⟨ Book ⟩

The gem-like soap

Everyday Treasures by Koo Bohnchang

Text and Photography / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

Soap,肥皂,日文寫作石鹸,兩個字,形容它的形狀,也說明了它的化學特性。這小小的、散發著芳香的石頭,從來都不堅固,揉搓過、於濕氣裡,就會慢慢地溶化,變得越來越單薄瘦小。最後,它們或會融合在另一塊肥皂裡,或會突然掉進排水孔裡,卻甚少消失在我們手裡。

肥皂在誕生的一刻,使注定了要被消磨,這微不足道的日常用品,韓國攝影師具本昌卻視之為瑰寶,甚至稱之為「日常生活中的寶石」。他不愛肥皂在誕生之初時的光潔亮麗,獨愛它們在無盡的洗刷過後的滿臉風霜。生命已走過大半,它們有些看來奄奄一息,有些被乾燥的過程裡裂開來,再也禁不住多少消磨。具本昌決定用攝影將它們生命最美麗的一瞬捕捉下來,製作成這本名為《Everyday Treasures》的攝影集。書中每幀照片裡的肥皂,晶瑩且色澤如畫。翻看時不免疑惑,究竟自己錯過了多少日常美景。

Soap in Japanese is made up of two characters “石鹸” which literally stand for stone and alkaline. These two characters can well denote the shape and property of soap. This little stone of fragrance is actually not as substantial as it looks. A soap bar gradually melts itself smaller and thinner when being rubbed between our hands, until it merges into another piece of soap and disappears into the drainage. There is almost not a chance to use up the last bit of soap in our hands.

A bar of soap is made to be consumed into nothingness. But in the eyes of the Korean photographer Koo Bohnchang, this insignificant household item is a piece of treasure that he calls “the gem of everyday life”. He is not particularly fond of the silky quality of a new soap bar, it is, instead, the worn-out texture that draws his affection. Having consumed half of their lives, some soap bars appear to be at their last gasp, some are showing deep cracks due to dryness. Koo uses photography to capture a particular moment of their last beauty and compiled his work into this photography book Everyday Treasures. Every single piece of soap bar in the photos is beaming with vivid colors. Looking at this banal object in the new light, I wonder how many precious scenes I have missed in my everyday life?