NO SPACE FOR TIME two separate works about Singapore's impossible history

Ho Tzu Nyen, Amanda Heng

Jun 02 – Jul 03, 2005

No space for time: two separate works about Singapore's impossible history will present two video works that analyses and comments on the history of Singapore:
Utama -- Every Name in History is I by Ho Tzu Nyen, &
I remember ... by Amanda Heng


The Exhibition Project 

No space for time: two separate works about Singapore's impossible history is the second phase of a bilateral exchange between Para/Site Art Space from Hong Kong and The Substation in Singapore. The first phase “Metropolis Strip(p)ed” took place in April 05 in Singapore. Both Para/Site Art Space and The Substation have always sought, in their respective local arenas, to privilege the relationships and processes involved in artmaking rather than the exhibition of products. The purpose for this project is to establish a long-term partnership between the two organisations, where The Substation and Para/Site Art Space collaborate on a project every year. In this way, the two institutions hope to sustain the dialogues between the arts spaces as well as with the many artists, curators and writers who work with them.


The works

Utama – Every Name in History is I
a film by Ho Tzu Nyen

The very name “Singapura” was a paradox. For no lion had ever set foot in this Lion City.  — CM Turnbull, A History of Singapore 1819 – 1988

In the official accounts of its history, Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, as part of the British colonial empire. However, little is known about the other, pre-colonial founder of Singapore, who is believed to have founded the Asian city sometime between the 13th and 14th century. Commonly referred to as Sang Nila Utama, regarded as the “first” king of the Malays and said to be heir to a glorious lineage of great kings and immortals, he was said to have given Singapore its name after encountering a lion along its shores. In the indigenous Malay tongue, “Singa” means lion, while “pore” is derived from the word “pura”, or city.

However, this event has often been questioned because lions are not a species indigenous to this area. For many historians, Utama’s existence is itself a major issue of doubt — he was known under a variety of names and pseudonyms, and attributed with a multiplicity of identities and stories, many of which are contradictory in nature. In today’s Singaporean society, the figure of Utama has been gradually erased from public consciousness. 

This film is an attempt to summon forth the specter of Utama — but he does not return alone. Instead he comes return with an unruly host of characters, fictional, mystical and historical. Ultimately this is a film about the intertwining of myth and history, the impossibility of ontology, the instability of all beginnings.

Utama was first presented at The Substation in 2003.


Ho Tzu Nyen, Utama -- Every Name in History is I, digital film and oil paintings.


I Remember… (Singapore)
conceived by Amanda Heng

A collaborative public event that addresses issues in public space, I Remember… explores the faculty of memory — how we remember, as individuals and as a collective; the vibrancy of remembrance VS sanitized, mediated stories of war; selective recall; personal and public ways of commemorating; different ways of remembering; and how memories relate to everyday experiences. 

Artist Amanda Heng will present images and stories of those recalling the days of the Japanese occupation in World War II in video recordings to examine and investigate the issues of memory and the construction of history and their significance for individuals and society.

I Remember ... was first presented at The Necessary Stage's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. Amanda Heng is in the progress of developing the work for another presentation at The Substation during the 2005 Septfest.

Amanda Heng, I Remember ..., 
video still of live performance, 26 February 2005. 
Presented as part of The Necessary Stage's Fringe Festival.


The artists

Ho Tzu Nyen graduated from Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University in 2001, where he obtained a Bachelor of Creative Arts. His first exhibited artwork was a fake pack of cigarettes made from the paraphernalia (notices, posters, etc.) generated to publicise French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s tour of Australia. Since then, Ho Tzu Nyen’s art practice has been marked by a diversity in his choice of media. Upon returning to Singapore, Tzu Nyen has been painting regularly, and his works have won him awards, including the Nokia Arts Awards 2001, and the prize for the Abstract Category of the UOB Painting of the Year 2001. Tzu Nyen also has an interest in uncovering the possibilities of imaging devices: in The Cave (Nokia Singapore Art 2001), he constructed a room-sized space saturated with surveillance cameras and monitors, while his more recent A Possible Line of Flight (Cinepolitans, 2003) consisted of images captured from cameras flung off from a 25-storey-high building. Another medium that has fascinated Tzu Nyen is photography. In Anyone (2002), he requested that his subjects “become someone else” by play-acting, or adopt a narrative pose “far from the truth”. In an upcoming work, the Self-Portrait Project (Sculpture Square Annual Show 2003), Tzu Nyen will approach 36 passers-by a day, seven days a week, in several different locations to do portraits of himself. But Tzu Nyen’s oldest and greatest passion is film. 

Amanda Heng (Liang Ngim) is a full-time arts practitioner. She adopts an interdisciplinary approach to her arts practice. Her works deal with the clashing of eastern and western values, traditions and gender roles in the context of a multicultural and fast-changing society of Singapore. Recently, her work focuses on the issues of communication and human relationships in urban environments, and she often works in collaboration with people from both art and non-art fields and of different cultural backgrounds. Amanda was involved in founding the Artists’ Village, the first artists-run space in Singapore in 1988. She is also actively involved in conceptualising, curating, organising and participating in exhibitions and public forums, conducting workshops and lecturing in contemporary art. She has a Bachelors of Art from Curtin University, and has exhibited widely in Singapore and internationally, including the Asia-Pacific Triennial, the Havana Biennale and the Fukuoka Triennial.


Gallery Talk  "A matter of ownership: dialogues on art and cultural space of Hong Kong and Singapore, Part 2'

Guest Speaker: Weng Choy Lee, Artistic Co-director, The Substation in Singapore
Moderator: Ms Linda Lai
(with participation of other Hong Kong artists and speakers from the part I of this project in Singapore, namely, Oscar Ho, Jaspar Lau, Leung Chi Wo, Tim Li, Ellen Pau, Map Office/ Gutierrez + Portefaix, Sara Chi-Hang Wong, Reine Kit-Shun Wong and more)

4. June.05 (Sat), 2:30-4:30pm,

Co-presented by Para/site Art Space and The Substation, and is funded by the 'Bilateral Cultural Exchange Project'* and the National Arts Council, Singapore.
* The "Bilateral Cultural Exchange Project" is co-presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.