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哈瓦那:霓虹燈之城半世紀后重煥昔日光彩

Is Havana getting a makeover?
哈瓦那:霓虹燈之城半世紀后重煥昔日光彩

In the mid-1900s, Havana twinkled with thousands of technicolour tubes of neon. The city’s glitterati flocked to grand theatres glowing with multi-coloured facades. Bars thrumming with jukebox tunes beckoned Habaneros inside with flashing signs. And on the city streets, the seductive curves and chrome of American-made cars glinted in the neon-lit night. Havana was a city shining in decadence, culture and art.

20世紀中期的哈瓦那,成千上萬盞霓虹燈管閃閃發光;門面燈光斑斕閃耀的大劇院令名流們流連忘返;燈牌標志亮眼的酒吧里,自動點唱機傳出的歌聲吸引著哈瓦那人。城市的街道上停著美國進口的汽車,汽車動人的線條設計和鍍鉻光澤,在霓虹燈點亮的夜里閃爍著。曾幾何時,哈瓦那是這樣一個閃耀的城市,充斥著醉生夢死、文化和藝術。

But following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution, government regulations and different economic priorities forced many of Havana’s swanky venues to shutter, leaving their neon signs to go black with them. Decades of economic turmoil and tight trade restrictions under the US embargo have made it difficult to repair these rusted relics, and Havana’s once-bright signs have all but faded from memory.

卡斯特羅(Fidel Castro)1959年的革命之后,迫于政府法規和經濟重心的轉變,很多哈瓦那的時髦場所只得關閉,霓虹燈標志也從此不再閃耀。接踵而來的美國貿易禁令,古巴陷入數十年來的經濟動蕩和嚴厲的貿易制裁。要修復這些閃耀的遺跡也就變得十分困難。哈瓦那曾經閃亮多彩的燈牌,差不多也隨著記憶慢慢被人們所淡忘了。

Now, more than half a century later, a Cuban artist is switching the city’s vintage neon tubes back on and relighting Havana’s streetscapes for the city’s 500th birthday in 2019. During the past three years, artist Kadir López has been painstakingly rescuing and restoring the city's vintage signs one by one as part of his Habana Light Neon + Signs project. So far, he and his team have resurrected more than 50 signs to their former glory. And, nearly 40 years after it closed, López re-opened Havana’s famous Rex Cinema in April as the new REX Neon Center.

在半個世紀后的今天,有一位古巴藝術家將城市古早的霓虹燈管重新安裝了回去,點亮了哈瓦那街景,并以此來慶祝這座城市的第500個生日。過去3年里,藝術家洛佩茲(Kadir López)苦心孤詣,一一尋求城市復古招牌的拯救方式和修復的門道。這是他的藝術項目“哈瓦那霓虹燈光+燈牌”的一部分內容。截至目前,洛佩茲的團隊已經修復了50余塊霓虹燈招牌,讓它們重現了舊日的風采。4月,洛佩茲還重新開放了40多年前的哈瓦著名的雷克斯電影院(Rex Cinema),并將之重新起名為雷克斯霓虹中心(REX Neon Center)。

“Neon has illuminated the dark and allowed people to see what they didn’t see before,” López told me as we sat in the REX. “The effect of neon is phenomenal. People are looking at the city in a different way. With a little bit of light, locals can see the city’s wrinkles and the light of history.”

在雷克斯中心,洛佩茲告訴我說:“霓虹燈能夠照亮黑暗,給人們帶來全新的景象。它能帶來十分驚人的效果。人們現在看待哈瓦那的方式不同了,只要有一點光,哈瓦那人就能夠看到這個城市的歷史紋路和光亮。”

From the 1930s to 1950s, when bars, boudoirs and burlesque lured the mafia, the rich and the libertine to Cuba, Havana was ablaze with neon signs advertising bawdy theatre, sequinned showgirls, Golden Age celluloid, restaurants and other businesses. Havana had its own Broadway – named Calle 23 – and more than 140 cinemas (more than New York and Paris had at the time), all gleaming with neon.

