Michael Lee (b. Lee Hong Hwee, 1972, Singapore) is an artist, curator and publisher based in Singapore. He researches urban memory and fiction, especially the contexts and implications of loss. He transforms his observations into objects, diagrams, situations, curations or texts.
He has staged solo exhibitions at Yavuz Fine Art (Singapore, 2014), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin, 2013), Hanart TZ Gallery (Hong Kong, 2010), Baba House (Singapore, 2008) and Alliance Francaise de Singapour (Singapore, 2005). He has participated in various biennales and other international platforms: Shenzhen Sculpture (2014); Kuandu (Taipei, 2012); Asia Triennial (Manchester, 2011); Chongqing (2011); Singapore (2011); Shanghai (2010); Guangzhou Triennial (2011, 2008); city_NET Asia (Seoul, 2007); Asian Traffic (Singapore, 2005), and World Expo (Aichi, 2005). He has also exhibited in Institute of Contemporary Art Singapore (2014); NUS Museum (Singapore, 2013-15, 2007); Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (2013); Witte de With (Rotterdam, 2013); Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum (2013); Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (Manila, 2012); Bangkok Art and Culture Center (2012); Para Site (Hong Kong, 2012, 2007); National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (Taichung, 2010); Taipei Fine Arts Museum (2009); and Singapore Art Museum (2014-15, 2009, 2007, 2005-06, 2004, 2001).
As the founding director of Studio Bibliothèque, which facilitates experiments in making, curating and publishing, Lee has curated exhibitions including "What It Is About When It Is About Nothing" (Mizuma Gallery, Singapore, 2015); "Hong Kong Anarchitecture Bananas: Artists Who Reclaim Space" (co-curated with Lee Chun Fung, Artist Commune, Hong Kong, 2008); and "Between, Beside, Beyond: Daniel Libeskind's Reflections and Key Works 1989-2014" (Singapore Art Museum, 2007), and edited publications like Who Cares: 16 Essays on Curating in Asia (co-edited with Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, published by Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong, 2010), and Preoccupations: Things Artists Do Anyway (co-edited with Cornelia Erdmann, published by laiyan projects and Studio Bibliothèque, Hong Kong, 2008).
His accolades include the APBF Signature Art Prize 2011 (People's Choice Award), conferred by the Singapore Art Museum, and the Young Artist Award (Visual Arts) 2005, conferred by the National Arts Council, Singapore.
He received his Master and Bachelor of Communication Studies from Nanyang Technological University in 2001 and 1997 respectively.
2002 Certificate in Basic Creative Writing, LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts, Singapore
2001 Master of of Communication Studies, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore
1997 Bachelor of Communication Studies (2nd Upper Honours), NTU, Singapore
SELECT SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2014 "Machine For (Living) Dying In", Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore
2013 "Michael Lee: Some Detours", Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany
2012 "M-trospective: Michael Lee's First Decade 2001-2011", Studio Bibliothèque, Singapore
2012 "Revision Exercise 002", Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
2010 "Lost City and Other Stories", Hanart Square and Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong
2008 "A Psychotaxonomy of Home", Baba House, Singapore
2004 "When a Body Meets a Building", Alliance Francaise de Singapour, Singapore
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS & FESTIVALS
2017 "DR/OP: Beyond Boundaries", Goodman Arts Centre, Singapore
2017 "[Title To Be Confirmed]", Kunstraum Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
2017 "Listening to Architecture", National Gallery, Singapore
2017 "Confluences and Diversities in Southeast Asian Art", ION Art Gallery, Singapore
2017 "Radio Malaya: Abridged Conservations About Art", NUS Museum, Singapore
2016 "Unlimited Space: Re-imagination of Everyday Life", starprojects, Hong Kong
2015 "Drawing as Draft", Dialogic, Singapore
2015 "VERNACULA_", NAFA Galleries 1 & 2, Singapore
2015 "Mind the Gap: Mapping the Other", National Library Board Building, Singapore
2014-15 "Once Upon This Island", Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2014 "The Part in The Story Where a Part Becomes a Part of Something Else", Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2014 "[The Machine] Contemplating the Body", Singapore General Hospital Museum, Singapore
2014 "Print Lab", Grey Projects, Singapore
2014 "The 8th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale", OCAT Shenzhen, China
2014 "Thinking of Landscape: Collection of Yeap Lam Yang", Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore
