Perhaps the real work of Lim Tzay Chuen was not the bullet. Perhaps the real work was something even smaller than that. Perhaps the real work was the idea of firing the bullet itself circulating directly from brain to brain, taking root in the mind of anyone in contact with it.
From the fourth of Ho Tzu Nyen’s ‘4x4 Episodes of Singapore Art’ (2005), a nationally broadcast series of short films that narrated key junctures in the development of art in Singapore, Episode 4: Lim Tzay Chuen: The Invisible Artwork (2005) presented an unrealized artwork that would have entailed the firing of a single bullet from a military range into a gallery wall one kilometre away.
In my first year as a philosophy undergraduate, I was introduced to the problem of evil. Either a genuine expression of departmental rigour or, as I believe, a brutal but efficient method of culling, this contributed to a substantial drop in the number of students who went on to read the subject in their second year. Beyond its attrition of starry-eyed undergraduates, the topic foregrounded the undertaking of difficult questions. That art makes visible seems clichéd, but it is the possibility of arriving at insights, even unsettling ones, that makes the pursuit of art worthwhile and necessary.
First published in Issue 200