Ho Tzu Nyen: A for Agents

Map & Timetable
How to Experience the VR Part of "Voice of Void"
Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo presents a solo exhibition of Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen.
Ho’s films, video installations, and performances traverse historical events, political ideologies, subjectivities, and cultural identities of Southeast Asia. Drawing from existing film footage, archival material, and documentation, rearranged into abstract yet evocative images, his work renders the complexities of geopolitical histories palpable. Ho’s work has been presented in numerous art institutions and biennials as well as theaters and film festivals worldwide. In Japan, he has participated in exhibitions including Time of Others at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2015, and he has produced new work for the Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama (TPAM) in 2018 and again in 2021, Aichi Triennale 2019, Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM) in 2021, and Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in 2021–22.

  • Utama—Every Name in History is I, video still, 2003

  • One or Several Tigers, video still, 2017

This latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Ho Tzu Nyen: A for Agents, traces the trajectory of the artist’s practice, presenting six film-based installations alongside a new work. The exhibition includes Ho’s earliest video installation, Utama—Every Name in History Is I (2003), which challenges the modern narrative of Singapore’s foundations by tracing its precolonial origin to Sang Nila Utama, who is said to have named the land “Singapura” (Lion City, in Sanskrit). Singapore’s past also features in One or Several Tigers (2017), where 3D animations of a tiger and a human morph into various instances of the ruler and the subjugated, including the precolonial tiger as ancestor spirit and the mythological weretiger; the colonial encounter of a tiger and the road surveyor George D. Coleman who served the British administration in the nineteenth century; and the battle between the British army and the “Tiger of Malaya,” Japanese military commander Tomoyuki Yamashita, during World War II.

  • The Nameless, video still, 2015

  • CDOSEA (Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia), screen capture, 2017-ongoing Image Courtesy of the Artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery

A pair of works in the exhibition, The Nameless and The Name (both 2015), use existing film footage to speculate on two enigmatic individuals from Malaya’s tumultuous political past. The Nameless sheds light on Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Malaya, Lai Teck, who operated as a triple agent for the British, French, and Japanese during World War II, while The Name takes up the story of Gene Z. Hanrahan, who authored publications on the Malayan Communist Party using highly classified information—some believe him to be a ghostwriter.
In 2012, Ho initiated the project, The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia with the question “What constitutes the unity of Southeast Asia, a region that has never been unified by language, religion or political structures?” It is a matrix for his artistic production, including the online platform shown in this exhibition, CDOSEA (2017-). The sequencing of sampled images and keywords is continuously generated by an algorithm and resists any definitive meaning of the term “Southeast Asia.”

Voice of Void, installation view, 2021 Photo: Ichiro Mishima Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM] and the artist

Among Ho’s works produced in Japan over recent years, Voice of Void (2021) is presented in the exhibition. Consisting of VR (virtual reality) and six-channel videos, this installation restages conversations, speeches, and texts of the philosophers of the Kyoto School, who advocated for overcoming Western modernity and speculated on the value in establishing the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Voice of Void invites us to navigate across different time-spaces and become immersed in discussions among members of the Kyoto School, such as on the ethics of Japanese military ventures, the question of sacrificing one’s life for the nation, or founder Kitaro Nishida’s idea of “nothingness.”

T for Time: Timepieces, video still, 2023-ongoing Image courtesy of the artist and Kiang Malingue

T for Time (2023) marks a new chapter in Ho’s practice. It will be shown in Japan for the very first time. Based on an algorithm, the work generates sequences of images from multiple fragments of sampled footage to animate various aspects and scales of time: from elementary particles to the life span of different organisms to the vastness of the universe. The sequences evoke a multitude of meanings, sensations, and narratives, while questioning what is time, what mediates time, how do we experience it, and what could we imagine time to be?

T for Time, video still, 2023-ongoing Image courtesy of the artist and Kiang Malingue

Ho Tzu Nyen | Profile

Ho Tzu Nyen
Ho Tzu Nyen was born in 1976 in Singapore, where he lives and works. His films, film-based installations, and performances draw from a vast range of cultural materials and discourse, which are repurposed into a visual machinery that animates the entanglement and complexity of history, subjectivity, and power.
Ho’s recent solo exhibitions were held at Singapore Art Museum (2023), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, 2022), Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (Aichi, 2021–22), Crow Museum of Asian Art of the University of Texas at Dallas (2021), Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (2021), Kunstverein in Hamburg (2018), and Ming Contemporary Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018). He represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. Ho’s recent group exhibitions include Thailand Biennale (2023), Aichi Triennale (2019), 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018), and 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014). His works have also been presented in numerous international theaters and film festivals, including Theater der Welt (2010, 2023), Holland Festival (2018, 2020), Berlin International Film Festival (2015), Sundance Film Festival (2012), and 41st Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival (2009). In 2019, Ho co-curated the 7th Asian Art Biennial with Taiwanese artist Hsu Chia-Wei at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Photo: Matthew Teo


