaries”. His interest in such exploration, again, goes back to his past life in China. “I did not have many opportunities to be naked when growing up in Shanghai,” he says, “But now I can be naked as often as I want, it’s not only a free and relaxing feeling, but also liberating.”   

Although most of the time he is the only figure in these pictures, Shen is occasionally accompanied by a second person: sometimes another man, sometimes a woman, and sometimes just a mysterious hand. He won’t reveal the nature of these relationships,  nor even the relationship between his portrayal of himself and the ‘real’ person behind the camera. Insisting that it’s the mystery of these unknown elements makes the images intriguing. “It’s up to the viewers’ perceptions, it’s not for me to impose my narratives” says Shen. But he does confess to having complex relationships with both men and women, “They are both very important in my life, I cannot live without either of them; they bring me different experiences.”

Shen Wei 2

While admitting sexuality has its notable role in his work, Shen thinks that’s not where the self-discovery in his work ends. “I am a sexual person,” he says, “and my sexuality is an important element which I enjoy exploring, but my work is also about human nature, desire, struggle and rebellion.”

Shen Wei lives in New York City with his dog Emma.

 WeChat_1526896474
This story originally appeared in the Style Issue of OutThere Magazine
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All the Broken Ships

A Margaret Atwood book he left behind. A train ticket he used when coming to visit me from Liverpool. A Uyghur hat I bought for him in Xinjiang. A DVD we once watched together. A green hoodie that still has his smell… Do I keep them, do I throw them away, or do I simply destroy them now that he’s gone?

Many people find it painful to be reminded of the ones they used to love, of the relationships that are broken. Yet there are always things popping up now and then to remind us of someone we try so hard not to think about. In the Almodóvar film“Talk to Her”, Marco sleeps on the couch instead of his bed for months after his girlfriend leaves him. In Croatia, after their own four-year long relationship ended, artists Olinka Vištica and Drazen Grubišić decided to set up an art project together, displaying objects from people’s “failed” romances and the stories behind them. The Museum of Broken Relationships is dedicated to broken hearts.

All the broken ships by Xing Zhao

Years after I interviewed founders of the project,  Museum of Broken Relationships is finally traveling from its original location in Zagreb to Shanghai, bringing not only tokens but also memories of love.

Museum of Broken Relationships Shanghai 2018

During our interview with Olinka and Drazen, they sounded calm and humorous. When asking whether they still felt the pain from their previous relationship, Drazen smiled and said, “You are the person who you are also because of who you have been with. Every relationship shapes and defines you as who you are.” Despite their romantic history, they said doing this project together had helped them maintain their relationship and move on with their lives.

Olinka Vištica is a 40 year old art and film producer from Split, Croatia and Drazen Grubišić is a 40 year old artist from Zagreb, who is dedicated to participatory art. They both live and work in Zagreb.

Concept founders of the "Museum of Broken Relationships" exhibition Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic pose in Singapore

▲ Founders: Olinka Vištica和Drazen Grubišić

What was your initial motive for creating this project?

It was during our break-up that this idea came to our mind during our numerous attempts to save, transform or ultimately overcome our relationship. However, it took a period of over two years before the idea was finally realized. We shared our thoughts with friends and it turned out that everybody we talked to reacted so enthusiastically to the concept. It is one of those really simple ideas that comes to one’s mind in normal conversation. What to do with all those tokens of love (material and nonmaterial) that you gathered during your relationship?

Museum of Broken Relationships exhibits_7

You mentioned the project was to create a space of “secured memory” in order to preserve the material and nonmaterial heritage of “broken relationships”. Do you think most people keep things from their broken relationships, or is it quite the opposite? 

It’s hard to tell. If the break-up is painful often we are all tempted to destroy everything that reminds us of our “failure”. But eventually, I think, each of us keeps something. Maybe it’s hidden at the bottom of a closet or a drawer or at the bottom of the heart – but it’s still there. The Museum project is an attempt to bring all those memories to the surface for the richness of the human experiences they can tell.

Why do people still want to preserve their memories even when their relationships have failed?ad18df3c5e27fc4daad11df5d56d2e63

Whatever the motivation for preserving or donating personal belongings – be it sheer exhibitionism, therapeutic relief, catharsis or simple curiosity, we believe people embrace the idea of exhibiting their legacies as a sort of ritual, a solemn ceremony. Our societies consent to marriages, funerals, even graduation farewells, but deny such gatherings as the demise of a relationship, despite the strength of its emotion. In the words of French philosopher Roland Barthes in “Lover’s Discourse‘: “Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator… (there is) no amorous oblation without a final theatre”. It is not clear, though, and it will probably never be, whether we need this final showing to eradicate our love or to make it eternal. We like to think our Museum does both.

Unlike self-help books and prescriptions we think that love pains cannot be considered as an illness from which its protagonists simply have to recover. For us there has always been much more to explore in that feverish but yet introspective state of mind following a break-up. Throughout history,  pain has always been a great impulse for artistic creation. If we ignore it or if we try to eradicate it by destroying memories, we lose a precious opportunity for personal development and expression. That is, we think, a reason people still want to keep their memories alive.

Are you the kind of person who is attached to things?

