⟨ Book ⟩

The bun of homesickness

Baker Salon by Ting Cheng

Words / Jas Tse
Photography / Ti Pi Tin
Translation / Iris Heung

你有沒有過,將某些情感轉移到一件物件、一個行為、一件事上面,然後從那件事上收獲了另一種感受。鄭婷的攝影書《Baker Salon》就是這種吧。這是本裝幀得像童書,共32頁印刷在厚卡紙上的書,是攝影集也是食譜。如果用邏輯去閱讀似乎會白費作者的心機,它就是一本私密的解鄉愁日誌,即使人人目的相同,方法也天差地別。

鄭婷是台灣攝影師,2010年移居到倫敦,生活久了鄉愁不止,尤其想念家的味道,於是想要自己揉麵團做饅頭。饅頭的英文是「bun」,跟很多西式麵包與髮辮同名。她最初上網查食譜時輸入「bun」便同時彈出許多麵包與髮辮的圖片,便想到以此為題發展出一個攝影計劃。鄭婷說自己喜歡抽離看待生活,退後才有更清晰的感知,會成就創作,而「把無聊當有趣的過程」就是其中一道偏方。

她開始研究把麵包烤成辮子狀,再練習把它編到髮辮裡。因為這個計劃而四出尋找拍攝對象,到對方的家烤麵包,再把麵包編到他們的頭髮上,這畫面光想也夠幽默。為不熟悉的對方編髮這種親密舉動,在互動中去除彼此的尷尬生澀,或許正悄悄填滿身處異鄉的空洞。

在讀鄭婷過往的訪問時,發現她喜歡已故德國現代舞大師Pina Bausch,不禁讓我想到其名句「You just have to get crazier!」對其愛慕,鄭婷如此說:「雖然不知道舞蹈和攝影有什麼聯繫,但不管用什麼媒介,我希望可以像她的作品一樣 —— 誠實、幽默、又風情萬種。」

Have you ever tried projecting a certain emotion onto an object, a behavior or an action, and as a result, that emotion transformed into another feeling? This experience can well be a description for Ting Cheng’s photobook, Baker Salon. Although this 32-page cardboard printed book somehow resembles a cookbook, it is, in fact, an intimate journal that helped to sooth the homesick photographer. People who are away from home have their unique way to overcome homesickness.

Ting Cheng, the Taiwanese photographer who moved to London in 2010, began to suffer from homesickness and missed the tastes of the food from home. She therefore tried to knead her own dough for mantou. Mantou can as well be called steamed bun in English. When she looked up “bun” recipes online, many of the results came out as western bread or a tight roll of hair, which are also called “bun”. This coincidence led her begin her photography project. As told by Ting, she intends to view her life from a distanced angle so as to get a better clarity, which in turn stimulates her creativity. One of her non-conventional ways of seeing things is to see the fun from nonsense.

She then began to practise making braided bread and clipping them onto an actual hair braid. The photoshooting process sounds rather hilarious — Ting would visit the models’ home to bake and clip the bread to their hair. Braiding hair for total strangers surprisingly lessened the awkwardness between Ting and the models; this, perhaps, even made her feel less misplaced on a foreign land.

When reading Ting’s interviews, I realized she is a fan of the late German master of contemporary dance, Pina Bausch. This reminded me of her famous quote, “You just have to get crazier!” Mentioning her adore for Pina, Ting said, “I am not sure about the relationship between dance and photography; regardless of the medium of expression, I wish my works could be like hers, which are honest, humourous and charming.”