the institute of






































































































































































































All images by the ICZ







New bookwork, Mynas

28th April 2016

Mynas, 2016

Avaible to ship via paypal here



Christmas Island, Naturally - The 20th Biennale of Sydney, Carriageworks

An experiment in natural history investigation

8th March 2016

Christmas Island, Naturally, 2016


20th Biennale of Sydney

18th March - 5th June 2016




This project looks at the ecology of Christmas Island. The nearly 150 years of human settlement have introduced a number of invasive species onto the island. Not only do these newcomers threaten some of the island’s most imperiled species, such as the Abbott’s Booby and Christmas Island Gecko, they have also caused the extinction of other species.

Christmas Island's ecology is considered to be unique due to its endemic flora and fauna and the presence of large populations of land crabs and seabirds, which are the most noticeable fauna on the island. The annual breeding migration of the red crabs is also a well known event. Researchers estimate that 40 million crabs live on the island now, and the number could have been twice that before invasive yellow crazy ants became a problem.

As a result of its unique biodiversity, exceptional endemism and the myriad of threats faced by invasive species, Christmas Island is a high-value conservation area currently gazetted as a strict nature reserve. In recognition of the island’s fragile ecosystems, the 3rd Christmas Island Conservation Plan called for the resettlement of human communities, which eventually led to a relocation of these communities to the Australian mainland. At present, a permit is needed for researchers intending to study biodiversity on the island, and the island remains indefinitely out of bounds to commercial tourism.

The artist, Robert Zhao Renhui undertook a research residency on Christmas Island between 2015-2016 and produced the book, 'Christmas Island, Naturally.' The book consists of 120 images and documents on the extinctions and conservation efforts on the island.


An installation of the project will take place at Carriageworks during the 20th Biennale of Sydney.


More about Christmas Island, Naturally -

20th Biennale of Sydney -

Venue : Carriageworks -


Purchase book here.


The last echolocation call of a tiny bat native to the island, the Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi), was recorded on this spot on 26th August 2009.


The last stray dog on Christmas Island was seen on this spot in 2012, shortly after the beginning of the Cat Eradication Program. There are currently no dogs on Christmas Island.


A widespread search in 2015, using automatic cameras, yielded only a rare glimpse of a single individual. A long time has passed without conclusive evidence of the cat’s survival, and sadly this domestic species must be considered ‘probably extinct’ on Christmas Island. The personal opinion of the authors, however, based mainly on the continued and increasing incidence of impressive sightings and the availability of apparently suitable prey, is that there is still a chance that this intriguing animal has survived to the present day.
Q. Yong, G. Chia, 'Search for the Last Christmas Island Cat', 2015






On numerous occasions, I noticed a Goshawk shadowing me in the forest as I searched for insects under fallen branches and logs. This particular individual was not shy at all - in fact, at some point I had clear views of it for as long as 20 minutes. I finally understood its peculiar behaviour when one day, I saw it swoop down to grab a thrush that flew out when I was traipsing through the vegetation during my insect hunt. It was using me as a proxy to flush potential prey.

R. Zhao, 'Field notes on the foraging ecology of the Christmas Island Goshawk (Accipiter fasciatus natalis)', Institute of Critical Zoologists, Journal No. 174, 2015


Following a recent research expedition to the Christmas Island Natural Reserve, an ecologist asked us to assess the impact of the 3rd Christmas Island Conservation Plan on populations of endemic animals. We replied that, although a quantitative assessment is dif cult and more research is needed to understand this phenomenon, the net ecological impact has been positive. After a long pause, the perplexed ecologist asked how it could  be possible that a landscape invaded by exotics could produce positive ecological consequences. The answer was simple— humans have evacuated the island.

T. Satoshi, ‘Restoration and rewilding nature: freeing ecosystems from humans’, Unpublished


The Tree That Fell

7th September 2015

How To Make A Tree Disappear As Nature Intended II (2015)


Vitrine, 150kg of sawdust from The Substation Malayan Banyan tree.


The artist spent nine months sanding down each piece of trunk manually with sand paper. This pile of sawdust came from 200kg of wood.

The Tree That Fell
Robert Zhao Renhui | The Substation

Friday, 28 August, 2015 – Sunday, 27 Sepetember, 2015

12-8pm Daily


In 2014, I spent a few nights under one of the Banyan trees at the back of The Substation for a project. A few months later, all the trees there were chopped to make way for a new building, except for the largest one, which was uprooted and kept somewhere till it finds a new home. During the demolition, I salvaged some of the tree trucks and kept them, not really knowing what I would do with them.

A year later, I found that the trunks were mostly intact, and there were little insects and plants growing in them. Only one of the segments was reduced to an ashy powder by powderpost beetles.

I started thinking about the idea of disappearance in nature, and how long, without intervention, a tree takes to disappear. As an experiment, I started sanding all the wood down manually to see how long I can reduce it to dust.

It took me nine months.

Meanwhile, I know that the large Banyan tree will be transplanted in a few years time. It takes forever for a tree to disappear in the forest, but in Singapore, we can grow a 30-metre tree in just a few days. It is almost a miracle.

Slow disappearances and instant trees: Time is warped in the tree world in Singapore.

- Robert Zhao Renhui, incollaboration with The Substation for Septfest


Substation, Sept Fest

Exhibition review

The artist sanding down the trunks for How To Make A Tree Disappear As Nature Intended II (2015)

Detail of How To Make A Tree Disappear As Nature Intended II (2015)


How To Make A Tree Disappear As Nature Intended I (2015)
4.25m x 0.6m x 1.55m
Vitrine, Substation banyan tree root, powderpost beetles, powder
The artist salvaged this long root from the Substation Banyan tree that was taken away to be transplanted. The inside of this branch is slowly being eaten by the larva of powderpost beetles, which spend months or years inside reducing the wood to fine powder. Their presence is only apparent when they emerge as adults, leaving behind pinhole-sized openings, often called "shot holes". If conditions are right, female beetles may lay their eggs and re-infest the wood, continuing the cycle for generations, and reducing the wood to a pile of dust.


Installation View




What it is about when it is about nothing

Secret need for your existence ii, 2015
Resin, Gold-leaf, Diasec


What it is about when it is about nothing

Curated by Michael Lee

What it is about when it is about nothing is a group exhibition of works by 7 sets of artists curated by Michael Lee, which aims to broaden the discussions about Singapore art beyond the ongoing surge of thematic shows about Singapore identity, quirks and repressed histories. It aims firstly to explore the aesthetics of “nothing” in the context of an art scene anxious to assign something meaningful to artworks, and secondly to expand definitions of the “Singapore artist” beyond country of birth, nationality and base.

Artists : Perception3 (Regina De Rozario & Seah Sze Yunn), Ho Rui An, Robert Zhao, Jennis Li Cheng Tien, Homa Shojaie, Adeline Kueh and Michael Lee

25 September - 25 October 2015

Vernissage : 
Friday, 25 September  2015
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Mizuma Gallery, Singapore


The Discovery Award, Rencontres d'Arles

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, Installation View at Rencontres d'Arles, 2015
2015, Dimensions variable
Installation of documents and prints

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World is nominated by Louise Clements (UK) to be part of the Discovery Award this year.

The Discovery Award is given to a photographer or an artist using photography whose work has recently been discovered or deserves to be. Every year since 2002, each of the five nominators invited by the Rencontres d’Arles has nominated two photographers, who exhibit their work in a solo show at the Parc des Ateliers.

Copies of the book available here 
Singapore :
Worldwide Shipping :

6 July - 20 September

Arles 2015



Pause, Photo Bangkok Festival

Installation view of The Blind of Pause at Bangkok Art Cultural Centre during Photo Bangkok festival 2015. Curated by Ark Fongsmut

PAUSE, a contemporary photography exhibition, is a part of Photo Bangkok festival 2015 with the support of Bangkok Art Cultural Centre.  The artists in the exhibition are Ang Song Nian, Bui Huu Phuoc, Jed Escueta, Kim Hak, May Co Naing, MES 56, Minstrel Kuik Ching Chieh, Naruebes Vadvaree, Nazaruddin Abdul Hamed, Phan Quang, Prateep Suthathongthai, Robert Zhao Renhui, Sophal Neak, Souliya Phoumivong and Yason Banal.


