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A PLACE Lau Thiam Kok


For every war is a secret war, known only to those who were there. Whatever you say, however you say it, you can never explain that despite the fire, the fear, the smoke, the chaos, the killing, the madness and the loss, there exists something far beyond the trite accounting of collective risk and mortality: the best-kept secret of battle - the shared and terrible love of it all. Anthony Loyd, Another Bloody Love Letter; 2007.

Even if the world - where we’re held back by others - is not going to last, I still have a place to go. 11.11.2007, 10:03 pm, Sun.


1 Being with you is being in the same country with you, living in one country with you. However I am alone now, you are everywhere in the country, you become everything; the passages, the buildings, the monuments, the ruins; the trees, the fields, the rivers, and the mountains; the language that belongs here; the voices of the passers-by; the accents they have; you diffuse into them. However I am alone now, as far as I live in the same country with you I am with you everyday.

2 Walking through this city I remember I used to turn around and smile when I heard your voice calling my name keenly through the stranger sea. Every time I heard it I learnt it by heart. But many times now I hear familiar voices say my name as they used to and I still turn around and smile only every time I do the only voice that I do miss in the familiar stranger sea is yours.

3 I do not wish to go across the borders of this country however we are separated by the passages, the buildings, the monuments, the ruins; the trees, the fields, the rivers, and the mountains that make borders and counties; by imagining you living on the other side of the same country, however we are separated, on this side of the country, every time I glance, every time I look upon the same sky we share I fall for you.

4 There are many places we said we wanted to go together when we were young but it’s only that hill I managed to walk up - by myself. Many nights I reached its top to watch its unchanging valley where it kept a wish of mine that we might come together to walk this hill and going to a place where we could rest our heads like the house I return to every night with my fatigued body.

5 Now I don’t go to that hill anymore because I am old and you are gone far away, only I will try to look for it from my window or others’ where I can see many hills, houses, fields, ruins, and trees, and I cannot find that hill of course, but only look in the distance and all these distances become the place I run to when the dark rises, when I want your ghost to come to warm my winter sky and watch my summer stars.

1. Country, 05.09.2006, 11:46 pm, Tue. 2. City, 12.10.2006, 1:42 pm, Thu. 3. Border, 05.09.2006, 11:46 pm, Tue. 4. House, 29.07.2007, 1:08 am, Sun. 5. Window, 07.02.2007, 4:33 pm, Tue. Edited on 20.04.2008, 5:09 pm, Sun.

The act of imagination is a magical act. Jean-Paul Sartre, The Imaginary; 1940.

LAU THIAM KOK uses language to create imaginary landscapes; times and dates to unfold events, spaces, and places through his work. His interest is philosophical. The production of his writings is an attempt to set out universal truths that can be understood intellectually. His writing is fiction, therefore the events in his texts may not necessarily exist in the real world or might be modified and amplified to achieve poetic effects. This fiction centres on a transcendental aesthetic. It is not an imitation of persons, but of actions and of life that can be engaged universally in a similar process of recognition and understanding. A PLACE aims in this basic structure to theoreticalise our place whether physical or imaginary. This project aims to set the book free to travel from place to place. Leave it at any corner of your city, on a park bench, at a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation, at a bus shelter, on the seat of the bus on your journey home, or the bookshelf at your house - anywhere it can find a place which can become its canvas. Then join the online flickr group to watch this book in the place where you either found or left it: com/groups/placeproject/

A PLACE was commissioned by Plymouth Arts Centre as part of the Artists and Curators Residency Programme and is co-published with DUST as its companion book in a series of artists’ books by Portfolio Five Ltd in association with Proof magazine. Special thanks to Kate Jago, Tim Parker and Paula Orrell.;

LAU THIAM KOK was born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1975. His studies include a Bachelor of Applied Arts at University Malaysia Sarawak (1996 - 1999), and an MSc in Digital Futures at the Institute of Digital Art and Technology, University of Plymouth, UK (2002 2003). He was a participant in the Breeze Scheme, BBC South West (2005). He is currently artist-in-residence at Plymouth Arts Centre and a freelance web designer.

A PLACE Lau Thiam Kok Š 2008 Published by Portfolio Five Ltd/ ISBN 0-948081-11-2/ Proof magazine, in association with Plymouth Arts Centre

Lau Thiam Kok © 2008

A place - Proof  
A place - Proof