A critical look at the history of the Malaysian communist party

The Name

Ho Tzu Nyen


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With his film The Name (2015), Ho Tzu Nyen, a film maker and visual artist from Singapore, takes a critical look at the history of the Malaysian communist party. The Nameless (2014) was the run-up to his latest theatre piece, The Mysterious Lai Teck. 

The Name consists of two versions: The Name I and The Name II.

The Name I was inspired by work from Gene Z. Hanrahan, the first writer who tried to put together a comprehensive history of the Malaysian communist party. The film consists of sampled clips from American movies in which a writer can be seen at work. With the American fiction, Ho constructs a life of a fictional writer documenting a history, while the question is how reliable his sources are. So many texts by Hanrahan were published that for a long time it was believed the name was a pseudonym for several writers. The spoken text in The Name I consists of fragments from different books supposedly written by Hanrahan. 

However... the American researcher Marc Opper reveals a different story, namely that Hanrahan was no fictional but an actual person. This discovery was the reason for Ho Tzu Nyen to make a second version of The Name. In The Name II, we hear parts of Marc Opper’s research. The basic assumption here is that the writer is not a made-up character but a ghost-writer with connections to the CIA. (see the document Gene Z. Hanrahan: Elusive Historian of the Malayan Emergency as well). 

The film The Name comes from Ho Tzu Nyen’s ongoing project The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, a virtual critical dictionary in which the L stands for Lai Teck and Legibility, among other things. The G stands for Gene Z. Hanrahan, Ghost and Ghost-writer, while the N stands for The Name.


Ho Tzu Nyen (1976, Singapore) makes films, installations and theatre performances, taking his inspiration from historical and philosophical texts. He received his bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts from the

Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and his Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore. Since then he has worked and exhibited all over the world. His most recent works are part of an ongoing project, The Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia, and are populated by figures that can undergo a metamorphosis, such as the weretiger in One or Several Tigers (2017) and the traitor in The Mysterious Lai Teck (2018).


Ho has had solo exhibitions of his works in Kunstverein Hamburg (2018), Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai (2018), Guggenheim Bilbao (2015), DAAD Galerie, Berlin (2015) and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012). In 2011 he represented Singapore at the 54th Venice Biennale. His work has been shown at the 12th Gwangju Biennale (2018), in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2017), at the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014) and the 2nd Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014).


His theatrical works have been have programmed at Kampnagel, Hamburg (2018), TPAM (2018), Asian Arts Theatre, Gwangju (2015), the Wiener Festwochen (2014), Theater der Welt (2010), the KunstenFestivaldesArts (2018, 2008, 2006) and Singapore Arts Festival (2019, 2008, 2006). His films have been shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and the film festivals of Berlin (2015), Cannes (2009), Venice (2009), Locarno (2011) and Rotterdam (2008, 2010, 2013). Ho received a DAAD Scholarship in Berlin (2014 – 2015) and was awarded the Grand Prize of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation (2015).



The Name I, 2015
Single Channel HD video, stereo sound, 16min 51sec Courtesy the Artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery
The Name II, 2018
Single Channel HD video, stereo sound, 16min 51sec Courtesy the Artist and Edouard Malingue Gallery