May 20, 2011 - Singapore Pavilion at the Venice Biennale - Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale
May 20, 2011

Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale

Ho Tzu Nyen, “The Cloud of Unknowing,” 2011.
Installation with single-channel HD projection, multi-channel audio, lighting, smoke machines and show control system.*

Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale

Artist: Ho Tzu Nyen
Curator: June Yap
Commissioner & Presenter: National Arts Council

Professional Preview: 1–3 June 2011
Opening: Wednesday, 1 June 2011, 12 noon
Exhibition: 4 June–27 November 2011, Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–6pmSalone di Ss. Filippo e Giacomo del Museo
Diocesano di Venezia
Sestiere Castello 4310, 30122 Venezia

Ho Tzu Nyen represents Singapore at the 54th International Art Exhibition, with a new artwork, The Cloud of Unknowing.

The immersive audio and visual installation in Venice is titled after a fourteenth century mystical treatise on faith, where the cloud is paradoxically a metaphor, for both an impediment to, and reconciliation with, the unknown or the divine experience. Referencing Hubert Damisch’s A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting, where Damisch describes the cloud as “one of the most valued oneiric themes,” Ho’s artwork is a visual exegesis of the subject of the cloud, that is the fleeting meteorological inspiration of Constable’s cloud studies; that represents transcendence, distinguishing the sacred from the earthly in the artworks of Tintoretto, Correggio and Francisco de Zurbarán; and that is characterised by transience, and resists representation in Chinese landscape painting. Just as the amorphous forms above rouse the imagination and are vehicles for hallucination, The Cloud of Unknowing, performs the role of mechanism and medium for the recollection of representations of the cloud in art.

Set in a deserted, low-income public housing block in Singapore, Ho’s Cloud presents scenes of eight characters in eight apartments, each in an encounter with the cloud, that alternates between being embodied as a figure, and as a vapourous mist. In the moment of encounter, a shift, transformation or illumination occurs that, as the medieval text counsels, is effected in a direct experience of the senses, instead of being understood with the mind.

Ho Tzu Nyen’s projects are characterised by the investigation and incorporation of important cultural moments as their material, that are explored through three themes: historiography—the production of new histories, from pre-colonial founding myths (Utama — Every Name in History is I, 2003) to art histories (4 x 4: Episodes of Singapore Art, 2004); re-interpretation—the reworking of historical objects, ranging from philosophical texts (Zarathustra: A Film for Everyone and No One, 2009), history painting (EARTH, 2009), and popular songs (The Bohemian Rhapsody Project, 2006); and the analysis of the production of visual aesthetic and acoustic deconstruction (NEWTON, 2009 and EARTH, 2009). His art projects have been presented at the Liverpool Biennial (2010); the 6th Asia-Pacific Triennial (2009); the Dojima River Biennale (2009); the 1st Singapore Biennale (2006); the 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (2005); and the 26th Sao Paulo Biennale (2004). His theatrical experiments have been presented at Theater der Welt (2010), the KunstenFestivaldesArts (2006, 2008) and the Singapore Arts Festival (2006, 2008). His first feature film HERE premiered at the 41st Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival (2009) and was presented at the 14th Pusan International Film Festival (2009). His medium length film, EARTH, premiered at the 66th Venice International Film Festival (2009) and was shown at the 39th Rotterdam International Film Festival.

June Yap is an independent curator based in Singapore. Curatorial projects include You and I, We’ve Never Been So Far Apart: Works From Asia, VideoZone5 (2010, Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel), Culture(s) of Copy (2010, Goethe-Institut, Hong Kong, and Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Germany), Das Paradies ist Anderswo / Paradise is Elsewhere (2009, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) Stuttgart and Berlin), Bound for Glory a survey of recent works by Wong Hoy Cheong (2009, National University of Singapore Museum), MATAHATI (2008, Galeri Petronas, House of MATAHATI, The Annexe Gallery and 12 Art Space Gallery, Kuala Lumpur), Seni: Singapore 2004, Art & the Contemporary (2004, Singapore Art Museum) and Twilight Tomorrow (2004, Singapore Art Museum).

The Cloud of Unknowing is produced with the collaboration of Andy Lim, Jeffrey Yue, Stephanie Goh, Fran Borgia, James Page, Amandi Wong and Yasuhiro Morinaga.

For media enquiries, please contact the National Arts Council
E: Premadevi_Perumal@nac.gov.sg
T: +65 6346 9648

*Image above:
© Courtesy of the artist

Singapore Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale
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