His work in Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia brings together fact and myth to mobilize different understandings of Southeast Asia’s history, politics, and religion, often premised upon a complex set of references from art history, to theatre, cinema, and philosophy.
Based on academic research, the series embodies the artist’s effort to convert and transform the outcome of his research into multisensorial and empirical art forms. “The term Southeast Asia emerged out of World War II as the way the American military referred to the region. So one starting point for this project was a question—what constitutes the unity of Southeast Asia, a region that has never been unified by language, religion or political structures? I began compiling a series of concepts, anecdotes, motifs, and biographies that seem relevant to this question, and many of the works that I’ve produced in the last few years such as Ten Thousand Tigers from 2014, 2 or 3 Tigers from 2015, and One or Several Tigers in 2017 all came out of this collection. Tigers dispersed across Southeast Asia more than a million years ago, before the emergence of homo sapiens, and myths of the tiger as an ancestral kin and beliefs in weretigers, were found throughout the region. These myths, along with tigers, were wiped out in the era of Colonialism. But we see tigers returning as metaphors for humans who live at edge of civilization—in the form of Communist guerillas, bandits, and even the Japanese army during WWII. The algorithmic editing system enabled me to present the collection as a whole, the infinite combinations generating unexpected linkages amongst the fragments, while producing an endless series of possible Southeast Asias”, Ho Tzu Nyen told Vdrome in an interview.
The Dictionary proposes 26 terms – one for each letter of the English alphabet. Each term is a concept, a motif, or a biography, and together they are threads weaving together a torn and tattered tapestry of Southeast Asia.
Other than the Dictionary, Ho also has works shown internationally at major exhibitions such as the Aichi Triennale, Japan (2019), the Sharjah Biennial 14, United Arab Emirates (2019), and the Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2018). In 2011, Ho represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale at the Singapore Pavilion, presenting the work The Cloud of Unknowing.
According to en.wikipedia.org and guggenheim.org