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Dennis Tan

b. 1975, Singapore
Lives and works in Tokyo, Japan

Many waters to cross, 2019

Durational performance-construction resulting in hand-crafted timber boat and 2-channel video
Performance-construction duration: 8 months; kolek boat: 900 x 80 x 80 cm
Collection of the Artist
Singapore Biennale 2019 commission

Spanning over eight months, Many waters to cross by Dennis Tan is a durational artistic project that revolved around the performance-construction of a kolek – a traditional timber racing sailboat – without the use of schematics or design plans and built in plain view of the public. Kolek racing was a popular sport in the 1950s and 60s, but it has all but disappeared today in rapidly developing Singapore. Adopting his mode of “building-without-a-plan,” Dennis Tan sought to rediscover the art of kolek-making through trial and error, undertaking research in Keban, Indonesia, where the practice continues today. For Tan, revitalising this craft is also a resurrection of forgotten memories and knowledge.


Production supported by: Singapore Sailing Federation

Dennis Tan (b. 1975, Singapore) is an artist whose practice grounds itself in the sensibilities of the common man – engaging the subject with naive curiosity. Approaching his practice of building as "building-without-a-plan," Tan is informed by process and derives new material understanding through the act of object-making. He graduated with a Diploma in Painting, BA in Environmental Design, and a MA in Architecture. A member of the experimental art collective The Artists Village, Tan has exhibited in Singapore, Australia and Korea. He lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.