I would not say I’m a person attached to things but for sure I’m attached to stories, memories, energy hidden behind things. And sometimes we need things to trigger memories.

museum_1Museum of Broken Relationships key

Is there a piece from you included this project? What’s the story of it?

Yes, this was the first exhibit in the museum collection. It is a small plush wind up bunny.  Since we both travelled a lot, the idea was to take the bunny on the trip each time we were not travelling together. The bunny was supposed to travel around the world but it never got further than Iran because the relationship fell apart just after that. But still there is a nice funny photo of the bunny in a desert near Teheran.

What’s the most bizarre piece in this collection?

A leg prosthesis…

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“In a Zagreb hospital I met a beautiful, young and ambitious social worker from the Ministry of Defense. When she helped me to get certain materials, which I, as a war invalid needed for my leg prosthesis, love was born. The prosthesis endured longer than our love. It was made of sturdier material.”

How many cities has this project travelled to so far? What were the receptions like?

The project has travelled to 13 cities so far and despite the obvious differences in cultures and languages of different countries the response has always been overwhelming. We had never seen such great interests from people before during our 20 years of working in art and culture. One of the main reasons for that lies in the universality of love. It takes just a couple of sentences to explain this project to someone. They will immediately understand it, because they can relate to it. Heartbreak is a painful and formative experience for everyone, no matter in what part of the world you might live. The feeling is universal.

Museum of Broken Relationships bear

Do you play music in the background of the show? If you had to choose a song, what song would you choose?

Normally we do not play music as a background. If I had to pick one song I would pick a line-up from the Smiths or a French song used in one of the films of Francois Truffaut (Que reste -t-il de nos amours? Meaning: What’s left of our Love?)2What do you think are the most important things in a relationship?   

Tolerance, trust and humour.

How would you describe Croatia in a few words?

It’s a beautiful (and small) Mediterranean country, only 4.5 mill people, which still needs to be discovered. It is a country that needs to shape and develop its full potential.

Museum of Broken Relationships underpants

What is the art/culture/design industry like in Croatia? 

There are many talented and active artists and designers in Croatia (and also Croatians living and working abroad) creating interesting, globally relevant projects. But still we lack exposure and support to be able to talk about a general concept or brand that could be talked about as Croatian design or art in the manner we today know about Danish design for example, or French cinema.

What do you think happiness is?

That’s a philosophical question. I’m afraid I can only say that sometimes life passes by in our attempts to define happiness. Happiness is hidden in little, precious moments that are always on your fingertips.

What are the things that make you happy?

Discovering places, meeting people and creating.

Museum of Broken Relationships toys

This story originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Zing

 

Museum of Broken Relationships
Columbia Circle
1262 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Panyu Lu
延安西路1262号, 近番禺路
Jun 15 until Aug 1, 2018

那些碎了的心,都被收藏进了这座博物馆

他留下的一本Margaret Atwood的小说。他从利物浦来看我时用过的火车票。我从新疆买给他却被他弃下的维吾尔族帽子。我们一起看过的一张盗版DVD。 依旧带着他身上的气味的绿色hoodie。他走了以后,是应该留着它们,丢掉它们,还是干脆将它们毁掉呢?

分手的以后,很多人不想再记起那些曾经爱过的人与破碎的恋情。然而,总是有种种的物事在这时那时不停的跳出来让我们想起那个不想要想起的人。在Almodóvar的电影“对她说”里,那个男人说在女友离开了以后,自己几个月都无法在独自的床上睡眠,于是睡了几个月的沙发。

🏠
「如果你失恋,
请把你的记忆放进博物馆」
Museum of Broken Relationships

 

All the broken ships by Xing Zhao

 

而在克罗地亚,艺术家Olinka Vištica 与Drazen Grubišić在结束了他们长达四年的恋情结束以后,决定一起合作一个艺术项目:陈列人们在昔日恋情中残留下来的物事以及这些物事背后的故事,以次来抚慰世上心碎之人。于是便有了这个Museum of Broken Relationships计划。

在我访问“失恋博物馆”的两位发起人时,这个曾在全球许多个城市巡回展出,唯独没有上海这一站。时隔数年,这个在我自己心碎时去采访、写作的展览竟然在这个月来到了上海。

 

Museum of Broken Relationships Shanghai 2018

 

在我与Olinka和Drazen的访问中,他们的声音听来平静且带着幽默。在问到他们是否仍感到昔日恋情中的伤痛之时,Drazen笑笑说,“每个人是他现在的样子也是因为曾经在一起的人的缘故,每一段的感情也都塑造了你之所以是你。”虽然两人现在不在一起了,但是他们说能够在一起做这个艺术项目也使得他们能够勇敢的面对对方,保持一定的关系,且使他们能够继续各自的生活。

Olinka Vištica是来自克罗地亚Split的艺术与电影制作人,今年四十岁。Drazen Grubišić是来自克罗地亚首都萨格勒布的艺术家,他的信念是艺术是应该为人们所参与的,今年四十岁。

Concept founders of the "Museum of Broken Relationships" exhibition Olinka Vistica and Drazen Grubisic pose in Singapore

▲ 失恋博物馆的创始人Olinka Vištica和Drazen Grubišić

“You are the person who you are also because of who you have been with.” – Drazen Grubišić

ad18df3c5e27fc4daad11df5d56d2e63

 

最初怎样想到开始这个项目的?