This contemporary photography exhibition, PAUSE, introduces a sketch or a collage of stories and issues of the region through the artists’ critical point of views without any conclusion.  All exhibited artworks do not come from single disciplinary.  They reflect visions and opinions that are re-contextualizing through photography in various medias in order to open our mind for new realities from our neighborhood.

- See more at:


Exhibition runs from July 30, 2015 to November 01, 2015

Bangkok Art Cultural Centre

Main Gallery 9th Floor

Opening hours: Wed-Sat 12 to 6 pm



Bangkok Art Cultural Centre




Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography

Installation view of A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World at Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography, 2015

Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography


Through the theme of adaptation, a subject that is of particular contemporary relevance, the 19th Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography will reveal trends in emerging Swiss and international photography. In their explorations of the remarkable ability of living things to adapt, the invited photographers record how human beings, animals, and even the landscape are transforming themselves in reaction to new conditions. In the 21st century, the challenges are mainly created by humans themselves. Confronted with entirely new situations, individuals, whether in isolation or as members of a group, seek ways to adapt, or sometimes to resist it.


The Festival has selected works of photography which engage closely with issues that raise questions for the future of our contemporary societies: intensive resource development, neocolonialism, demographics, economic needs, recent political changes, religion, genetic modification, climate change, new technologies, as well as the uses of the medium of photography itself. The photographers have aimed at finding subjects that reflect a present that is very near to us, from one end of the planet to the other: from Japan to the US, from Ukraine to Lesotho, and in Switzerland too. The images offer a panorama of the practice of photography now: documentary photos, humanistic projects and conceptual ones; photographs with a scientific or classificatory aim; projects that incorporate archival images or images found on the internet; and installations that take possession of the exhibition space.

Documents and images from A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World is on show at the Neues Museum Biel.

Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography, Switzerland

Flies Prefer Yellow

8th December 2014

He counts the stars and call them all by name
2.1m x 1.5m, Chromogenic Color Print, face mounted on Plexiglass, Framed

A family portrait photograph of 4784 flies from a single family of flies. Each fly is meticulously labelled with information of its provenance and some of these flies mimics/pretends to be other insects like bees and wasps to cheat predators.

Flies Prefer Yellow
Robert Zhao Renhui | Kadist Art Foundation

Resulting from his three-month residency at Kadist Art Foundation, Flies Prefer Yellow is the North American debut exhibition of Singapore-based artist, Robert Zhao Renhui (b. 1983). Featuring installation and photographic works, the exhibition explores boundaries, systems, neuroses, and control through the artist’s encounters with one of the most inconspicuous insect species on earth–flies. Despite their ubiquity and adaptability (more than 145,000 species exist), flies remain nearly invisible to many humans. This dismissive outlook is attributed less to visual perception, and more to a psychological predisposition towards the insect’s lack of purpose—a manufactured negligence that determines what we see and what we do not. Rendering the unseen visible, and the ignored critical, this multidisciplinary exhibition amplifies the intersections of insect and human, natural and urbanized environments, and entomology and art practice.

During his residency, Zhao made multiple visits to the Sacramento insect lab of Dr. Martin Hauser, Senior Insect Biosystematist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (and longtime acquaintance of the artist’s). Inspired by Hauser’s scientific impulse towards exhaustive taxonomy, Zhao began observing and cataloguing insects. Ranging from beetle-tracking within the urban core of San Francisco, to collecting the various insect carcasses from his windshield during road trips, the artist began accumulating observations about the indigenous insects, and in particular, the flies he encountered. In addition to the flies themselves, Zhao’s curiosity extends to the various traps and methods humans use to rid themselves of the pests. The exhibition’s title, Flies Prefer Yellow, on the one hand refers to the artist’s affectionate imagination through its anthropopathic tone, implying a desire to be friendly with the insects. On the other hand, the preference is actually a statistical observation as most commercial flytraps are produced in the color yellow. Through the lens of flies, the exhibition invites critical reflection on human’s paradoxical relationships with animals and our organic world.

Through this collision with art, the insect world, long suppressed and diminished by the congestion and monumentality of urban life, is revealed in the full glory of its contradictions: the fly is both friend and foe, beautiful and repellant, known, yet never fully described. Through languages of humor, repetition, contradiction and juxtaposition, Zhao’s practice negotiates the process of image making and the proximity of vision that continue to blur lines between objective documentation and fictional narrative.

On the evening of the opening reception, November 19 6-9pm, Dr. Martin Hauser joined Zhao and Xiaoyu Weng in conversation within a pop-up laboratory of his scientific materials and specimens. Monica Martinez, of Don Bugito, served edible insect appetizers alongside a special insect cocktail by Helena Keeffe.


Bagworm, Graperoot Borer, Gypsy Moth, Japanese Beetle, Pepper Weevil, Apple Maggot, Blueberry Maggot, Walnut Husk Fly, Cherry Fruit Fly, Whitefly, Thrip, Flying Aphid, Fungus Gnat, Mushroom Fly, Corn Rootworm, Rose Chafer, San Jose Scale, Squash Vine Borer, Winter Moth, Sweet Potato Weevil, Stink Bug, Elm Bark Beetle, Fruit Fly, Mediterranean Fruit Fly, Medfly, Olive Fruit Fly, Carrot Rust Fly, White Pine Weevil, Pecan Weevil, Plum Curculio, Citrus Weevil, Black Cherry Fruit Fly, Apple Blotch Leafminer, Spruce Budworm, Whitemarked Tussock Moth, European Pine Shoot Moth, Black Cutworm, Armyworm, Beet Army Worm, Cabbage Looper, Nantucket Pinetip Moth, Southwestern Corn Borer, Bumblebees, Tarnished Plant Bug, Eastern Apple Sawfly, Mites, Pink Bollworm, Codling Moth, Redbanded Leafroller, Pecan Nut Casebearer, Blackheaded Fireworm, Bagworm, Oriental Beetle, Indian Meal Moth, Tobacco Budworm, Arthur's Sunflower Moth, Honey Bee, Leek Moth, Lima Bean Pod Borer, Old World Boll Worm, Potato Moth, Tomato Pinworm, Vine Mealybug, Soy Bean Looper

Installation of 69 Insect Traps, Dimensions Variable, 2014






The Nature Collector

ShanghART Gallery Shanghai is pleased to present Robert Zhao Renhui’s exhibition “The Nature Collector”, his first solo presentation in China.

Zhao is an emerging Singaporean visual artist whose practice includes photography, performance, video and installation. Austere and mysterious, his works explore the relationship between humans and the nature, and frequently appropriate on the language and processes of science.

For “The Nature Collector”, he unveils new works themed around the idea of animal traps. Traps are a source of fascination for Zhao, who sees them as elegant physical manifestations of humankind’s knowledge of a particular creature. To best lure an animal into your trap, you need intimate knowledge of that species, as well as its habits, preferences and weaknesses. Zhao’s images of traps, however, are open-ended and unexplained. They are landscapes inviting contemplation, and are possibly, ruses: Is the artist telling the truth? A splash of blue in jungle landscape is simply titled Bee Trap, and what appears to be a photograph of small red balls hanging in trees is called Apple Moth Trap.

Some works take on a hint of menace, touching on ideas of entrapment, punishment and sin. In Eskimo Wolf Trap Often Quoted in Sermons, a bloodied knife is stuck in a bed of snow. Behind, a text describes how a wolf, lured by rabbit’s blood on the knife, will lick the knife, cutting its own tongue, getting more excited by its own blood, till it eventually bleeds to death.

Zhao’s work also explores notions of boundaries, systems and control as human beings attempt to know and catalogue the natural world. In “He counts the stars and calls them all by name”, a large photograph shows 4784 insects meticulously arranged and labelled with information of their provenance. The Biblical reference alludes to a complicated power releations between scientist and subject, human and animal, classifier and classified.