2013-5 "Between Here and Nanyang: Marco Hsu's Brief History of Malayan Art", NUS Museum, Singapore
2013 "Tokyo Art Meeting (IV): Bunny Smash, Design to Touch the World", Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2013 "Resort", Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Bangkok, Thailand
2013 "World in Miniature: Zhang Hong and Michael Lee", Museum of Asian Art, Berlin, Germany
2013 "The Artist, the Book and the Crowd", The Substation, Singapore
2013 "Fail Again", Souterrain, Berlin, Germany
2013 "The Realm in the Mirror, the Vision out of Image", Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, China
2013 "Home Stories", Villa 102 (Former Literaturhaus), Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
2013 "Encountering the Unknown", Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan
2012 "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: The Paradox of Choice in a Time of Anxiety", Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong
2012 "Safe Place In The Future II", Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok, Thailand
2012 "The 3rd Kuandu Biennale", Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan
2012 "Strange Faces", Valentine Willie Fine Arts, Singapore
2012 "There Can Be No Better World", Museum of Contemporary Art & Design, Manila, The Philippines
2012 "Project Glocal", Vargas Museum, Manila, The Philippines
2012 "Variable Truth", 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, Australia
2012 "What a Wonderful World", Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan
2011-2 "The 2nd Signature Art Prize Finalists Exhibition", Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2011 "Utopias: Michael Lee and Bob Matthews", National Museum, Singapore
2011 "Change", Substation Gallery, Singapore
2011 "The 2nd Chungking Youth Art Biennale", Chungking Art Museum and Museum of Sichuan Fine Arts, Chungking
2011 "The 2nd Asia Triennial Manchester", Chinese Art Center, Manchester
2011 "The 4th Guangzhou Triennial", Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
2011 "Imagine Malaysia", Helutrans Art Space, Singapore
2011 "Wedding", Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong
2011 "The 3rd Singapore Biennale", Old Kallang Airport, Singapore.
2010 "The 8th Shanghai Biennale", Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2010 "Cheong Soo Pieng: Shock of the New", The National Art Gallery, Singapore @ Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2010 "Beyond LKY", Valentine Willie Fine Arts, Singapore
2010 "At the Crossroad", National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan
2010 "Centre to Periphery", Japan Creative Centre, Singapore
2010 "Shifting Topography", Hanart Square, Hong Kong
2010 "The Problem of Asia", Chalk Horse Art Center, Sydney, Australia
2010 "Unspeaking Engagements", Lanchester Gallery, Coventry, England
2009 "Eniminiminimos: Artists who make things small II", Jendela, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
2009 "Whose Exhibition is This?", Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Singapore (with Tang Ling Nah)
2009 "Lost in the City", National Museum, Singapore
2009 "Curating Lab: 100 Objects (Remixed)", HT Contemporary Space, Singapore
2009 "Air-conditioned Recession", Valentine Willie Fine Arts, Singapore
2009 "Unspeaking Engagements", Chulalongkorn, Bangkok, Thailand
2008 "A-Z, 26 Locations to Put Everything", Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong
2008 "The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial (Independent Projects section)", Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
2008 "Greedy?", C+G Artpartment, Hong Kong
2008 "-bok", 1aspace, Hong Kong
2008 "Hong Kong Anarchitecture Bananas: Artists Who Reclaim Space", Artist Commune, Hong Kong
2008 "Eniminiminimos: Artists who make things small", Studio Bibliothèque, Hong Kong
2007 "Building Conversations: Michael Lee & Nadia Bhamadhaj", Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2007 "city_NET Asia (Singapore Pavillion)", Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea
2007 "Focus Automatically", Museum of Suzhou Art & Technology Institute, Suzhou, China
2007 "Labryinth", Art & Knowledge Space, Beijing, China
2007 "14QK: Art responds to 14K", Para/site, Hong Kong
2007 "WE", National University of Singapore Museum, Singapore
2007 "From Words to Pictures: Art During the Emergency", S'pore Art Museum, Singapore
2007 "Singapore Art Exhibition (Invited section)", S'pore Art Museum, Singapore
2006 "Beneath the Pavement: Discovering the City", S'pore Art Museum, Singapore
2005 "Creative Curating Lab", Raffles City Showcase, Singapore
2005 "Asian Traffic (Singapore pavilion)", Jendela, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
2005 "The 2005 World Exposition (Singapore pavilion)", Aichi, Japan
2004 "SCRATCH-OR", Imagine Library Art Loft, Shen Yang & Beijing, China
