Profile: Khairuddin Hori

Published on 9 December 2014

Curator Khairuddin Hori’s multi-disciplinary experiences have landed him a prestigious posting in Paris

BY pamela ho

It is hard to pigeonhole Khairuddin Hori, a multi-disciplinary artist with a rare combination of skills. Asked if he considers himself first a visual artist, performing artist or curator, Khairuddin replies, “A person.”   

Perhaps that’s the X-factor Jean de Loisy, President of Palais de Tokyo (Europe’s largest contemporary art centre), was looking for when he offered the versatile Singaporean curator the prestigious post of Deputy Programming Director at Palais de Tokyo, located in the heart of Paris. Khairuddin packed his bags for the French capital in November. 

A graduate of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Khairuddin holds an MA (Fine Art) from LASALLE College of the Arts, was an associate artist at The Substation and a senior curator with the Singapore Art Museum and the National Heritage Board. Other hats he wore include theatre actor, director, associate director of Teater Ekamatra (a local Malay theatre company), poet and arts manager at the Singapore Management University.

In his current role, Khairuddin leads a team of six curators. “When I make curatorial decisions, I use my experience in these other art forms as insightful tools to mediate the art, artists and audience,” he says.

His current project, entitled Secret Archipelago, will open at Palais de Tokyo in March as part of the Singapore Festival in France. “It’s been very challenging. For the first time, I’m curating by artists, not artworks or objects. The space is also mind-boggling. It’s like a cave — raw, undulating, with uneven heights!”

But this talented 40 year-old is taking everything in his stride. “I knew taking on this position would change my world, totally. But maybe it’s fate that brought me here,” he contemplates. “My plan was to take a year-long sabbatical next year and live in some village in Indonesia or Thailand; maybe become a farmer or run a small warung (restaurant) selling soup or curry!

“I never wanted to be an artist. My childhood ambition was to be a pilot. I don’t think I was born with anything special; maybe just a heightened sense of curiosity,” he muses. “I realised as a teenager that the one place I could find everything — science, politics, spirituality — was in art. So this was where I went.”

Secret Archipelago opens at Palais de Tokyo in March, as part of the Singapore Festival in France 2015. Khairuddin also has two co-curated exhibitions currently on in Singapore: Budi Daya at the Malay Heritage Centre and Modern Love at LASALLE’s Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

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