11th Jan 2015 - 18th Feb 2015
Shanghart, Shanghai







Eskimo Wolf Trap often quoted in sermons
2013, Dimensions variable
Installation of diasec, eskimo knife, polyurethane, 200 kg of sodium bicarbonate
"Eventually, a wolf will approach the knife and begin to cautiously sniff and lick the frozen blood. After believing it is safe, the wolf will lick more aggressively. Soon, the blade of the knife becomes exposed and it begins to nick the wolf’s tongue. Because its tongue has been numbed by the cold of the frozen blood, the wolf is unaware that he is being cut, and the blood it now tastes is its own. Excited at the prospect of fresh, warm blood, the wolf will hungrily lick the blade all the more. In a short time, the wolf will grow dizzy and disoriented. In a matter of hours, it will die from blood loss, literally drinking itself to death. As horrible as this picture is, it illustrates an important truth."

Signature Art Prize, Singapore Art Museum
APB Foundation Signature Art Prize returns for its third edition this year. Recognising the most outstanding contemporary work by both emerging and established artists over the last three years, the prize puts the spotlight on compelling works of visual art from across the Asia-Pacific region. Eskimo Wolf Trap often quoted in sermons is one of the shortlisted 15 finalists.

Selected by a panel of five eminent judges from around the region, the 15 finalists were chosen from a total of 105 nominated artworks from 24 countries and territories. The contemporary artworks represent the very best of the region, and come from 13 diverse countries and territories including Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Staying true to contemporary practice, this year’s entries are of an extremely high calibre, collectively showing a real diversity of medium, innovative approach to genre and materials, and strong conceptual ideas. They each address topical issues and collectively shed light not just on the region’s contemporary art landscape but also on concerns and conversations relevant in society today.

Venue : Singapore Art Museum
14 Nov 2014 – 15 Mar 2015


Signature Art Prize






Torijon grasslands, from the series, The Blind, 2007

Fake & Reality
Robert Zhao Renhui & Ricardo Casas
Anzenberger Gallery

Working at his Institute of Critical Zoologists, the Singapore-based artist Robert Zhao Renhui creates his own universe and a guide to the flora and fauna of this world. It is usually impossible to tell what is reality and what is fake. Then again, our confusion hints at the fact that the typical consumer is just as clueless in everyday life. Is the apple in the supermarket genuine or genetically manipulated? In which ways does man influence nature to make it what we perceive as pleasant and aesthetic?

It is often only a fine line that separates reality from its falsification. Looking at Ricardo Cases’s pictures, for example, we would assume that they are counterfeit: painted pigeons that look like they were created on a computer using Photoshop. The more baffled we are to learn that they are real: a group of pigeon breeders from the area around Valencia, Spain, painted their birds in gaudy colors for a competition.

Exhibition goes from November 7, 2014 to January 31, 2015

Absberggasse 27, 1100 Vienna
Opening hours: Wed-Sat 12 to 6 pm






Fat polar bear swimming in Hudson Bay, from, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World

Photobook Melbourne

12-22nd Feb 2015

Photobook Melbourne is an artist-run, not for profit organization dedicated to creating a platform for experimental and innovative artistic photography and book making practices. A platform for artists, bookmakers and book lovers to discuss, examine and appreciate marvellous imagery and outstanding storytelling. We will bring together expertise and insight directly from the world’s greatest photographers, graphic designers, curators, publishers & printers. Our aim is to share their knowledge with professional photographers, passionate amateurs and the inquisitive book lover. Initiating conversations about the nature of self publishing, form and function, practice and process.

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World will be exhibiting at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

Copies of the book available here
Singapore :
Worldwide Shipping :

Photobook Melbourne

The Possibility of Knowing

2nd June 2014

30 years, from the series, The Possibility of Knowing, 2013

Photographs and videos of guard dogs restrained and standing at attention, their front limbs propped up with a large stones, on the beach of Padang. Unable to move and looking attentive, the dogs are set in this tensed situation by the seller to ensure the dogs look their best



.Padang, 2013


Padang, 2013


Installation View. The Possibility of Knowing part of the exhibition, Unearthed at the Singapore Art Museum, 2014


The Possibility of Knowing


Created during a residency with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, the project looks at Padang, Indonesia. Scientists has predicted a tsunami (the size of a tsunami that hit Aceh, Sumatra) will hit Padang in the next 30 years. The project looks at how the possibilities and impossibilities of knowing a disaster in Padang and what a prediction does to a landscape. The images shows the coasts of Aceh (post disaster) and Padang (pre-disaster).


21st March - 6th July 2014

Singapore Art Museum

A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World

1st June 2014

honey buzzardInstallation View, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, Primo Marella Gallery, Milan


A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World

Solo presentation by Robert Zhao Renhui | Primo Marella Gallery, Milan


"...In this way, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World also questions the limits of these systems of collating, ordering and disseminating knowledge, by blurring the lines between fact and fiction. It oscillates between the modalities of science and art, thereby inviting us to consider the roles of these disciplines in our apprehension and understanding of the world.

Included in the exhibition are new sculptures which extend Zhao’s zoological investigations. In Nepenthes sg. rh, a plant that was discovered in 1897 by Kimiya Yui in Singapore, known only be a pencil sketch by the botanist. The plant is an undescribed tropical pitcher plant known from a single tree in Singapore and has never be seen again. Zhao created a sculpture from Yui’s sketch. This is an ongoing series of work where the artist looks for species that were discovered but never seen again. Other exhibits include Unbreakable Egg, an egg that has been genetically modified with a plant’s gene to prevent it from breaking, resulting in an egg that has a wood like texture. Moondust (Journeys to the moon) is a collection of insect ash the artist painstakingly collects from street lamps. The ash is the remains of insects being trapped in the street lamps and being burnt by the heat of the lamp over a long period of time..."


Limited copies of A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World available at the gallery


Nepenthes sg. rh Yui, 2014
Nepenthes sg. rh Yui is an undescribed tropical pitcher plant known from a single tree in Singapore. It shows similarities to N. burkei. The species was originally discovered in April 1897 by Kimiya Yui and has never be seen again. The species is only known by a pencil sketch created by Yui.


21st May 2014 - 31st June 2014
Mondays to Fridays : 10am - 630pm


Via Valtellina angolo Viale Stelvio, 66
20159 Milano - Italy
tel +39 0287384885




Exhibitions May - July


Fake beef, from the series A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, 2013


A Time For Dreams

Moscow International Biennale of Young Art | Curated by David Elliot

The Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, one of the largest and most ambitious projects in the field of contemporary art, will be take place this summer for the fourth time. The Biennale combines the creative initiatives of artists of the new generation from Russia and abroad. Leading Moscow museums and centers of contemporary art, in collaboration with regional and foreign partners, have participated in the preparations for this event.

For this fourth edition of the International Biennale for Young Art in Moscow David Elliott has chosen the title 'A Time for Dreams' in acknowledgement of the chronic precariousness of our own times and the urgent need for the dreams and visions of younger and future generations to break the barrier of ‘things as they are’ to make things better.

A selection of A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World will be on exhibition.

26 June 2014 — 10 August 2014
The Museum of Moscow


Fluorescent zebrafish, from the series A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, 2013


Grand Prix Fotofestiwal
Lodz, Poland

Grand Prix Fotofestiwal is a competition organized every year, during which the festival awards the prizes to those artists who present cohesive ideas, brave visions as well as excellent photographic technique and who use the photographic language in a conscious manner.

Fotofestiwal was born in 2001 as one of the first photography events in Poland. Since then, both photography and the ways of organising cultural events have changed. Fotofestiwal has always been up to date with these changes. It is intended as a space for various forms of photography and a forum for discussion on art and society, but also as a search for alternative methods of talking about photography and presenting it.

A selection of A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World's images will be included in the exhibition.