上世紀30到50年代,酒吧、女士閨房和劇院吸引黑手黨、闊佬、花花公子來到古巴尋歡作樂,此時的哈瓦那許許多多的霓虹燈牌,照亮了喧囂的劇院、身著亮片的歌舞女郎、黃金時代的電影院和餐館等等。哈瓦那有自己的百老匯卡萊23(Calle 23)和140多家電影院,比當時的紐約和巴黎的電影院還要多。所有的電影院都閃爍著霓虹燈光。

In the 1960s, after the Communist Cuban Revolution closed and nationalised corporate American businesses, Castro’s new government invested in ballet, art, theatre and film, but not in the city’s ageing streets and architecture. Havana’s high-voltage signs were torn down or left to wither in situ like dead fireflies.

上世紀60年代,古巴革命爆發,美資公司被迫關閉,被政府沒收國有化。卡斯特羅新政府雖然也投資芭蕾、藝術、戲劇和電影等,但他們沒有投資這座城市古老的街道和建筑。哈瓦那形形色色的霓虹燈牌,不是被拆除,就是在原處廢棄,像死去的螢火蟲一樣不再發光。

But thanks to the state’s increased legalisation of private businesses, property sales and foreign investment within the last decade, a growing number of Havana entrepreneurs have begun commissioning neon signs for their new businesses. This newfound commercial interest, coupled with financing from international sponsors for individual signs, has led López’s restoration project to slowly begin re-lighting the once-bright neon signs adorning state-run theatres, cinemas and restaurants that had gone dark in recent decades.

由于過去10年,古巴政府逐漸容許私營企業經營、房地產交易以及國外資本的投資,越來越多的哈瓦那的企業主開始招標,找人為他們的商店制作霓虹燈牌。這是一個全新的商業市場,加之有海外贊助人提供資金支持,洛佩茲的燈牌修復計劃開始漸漸有進展,恢復了一些霓虹燈牌,這些霓虹燈曾經在國營劇院、電影院和餐館的門面上閃閃發光,距今已經黯淡了數十年時間。

López woos potential sponsors with the line “These are abandoned creatures [that] need adopting”.

為了招徠潛在的客戶,洛佩茲打出了這樣的廣告:“[霓虹燈牌]這些曾經被古巴拋棄的生靈,需要有人能來領養”。

Restoring these neon relics is a painstaking process. Once López and his team receive a commission, they set up scaffolding to carefully remove and lower the old sign with rope. They then place it in the back of a pickup truck, drive it back to López’s workshop in the Kohly neighbourhood and begin slowly removing any rust before heating the tubes to bend the letters perfectly back into place. Restoring one sign may take between two or three weeks, depending on the condition of the sign and the complexity of each design. Once the sign is repaired, they’ll drive it back and resurrect it in its original location.

要修復這些霓虹燈牌并不容易。團隊一接到訂單,就要搭建好腳手架,小心翼翼地將舊燈牌用繩索降下來。隨后,他們把燈牌裝在皮卡車車兜里,運回洛佩茲在科里(Kohly)街區的工作室。隨后,他們便要一點點去除燈牌上的銹跡,所有銹跡清理干凈之后,才能加熱燈管,將燈管彎曲成所需要的字母。修復一塊燈牌,根據燈牌自身狀況和設計因素,需要大概兩三周的時間。燈牌修復完成后,再運回去,放在原來的位置上,如此讓霓虹燈牌起死回生。

Like delicate filigree, López’s bright signs are also helping to shine a light on Havana’s wealth of Baroque, Art Deco and Spanish colonial facades. His team is currently restoring the gloriously curlicue Fin de Siglo sign on the eponymous department store on Galiano Street, signs for the San Rafael Boulevard and the entire neon constellation at the city's famous Tropicana Cabaret. In the past three years, López and his team have restored sparkling tubes for Central Park’s Hotel Inglaterra, the Cine El Mégano theatre and the storied Mella Theatre. Some 150 additional neon signs have been commissioned for restoration.

