Benched is celebrating the perennial (missed) opportunity to be a player.    

Borrowing a personal narrative of the artist's first crush towards a water polo schoolmate back in early 2000s, the installation-performance highlight the conflict of the reserved and most likely unrecognized. The works capitalize on a potentially preordained failure and the slowly diminishing chance of winning- eg. growing older.

A pale wooden bench hovers heavily on a pool-like paper collage. The randomly yet individually colored pattern of water polo balls create an uneven surface, almost like wavy water frozen in time. Ironically, due to the nature of the material, its fragility, the surface seems to flatten over time, in a sedated pace yet steady.

The making process too is time-consuming as each individual segment are cut, colored, arranged and weaved into a larger illusion. However it was time well-spent down the nostalgic laps. The collage becomes a pool of memory, fragmented yet in unison.

On the bench sits a masculine figure wearing what hints a benched swimmer or water polo player. the performer is idle yet seems agitated at times as the long duration performance often results in boredom. He/she kills time by slothfully scratching the bench, making marks of his/her own. The performer is waiting- quite literally like the assigned character- a player waiting to be part of a game.  The body then stares blankly, but attentively and with the deafening stillness, almost composing a Hopperesque solitude.

The figure creates an active addition to the work, as the body creates a contrasting vertical axis, enhancing the living aspect of the installation. His/her breathing is also usually heavy, creating minute heaving motions while being oblivious to the surrounding audience. It was theatrical, staged and characterized yet the responses are entirely natural.

The performer appears sporadically over the course of the exhibition. Once he is a man and another, a woman- but they share a trait- a masculine figure. While the muse is without a doubt male, the performer is androgynous. The irrelevancy of the performer's gender is an attempt to question masculinity itself- especially in relation to same-sex attraction and within the geneneral understanding of queer spectacles.

The live aspect is not limited to the breathing body but also his/her companion- a dummy cake. Sitting likewise idly on the white bench, a fondant covered foam starts smoothly clean. Candles are place on it throughout the duration, lighted and their minute flames are performing by themselves. As the days go by, the cake is slowly engulfed in wax, turning it unappetizing. It seems like a clear indication of time, synonymous with adulthood.

The flames are miniature yet they are somewhat romantic. They are alive, flickering and enticing, filling the absence of the human body within the space. Their residues often drip onto the collage, creates layers of fragility that is contrasted with the hardened wax that might attempts to mimic body liquid. 

The cake is documented daily- almost like a diary entry of an adolescent. The photographs are of direct reference to the artist's high school crush recent photo where he is now a baker. Posing headless with his cake on hand, it is as if he is making an offering. A reconciliation perhaps.

Benched is perennial. It is neither closing a chapter nor starting one. It is simply an act of waiting, an attempt to be patient of an (missed) opportunity. It is reflected upon the ever evolving stage of the work. The exhibition is not the final product but a continuation of the progress from the artist's studio. It is however continuously failing and despite so, worth celebrating.

installation - Benched

photographs - Benched


The Benched