Please Do Not Sit - A Show About Chairs
Rimbun Dahan 2022
A Few Words on the Subtle Subversions of ‘Please Do Not Sit’
by Eddin Khoo
Perhaps the most significant (if silent) revolution that swept our part of the world was the act of lifting our haunches from the sensuous pose of the crosslegged, and the settling of ourselves onto the flat bottom of a chair. First, there was the act of redefining the body’s curvature- a radical adjustment to the anatomy; then, the evolution of a different kind of skill, or craftsmanship- initially, with the principal material of wood, later with leather, steel, and finally into that gross matter of sameness- the ubiquitous plastic. It is the transformation of this deceptively utilitarian artifact into chronicler of collective behavior, anatomy, social status and class, pretension to taste, intimation of memory, object of farce and pornography, which marks the assemblage that makes up Dhavinder Singh’s Please Do Not Sit.
The title itself is a clever conceit, subverted most glaringly by a contrary call (command?) to ‘Please Sit’ on a folded contraption of cold steel; it is also a seduction to memory that at the same time endures subversion- the common classroom college chair turned kinky (Kerusi Kinki) and the commonplace folding chair transformed into a part chair-part table suitably emblazoned in the patterns of a chess board and snarkishly entitled Bilateral Ties… in this, our age, of the culture of kejar kerusi (chasing chairs). There is the exploration of the body- sometimes abashed, other times unabashed, in Open.
For all that ranges in these chairs, from the sardonic to the erotic, there is always also the heaviness of memory- of family, and inheritance. A grandmother’s bequest- an almaira which serves as a cupboard of painful curiosities, including the skull of a dead cat sets the mood for the laconic, as does the suggestively entitled Masuk Kelambu- a wooden arm chair draped in a mosquito net evocatively resembling a veil. An allusion throughout the assemblage is of the absent maker invoked in a miniature chair placed in that cabinet of curiosities that serves as homage to Agus Bima, an Indonesian carpenter. Utility Please Do Not Sit appears to say, is a stagger towards our inexorable forgetfulness; on that ‘plateau’- the chair- that the Roman peasant-poet Virgil described as “God having given us this ease.”