洛佩茲修復的霓虹燈牌就像金銀絲飾品一樣,彰顯了哈瓦那豐富的巴洛克風格、裝飾派藝術風格、以及西班牙殖民風格的建筑藝術。目前,洛佩茲的團隊正在修復加利安諾大街同名百貨商店的 “世紀之末”(Fin de Siglo)燈牌,這是一塊花體字燈牌,十分華麗。他們正在修復的還有圣拉斐爾大道的霓虹燈,以及哈瓦那著名舞廳“熱帶歌舞女郎”(Tropicana Cabaret)的霓虹燈管群。過去3年里,洛佩茲的團隊已經為中央公園的英格蘭酒店(Hotel Inglaterra)、埃爾梅加諾劇院(Cine El Mégano)和梅拉劇院(Mella Theatre)修復過燈牌。此外他們一共還接了150塊霓虹燈牌的修復訂單。

López grew up in Havana, whose streets were littered with rusted and burnt-out signs, but it wasn't until 10 years ago that he became interested in using old signage in his art work – a journey that eventually led him to neon. López began salvaging American petrol station signs from Havana backyards and layering them with 1950s archival photographs. He also began sifting through old maps, albums, letters and discarded signs around Cuba. Some of these signs sported the tell-tale puncture holes of neon tubes. López then took pictures of Havana theatre and cinema facades and translated these snapshots into oil on large-scale canvases for a series displayed during the 2012 Havana Biennial.

洛佩茲在哈瓦那長大,當時街道上常看見不是已經生銹,就是已經燒壞的霓虹燈。10年前,他對將這些舊燈牌應用到自己的藝術作品之中產生興趣,這最終將他引上了修復霓虹燈的道路。他開始在哈瓦那人的后院里搜集美國加油站的燈牌,然后將其和50年代的檔案照片歸類放在一起。他也開始在古巴各地搜尋和篩選舊地圖、舊唱片、舊信件,以及丟棄的招牌。其中一些招牌上有霓虹燈管的穿孔。然后,他又拍攝了哈瓦那各個劇院和影院的建筑外觀,并將這些照片轉印成系列大型油畫,在2012年哈瓦那雙年展期間展出。

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López continued to be intrigued by the puncture holes after the 2012 exhibition, and began thinking about incorporating neon into his art. “My training had all been classic, in the durability of art, so I found it hard to define neon as art,” he said. “The light of the neon – a gas in a tube that can’t escape – is akin to putting something in jail where it dies. But then I thought, that same light, the neon, gives a chance to illuminate and make change.”

展出結束后,洛佩茲的興趣轉移到了打孔藝術上,同時也開始思考如何把霓虹燈運用到自己的作品之中。他說:“我所接受的藝術培訓都是經典流派的,更多在于表現藝術的耐久性。因此,非要說霓虹燈是一種藝術,我自己也很難接受。霓虹燈之所以能發光,是因為人們將稀有氣體放入了密閉的管道之中,就像是把東西關進監獄里,讓其慢慢死去。但后來我想,同樣的霓虹燈光,也能帶來光明、帶來改變。”

In a country that produces very little, forcing thousands to go bulk shopping in Miami and Panama for everything from spare tools to paint, López wondered how he could make neon with limited materials. But his light-bulb moment came when he tracked down two Cuban glass workers and began repairing existing tubes using old tools discovered in Havana. A fortuitous meeting with Cuban-American neon sign restorer Adolfo Nodal and an introduction to Jeff Friedman of New York’s Let There Be Neon studio forged the perfect fit. With Nodal’s background and Friedman's expertise, logistics and donated supplies, López’s Habana Light Neon + Signs project was born.

古巴生產力落后,從備用工具到油漆,所有東西都要到邁阿密或者巴拿馬批量買入。如何在材料有限的情況下制作霓虹燈,是當時讓洛佩茲十分頭疼的問題。有一回,他正在尋找兩個古巴玻璃工匠,并開始用現成的舊工具修復起了哈瓦那的舊燈管,這時機遇來到。偶然的一次機會,他遇到了以修復霓虹燈為業的古巴裔美國人諾達爾(Adolfo Nodal),此外經人介紹他認識了紐約"要有霓虹燈"(Let There Be Neon)工作室的弗萊德曼(Jeff Friedman)。這兩次機遇促成了完美的結果。有了諾達爾的技術背景和弗萊德曼的專業知識、后勤和資金支援,洛佩茲的“哈瓦那霓虹燈光+燈牌”計劃開始起步。

