Ho Tzu Nyen image

Ho Tzu Nyen

Language (2021) | Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality


The Kyoto School is a network of scholars formed around the figure of the Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida (1870–1945), who is typically regarded as a key figure of Japanese modern philosophy. In this work, we hear fragments of 3 texts by 3 different members of the Kyoto School. The first text is The Problem of Japanese Culture, developed from a public lecture the Nishida delivered in 1938. The second and third texts are by Hajime Tanabe (1885 –1962) and Kiyoshi Miki (1897 – 1945).

Tanabe is considered to be Nishida’s first disciple and successor. His text, Death-Life was a lecture delivered to a crowded auditorium at Kyoto Imperial University on 19 May 1943 as part of the Monday Lecture Series. In autumn1943, about five months after Tanabe’s lecture, all male humanities students over 20 were subject to enlistment. In Death-Life, Tanabe says that there are three types of attitudes towards death. One: a “natural” attitude where you don’t think of death because it’s no use. Two: an attitude of “self-conscious being” where you will yourself to face up against death and thus gain awareness of your existence. Three: a “practical” attitude where, by actually dying for the state, an individual is connected to the absolute. Present in the lecture was Masuzo Ohya, who not only stenographed it, but also wrote six tanka poems about it. One of this poem goes: “Lectured on death and sent students to war who said it was philosophy that bleeds.”

Another is the title of this piece. The other text we hear in this work is by Kiyoshi Miki, The World Historical Significance of the China Incident, which was a talk he gave in 1938. In 1945, Miki was arrested for harbouring a communist fugitive playwright. On 26

September 1945, six weeks after the war ended, Miki was found dead in Toyotama Prison, reportedly of nephritis due to scabies and malnutrition.

About Ho Tzu Nyen

Ho Tzu Nyen makes films, installations and performances that often begin as engagements with historical and theoretical texts.

One-person exhibitions of his work have been held at the Hammer Museum (2022), Toyota Municipal Museum of Art (2021), Crow Museum of Asian Arts (2021), Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM](2021), Edith-Russ Haus for Media Art (Oldenburg, 2019), Kunstverein in Hamburg (2018), Ming Contemporary Art Museum [McaM] (Shanghai, 2018); Asia Art Archive (2017), Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), Mori Art Museum, (2012), The Substation (Singapore, 2003). He represented the Singapore Pavilion at the 54 th Venice Biennale (2011).

Recent group exhibitions include the Aichi Triennale (2019); 12 th Gwangju Biennale (2018); 2 or 3 Tigers at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017), the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); the 2 nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014). His theatrical works have been presented at festivals such as TPAM (Yokohama, Japan, 2021, 2019, 2018); The Holland Festival (Amsterdam, 2020, 2018); Wiener Festwochen (2020, 2014); Theater der Welt (2010); the KunstenFestivaldesArts (2006, 2008, 2018). His films have been presented at the Berlin (2015); Sundance (2012); Cannes (2009) and Venice (2009) film Festivals. Together with Taiwanese artist Hsu Chia-wei, he also co-curated ‘The Strangers from Beyond the Mountain and the Sea’, the 7th Asian Art Biennale, at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts.

Ho Tzu Nyen was awarded a DAAD Scholarship in Berlin (2014 – 2015) and the Grand Prize of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize (2015).


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