The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days is a series of three exhibitions developed by Heman Chong that occur over three spaces and cities: Rossi & Rossi in Hong Kong, Future Perfect
in Singapore and The Reading Room in Bangkok. This series of exhibitions looks at his practice as both a maker of objects and a facilitator of situations, focusing on ideas and processes that sit at the intersection of multiple genres: visual art, performance, writing, installation and science fiction.
At Future Perfect, viewers encounter three of the artists recent works, each revealing aspects of his use of photography. The exhibition explores the multivalent role of the camera in Chongs practice and its precarious relationship with other artistic media.
'A Short Story About Singapore (Volume 1)' is one of many works by Chong that utilizes photography to construct large-scale archives. Abandoning high-end cameras in favour of the cheap laymans 'snapshot' camera, the artist distances himself from the role of technician. Instead, he uses pocket-sized cameras that may be used without attracting much attention from his subjects and surroundings. This new work sees Chong returning to photography as a means of constructing narrative. As suggested by the title, 'A Short Story About Singapore (Volume 1)' offers itself as a non-linear story to be 'read' by the viewer, played out over 100 images of Singapore.
'Telok Blangah Hill Park: A Survey' is a photo-essay 'written' by Chong in 2008. The work circulates as both an art object and an artist book, reducing the form of an exhibition into a portable, mobile state. Pauline J. Yao and Amanda Lee Koe write of the work: "Creating a photoessay of the walking experience in Telok Blangah Hill Park is but one way to convey a narrative; in this case, one that depicts the escalation of human intervention upon the natural environment. The subtext here is, of course, political, whereby mans manipulation of nature, not to mention encroaching, dominating presence, becomes a metaphor for the politically authoritarian structures of Singapore."
'Monument For A Mystical Reality' is a sculpture created by Chong on the occasion of this exhibition. Based on the seminal collaborative exhibition by Redza Piyadasa and Suleiman Esa, 'Towards a Mystical Reality' (1974), the artist revisits three works that were destroyed and discarded after that show, by way of photographic documentation. The works are: 'Empty canvas on which so many shadows have already fallen', 'Empty chair on which many persons have sat on' and 'Burnt-out mosquito coils used to keep away mosquitoes on the night of 25 March 1974'. This new piece opens a dialogue about the role of documentation in the making and exhibition of conceptual art and through reenactment, invites further investigation of the legacies of such practices in Southeast Asian art history.
A newly published monograph (with the same title as the exhibitions) is being launched at each of the exhibition openings. Through commissioned texts and explanations of selected projects produced between 2003 and 2012, the publication seeks to engage and unravel themes of fiction, futurism, language, representation, performance and circulation, via formulations of contemporary discourse that highlight their overlapping and circuitous nature. Such an approach is designed to situate Chongs practice within and across an array of disciplines (and to investigate the nature of genres), rather than evaluate his work in qualitative terms. Published by ArtAsiaPacific Magazine and edited by M+ Curator Pauline J. Yao, The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days features new essays by Nav Haq, Ahmad Mashadi, Claudia Pestana, and Tirdad Zolghadr, and an illustrated project index by Amanda Lee Koe and Pauline J. Yao.
Heman Chong is an artist, curator and writer whose conceptually-charged investigations into how individuals and communities imagine the future generate a multiplicity of objects, images, installations, situations and texts. He received his M.A in Communication Art & Design from The Royal College of Art, London in 2002. In 2006, he produced a writing workshop with Leif Magne Tangen at Project Arts Center in Dublin where they co-authored "PHILIP", a science fiction novel, with Mark Aerial Waller, Cosmin Costinas, Rosemary Heather, Francis McKee, David Reinfurt and Steve Rushton.
Chong has developed solo exhibitions at Wilkinson (London), Rossi & Rossi (London), SOTA Gallery (Singapore), NUS Museum (Singapore), Kunstverein Milano (Milan), Motive Gallery (Amsterdam), Hermes Third Floor (Singapore), Vitamin Creative Space (Guangzhou), Art In General (New York), Project Arts Centre (Dublin), Ellen de Bruijne Projects (Amsterdam), The Substation (Singapore), Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Sparwasser HQ (Berlin). His work has been shown extensively in group exhibitions at Sharjah Art Foundation, Taipei Contemporary Art Center, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, Kumho Museum of Art, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Kroeller-Muller Museum, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Nam June Paik Art Center, Gertrude Contemporary, Arnolfini, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Hamburger Bahnhof, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Kadist Art Foundation and Daejeon Museum of Art.
Chong has participated in numerous international biennales including the 7th Asia Pacific Triennale (2012), Performa 11 (2011), Momentum 6 (2011), Manifesta 8 (2010), the 2nd Singapore Biennale (2008), SCAPE Christchurch Biennale (2006), Busan Biennale (2004) and the 10th India Triennale (2000). He represented Singapore at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). His work has been featured prominently in international and regional publications such as A Prior, ArtAsiaPacific, Artforum International, ArtInfo, Art-iT, Art Lies, Frieze, LEAP, SITE and Visionaire.