2004 "SENI Singapore: Art and the Contemporary", Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2004 "VIDEO AS URBAN CONDITION videoPOOL", Vargas Organisation, London
2004 "Reconstruction of a City", St. James Power Station, Singapore
2004 "Best of Singapore Art 2004", Citylink Showcase, Singapore
2003 "Sensitive Parts", Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore
2001 "Nokia Singapore Art 2001 (Curated section)", S'pore Art Museum, Singapore
2001 "Deriving Spaces", Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore
SELECT AWARDS & HONOURS
2011 APBF Signature Art Prize (People's Choice Award), Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
2005 Young Artist Award (Visual Arts), National Arts Council, Singapore
1997 1st Prize (Experimental), United Film & Video Association Student Film & Video Competition, Philadelphia (co-awarded with William Phuan & Tan Chee Tat)
1996 Distinction, United Television Outstanding Video, Singapore (co-awarded with Chong Siew Hong)
1995 3rd Prize, All-School Students' Video Competition, NTU, Singapore
1988 1st Prize, Chinese Calligraphy Competition, Gan Eng Seng School, Singapore
SELECT SCHOLARSHIPS, GRANTS, RESIDENCIES & COMMISSIONS
2012-13 Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (with grant from National Arts Council, Singapore)
2011 "A Little Light Magic", Peranakan Museum, National Heritage Board, Singapore
2010 Arts Creation Fund, National Arts Council, Singapore
2008-11 Commission, Integrated Art (Telok Blangah MRT Station - Circle Line), Singapore
2008 Young Artist Award 2005 Project Grant (for "The Consolations of Museology"), NAC, Singapore
2008 Project Grant (for "Preoccupations"), Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Hong Kong
2006 Exhibition Grant (for Txtrapolis), Lee Foundation, Singapore
2005 Commission, Rebranding Launch, Gallery Hotel – The Hotel That Inspires, Singapore
2005 Commission, Launch of New Drama Centre, National Library Board, Singapore
2004 Emerging Artist Grant (for "When a Body Meets a Building"), National Arts Council, Singapore
2004 Exhibition Grant, Lee Foundation, Singapore
2000 Travel Grant, Singapore Film Commission, Singapore
2000 Conference Grant, Nanyang Tech. University, Singapore
1998-2000 Full Scholarship for Graduate Studies, Nanyang Tech. University, Singapore
SELECT CURATORIAL PROJECTS
2016 "The 5th Singapore Biennale", various venues in Singapore (co-curated with 8 others, under the creative direction of Susie Lingham)
2015 "What It Is About When It Is About Nothing", Mizuma Gallery, Singapore
2011 "Abject Systems: Artists Who Love the Unlovable", Studio Bibliothèque, Singapore
2009 "Eniminiminimos: Artists Who Make Things Small II", Jendela, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
2008 "Hong Kong Anarchitecture Bananas: Artists Who Reclaim Space", Artist Commune, Hong Kong (co-curated with Lee Chun Fung)
2008 "Eniminiminimos: Artists Who Make Things Small", Studio Bibliothèque, Hong Kong
2007 "Between, Beside, Beyond: Daniel Libeskind’s Reflections & Key Works 1989-2014", SAM, Singapore
2007 "Autobiobliophiles: Artists Who Make or Use Books", Studio Bibliothèque, Hong Kong
2006 "Appetites for Litter: 8th Emerging Artists Show", Plastique Kinetic Worms, Singapore
2005 "Txtrapolis: Contemporary Text-Based Art from Singapore", NAFA Gallery 3, Singapore
2004 "In the Flesh: Nude in Contemporary Art, NAFA", NAFA Selegie Gallery, Singapore (co-curated with Sim Kok Huoy and Tay Swee Siong)
2004 "WoodLand", Woodlands Regional Library, Singapore (co-curated with Ahmad Mashadi & June Yap)
2003 "Cinepolitans: Inhabitants of a Filmic City", Esplanade, Singapore (co-curated with Tang Ling Nah)
2001 "Eye-dentifying Peranakan Cultures", NAFA, Singapore (co-curated with Sim Kim Huoy and Hong Sek Chern)
SELECT EDITORIAL PROJECTS
Lee, M. (Series Ed.), (2013). Corridors: Notes on the Contemporary. Berlin and Singapore: Studio Bibliothèque with various others.
Fominaya, A. R. & Lee, M. (Eds.), (2010). Who Cares? 16 Essays on Curating in Asia. Hong Kong: Para/Site Art Space with Singapore: Studio Bibliothèque & seed | projects.
Erdmann, C. & Lee, M. (Eds.) (2008). Preoccupations: Things Artists Do Anyway. Hong Kong: laiyan projects & Studio Bibliothèque.
SELECT TEXT CONTRIBUTIONS
Lee, M. (2017). Time Sensitive: 'Native Revisions' at the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore. In Ocula. Available: https://ocula.com/magazine/reports/time-sensitive-native-revisions-at-the-instit/
Lee, M. (2015). Fly in the Face. In Kang, G. and Tay, K. (Eds.), Left to Right (Singapore: forthcoming).
Lee, M. (2015). Making New, Again. In J. Wee (Ed.), The Measure of Your Dwelling: Singapore as Unhomed (pp. 131-38). Berlin: Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen.
Lee, M. (2011). Fantasy of Extinction. In Utopias: Michael Lee and Bob Matthews (pp. 30–32). Singapore: Singapore International Foundation & British Council.
