2020 04 05 / These Extraordinary Times with Heman Chong


LP: How has your daily routine changed?

HC: Since 1997, I’ve never had a studio and have always worked where I live, eat and sleep. That’s why a lot of the work I make looks and feels the way they are. There is a sense that the things I make are light, mobile and are attempts at becoming immaterial. For example, a short story that is taught by an instructor to someone who has signed up to memorise it; performance as publishing. The one thing that has changed is that I’m absolutely paranoid about heading out to a bookshop or even to the supermarket or for a walk.

LP: Many artists work in solitude ordinarily. How has isolation or social distancing affected you in these times?

HC: I like touching books and it’s really difficult for me to feel uncomfortable touching anything in a bookshop or a library. I’m not big on meeting up with friends that much. Maybe once or twice a month I’ll see my friends but to be honest, it’s not such a big deal for me. I’m comfortable with relating to someone exclusively on WhatsApp.

LP: If there is any silver lining, what is it?

HC: I believe that we’re in the midst of an extinction event and there’s absolutely no one to blame but ourselves. I know many friends who are climate scientists and many of them have concluded that we’re way past the point of ’saving the earth’ and whatever measures we are employing now are just slowing down the apocalypse. So yeah. Silver lining?

LP: Make up your own question and answer it.

HC: I can’t think of a question but I’ve always loved this joke Sherrie Levine wrote in the brochure that accompanied her show at the Whitney in 2010.

She wrote :

A hot dog walks into a bar and says: I’d like a beer.

The bartender says: I’m sorry, sir, we don’t serve food here.