Prologue LEE WENG CHOY When the five of us – Adele Tan, Lucy Davis, Ray Langenbach, June Yap and I – were invited to contribute to this publication, we each began in the usual way, planning our respective contributions as individual essays. However, as we talked amongst ourselves, the prospect of writing collaboratively was raised, and we all took to the idea. It made sense, given the subject matter. How should one tell a story about Lee Wen and his art? – well, certainly not in a conventional way. And so we devised to write, not so much a ‘group essay’, but a series of interconnecting texts as a group. Our reference point was the Surrealist game of the ‘Exquisite Corpse’, in which the first participant in a group of artists would create a drawing or text, fold it over, and then pass it to another artist, who, blind to the previous contribution, adds another section and in turn passes it on. We decided against the blind approach, but kept with the notion of intervening into each other’s texts. This more collaborative, dialogical, experimental and playful form of writing we felt was an appropriate way to embody the collaborative, dialogical, experimental and playful ethos of Lee Wen’s art. We each chose to discuss specific aspects and themes in Lee Wen’s body of work, but, as a way of organising our project, we also chose a specific body part as well. As the reader will see in our various texts, anatomy figures centrally in Lee Wen’s practice, and taking on these separate organs was – for us, at any rate – a useful way of approaching and making sense of the artist’s oeuvre. Our choices were far from comprehensive or obvious; for instance, we’ve left out the heart and the head. This is what we’ve got: Adele has chosen to speak about the ear; for Lucy it’s a kind of limb, wings; Ray speaks of the spine, and June, the feet, while I am concerned with the liver. Other parts get a mention here and there, such as the skin, mouth and eyes. The first five texts the reader encounters are our opening remarks. We then respond to these texts in either of two ways: (i) as an intervention within the space of these five opening texts, or (ii) as a second text on its own, a commentary that reflects on all our opening remarks as a whole (this is the case with both June and Lucy). These various texts have been laid out in a particular sequence so that the reader may approach them in a linear fashion. But the reader is also encouraged to engage the texts in multiple directions, given that the commentaries criss-cross each other and our different voices layer one another.
Preceding & facing page: Anthropometry Revision #4, 2006, video stills, video shot by Chua Chye Teck, digital manipulation by Muhammad Izdiharuddin. Presented at Lee Wen's MA Fine Arts graduation exhibition, at the LASALLE College of Fine Arts.
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Published on Apr 1, 2013
"Lee Wen: Variations On The Exquisite Body" written by Lucy Davis, Ray Langenbach, Lee Weng Choy, Adele Tan and June Yap. Lead essay of Sing...