tatzu nishi: the merlion hotel at singapore biennale 2011
‘the merlion hotel’ by tatsu nishi, rendering
since the late 1990s, japanese artist tatzu nishi has been creating out-of-scale and out-of-place encounters in public spaces around the world. he has transformed street lights, parked cars and monuments, building new spaces around them and altering their setting. the merlion hotel, nishi’s most recent project, especially created for the singapore biennale 2011, comprises a luxurious hotel room built around singapore’s national monument, the 70-tonne white cement artwork ‘the merlion’, offering audiences an entirely new relationship to this globally recognized symbol.
close-up of the merlion hotel
this one-of-a-kind installation piece will transform singapore’s beloved iconic landmark into a temporary and luxurious hotel suite, open in the day for public viewing and in the evening for overnight stays. the hotel will take in reservations from 28 february 2011. members of the public can book a one-night stay between 4 april to 5 may for two adults at the special rate of 150 singapore dollars nett. the hotel is fully furnished with a double-bed, bathroom, amenities, personalised room check-in, dedicated merlion hotel butler as well as breakfast at the fullerton hotel singapore. check-in: 8.30pm7 / check-out: 8.30am. reservations are made on a first-come-first-served basis. bookings can be made here: dial (+65) 6332 9870, between 10am – 5pm (GMT +8)
additionally, a promotional contest, the ‘I should stay at the merlion hotel’’ will allow a lucky person win a complimentary night’s stay at the hotel on the first and last nights of the biennale (march 13 and may 15). in this contest, individuals have to submit personal stories of no more than 100 words, explaining why they deserve to win an overnight stay at the hotel. submissions will be judged by tatzu nishi and the biennale organizers.
to participate, email: <[email protected]> or fax your entry to +65 6334 7919. all entries must include the following: full name (as in NRIC/FIN or passport), NRIC/FIN or passport number, contact number, email address, mailing address for contact and verification purposes. closing date: 7 march 2011.
rendering white facade (left), the artist’s blueprint (right)
sketch by tatzu nishi
water spews from the merlion statue, an eight-meter-tall
sculpture built in 1972, at merlion park next to one fullerton,
overlooking the scenic marina bay in singapore
image © designboom
the merlion hotel is one of the over 150 works by 63 artists from 30 countries, presented at the singapore biennale ‘open house’ program. it will revert to being a tourist landmark on june 6. the merlion is the main symbol of singapore, a hybrid animal that pays metaphorical tribute to the city’s name and history. the lion element refers to the city’s original name, ‘singapura’ (‘lion city’), while the fish torso honours its maritime heritage. the creature was dreamed up as a logo for the singapore tourist board in 1964 – and, having proved popular, was enshrined in statue in 1972.
the merlion in singapore
image © designboom
in its third edition, the singapore biennale (SB2011) is led by artistic director matthew ngui and curators russell storer and trevor smith, and is organized by the singapore art museum (SAM) of the national heritage board and supported by the national arts council, singapore. open to the public from march 13 to may 15, 2011.
as the leading biennale in southeast asia, SB2011 situates contemporary art from singapore and southeast asia within a broad international conversation. the title ‘open house’ is conceived not as a theme but as an invitation or ‘open doors’ onto contemporary artistic practice. artists’ practices are not simply grounded in describing or portraying subjects in the world, but are often actual attempts to exchange information, translate experiences and trade places and perspectives. ‘open house’ suggests the crossing of thresholds between public and private, where boundaries and borders are made permeable.
it is in this fluid space that contemporary art often emerges, out of a need to bridge the gaps between the experiential and the psychological, and between social and political hierarchies.
tatzu nishi was born 1960, nagoya, japan; he lives and works in berlin and tokyo. tatzu nishi uses scale and distance in his installations to propose fresh perspectives on what might be taken for granted or otherwise seem ordinary. his best-known projects have involved the building of rooms around public monuments or architectural elements. the result is two-fold: on one hand, an ‘instant sculpture’ appears in a private space, and on the other, that same piece disappears from the public sphere. within the room, this dramatic shift from public to private creates an encounter with the sculpture that is both fascinating and uncanny; there is egalitarianism in nishi’s desire to expose art to all. tatzu nishi works under a variety of names as part of each project, including tatsuro nishino, tatzu oozu and tatsurou bashi.