Posted on August 10 2018
A freak solar flare on a magnitude nobody has experienced before has wrecked the Earth’s natural environment, causing volcanic eruptions and devastating oceanic activity. Infrastructure all around the world collapsed as a result and many lost their lives to the freak disaster. The world’s population was somehow reduced to its bare minimum following the end of the devastation. Only 4,169 people remain around the globe, just enough to repopulate Earth.
Following the disaster, only one woman remains in Singapore. With the 20 books she has scavenged, she has decided to set up what probably is the last remaining bookstore on earth. The rest of the bookstore is outfitted with other scavenged bits: a few paintings, an old television, a spare radio that is constantly trying to reach somebody else out there, and other bits and bobs. Everyday she waits for someone, anyone, to reach her bookstore while she finds solace in what she has. Thus begins The World’s Loneliest Bookstore.
The World’s Loneliest Bookstore explores the implications of a post-apocalyptic world: If the world was just reduced to its minimum viable population, would there still be a need for books? Would anyone want to visit a bookstore while facing the bigger issue of just surviving? Would this make it the world’s loneliest bookstore in existence?
From 3rd to 19th August 2018 at Block 7 Gillman Barracks, The World’s Loneliest Bookstore is an immersive exhibition featuring various artworks of different mediums by various artists.
Exploring the concept of loneliness in children, our exhibition features paintings by Odelia Tang, as well as a thousand-crane installation floor piece that includes personal messages and recounts from individuals she has interviewed who have shared their experiences of loneliness. This installation piece covers nearly the entire lengths of two parking lots and greets visitors immediately upon entrance.
Jean Ferry’s Sky Kave is a suspended projection screen and a ‘Kave’ floor - specially crafted platform chairs equipped with tactile sound transducers that enables the transmission of sound frequencies into physical vibrations. The platform chairs target different parts of the body with different ranges of frequencies. Visitors go into a small room one at a time, making this experience both personal and a journey that must be embarked on in solitude.
Other installations, done by the BooksActually team, serve as items that the bookstore lady has collected whilst searching the island for what little remains. At the end of all things, simple objects we normally would overlook, like plants and shells, are lined up on display as the last signs and proof of life. A large nest made of twigs, meticulously fashioned by owner Kenny Leck, sits in the midst of it all, emblematic of an amplified and gaping emptiness in the now-disrupted cyclical nature of life. Hundreds of lost keys that once belonged to hundreds of citizens on our small island are put on display and free for visitors to take - each with a unique and personal address of the person it would have belonged to once upon a livelier time.
In this day and age of uncertainty, global warming and climate change, The World’s Loneliest Bookstore explores what it might be like when our universe finally decides to take us into it’s own arms and when we, from dust formed, are to dust, returned. But even with the apocalypse aside and more applicably so in our current day, The World’s Loneliest Bookstore serves as our celebration of Art and love of Literature, and most poignantly as a reminder that the loneliness we face as individuals is something experienced by so many others. There are barriers to break and bridges of communication and trust to build, but we are never alone in our aloneness — we are always, always, alone together.
By Cheryl Tan