在我们分手的时候,经历过无数次试图挽救,改变以及克服我们的关系,那时这个主意进入我们的脑子。然后后来是经过两年的时间才将这个想法成形。我们于是跟很多朋友谈起这个想法,而每个人都觉得这是个不错的概念。这其实是很简单的想法,在简单的谈话中偶尔会出现。在恋情结束后,其中的那些信物(物质与非物质的)究竟该怎样处理呢?Museum of Broken Relationships hands and ring

你们认为人们都愿意保留过去恋情中的物事还是恰好相反?

很难说。假如某人的分手很惨痛,他们也许会很想要毁掉那些信物。但是到头来我觉得我们仍旧保留一些东西。也许它们某天会在衣橱或抽屉的最底层忽然被发现,而它们其实在存留在我们心的最底层。而我们的展览的目的也是要使这些记忆浮上来,生命的丰富经验也就在这些故事之中。

museum_1Museum of Broken Relationships key

 

为什么人们在恋情失败之后仍要保留他们的信物呢?

无论人们保留信物的目的何在,不管是单纯的表现主义,疗伤,情感宣泄或只是好奇,我们相信人们将自己的私人故事展示出来是做为一种仪式。我们的社会赞许婚姻,葬礼,毕业礼,却并不以一种仪式的形式来宣表一段关系的死亡,即使这种关系有着极其强大的情感力量。WeChat_1528099913Museum of Broken Relationships can

对你来说,孤独是什么?

法国哲学家罗兰·巴特《恋人絮语》 中说“任何的激情,到头来仍需要观者…假若最后没有剧场,也不会有爱的献出仪式”。我们究竟是需要一个姿势来最后根除爱,还是使这份爱永恒,这从来也不是清楚的,也或许永远不会明了。我们希望我的项目是能将两者都做到。

不像自我帮助的书籍或医生开出的处方,我们认为爱情的病痛并不是一种我们非得从中恢复的病。在我们看来在爱情的狂热中有许多可以探索的东西,而在分手之后也有许多值得内省的东西。有史以来失恋的痛楚也常常是艺术创作的灵感来源。假若我们无视于它,或彻底摧毁记忆来将其清除,我们也将失去人类自我发展与表达的宝贵机会。这也是为什么人们希望将他们的记忆保鲜的原因。

Museum of Broken Relationships  exhibits_7

 

你们是恋物之人吗?

我不会说我是恋物的人。但是我会珍惜物事背后的故事,记忆和能量。又是我们需要这些物事来激发我们的记忆。

在展览中有你们自己的东西吗?它的背后是怎样的故事?

有。这也是我们的第一件收集品。它是一只绒毛的发条兔子。因为我们两个都常常旅行,所以我们决定在我们分开旅行时会将这只兔子带在身边,让它周游世界。但是它最远只去到伊朗,因为在那之后我们就分手了。我们有一张它在德黑兰的沙漠的好玩的照片。Museum of Broken Relationships bear

展览中最奇怪的一件展品是什么?

“在萨格勒布的一间医院里,我遇见了一个年轻漂亮且有远志的国防部的女义工。她帮我拿了我当时需要的一个假肢,于是爱情就发生了。那个假肢的寿命比我们的爱情要长久。它的材质要更加坚固一些。”

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▲ 一个腿部假肢(1992年春)萨格勒布,克罗地亚 (左)

 

这个展览去过多少个城市?在各地的反响如何?

展览去过13个城市。虽然各国的文化语言有所差异,但是人们的反响都很热烈。在我们过去20年做艺术文化工作的经验中,从来没有见过如此强烈的反应。主要原因是因为爱的共同性。你只需要几句话就能将这个项目跟人解释清楚。人们很快就能懂得,因为他们能跟自身联系。心碎对任何人来说都是一个很痛苦的经验,不论你来自哪里。人的感情都是一样的。

Museum of Broken Relationships toys

你们在展览中放音乐吗?

通常我们不在背景放音乐。如果要选一首歌的话,应该会选一些the Smiths的歌,或者是Francois Truffaut一部电影中的一首法文歌Que reste -t-il de nos amours? (我们的爱还剩下什么?

你们认为两个人的关系中最重要的东西是什么?

宽容,信任和幽默。

Museum of Broken Relationships underpants

▲ Underpants, 2003 – 2005, Zagreb, Croatia
A size too small…but I didn’t mind at all.

 

你们认为幸福是什么?

