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The Bizarre Honour (TBH) was a site-specific exhibition by visual artist Robert Zhao Renhui as part of Singapore Art Week 2017. Held in a colonial-era house located off Chip Bee Gardens, TBH chronicled the contentious relationship between Singapore and her inhabitants, from colony to city-state, and the violent eruption that occurs when man and nature collide.
The TBH dossier was central in communicating the context of the exhibition and helping visitors unlock the meaning behind each exhibit or artefact. Presented as an assemblage of research materials collected over half a decade by TBH, a typographic system was used to organise and differentiate content, with information being catalogued and sectioned through paper types and page formats. A classification system was also devised to correlate the research content to the exhibits and timeframe, probing visitors to ask questions and form their own narratives about Singapore’s oft-overlooked natural history.
Although the exhibition deals with historical and colonial themes, we employed a visual language for the society that was deliberately modern and extremely clinical to not only reflect Robert’s visual aesthetic but also bring an acute awareness to an obviously constructed reality. On a more abstract level, the design posed larger questions that are frequently explored in Robert’s practice—how one reads or consumes an image, and how the lines between reality and fiction are blurred.
The Bizzare Honour was awarded at the 2017 Tokyo Type Director’s Club. Photos by OH! Open House and Robert Zhao Renhui.