What Happens When a Man is Swallowed By a Whale? is a site-specific installation exploring the ethics of hospitality through deconstruction in art form, inspired by the biblical story Jonah being swallowed by a whale. This installation is accompanied by an improvised poem written and sound of whales.

As a former hotelier with over a decade of experience in hospitality, I was shocked when I encountered a statement made by French philosopher Jacque Derrida “We do not know what hospitality is. Not yet. Not yet, but will we ever know?”.

I attempted to decode the statement through visualising Derrida’s deconstruction theory on unconditional and conditional hospitality. By “deconstructing” a scenario where the acts of hospitality can be complex and difficult, I wish to raise questions on how one should react when encountering strangers, new-comers, foreigners, immigrants, refugees and orphans etc.

When they arrive at your door step, what would you do?

Through the creative process, I have come to realise that the word “hospitality” is a word with self-contradiction within itself. 

Hospitality – A Word With Self-Limitation Within The word “hospitality” is derived from Latin:

Hospes + Pets:  = to have power
Hospes: rooted from “hostis”, originally meant “stranger” and later took the meaning of “hostile” – the enemy.
Pets: contain the words potis/ potes, together carry the meaning of "capable", “potentia” means power) 

I wish to invite viewers to explore in depth the word Hospitality beyond its textual meaning, and enquire times when encountering issues related to strangers, new-comers, foreigners, immigrants, refugees and so on.

An Improvised Poem

Original sketch
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