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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Ho Tzu Nyen

b. 1976, Singapore

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.

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.

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Featured Artworks

EARTH (Black to Comm) by Ho Tzu Nyen contemporary artwork Ho Tzu NyenEARTH (Black to Comm), 2010 Single channel video, 41'
Variable dimensions
Pearl Lam Galleries
Gould by Ho Tzu Nyen contemporary artwork Ho Tzu NyenGould, 2014 Video, HD 1 min 42 sec
Variable dimensions
Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, An Opera for Animals at Para Site, Hong Kong
Open Now
23 March–9 June 2019 Group Exhibition An Opera for Animals Para Site, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, Embodied at Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong
7 November 2014–10 January 2015 Group exhibition Embodied Pearl Lam Galleries, Pedder Street, Hong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group show by Thai and Singapore artists, Anthropos at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York
4 September–4 October 2014 Group show by Thai and Singapore artists Anthropos Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Chelsea, New York

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

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I Taste the Future: Lofoten International Arts Festival 2017 Ocula Report I Taste the Future: Lofoten International Arts Festival 2017 12 Oct 2017 : Cathryn Drake for Ocula

'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 Artist, Singapore

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 Museum, and Queensland...

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Ocula Report: The Tenth Shanghai Biennale Ocula Report Ocula Report: The Tenth Shanghai Biennale 12 Dec 2014 : Sam Gaskin for Ocula

Biennials are inherently messy. Gathering hundreds of pieces by international artists working in different mediums creates an exponential number of echoes and dissonances. Their messiness differs, though, in kind and degree, as exemplified in recent Shanghai Biennales.

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Ghosts, Spies And Grandmothers At Mediacity Seoul 2014 Ocula Report Ghosts, Spies And Grandmothers At Mediacity Seoul 2014 16 Sep 2014 : Jeesun Park for Ocula

Much has already been said about the fast-paced development and break-neck modernization of Asia but what has been largely forgotten in these breathless accounts is the importance of its history. In order to understand contemporary Asia one needs to look into the past, look more closely at its regional diversity and draw connections to local...

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In Related Press

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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 Art Agenda : 29 June 2017

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 Art Radar Journal : 31 May 2017

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' art agenda : 7 April 2017

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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Navigating the Fair: Highlights of Art Basel Hong Kong Related Press Navigating the Fair: Highlights of Art Basel Hong Kong The New York Times : 23 March 2017

Alongside the usual big names, 29 galleries are new to the fair this year, 11 from Asia. (Roughly half of all participating galleries have spaces in Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.) Public viewing days are from March 23 to 25. (The film program began on March 20.) As with each fair that bears the Basel brand, the offerings are diverse and...

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