这是个很哲学的问题。我只能说有时生命就在我们试图定义幸福时就过去了。幸福是隐藏在我们指尖的那些小小的宝贵时光。

WeChat_1528099899

 

「终将治愈——克罗地亚失恋博物馆」
中国大陆首次展览
时间:2018年6月15日 – 7月31日
「上生·新所」海军俱乐部
地址:上海市长宁区延安西路1262号

 

This story originally appeared in the June 2009 issue of Zing

世界尽头与冷酷仙境,只有在爱丁堡散步才是正经事

爱丁堡的房子依山而建,父亲取笑说我住在山上。4月天的苏格兰8点后才日落,7点半的太阳照在公寓旁边的古城堡上,遍地黄花,叫人不由得想起张爱玲所说的看七月巧云、听苏格兰兵吹风笛,和吃盐水花生。喝傍晚那一杯苦苦的黑咖啡,波兰教授的橘色长袜,西班牙女生坐在咖啡馆的玻璃窗后面优雅的抽烟,校园里的长尾巴松鼠,夜半醉归者的高歌突然下雨了、下冰雹了、4月的半夜下雪了,5分钟以后的墨镜和大太阳,一年四季的长围巾和短袖T-Shirt。一个日常生活里的游乐场城市,寂寞人生里的美好细节。

WeChat_1518060609

The Mound Place

爱丁堡城堡的旁边是一栋粉红色的豪宅,再旁边是爱丁堡大学的一栋学生公寓楼,再过去则是神学院。在公寓楼与神学院前的那一段不太长的鹅卵石路叫做The Mound Place

The Mound Place Edinburgh KapaZhao

依山而建的爱丁堡,以城堡为界,城堡以南是Old Town,以北则是New Town. 新旧两城之间有着地势上的极大落差,因此从The Mound Place俯瞰,下面的新城一览无余。 新城的Princes Street Gardens曾经是中世纪用来淹死女巫的Loch(湖),到18世纪建起New Town之后将湖填平而做成了城市中心的公园,夏日之际便繁花似锦。

Spring in Edinburgh KapaZhao

花园旁边是苏格兰国家美术馆,再过去是高大尖顶的苏格兰纪念塔(Scott Monument), 再旁边就是在建在大桥底下山谷之中的Waverly火车站。Princes Street Gardens前是著名的购物街Princes Street,再跟着则是一大排的与Old Town的中世纪风格完全迥异的,在城市建筑史上盛名的乔治时代建筑。从New Town再延伸过去,则是深蓝色的北方大海。

Edinburgh sea by KapaZhao

夏天的时候,日光充裕,天光漫长,早上4点天就亮了,而夜里11点才黑下去,仿佛时光是用不完的。住在The Mound Place的老公寓时,我跟朋友们会拿瓶白葡萄酒出来,坐在门口的长椅上一边晒着下午6点的太阳一边喝。晚上10点的黄昏日落,那段鹅卵石路上总是留连了许多发呆忘返的人。

KapaZhao's Edinburgh

黄花遍地,天空被落日慢慢涂成浓金色,云彩迅速的移动着。穿格子裙的苏格兰兵永远在Princes Street吹着他的风笛,笛声散落在风中。

Bagpiper in Edinburgh by KapaZhao

The Elephant House

The Elephant House在George IV Bridge 21号,刚好在The Royal Mile和爱丁堡大学的中间。这间风格独特的咖啡馆在成为各国游客的必经之处前,曾是爱丁堡大学的学生打发时间的地方,也是我爱流连的之所。

The elephant house KapaZhao

据说老板曾在澳洲工作,厌倦朝九晚五的日常生活后便去了印度非洲等各国游历,一路收集了无数的“大象”。木头雕刻的,陶瓷的,牙制的,数不胜数。于是终于回到家乡爱丁堡开了这间咖啡馆,用来陈列他的收集。实在是太多的“大象”,假使要好好看遍每一只的“象”,也不知道要花多少时间。

咖啡馆的名声来自传说作家J.K. Rowling曾在这里写作她的她的第一和第二部的Harry Potter中的部分章节。但其实除去传说不算,这间咖啡馆也实在是这个寒冷城市中最波西米亚的spot,随处充满了文学的气质。

从门口进来是前厅,右边是吧台,左边是供客人上网的一排电脑。地板是旧木头,而跑堂们常常是嬉皮打扮。经过渐渐窄下去的过道便是后厅,而过道中是大块的广告启事牌,免费供客人张贴找工作或是找同居室友的广告。后厅很大,依旧是木地板,天花板极高,垂下来的是旧式的铜制吊扇和蕾丝边的昏黄吊灯。厅的一边是漆成橘红色的墙壁,上面挂满了大象的油画;另一边则是大片的玻璃窗户,窗户旁边摆了大簇大簇的绿色植物,而透过窗户则可以看的见Greyfriars墓地和爱丁堡城堡。

Man with laptop at the elephant house KapaZhao

在我最喜欢的位子里,一处是靠窗的桌子,坐在那里读星期六的报纸或是喝茶,抬起头便可以看到中世纪的城堡;另一处是靠墙的大桌子:厚实的大木头餐桌,可以坐六个人,但是即便是你一个人去也不会觉得尴尬,因为单身的人总是自自然然的拼坐在一起,喝茶,读书,或是用电脑写字,各自顾做自己的事情。

空气中总是游移着六十年代的爵士,低低的吟唱着。冬天里天光短暂,下午四点半跑堂的便过来点了蜡烛。烛光里看着大窗户外面的夕阳一下下的沉落下去,天色在光秃的树梢间慢慢的变成很淡的橘色与蓝色的相间,世界在这个颜色里仿佛 沉入水底,咖啡馆里的人则是安静潜游的鱼,水流的很慢,只是慢慢的沉沦。在这流的极慢的时间里,可以闻得到蜡烛燃烧的味道,这便是欧洲在寒冷冬天的味道。