Venue : ART_INKUBATOR, Tymienieckiego 3

Opening, 5th June 2014 (Thu): 7.00 pm – 10.00 pm
5th - 15th June 2014 (Fri-Sun): 12.00 pm – 8.00 pm




Truth, Facts, Fictions, Lies | PhotoIreland Festival

"We seek, produce, use, and consume all kind of images in our everyday. Whether in the private or the public sphere, we need them for sharing and obtaining details regarding experiences, news, and events. They serve to illustrate ideas that in turn endorse or contest other ideas. With these images, through storytelling, we shape public opinion and enjoy a shared sense of what is true, what is real. The way we understand our reality then is through these fragmented stories that we tell ourselves. Some of them may be accepted as truths, some others understood as mere myths, legends, hoaxes, or lies. It is all about storytelling. - PhotoIreland"


The book, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, will be included in the main exhibition.


Copies of the book available here
Singapore :
Worldwide Shipping :

1st - 31st July 2014




Mapping Asia Exhibition | Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong

"How we define ‘Asia’ at Asia Art Archive is the question we are most frequently asked. Acknowledging both the value and limitations of the map as a tool, this project practices a mapping of Asia that does not exclusively depend on the map as artifact, but as something that lives and continues to unfold. We share with you some of the threads and (to borrow a geological term) hot spots that are currently shaping our notion of Asia."


Pages from, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, are included in the exhibition.


April - September 2014




Installation View, Selection of Animal Traps from the Institute of Critical Zoologists, 'Unearthed' exhibition. Singapore Art Museum


Unearthed | Singapore Art Museum

The Singapore Art Museum (SAM) is proud to present its first exhibition of the year, UNEARTHED, which seeks to investigate artists’ views on the natural world and invites viewers to contemplate their relationships with the natural environment. This examination of earthly experiences, through contemporary art, exemplifies SAM’s new direction of encompassing projects that present art intersecting with various disciplines and modalities. This is also SAM’s inaugural exhibition as a corporatised entity under the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth’s Visual Arts Cluster.


A selection of animal traps from The Institute of Critical Zoologists is showing in this exhibition.

More information of the work here.


21st March 2014 - 6th July 2014


The Last Thing You See

15th November 2013

honey buzzardOriental Honey Buzzard attaching a hornet's nest, 2013
150cm x 100cm each, Diptych, Diasec
From the series, How to eat bees?



The Last Thing You See
Recent works by Robert Zhao Renhui

Saturday 16 November 2013 — Sunday 5th January 2014
2902 Gallery


Some birds talk without making a sound.

Bees favour blue.

A spider web is a flower.

Traps are everywhere.


The Last Thing You See explores the limit of visibility and knowledge in the natural world. (more info)



Gallery open:
Tues - Sat : 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sun : 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Closed on Mondays and Public Holidays


222 Queen Street


Singapore 188550

T: +65 6339 8655

Facebook : 2902 Gallery


Installation View




A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World | Singapore Biennale 2013

22nd October 2013

World Goldfish Queen, from the series A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, 2013


A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World

Singapore Biennale 2013
Friday 25 October 2013 — Sunday 16 February 2014
10:00 am – 7:00 pm daily (last admission at 6.15pm)
The Peranakan Museum, Level 3
39 Armenian Street , Singapore 179941

All living things are constantly changing and evolving, adapting to cope with and respond to the various pressures that they face, such as predators, competition and environmental change. More recently, the human species has emerged as the single main perpetrator of the various pressures that threaten the survival of other life forms. A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World is an attempt to document the ways in which humankind has altered this planet, and continues to do so. A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the world is a project initiated by artist Robert Zhao Renhui.

"...Responding to the title of the Singapore Biennale 2013, “If The World Changed”, Zhao has created an installation titled A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, which seeks to document and reflect on the myriad ways in which human action and intervention are slowly altering the natural world. Based on the evolutionary premise that all living things constantly change and adapt to cope with and respond to their changing environments (or risk extinction), Zhao’s Guide presents a catalogue of curious creatures and life-forms that have evolved in often unexpected ways to cope with the stresses and pressures of a changed world. Other organisms documented in the installation are the results of human intervention, mutations engineered to serve various interests and purposes ranging from scientific research to the desire for ornamentation. 
Several specimens in this installation are based on fact; others are works of fiction. The line between these two is often an indistinct one, as scientific advances within the last half-century have made possible what was previously believed to be impossible. While drawing on the encyclopaedic tradition, which is premised on the basic human desire to catalogue and to order knowledge so as to better understand – and command - the world, Zhao’s Guide also questions the limits of these systems of collating, ordering and disseminating knowledge, by blurring the lines between fact and fiction, and oscillating between the modalities of science and art, thereby inviting us to consider the roles of these disciplines in our apprehension and understanding of the world." - Curator, Tan Siu Li

An installation of objects and photographs will be presented at The Perankan Museum.
The project is a Singapore Biennale 2013 Commission.




Installation view, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World.
Installation of 26 diasecs, moon dust, robotic cockroach, banana plant bonsai, man-made grapes, 
European tiger mosquitoes, man-made eggs, medicinal eggs, unbreakable egg and long-life peanut


poster ICZ

A poster, 84cm x 59cm, designed by H55 also accompanies the installation.
Limited copies available through out the course of the Biennale. Supported by AlsoDominie



Book Launch

Sunday, 27 Oct | 6pm - 7pm Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall

Robert Zhao Renhui will launch his book, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, in conjunction with his artwork at the Singapore Biennale 2013. The book contains 55 photographs and documents pertaining to the project and a unique opportunity to view the work through the artist's perspective.


BOOKDesigned by H55 in Singapore
Edition of 500
55 plates with documents and booklets contained in a hand crafted archival box
34cm x 24cm x 4cm
Individually signed with a 21cm x 14.8cm artist issued print certificate




Singapore Art Museum | President's Young Talents

28th Jan 2013

A vision of the universe, from the series The Quieting and The Alarming, 2013
250cm x 150cm x 60cm
Diasec, Standing frame

(Exhibition view)



The Quieting and The Alarming
Thursday 24 January — Sunday 15 September 2013
Credit Suisse: Innovation In Art Series
Part of the President's Young Talents Exhibition
Singapore Art Museum

This project looks at the current status of the wild boar situation in Singapore. Without a natural predator, the population of wild boars here has exploded in the last few years. Wild boars are known to cause severe damage to the forest floor and the damage is very visible today in our central catchment nature reserves. The government has started to cull wild boars (one of the first to be culled was in June 2012 when a rogue boar attacked a boy) but this move was met with resistance from animal interest groups. Much of the debate hinged on ethical questions and the fear of upsetting a natural balance we did not yet fully understand. (..more)


Gallery open:
Mon - Thu: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sat - Sun: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm


71 Bras Basah Road , Singapore, Singapore 189555
Tel: +65 6332 3222






The Glacier Study Group | Engaging Perspectives - New Art From Singapore

Eskimo wolf trap often quoted in sermons
2013, Dimensions variable
Installation of diasec, eskimo knife, polyurethane, 200 kg of sodium bicarbonate

"Eventually, a wolf will approach the knife and begin to cautiously sniff and lick the frozen blood. After believing it is safe, the wolf will lick more aggressively. Soon, the blade of the knife becomes exposed and it begins to nick the wolf’s tongue. Because its tongue has been numbed by the cold of the frozen blood, the wolf is unaware that he is being cut, and the blood it now tastes is its own. Excited at the prospect of fresh, warm blood, the wolf will hungrily lick the blade all the more. In a short time, the wolf will grow dizzy and disoriented. In a matter of hours, it will die from blood loss, literally drinking itself to death. As horrible as this picture is, it illustrates an important truth."

(Exhibition view)

Group Exhibition | Curated by Eugene Tan

Saturday 26 January — Sunday 31 March 2013
Organised by Centre of Contemporary Art - NTU Singapore

Engaging Perspectives:New Art from Singapore will present works that engage with multifaced perspectives about Singapore by a generation of artists born in the 1980s and currently working in Singapore.


