The catalogue for Heman Chong's first solo museum exhibition in mainland China, at the Rockbund Art Museum, provides an insightful and critical look into the Singaporean artist's recent practice. The series of works focuses on issues related to language, book culture, and reading. The publication includes a piece of semifiction by Chong's collaborator, the lawyer and science-fiction writer Ken Liu.
To address the centrality of language, books, and the act of reading in Chong's oeuvre, this publication features newly commissioned texts from a variety of contributors: an introduction by museum director Larys Frogier, and essays by the exhibition's curator Li Qi, Hong Kong–based curator and critic Pauline J. Yao, and New York–based curator Weng Xiaoyu. These are rounded out with a piece of semifiction by Ken Liu, Boston-based lawyer, science-fiction writer, and translator, who played a central role in realizing Legal Bookshop (Shanghai), one of the works featured in the exhibition. Ifs, Ands, or Buts is illustrated with images of the entirety of works included in the show at Rockbund Art Museum reproduced alongside documentation of Chong's correspondence and collaboration with Liu, as well as a section dedicated to the humorous tabloid stories from Chong's work Papaya Daily.
Heman Chong (born 1977 in Muar, Malaysia, lives and works in Singapore) is an artist and writer whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations and writing. His work continuously interrogates the many functions of the production of narratives in our everyday lives.