Ho Tzu Nyen

2 or 3 Tigers (2015)

Image courtesy of the artist

2 or 3 Tigers presents the fearsome were-tiger through a monologue/dialogue of a singing tiger and a transforming white colonial man. The work takes as one of its reference points the lithograph, Interrupted Road Surveying in Singapore (1865), that depicts George Coleman, the colony’s Superintendent of Public Works being attacked by a tiger. The were-tiger emerges against a background of an orbiting sun and moon and takes shape through the sung historical narrative and the futuristic abstraction of a CGI-generated world. As man and tiger orbit the viewer in the installation, the viewer is called into a liminal space between tiger and man—a parallel to the evolving history of the were-tiger.

2 or 3 Tigers is part of a long-term research project that interrogates histories of and from Southeast Asia. The research has taken the form of text—such as the essay “Every Cat in History is I” (2007) which traced the history of the cat in Singapore’s history, and an entry co-authored with anthropologist Robert Wessing in Ho’s Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia (2012– )—as well as theatre performances—such as Ten Thousand Tigers (2014)—and a vein of three film installations including this work and One or Several Tigers (2017) presented at the National Gallery Singapore.

Ho Tzu Nyen (b. 1976, Singapore) makes films, installations and theatrical performances that often begin as engagements with historical and philosophical texts and artifacts.  His recent works are populated by metamorphic figures such as the weretiger (One or Several Tigers, 2017), the triple agent (The Nameless, 2015), the traitor (The Mysterious Lai Teck, 2018) under the rubric of The Critical Dictionary of Southeast, an ongoing umbrella project which uses the fuzzy outlines of the heterogeneous and contradictory region as a generator of narratives.  

One-person exhibitions include: Kunstverein in Hamburg (2018), Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018);Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), DAAD Galerie (2015), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012).  He represented the Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011).

Recent group exhibitions include the 12th Gwangju  Biennale (2018); 2 or 3 Tigers at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017), Ghosts and Spectres the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014).  His theatrical works have been presented at The Kampnagel, Hamburg (2018), TPAM (2018); Asian Arts Theatre, Gwangju (2015); Wiener Festwochen (2014); Theater der Welt (2010); the KunstenFestivaldesArts (2006, 2008, 2018); the Singapore Arts Festival (2006, 2008).  His films have been presented at the Berlin Film Festival (2015); Sundance Film Festival (2012); Cannes Film Festival (2009); Venice Film Festival (2009); Locarno Film Festival (2011) and Rotterdam (2008, 2010, 2013).

Ho Tzu Nyen was awarded a DAAD Scholarship in Berlin (2014 – 2015) and the Grand Prize of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize (2015).


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