Xu Tan —Residencies |  NTU CCA Singapore
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The NTU CCA Singapore Residencies programme is an integral part of the NTU CCA Singapore’s mission as a research centre and hosts artists, curators, critics and scholars from Singapore and abroad. The studio-based Residencies programme is dedicated to facilitating the production of knowledge and research for and by established and emerging artists. It serves as a forum for cultural and artistic exchange in Southeast Asia, augmented with public events Residencies: Insights / Studio Sessions / OPEN series, ranging from open studio sessions, lectures, live performances, to special projects in The Lab, NTU CCA Singapore’s space for curatorial experimentation. The application for residency at NTU CCA Singapore is via nomination, please email NTUCCAresidencies@ntu.edu.sg for more information.


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.