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b. 1976, Singapore

Ho Tzu Nyen Biography

Ho Tzu Nyen was born in Singapore in 1976. He earned a BA in Creative Arts from Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne (2001), and an MA in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore (2007). He works primarily in film, video, and performance, and has recently developed environmental multimedia installations. He has also written extensively on art. Ho appropriates the structures of epic myths, invoking their grandeur while revealing them to be not merely stories, but discursive tools. He is particularly concerned with those moments when contemporary figures imagine and invent the past in order to serve the needs of the present. These conditions are especially salient in the context of Singapore, which was established as an independent nation in 1965. A series of occupations and settlements by regional groups constitutes the history of the strategic port archipelago prior to 19th century British colonization. A desire to redress the country’s unaccounted-for history indicates the rise in nationalism that has emerged in parallel with accelerated economic development.

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Ho’s work Utama—Every Name in History is I (2003), which consists of a video and twenty portrait paintings, images the quixotic pursuit of the distant past. Depicting the 14th-century figure of Sang Nila Utama, a discoverer of the island nation, the video weaves together apocryphal relationships with other historical regional leaders to boost the legitimacy of the founding narrative and collapses time by employing the same person to play other explorers including Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Zheng He, and Singapore’s British colonizer Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. The work simultaneously assembles and dispels myth. Ho is also invested in establishing a tradition of Singaporean contemporary art; in 2005, he produced 4x4—Episodes of Singapore Art, a series of four documentaries on native artists that was aired on Singapore Television.

In 2006, Ho completed Sejarah Singapura, a commission for the National Museum of Singapore that features an immersive, panoramic audiovisual representation of precolonial Singapore. His first feature film, HERE (2009) is an allegory of historical reckoning. Shot in the style of a documentary and set in a mental institution, the film features a protagonist undergoing an experimental “videocure” treatment, a plot inspired by the writings of French theorist Félix Guattari. Ho’s character reenacts a traumatic personal event before the camera, altering its course to generate a positive outcome. He then watches himself on film to complete the therapy—empowered by the fictitious revision, he must confront the consequences of unreconstructed reality.

Ho has had solo exhibitions at Substation Gallery, Singapore (2003); Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide (2010); Artspace, Sydney (2011); and Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). He also represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). He has participated in numerous international film festivals including the 41st Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes International Film Festival in France (2009) and Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (2012). Important group exhibitions include Singapore Biennial (2006); Video Killed the Painting Star, Contemporary Center of Art, Glasgow (2007); Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2007); Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2009); No Soul for Sale, Tate Modern, London (2010); transmediale.11, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2011); Surplus Authors, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2012); and Autonomous Zones, Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2013). Ho lives and works in Singapore.

Source: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Ho Tzu Nyen Featured Artworks

Black To Comm – Earth (Water) by Ho Tzu Nyen contemporary artwork
Ho Tzu NyenBlack To Comm – Earth (Water), 2012video

Not for sale
EARTH (Black to Comm) by Ho Tzu Nyen contemporary artwork
Ho Tzu NyenEARTH (Black to Comm), 2010Single channel video, 41'
Variable dimensions
Pearl Lam Galleries Contact Gallery
Gould by Ho Tzu Nyen contemporary artwork
Ho Tzu NyenGould, 2014Video, HD 1 min 42 sec
Variable dimensions
Sundaram Tagore Gallery Contact Gallery

Ho Tzu Nyen Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, They Do Not Understand Each Other 言語不通 at Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
25 May–13 September 2020 Group Exhibition They Do Not Understand Each Other 言語不通 Tai Kwun ContemporaryHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, SINGAPORE UTOPIA at Chan + Hori Contemporary, Singapore
27 July–1 September 2019 Group Exhibition SINGAPORE UTOPIA Chan + Hori ContemporarySingapore
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, An Opera for Animals at Para Site, Hong Kong
23 March–2 June 2019 Group Exhibition An Opera for Animals Para SiteHong Kong

Ho Tzu Nyen In Ocula Magazine

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NTU Auctioning Works by Entang Wiharso, Heman Chong and More Ocula News NTU Auctioning Works by Entang Wiharso, Heman Chong and More Singapore, 19 August 2020

The online auction aims to raise funds for the struggling art centre, which is ending its exhibition and residency programmes.

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Aichi Triennale Grapples with History and Censorship Ocula Feature Aichi Triennale Grapples with History and Censorship By Stephanie Bailey, Nagoya

The 2019 Aichi Triennale (1 August–14 October 2019) is all about mediating polarisations—whether between 'nationalism and globalism, elitism and anti-intellectualism, universalism and relativism, idealism and realism, metropole and periphery, young and old'. The exhibition enacts this mediation by deftly weaving together works employing...

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I Taste the Future: Lofoten International Arts Festival 2017 Ocula Feature I Taste the Future: Lofoten International Arts Festival 2017 By Cathryn Drake, Lofoten

'We are all lichens'. Famously associated with the thinking of feminist theorist Donna Haraway, this declaration—referring to a fungus that grows from algae and cyanobacteria—provided a compelling key to the 2017 Lofoten International Arts Festival (LIAF), I Taste the Future (1 September–1 October 2017), curated by Heidi Ballet and...

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Ho Tzu Nyen Ocula Conversation Ho Tzu Nyen By Elliat Albrecht, Basel

Singapore artist Ho Tzu Nyen ’s  two-channel video  The Nameless  (2014) is currently on view  at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art as  part of the exhibition Time of   others  (a collaboration between Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, Osaka, Singapore Art...

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Ho Tzu Nyen In Related Press

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Nam June Paik today Related Press Nam June Paik today 18 October 2019, ArtReview

Koki Tanaka How did you first encounter the work of Nam June Paik? I think it was through TV Buddha, but not sure which one. I just googled it now, and find out there are so many different versions of TV Buddhas by Paik...

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'2 or 3 Tigers' at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin Related Press '2 or 3 Tigers' at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin 29 June 2017, Art Agenda

Though at present the concept of 'media' is almost wholly equated with communication technologies, throughout the modern period this notion extended beyond the technological field, to include aesthetic and spiritual registers. In the late nineteenth century, a medium was someone with the alleged ability to act as a psychic conduit or transmitter...

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'2 or 3 Tigers': Asian new media artists at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt Related Press '2 or 3 Tigers': Asian new media artists at Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt 31 May 2017, Art Radar Journal

2 or 3 Tigers explores modernity as a colonial pattern inscribed in the history of nation states, militarisation and financialisation as well as an ontological revolution that fundamentally orders the social realm, national narratives and cosmologies, and whose effects have led to a profound crisis of consciousness as well as myriad and multiple...

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Contour Biennale 8, 'Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium' Related Press Contour Biennale 8, 'Polyphonic Worlds: Justice as Medium' 7 April 2017, art agenda

What could be more pertinent to today's helter-skelter mudslide into the political abyss than a reflection on the idea of justice? The eighth edition of the Contour Biennial is dedicated to this most noble of themes. Both thrilling and frustrating, the biennial offers vertiginous perspectives by artists and theorists, as well as the inevitable...

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