Making Space: We Are Where We Aren’t @ Sekeping Sin Chew Kee

“Here space is everything, for time ceases to quicken memory. Memory – what a strange thing it is! – does not record concrete duration, in the Bergsonian sense of the word. We are unable to relive duration that has been destroyed. We can only think of it, in the line of an abstract time that is deprived of all thickness. The finest specimens of fossilized duration concretized as a result of long sojourn, are to be found in and through space. The unconscious abides. Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are. To localize a memory in time is merely a matter for the biographer and only corresponds to a sort of external history, for external use, to be communicated to others. But hermeneutics, which is more profound than biography, must determine the centers of fate by ridding history of its conjunctive temporal tissue, which has no action on our fates. For a knowledge of intimacy, localization in the spaces of our intimacy is more urgent than determination of dates.”
 - La Poétique de l'Espace, Gaston Bachelard (1958) [translated by M. Jolas, 1969], p.9

Installation view and video captures of Okui Lala – As If, Home (2014)

The Kuala Lumpur segment of Run and Learn – The Japan Foundation’s regional curator development program – engages the public with a simple yet effectve device. Curator Ong Jo-Lene transforms an artist’s problem – space – into a general concern for all human beings. Expanse is defned in visual terms, hence the spatial theme is a natural fit for a visual art exhbtion, notwithstandng its philosophcal enquiries. Centred on a derelct buildng-turned-guesthouse, works exhbited inside are often overshadowed by the open-plan archtecture, which interiors revel in natural light and upcycled stuff. Outsde, found stories at bus stops and a vertcal garden maskng a urinal engage an unsuspecting public, and the openng night party turned this old part of town into a happenng locale, "at least for one night".

KONTAK! – Peetilizer (2014)

Transparent walls and shuttered windows invite the neighbour’s roving eyes, as visitors peek into a delightfully mordant installation featuring love letters, traced drawings, and waxed hair. The non-private bedroom echoes Engku Iman’s works tinged with absurd yet acerbic humour, as the sound of a train rumble past, half the time courtesy of Goh Lee Kwang. More visible are the living quarters of the venue’s migrant neighbours, this view offering an effective juxtaposition to Okui Lala’s staged analogy about home. Bernice Chauly’s sentimental poems bedeck a double bed overlaid with tissue, each paper marked with words in quadrants by Daniel Chong. As one who thinks in threes, it is fascinating to see thoughts grouped in fours. The flimsy material used, is a perfect representation of what ideas are – take time to settle, hard to grasp, dilute when layered, and difficult to sustain.

Daniel Chong – The Limits of My Imagination (2015)

Making sense of “Making Space”, inspired by ‘The Limits of My Imagination’

Text accompanying Goh Lee Kwang – No Sound is Private (2015)

Why is sp__c__ regarded as a premium in the c__ty? Does it stem from an inn__r need to claim personal sp__c__? Will broadening one’s horizons mitigate th__s need? Does a capitalist mindset contribute to the v__lue attributed to physical sp__c__, or is it a feud__l legacy? Is privacy just a n__tion to exert p__w__r and restrain dissent? Is unseen sp__c__, sp__c__? Jo-Lene proposes three definitions in the exhibition foreword, “(s)pace is a means of production, an object of consumption, and a political instrument.” A reviewer suggests three sp__c__s, “…ruang penampakan, ruang representasi dan juga ruang penggunaan mampu dipersoalkan…” All questions and statements w__rth pondering about, in a privately-owned sp__c__ without much privacy, as I make a note to w__tch out for the Firecracker Crow the n__xt time I eat at Soong Kee.

Installation view of ‘Kissing Pig’ and location map for Zedeck Siew w/ Maung Day & Sharon Chin – Local Fauna (2014)

“Naturally, the problems of causality of smallness have been analyzed by sensory psychology. In a perfectly positive way, the psychologist carefully determines the different thresholds at which the various sense organs go into action. These thresholds may differ with different persons, but there is no contesting their reality. In fact, the idea of threshold is one of the most clearly objective ideas in modem psychology.” [p.174]
“Even figuratively, nothing that concerns intimacy can be shut in, nor is it possible to fit into one another, for purposes of designating depth, impressions that continue to surge up.” [p.220]
- The Poetics of Space (La Poétique de l'Espace), Gaston Bachelard (1958)

Installation snapshots of Engku Iman – Aku Keturunanmu Perempuan (2015)

“Outside and inside form a dialectic of division, the obvious geometry of which blinds us as soon as we bring it into play in metaphorical domains. It has the sharpness of the dialectics of yes and no, which decides everything. Unless one is careful, it is made into a basis of images that govern all thoughts of positive and negative. Logicians draw circles that overlap or exclude each other, and all their rules immediately become clear. Philosophers, when confronted with outside and inside, think in terms of being and non-being. Thus profound metaphysics is rooted in an implicit geometry which – whether we will or no – confers spatiality upon thought; if a metaphysician could not draw, what would he think? Open and closed, for him, are thoughts. They are metaphors that he attaches to everything, even to his systems.”
- The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard (1958) [translated by M. Jolas, 1969], p.211

[On floor] Test print of Jeffrey Lim – Door Left, Door Right (2015) in Sekeping Sin Chew Kee


  1. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for visiting the exhibition and reviewing the show in such an exceptional structure. Your words on my work are very close to my intention. There are also other personal motivations too. When you say you normally think in 3s, may I know what you meant? Is it the trinity / thesis-antithesis-synthesis/lacanian models?

    I have a page where I have many media related images. Hope you find time to browse. There's one related to the art of looking at art.

  2. Daniel, thanks.

    "think in threes" is more an assumption or life rule based on personal observation, that all things break down to 3 co-existing elements. Your squares reminded that I should not be complacent in this long-running ideology, and in choosing the bagua to document thoughts (by convenience), more possibilities have emerged that are worth introspection.

    Thanks for the FB page recommendation, will browse when done with "Culture Time" - these infographics alone may be too much to consume.


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