Having been commissioned for the Singapore Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge makes its way home at last to the place where it all began. Transmission of Knowledge marks the culmination of Zai’s ongoing investigation into Malay history and culture, with a strong focus on forgotten cultures such as the mak yong performers and indigenous orang laut. The Dapunta Hyang series takes its name from the first Malay king of the Srivijaya empire, its form as a ship representing the same vessel he used to journey through Southeast Asia in the 7th century, leading to the birth of a maritime trade hegemony.
Over the years, Dapunta Hyang has been presentated all around the world, much like an actual ship traveling the world. The first time it was shown was in 2014, at Ota Fine Arts (who are currently exhibiting a retrospective to coincide with this work) and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, before going on to show at the Esplanade, Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Art Basel in Hong Kong and of course, its fifth and largest iteration at the Venice Biennale.