Days of Our Lives: Wong Hoy Cheong Selected Works 1998-2010

As an artist, WONG Hoy Cheong is interested in the waves of migration and globalization that have swept the world from time immemorial; the retrieval of marginalized and forgotten stories drowned in the grand narrative of history and nation states; unraveling the slippery boundaries between past and present, fact and fiction, language and image.

  • Exhibition Period:25 Dec 2010 – 23 Jan 2011
  • Address:ESLITE GALLERY∣5F, No. 11, Songgao Rd., Taipei 11073, Taiwan
  • Opening Hours:25 Dec 2010

As an artist, WONG Hoy Cheong is interested in the waves of migration and globalization that have swept the world from time immemorial; the retrieval of marginalized and forgotten stories drowned in the grand narrative of history and nation states; unraveling the slippery boundaries between past and present, fact and fiction, language and image. He chose the title “Days of Our Lives” for this exhibition because, like a TV soap opera, the exhibition dives into narratives and transforms the ordinary into suspense; it makes the mundane luring. With this exhibition, WONG Hoy Cheong hopes to draw one into experiencing ordinary details; into trawling up memories and the imagination; into pondering on yesterday, today and even tomorrow. In a world drunk on instantaneity, speed and pulsating images, much of memory and reflection are lost – it is hoped that this exhibition can provide that counterpoint of reflexivity.

Approximately 10 works will be included in this exhibition. To name a few highlights: Maid in Malaysia (2008) consists of 10 tableaux vivant with scenes of foreign maids in the context of the Malaysian families they work for. The images show re-imagined superheroes and pop icons such as Supergirl flying a child to school, Florence Nightingale taking care of the old and sick, Anna, the governess, giving tuition to the “king’s” children, etc. Tapestry (1998-2004) consists of approximately 15,000 thumbprints collected from individuals on tracing paper which are linked by various National flowers/petals and trees/leaves. The thumbprints are collected like a petition for the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia, a draconian and archaic law which allows for preventive detention without trial in an open court of law. The tapestry is fragile and translucent, just like human and civil rights. Doghole (2010) explores memory and history, a proverbial story of human resilience and indiscrimination in times of war. During World War II, Malaya was occupied by the Japanese. A total of about 450,000 Malayans were killed. This film is based on an interview with Wong Kum Peng, a survivor of the much-feared Kempeitai detention cells.

Born in Georgetown, Malaysia in 1960, WONG Hoy Cheong creates inter-disciplinary work involving areas such as drawing, installation, theatre/performance and video. He has been shown in Taiwan several times previously at Taipei MOCA (2006), Taipei Biennale (2008) and more. His work often touches upon solemn issues involving minorities, politics, human rights, post-colonialism and history, yet poignantly shines through with humor, satire, compassion and hope. Sharing similar painful colonial history and struggle for democracy with Malaysia, Taiwanese audience often find a certain resonance in viewing WONG’s works. In addition to providing a more comprehensive understanding of WONG’s works, this small retrospective exhibition could perhaps act as a mirror for us, as Asians, to look back to the past, understand the present and envision the future.

WONG Hoy Cheong

WONG Hoy Cheong was born in 1960 in George Town in Penang, Malaysia. He studied literature, education and fine arts at Brandeis University, Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) in the USA. WONG is currently based in Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, Malaysia.

WONG’s intellectual and academic background began in the field of literature rather than fine art, which serves as an explanation for his continuous fascination for scholarship and rhetoric shown in his works.

Underlying WONG’s playfulness is a serious inquiry into Asian and world history, society and politics as seen through the lens of Malaysia’s colonial and post-colonial experience. His has sought to disturb our sense of security, reminding us of the slipperiness that lies between fact and fiction, past and present, and the perpetual reinvention of our own histories.

WONG is an artist unrestricted by style or medium, his diverse education background led to his inter-disciplinary works, involving areas such as drawing, installation, photography, theater/performance and video; and has explored the interrelationship of history, politics, culture and ethnicity.

WONG was awarded by The Rockefeller Foundation with the Bellagio Creative Arts Fellows in 2011. In 2000, Newsweek (International) named him as one of the 10 trailblazers of Asia under the title “Mavericks & Rebels”. In 1999, Asiaweek named him as one of the10 art and culture “Leaders of the Next Millennium”. Deutsche Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany collects his work and has a floor named after him. Cornell University even has a scholarship – “H. C. Wong Scholarship” – named after him for his work as “Outstanding Educator.”