THE END DEPENDS ON THE BEGINNING. THE BEGINNING DEPENDS ON THE END. by Heman Chong

implosion of fiction in black and white.

Not exactly a re-reading of Douglas Adam’s humorous sci-fi Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the truistic vision of the title of the exhibition may baffle some, but intrigue those familiar with the written works by Jeanette Winterson, or Haruki Murakami. The artist has created 6 new works for this exhibition, continuing the artist’s “investigation into philosophies, reasons and methods of individuals and communities imagining the future.” (extract from curatorial text by Emi Eu, guest curator at STPI).

The works rest their weight on the shoulders of contemporary writers, creating a similar poetic gesture, clean, minimal and graphic in black/white and grey tones. The space is darkened and lit with cold fluorescent, arranged in 3 parts, beginning from Teardrop in room 1, Star, Ends, Territory, Plants in room 2, and Corridor in part 3. Well arranged, the conceptual pieces imagine different futures, plugged in by our own imaginations, no doubt bleak and bleached by the melodramatic black walls. The works could also be considered as complex symbols or signs of the future, driven by the artist’s own crystal ball gazing and dreams.

Teardrop, suggests google-map like markers, icons representational of ‘tear drops’ or avatars/figures left standing. A world without colour, or a world without racism by (skin) colour, these 3000 stickers are arranged to look like stalactites in a limestone cave, glistering in the cold light. After watching apocalyptic hollywood films like I am Legend (2007), starring Will Smith, I am almost instantaneously convinced of the piece’s warning message.

Stars implodes, like holding one’s breath and feeling our ear drums tingling. The gallery sitter mentioned that it looked a bit like the imperial Death-Star in George Lucas’ Star Wars. Relating this to the title of the exhibition, one cannot help but think about physicist Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and his big bang theory that started life in the universe. If all life started with a big bang, perhaps it would go, as one. Implosion means “crushed from the outside in”, perhaps the universe and life (as we know it) will be consumed not by the big bang, but by our egos and naive understanding of it.

Territory, 3 parts of a ‘representation of an invaded imaginary territory,’ hums quietly. The work reminds me of the global fear of terror, not against religions, but against fear itself. It is curiously repeated 3 times, like most computer games that give you ‘three lives’; the ominous number 3 suggests hope and longevity to the superstitious.

Like all good fictions, the true artist intention, or ‘ending’ is ambiguous. The starting, it should be noted, is also ambiguous. I had entered the gallery expecting the apocalyptic, oracular and prophetic. Like prediction balls, they very much depend on the question we ask. In all seriousness, This exhibition is cleverly constructed to linger, anchored by one’s own imagination. It can be appreciated for it’s sleek execution or clever cyclical logic, which eventually implodes on itself when no (fictional) worlds are left to describe it.

Exhibition from May 22nd to July 13th, 2008
10:30am to 7:30pm daily, free admission
Third Floor-Hermès, 541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers

8.0 of 10 stars as soon as i get my hands on a copy of Philip.

THE END DEPENDS ON THE BEGINNING. THE BEGINNING DEPENDS ON THE END.

Other links:
Artist’s website: http://www.hemanchong.com/

http://www.philipville.com

http://www.frieze.com/issue/print_back/philip/

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