Winter at the Elephant House by KapaZhao

Sandy Bell’s

Sandy Bell’s 是在George IV Bridge与Forrest Road的交叉口的一间小酒馆。酒馆总是有音乐家的现场表演,夜夜笙歌演奏苏格兰或是爱尔兰的民乐。酒馆开了很久了,吸引着固定的客人,且充满了神秘色彩,总是在不经意间出现在某一本背景设计在爱丁堡的小说中。门面是漆成赭红的,暗黄色的玻璃窗上又贴了万花筒似的彩色透明纸。透过玻璃隐隐的可以看到酒馆里的灯火,和听到音乐中的声色。

Sandy Bell's Edinburgh

严格意义上这是一间老年人的酒馆。在爱丁堡这个学生和年轻职业者占很大比例的城市,Sandy Bell’s却很少可以看得到太年轻的人。坐在吧台点一pint的Guinness,然后用手指在浮在黑色啤酒上的肥硕的泡沫上画出一枝Shamrock,音乐也就跟着起来了。

10点钟的时候酒馆总是挤满了人,连坐的位子都没有,小小的空间都站满了人。有人带着大狗进来,长毛的大狗安静的不停在人与人之间摇着尾巴走来走去。演奏的音乐家白天都有自己的事业,只是晚上为了兴趣而聚在一起表演。那个扎马尾戴眼睛的弹吉他男人,和那个拉提琴的男人对视着;他快时他也快,他慢时他也放缓速度;各自的嘴角都含着棋逢对手一般的微笑。这个时候开始下雨,雨水顺着花玻璃缓缓的流下来。穿了白色裙子和凉鞋的中年女人开始跳舞,裙裾摆动着像一朵开放的栀子花,在昏黄的灯光里耀眼的闪动着。

我跟我的朋友说,这里仿佛是1930年代的上海,苏格兰人的小酒馆。在那个时代遥远的东方,为了发横财的苏格兰人混在英格兰人和爱尔兰人中间,飘洋过海来到上海。思乡的人开了自己的酒馆,于是有了上海的苏格兰人酒馆和土豆炖菜。红头发皮肤苍白的苏格兰人坐在木头桌子旁大口的喝他们的pints和威士忌酒,只是坐在身边的是眼睛细长的上海女友,操着上海口音吃力的讲着半生的英文。殖民时期的浮华和靡丽,让人一下子恍惚起来。音乐停下来时,音乐家都到门口抽烟了。在我的朋友里,Marianna是一个小提琴手,她偶尔也同这些人一起演奏。她笑着说,要不要听一点他们的闲话,他们是去抽大麻去了。

一路都是中世纪的灰暗建筑,慢慢的沿着坡往下倾,远处可以看到大海,只是不知道要走多少远才可以到,仿佛是黑暗的中古世纪,要过多久文艺复兴的开阔才会开始。

“在爱丁堡散步才是正经事”

在天光还长的时候,在没有风的日子里,爱丁堡是适合散步的城市。傍晚7点吃过饭,日光还长着,从the Mound Place出发,到the Royal Mile,顺着石板路一路走下去,经过印度人开的挂满苏格兰旗的旅游纪念品店,常年开着的Fringe Festival的office, 画了绿色的太阳花的Always Sunday咖啡馆;跨过North Bridge,走到the Royal Mile的下一段,一路都是中世纪的灰暗建筑,慢慢的沿着坡往下倾,远处可以看到大海,只是不知道要走多少远才可以到,仿佛是黑暗的中古世纪,要过多久文艺复兴的开阔才会开始。

Scottish story telling centre by KapaZhao

经过一些咖啡馆后到达Scottish Story Telling Centre。这个centre展览着关于源自苏格兰的文学名著中的史蒂文森,Peter Pan,Queen Mary的故事种种。Centre的咖啡馆临街,坐在它木桌子坐下来喝杯咖啡,透过大片的窗玻璃可以看到这个仍保留着中古世纪样子的城市。对面的房子一楼的墙上刻着New Palace Cinema(新宫殿电影院),想来曾几何时是个电影院,但如今只是人居的公寓。

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过了Story Telling Centre便往左转到Jeffery Street。从那里可以望到Carlton Hill。山上立了极像雅典神庙的建筑,爱丁堡也因此而得到“北方雅典”的称号。Waverly火车站便在前方,它的上方是巨大粉红的North Bridge,将新旧两城连接起来。在不到Market Street一点的地方拐进一处小巷子,Fleshmarket Close,即苏格兰侦探小说家Ian Rankin在他的侦探小说”Fleshmarket Close中谋杀发生的巷子。

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窄窄的巷子猛的上坡,连通着Cockburn Street。巷子虽窄小,却是内里乾坤,有一间叫做Half Way的pub,藏匿在旧石头建成的房子里。旁边是一间理发店,叫做Hair By Alfie,剪头发再洗是十块钱英镑。

