2016. Steel, wood, calcium silicate panels, pigment, concrete, mica, salt; sound (4:18 seconds)
Singapore Biennale Affiliate Project. Solo exhibition commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, curated by Melanie Pocock and Bala Starr. Supported by LWC Alliance
"The installation is most simply described as one space superimposed upon another. The artist introduces four new walls that intersect the Earl Lu Gallery, appearing to slip in and out of its existing perimeter. This new rectangle is not uniform along its length. As a spatial enclosure, it varies from skeletal metal framing to a solid surface coated in dark concrete render. Widjaja’s four walls counter the free-form geometry of the existing gallery plan—which he finds ‘disorienting’ and ‘insubstantial’ —with a sober, rectilinear form. The position of the hut is carefully rationalized, distributed around a notional centre point that is equidistant from three existing columns. At this centre point is a parabolic speaker, which plays a sound piece created for the work.
The installation is a quiet, dark eminence—a sort of ka’aba at the centre of what Widjaja calls his ‘internal architectures’. It is an object around which a series of biographical–experiential structures are related, where buildings and selves stand in a process of co-creation. Widjaja believes that these structures can be ‘unpacked’, can be ‘mapped’. Black—Hut, then, stands as an analogue to the famous hut on the frontispiece of the abbé Marc-Antoine Laugier’s Essai sur l’architecture (1753): an explorative outpost, the first shelter in an expansive psychic wilderness."
Excerpt from exhibition catalogue essay 'Skin Deep' by Joshua Comaroff. Read catalogue.
"This theme, the distortion of bodies on grids (and vice versa) reappears one more time, when the visitor reaches the centre of the hut. Here, a parabolic speaker plays a composition that has been created specifically for the work. This sound piece is not immediately comprehensible. It is perceptible as the product of an analogue instrument: a string, perhaps, or a vibrating surface. However, the original sounds have clearly been manipulated to lose some of their integrity—they slur and dilate in the manner of George Harrison’s reversed guitar in The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow never knows’.
The instrument is the metallophone of an Indonesian gamelan. Widjaja has digitally manipulated the sound, quantizing the notes into a slow, regular pulse. The traditional timing of this ensemble, which appears to expand and contract against conventional tempo, has been rationalized. Widjaja describes this operation as ‘taking a body—for example a skeleton, and reshaping it so that all of the bones are distributed on a grid’. The sound loop depicts the outcome, the physical logic of an organic music being distorted by the requirements of an imposed, alien system.
This operation, like the form of the hut and its cladding, is neither about perfection nor distortion—Widjaja seems to reject both of these historical antecedents in the relation of bodies to buildings. Rather, superposition creates a space of inquiry, and a mode of play. Different forms of organic composition, and their incomplete adaptation to the productive logic of the technical, express a shifting dialectic of terms, a search for the architectures of the personal."
Excerpt from 'Skin Deep' by Joshua Comaroff.
View video responding to Black—Hut by Harry Chew, filmed over 24 hours in the gallery.
Priyanka Ghosh. A Guide to Singapore Art Week. Culturetrip, 23 Jan 2017. Web.
Helmi Yusof. Scene still sizzles after art stage. The Business Times, 20 Jan 2017: 24. Print.
Bruce Quek. Boedi Widjaja: Black Hut. LEAP, Issue 42, 10 Jan 2017. Web.
Susie Wong. The Black Hut. d+a, Issue 95 2016/2017: 116-119. Print.