Prestigious Paris post for Singapore curator

Prestigious Paris post for Singapore curator
Khairuddin Hori, a curator.

Singaporean curator Khairuddin Hori (above) has been appointed deputy programming director at the Palais de Tokyo, a Paris institution that is one of the world's foremost international contemporary art centres.

He will take up the post next month.

The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts alumnus is currently senior curator, curatorial development at the National Heritage Board, and was formerly senior curator at the Singapore Art Museum.

Speaking to Life!, Khairuddin, 40, who graduated from the academy with a diploma in Fine Art in 1995 and has also worked in the theatre as an actor and director, says that his new appointment "is so surreal, it still feels very unreal".

He was offered the job in April by Palais de Tokyo's president Jean de Loisy, while in Paris preparing for the Singapore Festival in France. The Singapore Festival takes place in March next year and the centre is a partner.

Mr de Loisy and Khairuddin have known each other for several years. They collaborated last June when an exhibition co-curated by Khairuddin, File Not Found, was selected to be shown at the Paris centre.

When Mr de Loisy first brought up the idea of working at the Palais de Tokyo, Khairuddin dismissed it as an offhand remark.

"At that time, I thought he was joking, so I laughed along and then stopped talking about it.

There are so many other curators in the world who could do the job, so why me," he recalls. "And then in June, when I met him again, he said, 'Why haven't you answered me?' And I told him that I thought it was a joke."

Even after thinking the offer over, the bachelor had reservations about the move. "If they had invited me there as a curator, I would not do it because I think I can do more in Singapore, I can make more of an impact here and in South-east Asia.

But when they told me they wanted me as a deputy director, that was something else completely."

His new job involves overseeing the centre's six curators and he will also be curating one exhibition a year.

At press time, Mr de Loisy could not be reached for comment, but Khairuddin believes that what prompted the offer was his unconventional approach to curating, having been an artist and theatre maker.

At the Singapore Art Museum, he has put street art on its walls, and as an artist, his multidisciplinary works have primarily a local and regional focus.

He said: "I told Jean, I'm not an academic curator. I started off as an artist and even when I'm curating, I work like an artist. Palais is known for being very theoretical, but Jean told me that that's not what he wanted.

"He said the current curators are too safe. He wants someone to bring the chaos, someone to bring the madness, to create trouble, and to stir up the way they think.

"He told me that everybody is looking for this thing called 'the contemporary', but it does not exist. And he told me, 'you know that it does not exist.

Everyone else doesn't know it, they're still looking for it. That's why I want you.'"

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