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Heman Chong at the Third Floor

The End Depends On The Beginning…

Singaporian artist Heman Chong (born 1977) represented Singapore at the Venice Biennale in 2003. In 2008 he was the guest of Third Floor, for his first solo exhibition in Singapore since 2004 – a mysterious, light-filled, conceptual installation.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Heman Chong at the Third Floor
© Edward Hendricks/C I and A Photography

Inspired by the last lines of novels by a number of different writers (Murakami, Jeanette Winterson, Kobo Abe, J.M. Coetzee, Olaf Stapledon, Michel Houellebecq, Thomas Bernhard…), Heman Chong explores our reasons and methodology for imagining the future. Fascinated by the concept of finality, and the ends of things (in this case, novels), his installation featured a wall of novel climaxes, its brilliant white contrasting with the black display surface against which it stands. Visitors were encouraged to appropriate the wall's texts.

Further along, three maps of Germany were outlined and cross-hatched in neon. Behind a series of artifical trees painted black, 3,000 self-adhesive stickers in the form of inverted teardrops were arranged in a continuous pattern on three long walls enclosing the exhibition space – describing a landscape, a figure, an event, a moment in time, depending on the spectator's point of view. Lastly, a huge, dazzling frame contained the image of an exploding star.

Epilogue or conclusion? Does the end depend on the begining, or vice versa? "I don't know if this is a happy ending, but here we are let loose in open fields," says Jeannette Winterson, in the last line of her novel Written on the Body – an ending that perfectly illustrates Heman Chong's conceptual journey. Only through knowledge can a person solve the mysteries that surround him.

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