Gallery open:
Tues - Sun : 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Closed on Mondays and public holidays


Block 38, #01-07, Malan Road, Singapore
Gillman Barracks




Chapter Gallery | Wales

28th April 2012

Blind Long-tailed Owl, Desert Variant of Little Owl from the series, As Walked on Water, 2011
Installation of vinyl print, 280cm x 194cm

(Exhibition view)



The Institute of Critical Zoologists
Friday 27 April — Sunday 17 June 2012
Chapter Arts Center
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom


"The Blind Long-tailed Owl (2011), ‘watches’ over us at both the beginning and end of the exhibition - This owl has evolved a sight-sheltering plumage to cope with the desert conditions it has been forced into, due to de-forestation. This bird becomes a totem; it’s visual impairment /adaptation alludes to the limitations of the human regard for animals and suggests a change of perspective and abandoning of our assumptions about reality." (..more)


Chapter Gallery has worked in collaboration with the The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) to present its first UK survey exhibition that interrogates the boundaries between the seen and the unseen. exploring methods of allegorical representation and interpretation. This exhibition brings together commissioned projects by Zhao Renhui (an artist who works closely with the ICZ) and extracts from the Institute’s museum collection.


In March 2012, Zhao Renhui undertook a residency at the National Museum Cardiff that has informed part of the research for this exhibition. An installation by the artist is open in the Natural History Galleries at the Museum between 13 March and 17 June 2012. This exhibition is curated by Lauren Jury and Helen Warburton.

For more information about the exhibition, press images or to arrange an interview with the artist please contact Lauren Jury on 029 2031 1050 or email

With assistance from Coutts Charitable Trust
Supported by The Singapore International Foundation


Exhibition PDF download


Gallery open:
Tuesday — Saturday 10am–8pm
Sunday 2pm–8pm
Closed Monday
Admission free Chapter Gallery, Chapter, Market Road, Cardiff CF5 1QE,
UK +44 (0)29 2031 1050









Some Kind Of Expedition

4th Jan 2012

Expedition #10, From the series The Glacier Study Group (
121cm x 84cm, Archival Piezographic Print
Renhui Zhao

Some Kind Of Expedition


Presented by 2902 Gallery


Art Stage, Booth B1-08

12th-15th Jan. 2012

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore


"The search for wildlife is also the search for authenticity and for the truth. It can be religious. We constantly
seek to impose meaning onto our relationship to the natural world." Zhao Renhui & Satoshi Kataoka (..more)
Working closely with The Institute of Critical Zoologists for the last five years, Zhao Renhui has been cataloguing,
classifying and creating photographs and objects around the scientific institution.



Zhao Renhui will also be presenting To be washed ashore on a deserted island with an animal on the horizon in the Singapore Showcase at Art Stage (Booth C7-01) in an exhibition curated by Dr. Charles Merewether , Island Allegories. A selection of some of The Institute of Critical Zoologists's projects carried out in Singapore between 2002-2011 will be presented in the exhibition. (..more)


"..Zhao Renhui aptly entitles his series of photographs: “To be washed ashore on a deserted island with an animal on the horizon.” To see the horizon, to see that we were and are not the first nor only inhabitants to occupy this island, that it was not made in ‘our’ image, that culture co-exists with nature. This is not an argument about origin but rather against the destructiveness of instrumentality..." Dr. Charles Merewether, on Island Allegories





A limited edition catalogue will also be available during the opening of the exhibition.
Essay by Zhao Renhui and Satoshi Kataoka.

The catalogue includes a special reprinted poster of important landmarked expeditions by the ICZ since 2001.

To order a copy please contact with the subject header "Some Kind Of Expedition Catalogue"

Retail Price : £25 (Before Shipping)

SBN: 978-981-07-1212-9




Art Stage Singapore



Supported By

The National Arts Council Singapore


A realised dream, Experiment #2, 2011






A Bird In The Hand

3rd July 2011

Minute Owl, from the series, Pulau Pejantan, 2009
121cm x 84cm, Archival Piezographic Print
Renhui Zhao

A Bird in the Hand

14 July – 3 September 2011


Private view 13 July 2011 (Wednesday), 6 – 8pm


Arts Gallery, University of the Arts London, 272 High Holborn, WC1V 7EY


"The work to follow is an exploration of these complexities and reminds us that birds occupy a large and central part of that universe that human beings constantly carve out of nature." Ding Li


“In contemporary society birds are, perhaps, both the most watched and most eaten animal on our planet. They have become a focal point of debates about a 'proper' relationship between humankind and nature, and about definitions of humanity itself.” Naoko Noguchi


Against the very real environmental drama unfolding across the globe, multidisciplinary artist Renhui Zhao presents the exhibition A Bird in the Hand. The exhibition invites viewers to step into the The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ), a multilayered conceit that operates across an array of levels


Opening at the Arts Gallery on 14 July, the show is presented from the perspective of the ICZ and its team of scientists who pose the question: what is our relationship with nature?


Zhao creates elaborate scenarios or alternate realities to interrogate questions of art and artifice, credence and fantasy, and the borders of reality. Offering a retrospective of the Institute’s research, the show features a display of genuine artifacts with a collection of photographs from the ICZ.


"How do we celebrate 150 years of birdwatching?" Kimiya Yui


On show will be compelling objects and photographs from The ICZ’s extensive global research, including rare taxidermy birds from a species which have evolved to permanently close their eyes to protect them from the dust of drying landscapes, and The Institute’s own revolutionary “invisible” camouflage cloaks for watching animals.


The exhibition will also reveal artefacts from the Institute’s Tokyo museum including indigenous Philippine bird traps and documents of “miraculous” eggshells containing baby fish, alongside revelatory items from the Institute’s archive of wildlife smuggling methods in the form of specially designed smuggling undergarments retrieved by customs.





A limited edition catalogue will also be available during the opening of the exhibition.
Essays by Naoko Noguchi, Director of Social Programs, Ding Li, Expert in Bird Ecology and Kimiya Yui.
The catalogue includes a special reprinted poster of Norishige Kanai's celebrated 'Looking at birds' (1957).
To order a copy please contact with the subject header "A Bird In The Hand Catologue"





Supported By




Cat. 4
Variant #7, 2011







A heartwarming feeling

20th November 2010

#121, after 321 days, Pin-hole camera by Okuro Oikawa.
Actual size : 1.1cmx 0.7cm

"On January 2008, I collaborated with the Yamshina Institute for Ornithology (a regional expert in bird banding) in an attempt to document this phenomenon during an artist residency. A group of a few thousand migratory birds were banded by the Institute over the course of two months. Besides banding the birds with a metal band on their legs, I included a small pin-hole camera near each band. Inside each camera was a very small sheet of positive photographic paper of extremely low sensitivity. The pin-hole exposed the image directly onto the paper, and allows for a positive image to be formed as long as there was light going through the pin-hole. The thousands of little pin-hole cameras were made with the help of a group of local school children.
On June 2010, 50 of the birds were dead found in the Arctic Circle. 30 of the birds still had their cameras intact and 12 of the cameras actually created an image of the bird's rather confused migratory journey to the Arctic. "

Zhao Renhui on A heartwarming feeling


Climate change has significant impact on birds. It can alter distribution, abundance and behavior. It can also affect events like bird migration.

Migration times are shifting and birds which are slow to change fail to migrate altogether.

We still know very little of how birds navigate and migrate over long distances. A recent phenomenon in the Arctic Circle is the emergence of mass bird graves. It seems as if different species of migrating birds due for the south has been flying the opposite direction, in an apparent act of suicide. Very little research has been done on this phenomenon.

Scientists argue that global warming might be a cause of this but has yet to show evidence of how this might be linked. One popular theory says that the melting of the ice caps might have affected the earth's magnetic field, something which the birds might have been using for navigation. Many critics dispute this claim and scientists are still looking for an explanation for this phenomenon.



#243, after 321 days.

A bird that was carrying a small pin-hole camera (1.21cm x 0.7cm) made by Tomimaru Okuni tied to its feet while the bird was in Japan. The bird and the camera were later retrieved from the Arctic Circlc after 321 days.