Cockburn Street Edinburgh by KapaZhao

这条巷子也是电影《Hallam Foe》中的男主角少年Jamie Bell第一次见到女主角的地方。Jamie Bell被警察追,于是沿着自来水管爬到楼顶上去,第二天早上他从楼顶望见女主角从楼梯上来,便是在那里。不禁赞叹导演对这座城市了解的到位。当漫步走到时髦的Cockburn Street时,也许转进那家老式的糖果店买一把彩色的糖果,甜蜜的结束这小小的散步。这个时候也可以回家吃块蛋糕,喝土耳其茶了。

拥抱热情的岛屿

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By Xing Zhao

当我透过埃及蓝木门间的玻璃向里张望时,一个男人正在做他的晨间运动。他是一个三十出头的男人,深色头发,身材瘦小。他戴了眼镜,穿了一件日本电影“圣战”的T恤。而他周身所围绕的,是满架满架的书。

“我想问你几点开门?”我问道。

这是一间小小的英文书店,在希腊的火山岩小岛圣托里尼的小镇Oia上。小镇上布满了岩石建造的洞穴房子,一味的涂成了雪白的颜色,漂浮在蓝色的海洋上,挤的满满的,却都没有门牌号。亚特兰蒂斯书店就在其中的一间洞穴的地下室。

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 Atlantis Books 

在2002年,来自英国的Craig、 Oliver还有Chris借了一笔钱,选了书,连书带人一起到了圣托里尼。他们从海边捡了漂流木,在那个洞穴里搭起了书架和床,将书店建了起来。从此,希腊的小岛上便成就了世界上的第二个莎士比亚书店:一个旅行者,作家与他们所爱的书的家园。

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“那你今晚有地方住吗?”Luke问道,且带着伦敦北部的口音。我告诉他没有。于是他给了我一张书店最里面的木头床,在书架与书架的之间,我成为书店的宿客。在巴黎多年之后,Luke现在生活在意大利与希腊。作为一个三十几岁却未有分文的男人,他却熟悉书店里的每一本书,且在写作一本小说。

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等我下午从海边游泳回来时,我认识了John,那个诗人。John是个英俊的年轻威尔士人,他有着浓重的牛津口音和略微神经质的表情,说话时微微的口吃。他在书店已经住了两个礼拜了,正要搬去柏林从事全职的写作。

John

当Natalie爬上房顶时,我和John正在清扫最近的一场风暴给露台带来树枝与沙尘。Natalie大概25岁的样子,皮肤晒黑,加利福尼亚口音。她站在一旁跟我们说着话,巨大的太阳眼镜盖住她的大半张脸。她住在岛上已经一年半了。她爱上了这个地方,于是从此便没有离开过。在她的旅游签证到期之后,她成为了希腊的非法居民。夏天她是一家餐馆的女招待,而其余没有游客的日子里,她便不工作,而只是过她的生活。

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就这样,我开始了我的岛居生活。早上10点起床,一边给自己做早餐和咖啡一边照看书店。常常好奇的游客从楼梯上走下来,说着“看,一家书店!”他们有的是美国人,有的是英国人或者欧洲人。我和他们聊天,帮他们找书。没有客人的时候我便一边听着爵士,一边读希腊神话。

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我坐在屋顶的露台吃午饭,在地中海的万丈日光里,脚下便是深蓝色的爱琴海。午后的时光总是沙滩,和一本书在一起。而沿路回家时给自己买一根Magnum的冰激淋。

 全世界最壮丽的日落 

天黑前,我漫步到游客聚集的海边去看世界上最壮丽的日落。黄昏时对面小店的女孩子总是“Luke、 Luke”的唤着要我们将路灯点上。此刻店门口的金银花也开始散发甜香。晚上,我给书店里的人做饭,而晚饭之后则是更多的茶与诗歌的诵读。有一些夜晚的时光则是在星空下抽着烟喝着葡萄酒度过的。

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有一夜我们在Natalie的洞穴房子里做希腊肉丸到凌晨3点。那一晚我们喝了很多酒,抽了很多烟,且抚拍了很多进来借宿的流浪狗。我问Natalie是否后悔当初的决定,如今成为非法岛民。她倚在半开的木门上,抽着一跟烟,在一天的工作后显得一脸疲累,但是笑容柔和甜美,“我觉得已经找到我的幸福,这便是我想要的人生。”

 夏天她是一家餐馆的女招待 

而冬天没有游客的日子里,

 她就和渔夫一起打鱼。

Santorini是一个夏天里的美丽乐园,但是冬天来时,游客都走了,它变为一个被遗弃的雪白的孤岛,只有流浪的猫狗仍在。但是冬天对于Natalie,却是和渔夫一起打鱼的季节。

在这样的岛屿,住着那些知道或者不知道自己到底要什么的人。但是Santorini对于热爱一切美好事物的人来说,有着自己的生活步调,缓慢而且美好。

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当我离开Natalie的家时,渐渐已是黎明。走在这个火山小镇的边缘上,身边的大海正在初夏渐明的天光里醒来。我轻轻的将书店的门推开。Luke正睡的香甜。Raki,那只总是徘徊在书店的流浪小狗,静静的跟了我进来,跳上了一张床,便睡下了。

Santorini guide

This story originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Zing.