López converted his backyard in Havana into a workshop. It soon took on the appearance of an unkempt graveyard with signs, wires and jumbled neon. He was at the point of quitting when he learned that Cuba’s first multiplex theatre, the 1938-built Rex Cinema, could be rented from the government. Undeterred by decades of stacked sewage inside the abandoned 650-sq-m space, López and a team of construction workers began restoring the Rex and the adjacent former Cine Duplex, transforming the two into the new multipurpose REX Neon Center.

洛佩茲把哈瓦那住所的后院改建成了工作坊。其后院很快就亂如墳場,到處堆放著各種燈牌、線纜,以及混雜的霓虹燈管。有一段時間,洛佩茲幾乎要放棄了,但突然得知古巴的第一家多功能劇院,即1938年建成的雷克斯電影院,政府將開放租賃。這個面積達650平方米已荒廢的電影院,堆積了幾十年的污水垃圾。洛佩茲沒有望而卻步,他和施工團隊一起修復了雷克斯電影院和旁邊的并聯影院(Cine Duplex),并把兩者合而為一,全新的多功能雷克斯霓虹中心隨之誕生了。

In addition to housing a dazzling display of restored signs, the newly opened centre features displays about Havana's neon heritage and an array of old neon lights. The former Cine Duplex will feature a lecture space, a theatre to screen films about art and a gallery featuring the work of Cuban artists. A production centre with an in-house glass worker is set to open in the future. The hope, according to López and Nodal, is to interest young Cubans in neon light work.

雷克斯霓虹中心除了陳列令人眼花繚亂的修復好的燈牌,還展示哈瓦那的霓虹燈文化遺產,以及一系列舊的霓虹燈。從前的并聯影院,以后會改成一個講演廳,和一個放映藝術電影的劇院,以及一個展示古巴藝術家作品的展覽廳。未來還會開放生產中心,里面會配備一個室內玻璃工匠。洛佩茲和諾達爾希望以此吸引古巴的青年人,讓他們投身霓虹燈相關的產業之中。

Nodal’s backstory could not be more perfect to help spark Havana’s neon revolution. He spent 25 years restoring 300 signs in Los Angeles, driving the streets “like the neon police,” he said. These days, when Nodal is in Havana working on the project with López, he spends his time sifting the streets in search of forlorn dangling signs. “We want to protect them now as people will take them down,” he said.

諾達爾的故事最能激發哈瓦那的霓虹革命。他在洛杉磯做了25年的霓虹燈修復工作,修復了300個霓虹燈,他說,他的作品猶如"霓虹警察"般裝點著洛杉磯的街道。當前,諾達爾在哈瓦那給洛佩茲的計劃幫忙。他經常在街道上尋找落單的燈牌。他說:“現在有人想拆除燈牌,我們希望給予保護。”

“The ultimate goal is to bring back a sense of light in the public realm,” Nodal said. “It’s great to see an artist changing the way a city looks.”

諾達爾說:“我們的最高目標,就是把過去霓虹燈光燦爛的場景重新帶回大眾的視野之中。藝術家們努力改變城市形象,讓我覺得很欣慰。”

I left the REX, walking past the blinking scarlet-red Cinecito sign towards the ice-blue letters signalling the Inglaterra and set up my camera to capture these treasures glowing in the dusk. The street was thronged with tourists and locals, and as they strolled under the neon signs fronting the city’s theatres, cinemas and cocktail bars, Havana never seemed to shine brighter.

從雷克斯霓虹中心離開后,我前往英格蘭酒店那冰藍色的燈牌,途中路過了閃爍著猩紅燈光的影院燈牌。寫有英格蘭字母的燈牌在黃昏下發著藍光,我拿出相機拍下這薄暮時分燈光閃耀的美景。大街上游客和當地居民熙來攘往,絡繹不絕。他們在劇院、影院和酒吧閃耀的霓虹燈牌之下信步閑逛,這時的哈瓦那是格外的亮眼。

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