Ho Tzu Nyen

14 Feb - 04 Apr 2015

The Name
14 February - 4 April 2015

Ho Tzu Nyen, born 1976 in Singapore, produces films, videos, performances, and installations. Ho Tzu Nyen is successful and active both as a fine artist and filmmaker. His film “Here”, a drama about patients in a psychiatric clinic, was shown at the international film festival in Cannes in 2009, while in 2011 he produced the film installation “The Cloud of Unknowing” for the Singapore pavilion at the International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. “The Cloud of Unknowing” depicts the lives of various people living in a typical low-income apartment building in Singapore. Yet, the work could also be considered a cinematic examination of the cloud motif in the arts, especially in painting. Along with Ho’s other recent film installations, which are marked by excess and an epic scale, “The Cloud of Unknowing” takes its inspiration from the baroque style and the “Tableau Vivant” format, while also making allusions to philosophy, art history, film history and pop culture. His work strives to examine, whether explicitly or not, the social and cultural history, as well as the political situation and climate, of the island nation of Singapore.

Ho’s current film installation “The Name,” which is scheduled to premiere at the daadgalerie on 13 February 2015, is a dynamic montage of found footage taken from films created in the Western tradition featuring the motif of the romantic cult of genius to depict the act of writing as a creative, torturous process. The film then uses a voice-over to come to terms with the kind of author who completely deviates from this ideal. In creating “The Name,” Ho puts to use his ruminations and years of research into the journalistic writings of the mysterious author Gene Z. Hanrahan. Ho’s interest in the writer was sparked by the book “The Communist Struggle in Malaya,” which was published in the USA in 1954. The book is an astonishingly informative treatise about the communist struggle on the Malay Peninsula during the colonial era; further publications from Hanrahan, however, concerning guerrilla tactics in China, or “The Wild Years,” about Ernest Hemingway’s work, raise doubts about Hanrahan’s identity as an authorial subject. By citing the example of a single concrete historical case that left its traces on Malaysian historiography, Ho’s use of cinematic and artistic devices help to demonstrate the instability of the notion of authorship and originality.

“The Name” forms the counterpart to Ho’s film “The Nameless,” which he originally produced for the Shanghai Biennale in 2014. Teeming with double-meanings and polysemy, this story about a triple agent in Southeast Asia could not be shown in Shanghai as a result of government censorship. It will instead be shown for the first time at the Akademie der Künste on Hanseatenweg as part of the exhibition “Forum Expanded”, known this year by the title “The Sound of the Closing Door,” to take place during the Berlin Film Festival (until Feb 15th).

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). 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); Autonomous Zones, Times Museum, Guangzhou, China (2013) and Social Factory, 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014). In January 2015 Ho received the Grand Prize Award at the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize. Ho Tzu Nyen lives and works in Singapore. In 2014/15 he is a guest of the DAAD’s Artists-in-Berlin Program.

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