Book Recommendations by: Lai Yu Tong
Hello, Yu Tong! Can you recommend us some books?
1. An unreliable guidebook to jewellery, Lisa Walker
I like when artists do not take themselves too seriously when they talk about their work and Lisa Walker is very good at that. I like that the fonts in the book are super big and she often doesn't say much. I haven't thought much about jewellery before but was amazed by her practice. It is one that is rigorous but yet modest and one that spans many decades.
Living in Singapore, the works of Robert Zhao have always had a special place in my heart. This is a series that I like, for the painterly qualities of his photographs of mynas at night. The work plays daringly with the form of the book, with many pages that are almost fully black, occasionally punctuated by these birds that I am quite fond of. The work can be read both politically and poetically.
3. Autoprogettazione?, Enzo Mari
This is an important book for me and flipping through it from time to time opens my mind up a lot. I think we are drawn to such manuals often not because we are actually going to make these things but because they offer to us the possibility of making them. I like the idea of teaching people how to build, and I find it can be quite empowering. The late author, Enzo Mari is also an enigmatic figure who often overthinks and sometimes regrets his work or the way people interpret his designs. His frustrations remind me of the beauty, complexity and struggle of creative endeavours.
What is your most treasured book?
My most treasured book is a little inconspicuous booklet printed in single colour silvery-greyish ink, with perhaps 8–10 pages of just clouds and vultures flying. Staple-bound with no text, no title, no artist name. Over the years, I will sometimes think of this book and panic as I try to find it. I lose a lot of my stuff even at home, but miraculously I am always able to find this book again. I got it from a Felix Gonzalez-Torres exhibition many years back.
Recommend us a song!
Guilty Cubicles by Broken Social Scene
Somehow people seem to ask me this question a lot and I am consistent with my answer. If I recall correctly, this song is about the band arriving in a foreign place at night while on tour and walking the streets finding a place to stay. Looking up at all these homes and windows lit up at night, all these guilty cubicles. Listening to this song is an intense experience for me, I'm not sure whether it's happy or sad, or how to feel.
Thank you, Yu Tong!
Lai Yu Tong is an artist based in Singapore. He is interested in the forms and feelings of everyday life. He makes works about the things he sees, things he eats, things he buys, things he throws away, and other things.