The whiteness of a whale

3rd October 2010

The white whale swimming in the ocean depths off the coast of Omishima, circa 1985


This is thought to be the only existing image of the white whale, a mysterious creature that had once held the Japanese village of Omishima in thrall. One of the oldest villagers alive, a man called Mr Kazuhiro Nagashima, said that his people had once placed an effigy of the whale in the sea off the coast of Omishima, and it probably still remains there today.


All the Antarctic Minke Whales in the world in 1984
400,500 photographs.15 x 10cm, white table.

From A Short Guide To Whale Watching, Dr Yoshio Masui

The title of this project is taken from an earlier work undertaken by Satoshi Kataoka to research and compile the numerous white whale sightings by The Whale People of Omishima between 1937 to 2008.


During a residency at Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Zhao Renhui was able to research the archives and interview the last remaining descendant of The Whale People. During the residency, he produced a series of documents and images for The Institute of Critical Zoologists discussing the political and cultural representations of this group of people.


This project is a compilation of their research, documents and interviews, produced in collaboration with The Institute of Critical Zoologists. It offers a unique perspective into the unwritten history of The Whale People of Omishima.


A booklet has also been produced for the project and is available through our website.

For more details, please email

The 26th Phylliidae Convention, Tokyo

9th September 2010

Hiroshi Abe at the 8th Phylliidae Convention with Phyllium S. when he first entered the competition in 1991.

A special edition of the Phylliidae Study Journal has been created for last year's Phylliidae Convention.

Selected articles are available for viewing.


The Phylliidae Study Group from The Institute of Critical Zoologists has been studying camouflage insects for more than 50 years. The group holds regular meetings and presents displays at all the major entomological exhibitions in the world. The organisation places emphasis on study by rearing and captive breeding and has a panel of breeders who distribute livestock of different cultures to other members.





daguerreotypeA Living Leaf - ‘As the wind travels through the foliage, the leaves move to their own life.’
Japanese daguerreotype, 1861, 12.9cm x 18.9cm. Meiji Era.
Collection of the Royal family, and now in the Royal Science Museum in Kobe, Japan.


Masahiro Koishikawa proposes that this Japanese daguerreotype (an old photograph) from 1861 is one of the very first depictions of a leaf insect in the modern world.





Matsuo Sugano presents Gather

3rd August 2010

matsuraFish in eggs, Small pond in French Alps, 2006, Matsura. A

In 2006, Zhao Renhui and Matsuo Sugano embarked on a project to work with the archives of the Institute of Critical Zoologists. During the project, Matsuo Sugano kept an online journal of his experience while working with the ICZ's archive. A selection of which has been made available here.


Gather is a two year collaboration project between Zhao Renhui and Matsuo Sugano.


The Institute of Critical Zoologists presents The whiteness of a whale

21st July 2010


customsThe white whale swimming in the ocean depths off the coast of Omishima, circa 1985


Archival Piezographic Print on Aluminium

This is thought to be the only existing image of the white whale, a mysterious creature that had once held the Japanese village of Omishima in thrall. One of the oldest villagers alive, a man called Mr Kazuhiro Nagashima, said that his people had once placed an effigy of the whale in the sea off the coast of Omishima, and it probably still remains there today.

Zhao Renhui & Satoshi Kataoka
A project with The Institute of Critical Zoologists

About the exhibition

Residents of the Southern Japanese seaside village Omishima are often called “The Whale People”, or kujira no hitobito, people who live among whales. They got their name because of their obsessive and bizarre worship of whales and all things whale-related.


In 1937, something happened that seized the entire village's imagination: a monk reported a sighting of a white whale along the village coast. Thus the search for the white whale began. The villagers raised funds to build a massive underwater tower in the middle of the ocean, which took more than ten years to complete. They had to cross a five-mile bridge on foot to reach the tower, all in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the white whale if returned.


In 1960, a boat with an iconic white whale’s tail was built to carry out more search expeditions for the
white whale. The boat had an underwater viewing chamber which, on a clear day, allowed the villagers
to see up to 5 miles through the ocean depths.


Today, few residents remember this way of life, although the watch tower and the boat are still around.
A few still continue the search for the white whale


Opening reception, 27 July 2010, Tuesday, 7pm
Jendela (Visual Arts Space) Level 2, Esplanade Mall, Singapore

Refreshments will be provided.

RSVP by 25 July 2010, Sun, to or call 6339 8655


28 July 2010 - 1 Aug 2010 (Tue - Sun)
11am - 8.30pm (Mon - Fri)
10am - 8.30pm (Sat & Sun)
Jendela (Visual Arts Space)


Level 2, Esplanade Mall
1 Esplanade Drive
Singapore 038981


3 Aug 2010 - 22 Aug 2010
11am - 8pm (Tues - Sat)
1pm - 6pm (Sun)
Closed on Monday and Public Holidays

2902 Gallery

Old School, 11b Mount Sophia
#B2-09, Singapore 228466



All the Antarctic Minke Whales in the world in 1984, computer analytical image from Godvision II

152cm x 110cm in 24 parts

Archival Piezographic Print on Aluminium


Cetacean researchers are obsessed with the total global population of whales. Images from
expeditions are compiled and fed into a program called Godvision to calculate each
species’ population and distribution. In 1984, the program calculated the world’s population
of Antarctic Minke Whales to be 400,500.


Image courtesy of The Institute of Critical Zoologists


eggsTemple of the whales #2, Omishima, 2005
121 cm x 84 cm
Archival Piezographic Print on Aluminium





The Institute of Critical Zoologists presents A Guide to the Common Flora and Fauna of the World

4th January 2010


customsLeft : Australian Customs Service
Right : Artist's Book, A Guide To The Common Flora and Fauna of the World

“We have just successfully smuggled a very endangered gecko through the mail. Or almost.”

A Guide to the Common Flora and Fauna of the World is inspired by a real-life smuggling case where 15 endangered geckos were concealed in hollowed-out books and transported out of Australia, only to be intercepted by the country's customs. Using the mail route for smuggling has been one of the most effective and preferred methods to evade international customs, and wildlife activists have often criticised the loopholes in enforcement in this area.


For the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2010, The Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) sent similar books containing replicas of the gecko and apparatus giving the impression of hidden life within these packages, from various countries back to Singapore. Part of this exhibition showcases the returned contents and documentation of any procedures and correspondence pertaining to the “trafficking”. Through this, the Institute explores the human/animal relationship through wildlife trafficking, by actively engaging the laws prohibiting that in various countries.


Dr Yong's Archive


Between 1995 and 2006, Prof Yong worked at the ICZ as a curator of reptiles. His primary research area was in genomics and morphology genetics of reptiles. One of his greatest successes was the creation of ‘albino tortoises’. He often cited a 1981 National Geographic article as inspiration for his research. The article was about the first albino python which was successfully bred in Bangkok. The article also inspired many other people to collect and breed reptiles, thus giving birth to a new industry of reptile collection through out the world.


Prof Yong also became a legend in the wildlife smuggling circuit. During a routine archival digitization exercise, the ICZ discovered his archive of books, photographs, documents and research on wildlife smuggling. He had devised hundreds of ways to smuggle reptiles. To the most high-profile smugglers of the world, he was called the bookman, for his ingenious use of tomes to hide animals.


Our story of Dr. Yong's archive begins with the discovery of the world's largest encyclopedia, "A Guide To The Common Flora And Fauna Of The World" to be exhibited for the first time. Also in the exhibition are rare documentations and photographs of his experimentation in wildlife smuggling and his work on the genetic morphology of reptiles. Coinciding with the 14th anniversary of the ICZ, A Guide To The Common Flora And Fauna Of The World is an exhibition in the Jendela Gallery, Esplanade (Singapore) that explores a controversial chapter of the human/animal relationship.


A Guide to the Common Flora and Fauna of the World is presented and commissioned by M1 Singapore Fringe Festival Singapore 2010 & The Institute of Critical Zoologists, Japan.


