Muar-born, Singapore-based artist Heman Chong has always been interested in books and writing. In the past, his work often questions the function of the production of the narrative in our everyday lives. Chong has presented internationally, in places as diverse as London to Seoul, New York to Bangkok, and of course, Singapore, not to mention plenty of biennales. Concerns in his exhibitions range from the act of reading, to the object of the book itself, particularly with second hand books rejected from libraries and later discarded, only to be rediscovered by new eyes later on.
This November, teaming up with Theatreworks, Chong will be presenting an all new installation art piece at 72-13, which will be especially appealing to insomniacs and night owls out there. Why you ask? The reason is simple: Because, The Night opens only from 10pm – 4am each day!
Heman: I must have re-read Roberto Bolano’s 2666 at least six times over. I have immense respect for this book, this last novel from Bolano. It remained unfinished. According to his publisher, a month before he died, Bolano himself said that there was over a thousand pages that had to be revised. He was very sick for a very long time. Everything in this novel is about death, dying or the dead. In a way, this book is the starting point for this bookshop. The novel, somehow, pointed me to the title, which is appropriate from a song sung by Patti Smith (but actually written by Bruce Springsteen).
Heman: I’ve given up on expecting anything in life years ago after a huge panic attack in Hong Kong so I’m really not expecting anything. I feel very strongly that our world today is full of ‘do this, don’t do that’ and I don’t want to add to these kinds of instructive mode so my advice is to people who are coming to the bookshop : Do whatever the f*** you want.
But I can tell you something very important which is that I am a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut and he wrote up these rules for writing, and one of them, which I adhere to as doctrine is “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.” The moral of the story is: I’m not f***ing with you.