48小时短暂停留的西贡

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杜拉斯的西贡潮湿、闷热,是隐于人生海海闹声不绝的街市之中的小屋,《情人》中那个昏黄色调下的汗流不止的梁家辉赤裸的屁股。

街上带着青檬的酸味、鱼露的甜腥味、和油炸春卷混合在一起的那种越南独有的气味。

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2003年我曾在这西贡的街上好奇的探索这个混乱中带着莲花清香的城市,而2008年我也曾在西贡的廉价小旅馆短居,在雨季中看着雨水将街道淹没,在睡不着醒来的清晨,在阳台上看着渐明的天色抽过一支烟。

而在2013年的除夕,也曾在摩托车如潮水涌过的街上与万人一起新年倒数。

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与这个名叫西贡的热带城市,我似乎有着解不开的情结。反反复复的一去再去。

但每一次,都是不同。

The Myst Dong Khoi

2017年夏,西贡。

从船上下来后,在西贡的码头叫了一辆计程车,10分钟不到便到了这次要住的酒店。计程车司机以为我们要去的老派的酒店The Grand Hotel Saigon,将我们放在了那里,却不知那个乳白色大理石的The Grand Hotel Saigon的对面,就是今年才刚开的The Myst Dong Khoi

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从远处看,酒店像一个高耸的鸟巢,白色的高楼上是一块一块不同形状的分割,绿色的热带植物从这些分割里面长出来。

这可能是我在近年来在亚洲看到的最具有设计感的一个酒店的楼。而越南确实在以飞快的速度在设计和时髦这两件事上发生着巨大的变化。

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酒店大堂布置了许多厚重的实木家具,且种了许多热带植物,大玻璃门将大堂隔成里外两部分,里面是大堂,外面是开放的cafe。Check in的时候下起滂沱大雨,有人坐在cafe安静的喝着咖啡,也有鬼佬从雨里飞奔进来。前台为我们准备了冰的莲花茶和小点心,喝着莲花茶看着雨水大片的落下,让我觉得这样的西贡真是一个适宜短暂停留的地方。

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这家酒店的设计理念在于将西贡的历史与现代的设计相结合,在房间的设计和家具的选择都很东方,而在细节上则又有着北欧的简洁。唯一能让我想起做比较的也只有上海的The Puli

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从酒店外面看到的鸟巢一样的隔断,在房间的里面便是一间一间的阳台。带着jacuzzi和热带植物的阳台清新、简洁。将阳台门一推开时,西贡街上的嘈杂、摩托车声、人声以及炎热便扑面而来。这是西贡的极端所在。

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The Loft

西贡的雨季,说下雨便下雨。雨从空中倒下来时,只能随遇而安的在街边躲雨。于是误打误撞的进去了在第一区的一个街角的老楼里。看到许多附近上班的人上去吃饭,于是跟着上去。楼很老,让我想起从前上海的威海路696号没有拆掉时的感觉。里面隐藏了许多的店、咖啡馆和餐厅。

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在这家名叫The Loft的咖啡店吃简单的午饭,等雨停。西贡不像曼谷,并不是一个很大的城市,其实并没有太多的东西可以去看。西贡的特别在于它可以让你慢下来,在一个有着很大的钟的楼里喝杯莲花茶,等着雨停。但谁知道这雨什么时候才会停?

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Maison Marou Saigon

说起越南,所有人想到的先是越南咖啡:又黑又苦,再用黄油来加以烘培,于是带着浓浓的奶味。越南人爱甜,于是在越南滴漏咖啡中加入大量的炼乳,喝起来的咖啡又浓又甜,非常的极端。

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不过很少人知道越南除了产咖啡豆,也产可可。

这家位于西贡市中心的“匠人巧克力” Maison Marou是一个既时髦又好吃的越南本土巧克力品牌。被《纽约时报》誉为“你会吃到的最好吃的巧克力”。

在西贡的市中心歌剧院一带散步,可以看到这座城市有着法国式的优雅,又可以看到热带国家带着殖民风格的过往与剧烈发展中的痕迹。Maison Marou的所在是在一个art deco风格的老房子里。

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由两个法国人几年前在西贡创立,采用了来自湄公三角洲的小岛Tan Phu Dong出产的可可豆,发酵、在热带的阳光下晒干、烘培,再混入糖,制成液体状,然后入模,包装。

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Maison Marou从巧克力的包装到品牌的logo,再到店铺的室内设计,都是由西贡本土的一家创意公司rice creative完成,并加入了许多越南和西贡的传统元素。

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对我来说,有的城市真实可触,例如曼谷或者东京,而有的城市如西贡,则是更多的存在于我的想象中,充满了幻象。

坐清晨的飞机离开西贡。在去机场的计程车上经过尚且空旷宁静的街道,太阳还没有出来,而天还是凉的。在困倦与迷糊中,告别这一次48小时的短暂停留。而时间告诉我,有的事物、人、城市,都在短暂停留中更加美好。

