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Indepth Arts News:

"Heman Chong's The Silver Sessions"
2003-12-11 until 2003-12-28
Kuenstlerhaus Bethanien
Berlin, , DE Germany

Heman Chong's The Silver Sessions features a new body of work signifying a radical shift in the artist's transdisciplinary practice. Seven objects comprise The Silver Sessions, creating a dialogue that conveys the temporality experienced by Chong in a year-long residency. The Silver Sessions is Chong's first solo show in Germany since exhibiting at Sparwasser HQ (1) and the In-Transit Festival at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2).

In an interview with London-based art critic Dean Summers, Chong describes The Silver Sessions as such: "The fact of being a "resident" for a year in an institution such as The Künstlerhaus Bethanien explictly defines me as a character in a time-based situation. Working along this idea, I have imagined myself as a protagonist in Berlin, creating these seven objects that are, more or less, what I've come to understand as "cinema objects".... these objects play with the relationships between my own identity and the identity of my imagination, which I have come to see as different entities."

The experience of "Very bright Indeed" is one where visitors navigate a white cube anchored on a massive wall structure. The cube culminates with a locked door, transmitting white light through a fusillade of fluorescent tubes. The enigmatic non-passage of this work immediately suggests the transient nature of an artist residency while evoking the illuminating effect that often arises from such an experience. It is a physical enactment that alludes to a rite of passage for many artists, and is a particularly significant component of Chong's exhibit during the final stages of his residency at the Bethanien.

The temporal structure "200 misused chairs from an institution" and the book "500 blows" express the notions of institutional abuse. 200 chairs are extracted from every corner of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, leaving empty spaces next to tables and resulting in despair for many people. The chairs are then stacked from floor to ceiling in a corner in the space, rendering all of them useless. A collection of abstract bitmaps derived from pornographic images is put on view as "500 blows", the result of overtime work by the laser printers in the Bethanien. This collection is placed on a shelf which is positioned at a height that can be accessed with a chair, creating a performative situation out of the viewer's interaction with the piece.

Also present in The Silver Sessions are two new video sculptures entitled "Winners" and "Winter". These multi-channel videos, extensions of Chong's work from the 50th Venice Biennale (3), are displayed on monitors positioned on top of black, wooden structures. The videos are continuations of a long term process of working with contemporary dance on video. The presence of the body is suggested with images, creating haunting personas within the space.

"Pop song chair" and "Extra Perfect Wash" can be best described as a photographic sound diptych whereby visitors sit on a chair, listen to a CD of pop songs, and view a photograph of a neon sign in a automatic car wash baring the words "Extra Perfect Wash" inscribed as a promise.

Based in Berlin and Singapore, Heman Chong is a transdisciplinary artist working in video installations, graphics, photography, sound, and text. Murmurmurmurmurmur, Chong's installation piece commissioned for the Singapore pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale, received rave reviews, and is currently on global tour. It has been exhibited at TAMA Art Gallery (Tokyo), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Fukuoka), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (Denver); 2004 dates include the Chiang Mai Museum (Chiang Mai), National Gallery Bangkok (Bangkok), and Dahlem Museum (Berlin). A new video-essay, "The Social Seduction", will be presented with Sparwasser HQ in the Hamburger Bahnhof, as part of the exhibition "Berlin-North" in January 2004.

Heman Chong
Murmurmurmurmurmur (Venezia/Accademia Remix), 2003
DVD installation, variable dimensions

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