Singapore Pavilion – Seeing Forest

Seeing Forest

Singapore Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia



The observation of the ultimately unknowable in the natural world is a hallmark of artist Robert Zhao Renhui’s praxis. Since 1998, under the auspices of his own semi-fictional Institute of Critical Zoologists, Zhao’s many and varied projects have served as lenses that highlight the resilience of nature and the various interactions that occur when such resilience overlaps with human life and society.


Notably, over the last seven years, he has been focusing on secondary forests in Singapore — forests regrown from deforested land due to human intervention such as development and plantation — and the new ecosystems that have developed within it. For the Singapore Pavilion, decades of Zhao’s accumulated observations are condensed and organised into an intensive installation that complements the scale and condition of the Singapore Pavilion in Arsenale.


Through this exhibition, we see how the island of Singapore has evolved to arrive at the present day, revealing some of the ways in which human urban design can shape the natural world itself, resulting in an ecosystem of migrant species that echoes the trajectories and makeup of the city’s human population. At the same time, Seeing Forest also highlights phenomena that are universally relatable to those living in any urban environment.


For more information about the Singapore Pavilion at the Biennale Arte, visit here





Image Credit: Robert Zhao Renhui, Buffy (2024). Courtesy of Robert Zhao Renhui.


about the artistic team



Robert Zhao Renhui (born 1983, Singapore) is an interdisciplinary artist who explores the complex and co-mingled relationships between nature and culture. Working in installation, photography, video and sculpture, Zhao is interested in the multifarious beings and objects that constitute the living world, and whose experiences and knowledge enrich our collective existence.


Zhao held solo exhibitions The Forest Institute (2022) at Gillman Barracks, Singapore and Monuments in the Forest at Shanghart Gallery (2023) in Shanghai. His latest work is a performance installation titled Albizia (2023), commissioned by the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. He has also been featured in 10th Busan Biennale (2020), 6th Singapore Biennale (2019), 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2018), 11th Taipei Biennale (2018), 17th Jakarta Biennale (2017), and 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016).


He received the prestigious National Arts Council Young Artist Award (2010), Singapore’s highest award for young arts practitioners aged 35 and below, He was also a finalist of the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award (2017).


Haeju Kim (born 1980, South Korea) is a Senior Curator at Singapore Art Museum (SAM), and her research focuses on contemporary art practices in Singapore, Southeast Asia and Asia. Her curatorial approach emphasises the consideration of the body, time and memory as key elements. Haeju’s interest in performance and her previous collaborations with performance artists and performing arts institutions have shaped her view of exhibition curating as the creation of a shared space for bodily and temporal experiences.


Prior to joining SAM, Kim was the Artistic Director of the Busan Biennale 2022. She was also the Deputy Director at Art Sonje Center, where she oversaw the exhibitions, programmes as well as the operation of the South Korean museum. She is currently pursuing research and curatorial work that is focused on diverse topics such as migration and language, questions of coexistence, ecological perspectives, and the interplay between locality and its planetary connection, among others.


Major exhibitions curated by Kim include We, on the Rising Wave at the Busan Biennale 2022, and solo exhibitions by Shitamichi Motoyuki (A ship went up that hill, 2022) and Manon de Boer (Down Time, 2022) at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. She also curated Moving/Image, a three-chapter exhibition and performance programme that was presented at Seoul Art Space Mullae (2016), ARKO Art Center (2017) and Seoul Museum of Art (2020).






artwork highlights


Seeing Forest is accompanied by a complimentary publication in print and digital editions co-published by SAM and K. Verlag Berlin.

Download the e-version of the book here


For press materials, visit here

The Owl, The Travellers and The Cement Drain


Video, two channels, 16:9, colour and sound (three channel), 46 min

Trash Stratum


Video, found objects, mixed media | Video: 12 channels, 16:9 aspect ratio, colour and sound (stereo), 46 min



Mixed media, dimensions variable

A Guide to a Secondary Forest of Singapore


Archival pigment print, 150 × 108 cm