8 Jul-3 Sep 2023
The Library of Unread Books is a travelling public library initiated by artist Heman Chong and producer and registrar Renée Staal. It is made up of a collection of books that have been left unread by their previous owners. With a revelation of books that people choose not to read, the showcase is a collective gesture that addresses the distribution, access, and surplus of knowledge.
Inspired by the novelist and scholar, Umberto Eco who famously called for an “Antilibrary” of unread books –the interactive artwork brings to light the value of unread books and how it can act as a humbling research medium, containing knowledge and information waiting to be discovered.
Within the spaces of Blank Canvas, this collection of unread books puts an emphasis on shared knowledge exchanged between readers and visitors, challenging the notion of community spaces within and throughout the city.
In this session, artist Heman Chong shared a curated collection of work developed between the year 1999 – 2023 that revolved around the movement of ideas from object to person, person to object, object to person; and in turn, traced the path of transmissions between these touchpoints. These are often stories involving chance, luck, and accidents; often resulting in bizarre, unexpected, and surprising situations that are almost always funny, but melancholic at the same time.
Heman Chong is an artist whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations, and writing. His practice can be read as imagining, interrogative and sometimes as an intervention into infrastructure as an everyday medium of politics.
His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at STPI, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Weserburg Museum, Jameel Arts Center, Swiss Institute New York, Art in Gxeneral, Artsonje Center, Rockbund Art Museum, South London Gallery, NUS Museum, amongst many others.
Renée Staal is a Singapore-based Collection Manager and Registrar. She has worked at art institutions and architecture practices in Singapore, The Netherlands and the United States. She has contributed to numerous artist-run projects and co-founded The Library of Unread Books with Heman Chong in 2016.