Who: Tatzu Nishi
What: The Merlion Hotel
Where: Singapore Biennale 2011, Marina Bay, Singapore
When: 13 March – 13 May 2011

One of the most impressive installations I saw at the Singapore Biennale (keeping in mind that I didn’t see much of the Biennale due to my limited time!) is The Merlion Hotel, a temporary luxury hotel room that has been built around Singapore’s beloved sculpture, the Merlion.

The Merlion, an imaginary creature with the head of a lion and body of a fish, is a synonymous symbol of Singapore and the sculpture, which looks over Marina Bay, is a major tourist icon seen by millions of people every year.

The Merlion on Marina Bay (how it normally looks)

Exterior view of The Merlion Hotel (2011),
built around the Merlion.
Courtesy of the artist and the Singapore Art Museum


The Merlion Hotel (artist’s rendering, detail), 2011
Image courtesy of the artist

Interior views, The Merlion Hotel, 2011
Courtesy of the artist and the Singapore Art Museum

View of bathroom, The Merlion Hotel, 2011
Courtesy of the artist and the Singapore Art Museum

Wallpaper design by Tatzu, The Merlion Hotel, 2011
Courtesy of the artist and the Singapore Art Museum

With The Merlion Hotel, Berlin-based Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi aims to offer the hotel’s visitors a completely unique and private encounter of a globally recognised public sculpture shared by the 5 million people of Singapore.

Between 4 April and 5 May, visitors can stay at the single-room hotel for a maximum of one night and costs S$150 per night for a couple, including breakfast. It isn’t too much of a surprise that the hotel was completely booked out within an hour of the reservations opening!

During the day, people can visit the hotel room – a remarkable work of art in itself, while in the evening, a guest will check-in and spend the night, which is when the REAL art happens.

The artwork shifts our proximity to the sculpture from one that is public to one that is completely private, in a bedroom. Sleeping right under the sculpture, the lucky visitors who get the chance to stay at the hotel share an intimate space with an iconic landmark, completely collapsing the boundaries between private and public space.

My only crit for this is the limited time it is open to the general public to stay a night – only 32 nights and therefore only 64 individuals max will experience what the artwork originally intended. Still, the idea and scale of this work is amazing and definitely something to write home about, which I am doing so right now!


2 thoughts on “Singapore Biennale (Part 2) – The Merlion Hotel

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