An exhibition of Ho Tzu Nyen’s multimedia project The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, Vol. 1: G for Ghost(writers) is on view in Asia Art Archive’s library from 21 Mar–19 Aug 2017. Developed during his AAA residency, the project introduces an interactive Internet platform and “infinite film” created in collaboration with Pad.ma, Yasuhiro Morinaga, and Bani Haykal. The two new projects push the boundaries of cinema in the digital age, by playing with the idea of an endless stream of visual and audio material constantly updated by multiple and unknown authors.
Starting with the question of what unites the region called Southeast Asia, the “dictionary” comprises narratives of shape-shifting and amorphous characters, ideas, and genres. The exhibition explores how narratives construct shared identities and beliefs, and the possibilities and limits of various media to create and question collective actions.
One of the characters and narratives in the exhibition is Gene Z. Hanrahan, who supposedly wrote and edited 16 books of a wide ideological span, ranging from The Communist Struggle in Malaya to The Wild Years: Ernest Hemingway and 50 Great Oriental Stories. As Ho researched the character, however, he found little trace of him as a real person and speculated on the possibility of him as a pseudonym/ghostwriter for US government agencies during the Cold War.
The omnipresent yet anonymous American writer also appears in Ho’s film The Name. Drawing on the abundance of clichéd Hollywood films, Ho edited together clips from more than 20 films that depict the American male author as omniscient narrator and chronicler of world events. The script for The Name comes from the various texts written by Hanrahan.
In addition to the films, the Internet dictionary, and the 16 books, the exhibition also includes lenticular prints and still frames from The Name that suggest the instability of vision. The exhibition invites visitors and readers to think about questions of authorship, authenticity, and authority.
In conjunction with the installation, Ho will be in conversation with AAA Researcher Chương-Đài Võ. AAA will host a brunch for the talk.
Ho Tzu Nyen makes films, installations, and theatrical performances out of historical and philosophical texts and artefacts. His work has been presented at the Guggenheim Museum (New York, 2013); Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, 2015); Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, 2012); and the 54th Venice Biennale (Venice, 2011). His films have premiered at Cannes Film Festival and the 66th Venice International Film Festival.
Concept, text, and materials: Ho Tzu Nyen
Editing system and website: Jan Gerber and Sebastian Lütgert (0x2620)
Music: Yasuhiro Morinaga
Vocals: Bani Haykal
Supported by: Art Basel in Hong Kong; Mimi Brown; Randy Chan; and Platform Projects, Singapore