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Ki-Bong Rhee: Bachelor - The Dual Body

Bachelor - The Dual Body, an installation in which a book of philosophy floats in an aquarium.
By Fumio Nanjo | Nov 2008

At the Singapore Biennale 2008 Ki-Bong Rhee has shown Bachelor - The Dual Body (2003), an installation in which a book of philosophy is thrown into an aquarium. In this closed, isolated environment, it dances around. This special copy of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s only book-length work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921), is made of leather so that it can endure long periods in the water. The book will neither rise to the surface nor sink to the bottom due to the currents of the water. It floats about playfully in the middle of the tank. It looks as if this classic text of Western European analytical philosophy is suspended in midair, coming loose from its bearings due to the waves of globalisation. The dancing motion suggests that Western logical thought is having fun; and so a lightness and humour comes across in the work. Perhaps, it shows that Europe, with its ideological history, is bewildered about the future. The artist states the following about the work: "In this work, I wanted the dream-like image to be dominant over the meaning or the material." It is a beautiful image, and simultaneously a meaningful and profound piece of work.

Ki-Bong Rhee’s art references the current crises of modern civilization, but he is not directly criticising the state of things. Instead he makes perceptive allusions, using them to search for a universal sense of values that can assimilate both materialistic and spiritual viewpoints.


Fumio Nanjo

Curator, art critic, lecturer. Director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. Artistic director of the 1st and the 2nd Singapore Biennials.

(Courtesy of the Singapore Biennale 2008. Text published in the event's guide.)

Bachelor - The Dual Body
Installation, 2003
Perspex, steel, water, book, water pump, light

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