Singaporean artist Heman Chong often draws references from a multitude of things that we do not usually classify within the same group. He is able to place modernist literature such as Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, alongside something as banal as Mr. Bean and The Road Runner, and even the gossip newspaper Apple Daily as if they belong together. "Ifs, Ands, or Buts" can be interpreted as a fiction which may never be put into words. A fiction that is absurd and bizarre, one that is equipped with a sardonic, black humor, where different situations find themselves misplaced in the realm between reality and fantasy.
The exhibition begins with a site specific installation entitled Legal Bookshop (Shanghai). It involves the displacement of the gift shop with a bookshop. For this work, Chong hired Ken Liu, a lawyer who is also an award-winning author and translator of speculative fiction via email. Chong wrote, as an invitation:“I would like you to select books that touches on the idea of the law; including both fiction and non-fiction books. They can be textbooks that law students use for their studies, books that lawyers use for reference, copies of the legal acts in China, novels where characters get entangled with the law, books that touch on the history of the law, maybe even books on scientific laws. I want you to interpret the idea of ‘the law’ when you think about this list.” The choice of books is solely Liu’s. Chong’s involvement is merely to invite him to participate by selecting the books, all of which will be available for sale at this temporary bookshop.
Rockbund Art Museum Website