Time Out Singapore: Ho Tzu Nyen

After representing Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, local multimedia artist Ho Tzu Nyen marks his first solo show on home soil in ten years with PYTHAGORAS – an exhibition of four films shown simultaneously in a darkened room (lasting just over a half hour), touching on themes of control and being controlled (they’re also each named after historic figures: Newton, Milton, Gould and Pythagoras). Gwen Pew finds out five more things to know about the 37-year-old video and theatre artist.

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen

Local artist Ho Tzu Nyen. Image courtesy of Michael Janssen Gallery.

28 Nov 2013:


The last solo show Ho did here was in 2003, but he’s been far from slacking: ‘Since 2003, I’ve made a number of theatre pieces (including King Lear at the 2008 Singapore Arts Festival), a TV series (4 x 4 – Episodes of Singapore Art, 2005) and a feature film (EARTH, 2009 – select scenes are remixed into MILTON). I’ve also been involved with some projects outside of Singapore.’


Although many of his works involve theatre, his preferred type of live performance is actually music (GOULD is named after pianist Glen Gould): ‘To be honest, I don’t really enjoy going to the theatre. However, I do love the small things [about theatre] such as the lights, the speakers, the mechanisms. And I think this is apparent in the exhibition.’


He’s ‘always been a little obsessed with curtains’, which the titular film is projected onto: ‘[They are the] most ordinary and most mysterious of objects. They make known the presence of wind, they catch light, and they hover so elegantly between the inside and the outside.’


Summing up his thoughts on PYTHAGORAS, Ho says: ‘I think of this exhibition as a theatrical machine caught in a loop, where the ghosts of former works have been summoned to accompany a choir of melancholic machines.’


Looking ahead… ‘My next project is called Ten Thousand Tigers, and it is an attempt to tell the story of this region through the history of Malayan tigers – real, spectral and metaphorical. This will be a live performance next April.’

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