在G城的Jenny Shen

当天气暖的可以将房间的大窗户完全推上去的时候,已经是四月了。

我坐在窗边的书桌前的藤椅上,将光着的双脚搁在窗台上吹风,将刚做好了一杯黑咖啡放在脚的旁边。下午4点的阳光从窗户照进来,散落在深绿色的地毯上一片金黄,风吹得窗帘微微的起伏。

刚下了班的我捧着一本杂志,细细的阅读,在这苏格兰四月的天光里享受着这一刻的宁静、干燥的空气、开始渐暖的气温、渐长的天光,还有独自生活在世界彼端的自在与隔离。

偶然在一个女生的博客上听到她用钢琴弹的一首《四月天》,技巧并不纯熟,弹得断断续续。

四月天

梅雨奄奄

在窗前

淋湿的燕

在屋檐

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苏格兰的4月天8点才日落,9点天才慢慢的暗下来,余下的天光仿佛江南七八月人们坐在家门口吃着西瓜乘凉说闲话时的那片淡蓝。而爱丁堡大学的The Meadows青草遍地,樱花开得正烂漫,沿着长长的小径走,风吹的粉红的花瓣到处飞,落得满地都是。

Edinburgh spring

在这样的四月天里,这首曲子却仿佛让我听到屋檐下滴滴答答的雨声。

弹曲子和写博客的女生叫做Jenny Shen,她住在隔壁城市的格拉斯哥,她把它叫做G城。

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Jenny Shen说她不上课的时候晚上会去当地的pub打工。化了烟熏妆的她在pub没什么人时会坐下来弹一点钢琴,她爱花她并不多的薪水去买贵的衣服。

她有一个很要好的朋友叫Taylor,两个女孩似乎爱着同一个男生,抑或是彼此。她偶尔提到她打工的pub里的英俊的苏格兰男人。她有一个住在上海的男朋友。

她有着大大的眼睛和长长的睫毛,照片里却总是低着头。她生活的G城阴暗,在我的印象里永远都在下着雨,有着灰暗的尖顶和哥特式的建筑。

Glasgow 3

后来我开始在乔治街106号的Starbucks做起Barista。有一天同事Julie告诉我,一个中国女孩在我下班了之后来店里找过我,并且留下了一本书给我。我想了很久都想不到可能是谁,只说在城中未有任何中国朋友。

包好的书并没有打开,而是忘在了Julie那里。

接下来的几日,Julie都忘记将东西带来给我。每日都催,却日日忘记。

Trouble

终于有一天在Starbucksstaff room里打开Julie的包时,看到的是一本厚厚的travel journal。几个月前我曾在G城的书店Boarder’s看到了,喜欢却觉得太贵而没有买的那本旅行手帐。封面上满满的都是移民入境的章,本子里面有可以插入相片跟明信片的口袋。

本子上写着“For Kapa”,落款是Jenny Shen。

她来找我,并没有事先告诉我。而她每次来我的E城,我们都未曾不期而遇。

当我终于见到G城的Jenny Shen的时候,几经是几年后的上海了。我们在进贤路上的Citizen Cafe里喝咖啡,她说起话来略微有点像周迅的smoky voice,有点哑哑的却很利落。此时我已移居上海,而她也已回到重庆。为了当时的男友,她往来上海与重庆之间。

有一年冬天,她回去了日思夜想的G城,租了一个朋友的朋友的公寓短住。我说对她说E城最美好的时候是在夏天,而她最忘不掉的却是下午4点天便全黑了的那个冬天的G城。

Glasgow 2

后来,她和男个男友分手了。再后来,她遇见了她现在的先生,生了一个女儿,取名叫安生。

在离开苏格兰后的数年里,Jenny Shen与我偶尔碰到会喝个咖啡。只是不再写博客的我们并不再知道对方生活里太多的细节了。只知道她常跟老公带着女儿去日本。

Edinburgh kitchen

像这样君子之交的朋友,并不会常常见面,可是在想起来的时候,却是那样的亲切。我对G城的记忆了了,可是每当我想起G城时便会想起那个弹着“四月天”的Jenny Shen,因为我转头看见的是那个四月天里坐在苏格兰的E城的大窗户旁边的自己:披头四的大海报贴在墙上,我的球鞋放在太阳底下晒,电脑里播着Jamie Cullum的歌。我把头探出窗外,望着无限延长的天光,虽然看不到未来,却把当下紧紧握在手中。

Edinburgh home

互相曾是彼此那一段生命里的见证,我想,Jenny Shen想到E城时,看到的也是那个当时的自己。

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那天我拿到本子的时候,我抱着它穿过Castle Street的市场,夜色已上。在6点钟的华灯下等公车时,脸上止不住的微笑。耳机里在放:

And I do believe it’s true that there are roads left in both of our shoes, But if the silence takes you then I hope it takes me too.

So brown eyes I hold you near, ’cause you’re the only song I want to hear

A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere.

身边坐的男人穿了绿色的苏格兰短裙。我仿佛从远处看见自己,坐在夜色的公车里,是芸芸终生中的一个。

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Jenny Shen在留下本子的那天,写了一篇博文,配的照片是她在计程车上回头的一幕。爱丁堡华灯初上的夜色如即将起帆的船,被海水的波澜托起,起止不断。

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