January 29, 2016 - Rockbund Art Museum - Heman Chong: Ifs, Ands, or Buts
January 29, 2016

Rockbund Art Museum

Heman Chong, The Mysterious Island, 2016. Wood, plastic, iron wire, silk fabric, paint. Courtesy of Rockbund Art Museum.

Heman Chong
Ifs, Ands, or Buts
January 23–May 3, 2016

Rockbund Art Museum
No.20 Huqiu Road


This is a short story about a gossip column called "Papaya Daily." For ten years, the journalist penned the column for a newspaper. Over time, his daily column became a popular novelty for readers of the newspaper. But little did they know that the stories he wrote were a mix of fact and fiction and that most of them were based on blatant lies. Readers were addicted; they needed small but spectacular escapes from their daily lives. His editor was a lazy old man who refused to fact-check anything the writers brought in. Therefore, he was free to make up most of his stories based on small bits and pieces he would gather from old magazines and newspapers, updating the stories with slight changes and small twists. For ten years, he wrote whatever he wanted. 

Days before his death, the writer gave specific instructions to a very close friend of his about how he would like his last novel to be published. The five parts within the novel would each be published as different books, at a rate of one a year. He had a clear idea of the order of the parts to be published. These instructions were later overturned by his literary executor, without a clear reason. Nobody will ever know the entire truth of the matter. Just think of the six blind men and the elephant. 

One of the most innovative and highly successful fundraising programs of a public zoo exists at the Bronx Zoo in the USA. Since 2011, every year during the lead up to Valentine’s Day, you can name a cockroach at the Bronx Zoo in New York after one of your ex-lovers for a mere 10 USD. 

This is a conversation that happened between an American US senator and a general from the Philippines about the official seal of the United Nations. We all know what it looks like. It has a world map with a radar-like grid cast over it, flanked by two Greek laurels. Apparently, the Filipino general had the chance to look at it before it was finalized and threw a fit, screaming “where is the Philippines on the map?” The US Senator who was tasked with the design meekly replied, “I’m sorry. It’s too small to be included. If we put in the Philippines it would be no more than a dot," to which the Filipino general shouted back, even louder, “I want that dot!" Today, if you look closely at the UN seal, you will find a tiny dot between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. 

From today onwards, all references to time travel will be banned on official media, including all films and television programs. This is a reaction to a situation where many young girls are attempting to travel back in time to find the love of their lives, a historical character who only exists in a television drama. In the drama series, a girl accidentally time-travels when she jumps off a building, falling into a wormhole. She wakes up and finds herself in the 16th century and was later embroiled in a heated romance with the lead character. Since then, there have been at least 300 time travel attempts by girls in the country, with numerous fatalities.

Rockbund Art Museum
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Ifs, Ands, or Buts
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