Started in 2003, Stacks is an ongoing sculptural project in which Heman Chong depicts banal everyday items — a glass or mug, a bottle of perfume — atop a stack of books.
Produced once per year, each work’s title derives from the book titles contained therein; for example: Black Holes & Time Warps, The Possibility of an Island, The Practice of Everyday Life, Voyage to the End of the Room (all, 2006). As sculptures, each stack of books is intended for display directly on the floor instead of upon plinths or shelves. This serves to remind viewers of the works’ modest beginnings and to detract from assumptions that these mundane items are being elevated to the status of art object. It also keeps them resolutely human-scaled — a relevance that is important, given that the books and glassware comprising each stack are direct representa-tions of items the artist has consumed in the previous year. In this sense, they are both a punctuation mark — announcing the end of one phase in life and the beginning of another — and allegorical totems to Chong’s recent past. Stacks also reflects the artist’s predilection for using art to point, recommend or redirect toward something else outside the immediate frame. These works may be seen as periodic self-portraits or conceptual mixtapes — but they also draw important parallels between every-day forms of consumption and the consumption of knowledge. In another light, they demonstrate Chong’s commitment to conceptualism by reassembling, rearrang-ing and bringing attention to what is already present.
Text by Amanda Lee Koe, Writer, Fiction Editor of Esquire Singapore; text originally published in Heman Chong’s monograph: Heman Chong: The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days.