How the Tiger has followed Ho Tzu Nyen Over 20 Years

Published on 14 February 2024
By Team Catch

In the realm of contemporary art, Ho Tzu Nyen stands as a beacon of creativity and intellectual depth. His multifaceted practice, spanning over two decades, has captivated audiences worldwide with its intricate explorations of history, myths, and identities. The exhibition Ho Tzu Nyen: Time & the Tiger, a mid-career survey co-organized by Singapore Art Museum (SAM) and Art Sonje Center (ASJC), offers a profound glimpse into the artist's creative universe.


Ho Tzu Nyen's artistic journey is characterised by a constant quest for understanding and a willingness to challenge conventional boundaries. He seamlessly blends visual art, writing, theatre, and filmmaking, creating a rich tapestry of works that defy easy categorisation. His artistic vision is deeply rooted in a fascination with the complexities of human existence, the passage of time, and the intricate narratives that shape our identities.


Why is The Tiger a Symbolic Emblem?


The exhibition's title, Time & the Tiger, eloquently captures the essence of Ho's artistic exploration. The tiger, a symbol of power, transformation, and cultural significance, serves as a recurring motif throughout the exhibition. For Ho, the tiger represents the fluidity and multifaceted nature of time, a concept that permeates his works. As he puts it: “It’s not that I have chosen the tiger, but rather that the tiger has chosen me”.

What Does Time Even Mean?

Wide shot of T for Time exhibition

T for Time (2023) is a captivating video installation exploring the diversity of time experiences in Asia, constantly rearranging itself over 60 minutes.

The exhibition showcases a selection of eight major installations, each offering a unique perspective on Ho's artistic vision. Among these highlights is the new commission, T for Time, a two-channel video installation that delves into the cultural and historical dimensions of time-keeping traditions across Asia.


T for Time is a captivating exploration of the subjective nature of time, challenging the notion of a linear progression. Ho juxtaposes historical footage, personal anecdotes, and contemporary observations, creating a tapestry of narratives that question our perception of time. As Ho expressed, “I do not like to stick to chronological linearity as I prefer jumping from different points in resonances and intensities."

Exploring Iconic Works

Flitting from point to point is something an audience would experience at Time and the Tiger. The exhibition also features a selection of Ho's iconic works that have garnered critical acclaim and established him as a leading figure in contemporary art. These include:

- The Cloud of Unknowing (2011): A multi-channel video installation that investigates the relationship between language, memory, and historical narratives.

- The Name (2015-2017) and The Nameless (2015): A series of paintings and sculptures that examine the complexities of identity and naming in the context of colonial history.

Wide shot of CDOSEA exhibition

CDOSEA remixes Southeast Asian imagery with hypnotic narration, its ever-changing sequence echoing the region's dynamic nature and diverse stories.

- CDOSEA (2017): A multi-channel video installation that investigates the role of performance and theater in the construction of history.

- One or Several Tigers (2017): A video installation that explores the tiger as a symbol of power, transformation, and cultural identity.

Wide shot of a group of people watching the video installation of Hotel Aporia

Step into Hotel Aporia (2019), where Japanese history's conflicting voices converge in a mesmerising blend of aesthetics and narrative, challenging notions of idealised Japan.

- Hotel Aporia (2019): A multi-channel video installation that reimagines a gathering of characters caught up in the aftermath of Japan's invasion of Southeast and East Asia.

What Even Is Southeast Asia?

Ho Tzu Nyen's artistic practice has transcended geographical boundaries, earning him international recognition and acclaim. This is fitting as Time and the Tiger explores the power of constructed narrative, and how, depending on the perspective of multiple authors, borders, regions, nations and cultures are constructs that also resonate with non-linear intensities.

Mid shot of Ho Tzu Nyen looking at one of his exhibition pieces


Discover what it’s like to be in Ho Tzu Nyen’s world through Time & the Tiger.

So, what can a visitor to Time & the Tiger expect out of the exhibit? Probably whatever resonates with you when you are there. As Ho Tzu Nyen says himself, he doesn’t like to “dictate what the viewer should think or feel”, but rather, it is “always an ongoing conversation between the artist and the audience”.


Ho Tzu Nyen’s Time and the Tiger is at SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark until 3 March 2024. Admission is free for Singaporeans and PRs.


All images belong to Catch.

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