Ming Wong was born in Singapore and is currently based in Berlin. Ming studied Chinese Art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, and Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.
He has had solo exhibitions at leading institutions worldwide including representing Singapore at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009, UCCA, Beijing, and REDCAT, Los Angeles. He additionally has participated in Sydney Biennale (2016 and 2010); Asia Pacific Triennial (2015); Shanghai Biennale (2014); Lyon Biennale (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012); Gwangju Biennale (2010); Performa 11, New York (2010).
Ming’s residency occurred February 20–28, 2019.
Bap invited Ming to the Philippines to premier a lecture performance titled “Your Special Island,” an expanded live version of his video Bloody Marys – Song of the South Seas (2018), which is based on the musical South Pacific (1949) and the subsequent 1958 film.
Bloody Marys – Song of the South Seas (2018), centers around the musical’s song “Bali Ha’I,” a hypnotic siren soundtrack about an unknown, exotic and unimaginable “special island.” The song is interpreted by Bloody Mary, a Tonkinese female character played by the African American actor Juanita Hall (in the Hollywood version). With a fake, broken English, Bloody Mary is portrayed as the “native-expert” who panders her own daughter towards marrying a white American lieutenant, who in turn is struggling with his own angst for desiring a non-white woman. In its 10:35 minute duration, Ming’s video work establishes his own versions of Bloody Mary through various embodiments, alongside that of Juanita Hall, who became the first African American woman to receive a Tony for her performance in South Pacific‘s original stage production.
Premiering at the Cultural Center of the Philippines as a lecture-performance, Your Special Island is presented at a timely decolonized perspective around race and identity, as well as in an era of new order in the militarization of the seas off the shoresof the Asia-Pacific region. Ming builds layers of cinematic language, social structure, identity and introspection through his re-telling of world cinema and popular culture with imperfect translations and reenactments, he casts himself as an actor often playing every character in a story.
Your Special Island was presented free and open to the public as part of a program organized by Bellas Artes Projects (BAP) in partnership with the CCP, exploring the creative possibilities of the lecture-performance genre. Inaugurated on November 17, 2018 with Dying on Stage by Christodoulos Panayiotou.
Ming Wong’s participation has been generously supported by the Fernando Zobel BAP-residency grant.
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