Special thanks to Dr. Agata Marzec (Estonia), Tristan C (Finland), Dr. Jessica S.F (New York), Dr. Ferran Izquierdo (Barcelona), Ang S.N (London), Dr. Eiffel Chong T.Chin (Malaysia), Z.Y Wong (Beijing), Miriam Seto (Hong Kong), Dr. Agung Nugroho W (Yogyakarta), Dr. Nicholas W (Brisbane) & Zuzana Golierova (Bratislava) for their kind assistance and time for making this exhibition possible.


M1 Fringe Festival 2010, Art & The Law


7th - 24th January 2010
11am - 8.30pm (Mon - Fri)
10am - 8.30pm (Sat & Sun)
Esplanade - Jendela (Visual Arts Space) Singapore

Silent opening, Thursday, 7th Janaury, 7.30pm - 8.30pm.
Representatives from the institute will be present in the gallery during the silent opening.


121 cm x 84 cm
Archival Piezographic Print
Courtesy of The Institute of Critical Zoologists. (Dr. Yong's Archive)


eggs52 cockatoo and macaw eggs
121 cm x 84 cm
Archival Piezographic Print
Courtesy of The Institute of Critical Zoologists. (Dr. Yong's Archive)





New discovery of New Island Species, Biodiversity, Sand dunes and a Black Geyser on Pulau Pejantan

17th October 2009

cormorantWallace's Greater Black Cormorant Diving, 2009
Journey to Pulau Pejantan onboard Sea-Farer II, 11th January


wormsGlow Worms, 2009
Day 120, Madura Forest, Weeping Tree.


Minute Owl, 2009
Day 61, Camera Trap No.168, Madura Forest

Pulau Pejantan is a remote island of Indonesia. Nick-named Sand Forest Island, Pulau Pejantan is a unique island with extremely unique geographical features and biodiversity. Virtually undiscovered till June 2005, the island boosts a treasure trove of unique species that is found no where else in the world such as the bizarre sand worms which moves about like packs of snakes around the island's dune to the Lantern Fish which greets you in the sea before you reach the island.


Isolated in the Pacific Ocean, about 70% of the estimated 600 species found on the island exist nowhere else on the globe. The island is home to such evolutionary oddities as the Ghost Hare, a black and white hound like animal, pale-white reptiles and birds which has adapted to the sand dunes and forest habitat, spiny burrowing ant-eaters, and the rock pheasant, a bird that lives in the sand dunes.


Long Tail Paradise Crow, 2009
Day 9, Setting up of Mist Net for specimen collection



Dr. Darrel Covman on The Institute of Critical Zoologist's Discovery of New Island Species, Biodiversity, Sand dunes and a Black Geyser on Pulau Pejantan. (read more)


...excerpt from the interview,
How has the speciation process on Pulau Pejantan differed from comparable regions?

"Pulau Pejantan is unique in being a stable system regarding the environmental conditions the fauna lives in. There is a thick fog that covers the island from morning to late afternoon and underneath the dunes are black clay and mud, which explains why the geyser is black. The organisms living there are highly adapted to living in these conditions. It is clear that these organisms have their origins on warmer regions, but they have been challenged by strong environmental stresses such as the morning fogs and sand dunes. This means that these organisms have evolved solely on the island, so only species that are able to cope with great temperature and environmental variation would be able to survive. This is a very important driver for the Pejantan species, and was actually corroborated by ICZ’s data. Another characteristic of Pulau Pejantan is the fact that the dunes surrounding its semi-tropical forest is much cooler than the beaches on other islands, allowing easier animal movement between the dunes and the forest. A few species have adapted to life in the dunes and the forest. These are two examples of the main speciation drivers in this region." - Dr Darrel Covman


Images from the recent expedition from January to April, 2009 are also available on our website.


From now till the 21st of October 2009, selected/limited images from the expedition will be on shown in Gallery 2902, Singapore.

More information :

Pacific Lantern Fish surfacing off the coast of Pulau Pejantan, 2009



The Animal traps collection from the Institute of Critical Zoologist’s Museum is also online now (here)




The Institute of Critical Zoologists at the Substation

29th April 2009


if a tree falls in the forest

featuring resident artist, Zhao Renhui



Snowy Owl

Soon Bo's Cold Room and Shelves, 2008

Tottori Desert

Kings, Tottori Desert Cockroaches, 2008


Tottori Desert artist-led expedition, 2008


ICZ musuem collection, Taiwan fish memorabilia and Philippines Chicken Trap

If a tree falls in the forest by The Institute of Critical Zoologists questions our views and relationships with animals. They are prey, pets, trinkets, trophies and pests. This exhibition makes subversive changes in the way we observe animals and illustrates how these changes can alter perceptions and interpretations and ultimately question the human to animal relationship.

if a tree falls in the forest, an exhibition curated by the Institute, questions our conceptions and relationships with animals. As Mr Tomo Kawasaki, Director of The Institute of Critical Zoologists, has explained: “the ICZ promotes discussion about the principles and practices of animal spectatorship, animal advocacy, animal killing and animal-related policies across the fields of entertainment, social science, commerce, culture and ecology. We hope that viewers will look upon animals in a different light after seeing this exhibition.”


if a tree falls in the forest is made up of three parts: Before the flood is a live performance* that features hundreds of mousetraps springloaded with ping pong balls. Each ping pong ball represents one of the thousands of mouse species in the world. The performance is accompanied by a showcase of the Institute’s collection of animal traps from around the world. Also on show are animal memorabilia from around the globe in the ICZ museum collection.


Kings is a collection of rare white Tottori cockroaches, from the Tottori sand dunes of Japan; these creatures exemplify how animals are assigned a certain “status” based on their aesthetic appeal. The specimens are presented with projects by previous artists-in-residence who have been inspired by these curious creatures. They include Zhao Renhui’s artist-led expedition into the Tottori Desert and Sokkuan Tye’s Japanese print.


Soon Bo’s Cold Room and Shelves is a series of photographs of animals from the collection of taxidermist and biologist, the late Soon Bo. His love for animals and his skill as a taxidermist resulted in a bizarre collection of specimens, accumulated over many years. Zhao Renhui, member and a resident artist of the ICZ, spent a short time as Soon Bo’s student in taxidermy; for Zhao, “This collection blurs the lines between the natural and the artificial, as the animals stare back at you with questions in their glassy eyes, and an eerie hint of life in their bodies.”


The Institute of Critical Zoologists aims to develop a critical approach to the zoological gaze, or how humans view animals other than ourselves. Urban societies live in relative isolation from animals, and yet the demands that we put upon animals has increased tremendously over the last century. Animals are agriculture, prey, pets, trinkets, trophies and pests. And while gazing upon them is desirable and pleasurable, our visual apprehensions are not wholly natural; rather, these perceptions produce meanings and values that are culturally constructed. Moreover, in viewing the animal, humans cannot but refract the social and political contexts and values in which such observations take place.


2nd to 20th May
11am to 8pm daily
, closed on public holidays


The Substation Gallery

45 Armenian Street

Singapore 179936
Admission is free

Opening reception: 2nd May, Saturday, 4pm, The Substation Gallery

Guest-of-Honour: Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo)
Also present, Dr. Tomo Kawasaki, Director, Institute of Critical Zoologists

*Special one-time sound performance by Hayashida Ken with the ignition of more then 300 spring loaded mousetraps.


There will be a limited edition catalog for sale at the exhibition.



Presented by : The Substation &The Institute of Critical Zoologists

Supported by : LEE FOUNDATION & The Singapore National Arts Council



The Institute of Critical Zoologists in Singapore

17th April 2009

This May, The Institute of Critical Zoologists will be having an exhibition featuring works from past and current artists who have worked with our archives.


Email : with the subject line as : 'Join' to subscribe to our mailing list.