Exhibition Period

Saturday, April 6 – Sunday, July 7, 2024

Opening Hours

10 AM – 6 PM (Tickets available until 30 minutes before closing)


Mondays (except 29 Apr, 6 May), 30 Apr, 7 May


Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Exhibition Gallery B2F


Adults: 1,500 yen/ University & college students, over 65: 1,100 yen/ High school & junior high school students: 600 yen/ Elementary school students and younger: free

* 20% discount for a group of over 20 people
* Ticket includes admission to the MOT Collection exhibition.
* Children younger than elementary school age need to be accompanied by a guardian.
* Persons with a Physical Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Certificate, Intellectual Disability Welfare Certificate, or Atomic Bomb Survivor Welfare Certificate as well as up to two attendants are admitted free of charge.
[Silver Day] Those over 65 years old receive free admission on the third Wednesday of every month by presenting proof of age at the ticket counter.
[Welcome Youth 2024] Those aged under 18 (born after April 2, 2005) can view all exhibitions for free on April 6 and 7, 2024, by presenting a valid ID at the museum's ticket counter.
[Students Day supported by Bloomberg] Students can view the exhibition for free by presenting a valid ID at the museum's ticket counter on May 11 and 12.

ONLINE TICKETThe ticket is valid anytime during the exhibition period. / Admission is only once for each exhibition per person. / No cancellations or changes can be made after the purchase. / Ticket is also available at the museum's ticket counter.

Organized by

Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture

Supported by

Yoshino Gypsum Art Foundation


How to Experience the VR Part of "Voice of Void"

"Voice of Void" comprises three video installations (each 7’45” long) and a VR experience. The video installations are accessible in the gallery, while the VR experience requires an application. To experience the VR part, please book online or apply onsite.

- Age Requirement: Ages 10 and over (Ages 10-12 require parental consent.)
- For the VR experience, an admission ticket to Ho Tzu Nyen: A for Agents is required with the application. For the details, please check here.
- The VR experience is available in the Exhibition Gallery B2F daily during the exhibition period, except on closing days.
- Please book up to one ticket per person.

Please book via Peatix on a first-come, first-served basis until reaching the capacity.

BOOK NOW on Peatix (June 8 - June 28)
BOOK NOW on Peatix (June 29 - July 7)
*Redirects to the external site of the MOT.

Please pick up a booking ticket that will be handed in the Exhibition Gallery B2F. Booking tickets will be handed out on the day from 10:00 am on a first-come, first-served basis, until reaching the capacity.

*All programs are subject to change.

Exhibition Catalogue

Now available at the museum shop and on NADiff online.
Composed around seven works in the exhibition, the catalogue includes installation views, video stills, key documents produced during the creation of works, four essays that decipher the complexity of Ho’s works, as well as texts previously written by the artist.

  • A for Agents
    Author: Ho Tzu Nyen
    Design: Hiromi Fujita
    Size and format: H210 x W135 mm, Codex binding
    Pages: 256 pages
    Language: English/Japanese
    Publisher: torch press
    Special price at the museum shop: 2,970 yen (including tax) *Only during the exhibition period
    Regular price: 3,300 yen (including tax)
    *Regular price applies when reserving on NADiff online.
    *Catalogue will also be available from Amazon and selected bookshops.

Artist Interview

Related Program

Artist Talk  *Consecutive interpretation available (English/Japanese)
Date: Sunday, 7 April
Time: 3 - 4:30 pm
Venue: Auditorium (B2 floor)
Fee: Free with an exhibition ticket valid on the day

Ho Tzu Nyen will give a talk on the topic that centred around the question "What is time?"

Lecture by David Teh - Mandala Montage: medium, region and the state in the work of Ho Tzu Nyen
Date: Sunday, 23 June
Time: 3 - 4:30 p.m.
Venue: Auditorium (B2 floor)
Fee: Free

From mythical kings and were-tigers, war-time spooks and philosophers, to the engineers of Empire, the works of Ho Tzu Nyen take in a dizzying montage of Asian histories. In this talk, critic and curator David Teh will offer some key contexts for understanding Ho’s oeuvre, addressing his critical reimagining of Southeast Asia, his complex relationship to the nation-state, and his reflexive approach to media.

  • Photo by Alex Davies

  • David Teh is a writer, curator and Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, researching Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. His recent curatorial projects have included Misfits: Pages from a Loose-leaf Modernity (HKW, Berlin, 2017) and Returns (12th Gwangju Biennale, 2018), and in 2022 he co-curated the 17th Istanbul Biennial with Ute Meta Bauer and Amar Kanwar. David's book Thai Art: Currencies of the Contemporary was published in 2017 by MIT Press, and he was co-editor (with David Morris) of Artist-to-Artist: Independent Art Festivals in Chiang Mai 1992-98 (2018) for Afterall's Exhibition Histories series.

Exhibition Flyer (PDF)


Concurrent Exhibition

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