close icon

What's on



Committed to supporting artists, curators, and researchers by offering them time and space to pursue their research without the pressure of deadlines and production commitments, the Residencies Programme values the open-ended nature of artistic research and embraces multiform expressions of creative enquiry. Aiming to facilitate the production of knowledge, this studio-based programme is dedicated to established and emerging artists and serves as platform for critical exchange in Southeast Asia. The Residencies Programme offers a wide spectrum of programmes aimed at sharing the process of artistic research with the public - Residencies OPEN / Studio Sessions / Insights, which range from open studios, artists’ talks, conversations, performances, and screenings. The Residencies Programme unfolds through annual cycles and runs by nomination only. Every year, a rotating pool of curators and arts professionals from all over the world is invited to nominate two artists for the residency. The nominated artists are subsequently invited to submit a research proposal along with their portfolio and CV. Ultimately, the Residencies Committee, an international panel of experts, reviews the submitted materials and designates the artists who are awarded the residency.


Xu Tan

Residency period

20 June – 1 August 2016


Xu Tan (b. 1957, China) currently lives and works in Guangzhou, China. Xu is notably known for his ongoing project Searching for Keywords that analyses video interviews of different communities to identify key words based on meaning that reveal values and motivations of contemporary Chinese society. The derivative lexicon gives a pulse of the current social climate and presents an insight into the collective social consciousness of China.

Xu is recipient of Fellowship of the Asian Cultural Council, Rockefeller Foundation, United States (2002). He has participated in numerous international exhibitions such as Making World and Dreams and Conflicts – The Viewer’s Dictatorship, Venice Biennale, Italy (2009, 2003) and Alors Le Chine, Center Pompidou, France (2003). Keywords School has exhibited extensively at Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Canada (2010); Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong (2009); Vitamin Creative Space, China (2008) and Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden (2008). A member of Big Tail Elephant Group from 1993 to 1998, he participated in the group’s guerilla style exhibitions and most recently exhibited collectively at the retrospective exhibition Operation PRD – Big Tail Elephants: One Hour, No Room, Five Shows, Guangdong Times Museum, China (2016).


During his residency, Xu Tan will continue to work and expand on his project Keywords Lab: Socio-botany. First initiated in 2012, the work consisted of investigations and interviews with disparate voices and inhabitants around the  Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province, China on their views on urbanisation in China. 

By bringing Keywords Lab: Socio-botany into the context of Singapore, Xu hopes to understand Singapore’s view on the complexities that govern our relationship with the natural and built environments that we live in. Proposed points of entry are through local discussions on the history of plants, criteria in urban construction and development, citizen participation in public tree planting programmes and lastly, conditions of food production.