The Blind, 2009


The Institute of Critical Zoologists at Pickford's Museum

23rd February 2009

The Institute of Critical Zoologists and Format International Photography Festival presents :

The Ark Project

Black Gibbon Trap

Document from the Trap Vitrine, 2009

Acusis Cam

Acusis Live Webcam Streaming Feeds, 2009

Unknown Flowerpecker with pressure points marked, possible Meiji period

Vitrine of Animal Traps


EarthwormFrom the Animal Traps Collection, 2009

With the support of Singapore National Arts Council, Derby City Council, University of Derby, Arts Council of England, QUAD and Pickford's Museum, The Institute of Critical Zoologists / Zhao Renhui is proud to take part in this year's Format festival, United Kingdom's leading contemporary photography and media festival. The festival aims to celebrate the wealth of contemporary practice in international photography. The Institute will be showing its museum collection for the exhibition. The objects on show includes original Acusis woodblock prints, animal traps & specimens from the ICZ collection and documents from the ICZ's archive.

Duration : 1st March 2009 - 5th April 2009
Pickford's Museum, Top Floor Gallery
Derby, United Kingdom

"...For this exhibition, our artist in residence, Singaporean Artist Zhao Renhui, has painstakingly selected some representative documents from our massive archives and artefacts from our museum collection.

The ICZ museum collection comprises an extensive inventory of animal memorabilia and souvenirs that can be bought off the internet, tourist trinket shops and gift shops around the world. For Format, we have selected the an important piece from our collection by renowned Japanese zoologist Hayashida Oishi.

The ICZ also has a substantial collection of animal traps. We have chosen to show a snake trap, a gibbon trap and the curious earthworm trap found in a remote village in Nepal.

Finally, one of our flagship projects, Acusis, is being presented in Photocinema. Acusis is a method of extending the lifespan of endangered animals by performing acupuncture on them to induce a state of torpor and decreased physiological activity. Animals under Acusis are revived every five years to reproduce with another revived animal. The television screens show live video feed from web cams installed in our laboratory of the Tomaya Flowerpecker and the Rainbow Trout. The Institute of Critical Zoologists celebrates the reintroduction of more than 200 rare birds, bred at the Institute's laboratories, to the wild by the Acusis Program. The Institute of Critical Zoologists is also taking this chance to celebrate the reintroduction of more than 200 rare Sarina's Flowerpecker, bred at the Institute's laboratories, to the wild by the Acusis Program...."

Hayshida Toko
Chairman, Institute of Critical Zoologists


Institute of Critical Zoologists / We decided to go to the zoo but it was raining

15th October 2008

The Blind

The Blind, 2008

The Institute of Critical Zoologists will be holding a public installation entitled "We decided to go to the zoo but it was raining" at the Cify of Levallois, France.

With the kind support of Epson France and the Cultural Board of Levallois, The Institute of Critical Zoologists will be holding a public exhibition at l’Escale, The Cultural Center of the City of Levallois, France. The exhibition was awarded a special mention in the augural Photo-Levallois Festival. The Institute will be showing its annual report and a summary of her projects in this special exhibition. It will consist of 114 documents from the Institute's archive.


The exhibition will be held from 17th November 2008 to 13th December 2008.






Institute of Critical Zoologists / Singapore / Renhui Zhao / Yong Ding Li

14th October 2008

Dr Bu

Dr. Cheng Bu, Presentation at Dublin Zoo and Museum, 1999

The Institute of Critical Zoologists will be holding a public presentation at the Singapore National Museum on the 14th October 2008.

The Institute of Critical Zoologists public presentation at the Singapore National Museum on the 14th October 2008.


As part of The Institute's engagement with the public, The Institute will be giving an evening presentation of the Institute's recent iniatives, research and projects. Join Artist Renhui Zhao/Yong Ding Li for an evening presentation where he will explore the representations of the animal within the projects of The Institute of Critical Zoologists at the National Museum of Singapore.


14th October 2008

National Museum of Singapore, Seminar Room

2100-2200 hrs

Please kindly be seated by 2045 hrs.





Tomaya's Flowerpecker breeding tops century

30th May 2008

Tomaya's Flowerpecker, Revival Stage of Acusis, 2008

Tomaya's Flowerpecker, Revival Stage of Acusis, 2008

More than 200 rare birds bred through Acusis at the ICZ's laboratories for reintroduction to wild.


Celebrations are taking place at ICZ's museum this week with news that more than 200 rare flowerpeckers have been bred this year for reintroduction into the wild.

In fact, a staggering 226 chicks have been successfully hatched and raised to chicks through Acusis at the ICZ, far more than was hoped and giving a massive boost to the re-introduction project at the Yaeyama Islands.

The project is managed jointly by the Institute of Critical Zoologists, the Veterinary Acupuncture Center in Beijing, the Japan Laboratory of Endangered Species and the Biostatsis Institute in Fukuoka who run the laboratories at the ICZ, who work with hunters, trappers and collectors in the area to allow these beautiful and rare birds to remain in the area.

At the Yaeyama Islands, each batch of chicks is first given a health check by ICZ vet, Nicholas Woo, and then released to the wild. The project began with 1 bird released in 1997, this increased to about 85 in 2002, 105 in 2005, and 150 in 2006. This year’s number has exceeded all expectations.

ICZ's Head of Ornithology, Dr. Yong, who has been in charge of inducing Acusis on the adults said: “It’s just great to have surpassed 200. When we set up the project eleven years ago, 20 birds was the target we’d set ourselves and this is just amazing."

“Obviously, the more birds we can release the better the chance that they will come back and a sustainable population can be created in the Yaeyama Islands."

The Tomaya's Flowerpecker is just one of the few success stories from the Acusis Laboratories at the ICZ. Previous success stories include the successful re-introduction of the Yellow Chested Imperial Finch.

Notes to editors

* The Tomaya's Flowerpecker is one of the most threatened breeding bird species in the world. It started to disappear from Japan more than a century ago, because of the introduction of mechanized and intensive trapping methods. Today this relative of the more familiar Sunda flowerpecker only breeds in the Acusis Laboratories where conservationists have been working intensively with local trappers and collectors to ensure the bird’s continued survival.
* After release the birds will migrate to the Artic and on average 1% will return.
* Breeding is carried out at ICZ's Acusis Laboratories where healthy breeding adults under go artificial hibernation. The adults are revived every 2 years to breed. (The project's mission is to help save endangered animals from extinction. It does this by extending the lifespan of the thousands of animals that are expected to disappear within the next few years.) Breeding takes a total of 39 days, after which the adults are put through Acusis again. The chicks are then fed around the clock on the hour for the first 4-5 days. After 10-14 days they are taken to the Yaeyama Islands for release, once they are health checked and provided they are the correct weight.

The Death Dance, the ICZ acquires lost specimen

1st May 2008

The Death Dance By Hayashida Oishi

The Death Dance by Hayashida Oishi, ICZMZ/113, The ICZ collection


Pair of scorpions in amber, circa 1950s, Giant Blue Scorpions in Amber, 18cm x 5cm, On display in Special Exhibits room

The ICZ is delighted to announce the acquisition of one of Hayshidai's Oishi most treasured and copied, widely known as 'The Death Dance'. This small devotional work was made for the late Dr.Ailaimaishua, a founder of critical zoology in Japan. The scorpions was presumed lost until it was sold at auction in London in July 1949. An exchange in collections with a private dealer allowed the ICZ to purchase it in June 2006. This specimen joins a distinguished collection of twenty other specimen made by the scientist in the Museum's collection, each of which represents a different aspect of Hayashida's art and research.

'The Death Dance' is one of the first specimens to apply an imposing Surrealistic composition to an intimately scaled specimen of the Asian Forest Scorpion. The Surrealistic style was established by Hayashida Oishi in his realistic decorations of the Prehistoric Room, Japan and in a few speciemens such as 'The Lost Hands' made just before 1930. In these works he realised a creative synthesis of the scorpions by encasing them in re-worked amber in a permanent death dance.

The purchase of this specimen was made possible by recent legacies to the ICZ and a generous donation by Zhong Yao Ren.

Notes to editors: Some other specimens by Hayshida Oishi in the ICZ collection:

'The Lost Hands', circa. 1930;
'Smallest Bee', circa. 1930;
'The Prayer during his Temptation', about 1960;







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