HAPPENINGText: Rachel Alexis Xu

Challenging the linear notion of time, Li Huai’s Breath-Taking elevates space beyond the day-to-day realm and invites the individual to reflect on the forces of chronology. Held at The Substation Singapore from 21 June through 18 July, the thought-provoking installation consisted of 200 portraits.

One enters the stark white exhibition space and is greeted by walls adorned with fastidiously arranged plastic bags hung side by side, each encasing an abstract portrait labeled with a surname and nothing more.


The bare minimalism of the room as well as the plethora of portraits achieves an almost subliminal effect in which the spectator is removed from his own reality and thrusted into what seems to be another person’s mind. The exhibition serves as a keen reflection of life- a showcase of the deluge of faces that pass by your mind’s eye, some significant, some soon forgotten. Akin to laying out the varying imprints left behind by the people who have crossed our paths, the installation looks at the impact of memory on the present and posits the idea of remembering and its subjectivity.

The utilization of differing mediums such as acrylic and Chinese ink pays homage to Li Huai’s interest in the increasing cultural interaction between the East and West. The question posited by the exhibition, however, transcends any cultural or geographical boundary. Breath-Taking strips and conglomerates time into a single space. Strewn memories lie in a single room melding past, present and future together, questioning our distinct compartmentalization of time and hints that the past may never necessarily be something we will forget and entirely let go of.

Breath-Taking by Li Huai
Date: June 21st- July 18th 2010
Place: The Substation Gallery
Address: 45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936
Tel: +65 6337 7535

Text: Rachel Alexis Xu

[Help wanted] Inviting volunteer staff / pro bono for contribution and translation. Please e-mail to us.