Lee, M. (2008). On Doing. In C. Erdmann & M. Lee (Eds.), Preoccupations: Things Artists Do Anyway (pp. 10–17). Hong Kong: laiyan projects & Studio Bibliothèque.
Lee, M. (2003). Poetics of the Ruin. Singapore Architect, 217: 48–50.
Lee, M. (2000). Dead Man Gazing: Posthumous Voyeurism in 12 Storeys, or ‘Splacing’ the Official and Forbidden Discourses in Singapore. Asian Cinema, 11(2): 99–131.
Abbas, N. (2010). Agency For Unrealised Projects: Hong Kong Division. LEAP, 3: 154–172.
Chee, L. (2008). The Impediment of Conscience. In N. Abbas (Ed.), Foundations: The Consolations of Museology (pp. 15–25). Hong Kong: Studio Bibliothèque & WORM.
Chee, L. (2007). Divine Library: Building an Unseen Monument. In L. Chee (Ed.), Documents: The $100,000 Gallery of Art (pp. 18–21). Singapore: WORM.
Chow, C. (2008). Small wonders make big impressions. Sunday Morning Post (20 Jan): 9.
Cole, J. (2010). City lights, city blights. Sunday Morning Post (8 Aug): Arts 12.
Cruz, J. (2006). On Roads Much Travelled. In Beneath the Pavement: Discovering the City (pp. 3–7). Singapore: Singapore Art Museum.
De Rozario, T. (2009). DIY art publishing tips. TIME OUT Singapore (May). Retrieved on Jan 31, 2012, from http://www.timeoutsingapore.com/books/feature/diy-art-publishing-tips (31 Jan 2012).
Fominaya, A. R. (2010). The Problem of Asia. In The Problem of Asia. Sydney: Chalk Horse.
Goh, K. K. (2004). Body Speaks to Building. Lianhe Zaobao (zbNOW supplement) (19 Aug): 5.
Ho, R. A. (2013). Dwelling in the Off-Modern. There Can Be No Better World (pp. 12-31). Manila: Museum of Contemporary Art and Design.
Ho, R. A. (2011). Rojak with the Minister Mentor. Open Contours (Aug 18). Retrieved on Jan 31, 2012, from http://opencontours.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/rojak-with-the-minister-mentor/
Koh, N. & Cheah, Ui-Hoon. (2012). Art of the enclave. The Business Times (Jan 27). Retrieved on Jan 31, 2012, from http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/news/story/0,4574,475225,00.html
Lee, W. C. (2009). Vacation Reading. Asia Art Archive (Off the shelf section). Retrieved on Nov 5, 2011, from http://www.aaa.org.hk/newsletter_detail.aspx?newsletter_id=798.
Maerkle, A. (2011). Michael Lee. The 3rd Singapore Biennale 2011: Open House (n.p.). Singapore: Singapore Art Museum.
Palmer, D. (2011). Singapore Biennale 2011. Frieze, 139 (May). Retrieved on Nov 5, 2011, from http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/singapore-biennial-2011/.
Peckham, R. (2010). Michael Lee: Hanart TZ Gallery. Art Forum (Critic’s Picks section, Aug). Retrieved on Nov 5, 2011, from http://artforum.com/picks/section=world.
Poh, L. (2001). Dancing on Jelly and Other Possibilities: Some Notes on Spaces in NSA01. Histories, Identities, Technologies, Spaces: Singapore Art Today, 1 (pp. 40–45). Singapore: National Arts Council.
Toh, J. (2011). Art, Prized. Signature Art Prize 2011: Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation (pp. 8–15). Singapore: Singapore Art Museum.
Seng ,Y. J. (2007). Curator's Note. In L. Chee (Ed.), Documents: The $100,000 Gallery of Art (pp. 10-11). Singapore: Singapore Art Museum & WORM with Hong Kong: Studio Bibliothèque.
Tan, A. (2010). Elective Affinities: Taking on Cheong Soo Pieng in the Contemporary. Bridging Worlds: Cheong Soo Pieng. Singapore: The National Arts Gallery. Retrieved on Nov 5, 2011, from http://nationalartgallery.sg/csp/commissioned-artworks/.
TAXI Design Network. (2007). Daniel Libeskind's Reflections and Key Works, 1989-2014 Exhibition. TAXI Design Network (9 Jan). Retrieved on Jan 31, 2012, from http://www.designtaxi.com/news.php?id=6627.
Wong, S. (2003). Void Decks and Movie Houses. d+a, 14: 74–6.
SELECT PUBLIC COLLECTIONS
Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
National Gallery, Singapore
National University of Singapore Museum, Singapore
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
SELECT PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
Marc Bollansee, Brussells
Johnson Chang, Hong Kong
William Lim, Hong Kong
Yeap Lam Yang, Singapore