The Nature Museum is a fascinating exploration of Singapore’s natural history through historical and fantastical narratives created by the Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ).
An immersive museological setting by Robert Zhao of ICZ, The Nature Museum takes you on a journey through photographs, artworks and historical documents both found and fabricated. Get lost in another time as you wander around the artful arrangements of books, posters and images captivatingly displayed on Victorian shelves and vitrines, accompanied by antiquated caption texts.
Artist and photographer Zhao has become known for his layered narratives blending historical documentation and imaginative storytelling that provide thought-provoking commentary on natural as well as social issues. The installation is fleshed out by a guided tour and lecture performance, created in collaboration with playwright Joel Tan, weaving together myriad stories of our island’s rich flora and fauna, its little-known agriculture and aggressive landscaping, fully revealing the extent of Singapore’s ‘Garden City’ moniker.
Underneath bubbles a deeper story of violence and control, hidden in much of Singapore’s encounters with nature: forests recede while manicured greenery emerges. Rediscover the meaning behind images of the plantations and jungles of our past and ponder the implications of the clash between Nature and urban development on our tiny island.
In ICZ’s inimitable style, The Nature Museum meshes past and future in an arresting work that will astonish all who are curious about the world around us.
Commissioned by Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA).
72-13 is located at 72-13 Mohamed Sultan Road, Singapore 239007
Institute of Critical Zoologists
The Institute for Critical Zoologists aims to develop a critical approach to the zoological gaze, or how humans view animals, seeking to develop a Critical Zoological Gaze that pursues creative, interdisciplinary research that includes perspectives typically ignored by animal studies, such as aesthetics; and to advance unconventional, even radical, means of understanding human and animal relations. The institute also discourages anthropomorphism in the appreciation and understanding of zoology.
Singaporean visual artist Robert Zhao Renhhui works mainly with photography but often adopts a multi-disciplinary approach by presenting images together with documents and objects. His work addresses man’s relationship with nature, and related issues of mortality and ethics, paying close attention to how our attitudes and opinions shape our assumptions about the natural world. His recent exhibitions include the Singapore Biennale 2013, President’s Young Talents 2013, The Institute of Critical Zoologists at Chapter Arts Centre (United Kingdom), Photoquai 2013, International Festival of Photography at Mineiro Museum (Brazil) and Engaging International Festival of Photography at Mineiro Museum (Brazil).
Joel Tan is a playwright and performer. Recent productions of his plays include Tango (Pangdemonium), Cafe (The Twenty-Something Theatre Festival), Mosaic (Take Off Productions/M1 Fringe Festival), and The Way We Go (Checkpoint Theatre). Several of his plays are collected in Joel Tan: Plays Volume 1, published by Checkpoint Theatre, where he is an associate artist. Joel regularly collaborates interdisciplinarily, and has created performances with artists working in dance, poetry, and visual art. Most notably, he was the director and dramaturge of poet Pooja Nansi's You Are Here, a spoken word memoir, and Flamenco Sin Fronteras's dance theatre adaptation of Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba. Joel also writes creative non-fiction, much of which can be read on poskod.sg and his website, joeltan.org.