Heman Chong’s (b. 1977, Malaysia, raised in Singapore) cultural work is situated at the intersection between image, performance, situations, and writing. Through intimate interrogation and intervention, Chong investigates the function of everyday infrastructure as a political medium. This conceptual preoccupation is best exhibited in his series Foreign Affairs (2018).
Foreign Affairs is a series of photographs of embassy backdoors. The systematic repetition of images simultaneously recalls a cinematic frame and the omnipresence of the surveillance camera that watches nothing and everything. Each image of a backdoor can be read as infrastructural. These banal representations are the threshold of the exceptional space of the embassy, which is the physical manifestation of an agreement between two states of individual sovereignty. They implicitly point to society’s natural fears of ‘back door’ agreements, actors invisibly and insidiously pulling the strings behind the veil of the everyday.
Chong’s proclivity for elevating every day is also exhibited in his 2018 series Abstracts From The Straits Times, basing the works on a cache of online, print-ready PDFs creating repetitive, unreadable abstractions from Singapore’s daily newspaper. As a result, Chong comments on the current media landscape policed by the expanded understandings of political correctness, accusations of ‘fake news,’ trials of public opinion, and ‘deep-fake’ technology.
Due to these conceptual preoccupations, Chong’s work remains at the forefront of contemporary art discourse.
His work is included in the public collections of Art Sonje Center, Kadist Art Foundation, M+ Museum, The National Museum of Art Osaka, NUS Museum, Rockbund Art Museum, Singapore Art Museum and Weserburg Museum.
Heman Chong has exhibited in countless shows across the world.