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Time & the Tiger

[24.11.23 – 03.03.24]


Ho Tzu Nyen


Gallery 1 & 2, Singapore Art Museum at Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore

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Pleased to share “Ho Tzu Nyen: Time & the Tiger” as Singapore Art Museum, a solo exhibition by critically acclaimed Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen that features eight major installations, including a new commission titled T for Time. Co-organised by SAM and Art Sonje Center (ASJC), this is the first mid-career survey devoted to Ho’s practice over the past two decades, drawing largely from SAM’s collection. The exhibition will travel to numerous venues across the world, after its premiere at SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark from 24 November 2023 to 3 March 2024.

One of the most internationally recognised contemporary artists from Singapore, Ho is a visual artist, writer, theatre-maker, and filmmaker whose practice has continuously challenged conventional hierarchies in our understanding of the past. His works are narrated through a constellation of unruly characters, acting as mediums through which Ho engages with the nature of identity, storytelling, and the passage of time in Asia, particularly since the Second World War.

The title of the exhibition, Time & the Tiger, alludes to the primary sources of Ho’s work: the fascination with the dispersion of tigers across Asia over time. With glacial shifts and rising sea levels across two million years, the tiger went from roaming freely across Asia to being on the brink of extinction today. More recently, tigers also were a potent symbol of power during Japan’s invasion of Southeast and East Asia; while the weretigers of the Malay world serve as a bridge linking humans and ancestral memory. Tigers, in other words, allow us to think about time through various scales: from the geological scale of transformation to the Asian continent to the cosmological scale of ancestral memory. For Ho, time is not just a linear progression, but a multi-dimensional matrix, shaped and reshaped by cultural, ecological, and historical forces, where the tiger serves as a powerful emblem of its fluidity and complexities.

For this survey exhibition, the museum has commissioned the new work T for Time (2023)—a two-channel video installation that engages with the cultural histories of time and time-keeping traditions across Asia. Time is a critical dimension that underlies most, if not all, of Ho’s works produced over the last two decades.

Artist Ho Tzu Nyen says: “T for Time is, in a certain sense, the most personal work I have made, and yet nothing of my person is in the work at all. I would say there are parallels here

and there that are embedded in it. Much of its foundations lies in the transformative 1980s, a pivotal decade in my rather middle-class and relatively comfortable childhood in Singapore. The 1980s symbolized a significant shift on a grander scale too; as Southeast and East Asian economies thrived, giving rise to the term ‘Tiger Economies’. Essentially, T for Time is a collection of many anecdotes about time, and it comes from different historical moments, cultures, but it makes no claim to be universal. In the end, the work still became a subjective work, rooted very much in my specific moment, in my specific trajectory.”

The work is co-commissioned with the exhibition’s co-organisers ASJC, and in collaboration with international partners including M+, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, and Sharjah Art Foundation.

– Courtesy of SAM.