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Song-Ming Ang Biography

Propelled by a love of music, Song-Ming Ang's wide-ranging practice comprises installation, video, painting, and participatory projects. Inspired by the rock band Radiohead to pursue music as a teenager, Ang explores the ways in which we experience sound in both our private and communal moments.

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For his project Piece of 350 Onomatopoeic Molecules (2003–ongoing), Ang installs electric guitars, amplifiers, drums, and cymbals in galleries and distributes 350 ping pong balls for visitors to throw at the installation. Regardless of their knowledge of rock and roll or of the instruments, any participant can make music if they are willing. The ensuing discordant sounds are testament to the inherently interactive and entertaining possibilities of music.

Ang further interrogates the social significance of music through Guilty Pleasures (2007–ongoing), another interactive project that takes the form of a listening party. In a welcoming and informal environment oufitted with sofas and cushions, members of the audience share songs that they enjoy in secret. In 2011, Ang turned the project into a book titled The Book of Guilty Pleasures, in which 100 artists, curators, musicians and writers—including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ming Wong, Katie Paterson, and Carolee Schneemann among others—disclose their own musical guilty pleasures.

In other works, Ang revamps simple or well-known songs to examine the links between memory and music. During his residency as part of the ARCUS Project in Japan, the artist filmed graduates of a now closed primary school trying to sing their school song. The resulting video, Be True to Your School (2010), captures moments of awkwardness and embarrassment as middle-aged adults search their memory—with much difficulty—for a song they once managed effortlessly. In Backwards Bach (2013), Ang plays the German composer's C Major Prelude to the Well Tempered Clavier (Book 1) on the harpsichord. The two-channel video was filmed inside a Baroque-era mansion in Berlin; one screen shows a close-up of the artist, the other from a distance. When he finishes, he plays the same score again, this time with its notes in reverse order. Recited backwards, the uncomplicated piece of music sounds completely unrecognisable.

Over the years, Ang's concerns have expanded to include labour and craftsmanship in music- and art-making. Parts and Labour (2012), for example, is a 26-minute video based on the four months the artist spent in a Berlin piano shop learning to deconstruct and reassemble a used piano. In another video—Something Old, Something New (2015), which appeared in the 14th Istanbul Biennale—the artist meticulously constructs a glass replica of a double-sided 19th-century wooden music stand.

Exploring the potential for translating music into visual compositions, Ang created 'Music Manuscripts' (2013) for which he drew linear patterns onto the existing staves of blank, standard music manuscript paper with felt-tip pens. The patterns vary—one sheet is filled entirely with straight, horizontal lines, while another shows a group of diagonal lines intersecting each other to create a simple, ribbon-like shape in its centre.

Ang studied English Literature at the National University of Singapore (2001–5) and Aural and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths College, London (2008–9). Since relocating to Berlin for a residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2011, Ang has been dividing his time between Germany and Singapore.

Selected solo exhibitions include Do-It-Yourself, Camden Arts Centre, London (2015); Logical Progressions, Fost Gallery, Singapore (2014); and Cover Versions, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2012). Ang's work was also included in group exhibitions such as Festival of Live Art, Arts House, Melbourne (2018); The Part in the Story..., Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam (2014); and Panorama, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012). Ang participated in the 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015) and the Singapore Biennale (2011); in 2019, he will represent Singapore at the Venice Biennale.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018

Song-Ming Ang In Ocula Magazine

Aichi Triennale Grapples with History and Censorship Ocula Report Aichi Triennale Grapples with History and Censorship By Stephanie Bailey, Nagoya

The 2019 Aichi Triennale (1 August–14 October 2019) is all about mediating polarisations—whether between 'nationalism and globalism, elitism and anti-intellectualism, universalism and relativism, idealism and realism, metropole and periphery, young and old'. The exhibition enacts this mediation by deftly weaving together works employing...

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Song-Ming Ang In Related Press

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The Singapore Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale: artist Song-Ming Ang and and curator Michelle Ho – interview Related Press The Singapore Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale: artist Song-Ming Ang and and curator Michelle Ho – interview 28 November 2018, Art Radar Journal

2019 will mark Singapore's ninth participation in the Venice Biennale since 2001. For the occasion, the Singapore Pavilion will present an exhibition titled Music for Everyone: Variations on a Theme, by multidisciplinary artist Song-Ming Ang and curated by Michelle Ho. Born in 1980, Song-Ming Ang is known for his interest in how individuals or...

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Song-Ming Ang, Venice Biennale Artist Related Press Song-Ming Ang, Venice Biennale Artist 27 July 2018, Business Times

AT 37, Song-Ming Ang has created an eclectic, multi-dimensional body of work that centres on sound and music. His study of it extends beyond rule-based music compositions to include accidental music, noise experiments, lost songs and the historical relationship between music and society. In 2007, for instance, he started a series of listening...

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'The world precedes the eye' at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore Related Press 'The world precedes the eye' at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore 8 December 2016, Art Radar Journal

Whereas the title An Atlas of Mirrors might bring to mind some sort of sleight of hand, the Singapore Biennale 2016 affiliate project The world precedes the eye at ICA Singapore seems, straightforwardly, to put forth the commonsensical notion that what we perceive is prior to our perceptions, having an existence which precedes our biases and...

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Six Southeast Asian Artists To Watch In 2014 Related Press Six Southeast Asian Artists To Watch In 2014 27 January 2014, Art Radar Asia / 24 January 2014

Song-Ming Ang is fascinated with aural culture. A Singaporean based in Berlin, his chief motif is sound and its myriad roles in contemporary urban life. A recent project involved a mobile karaoke stage installed in the back of a truck, which travelled to various suburban locales in Singapore affording residents a chance to belt out their favourite...

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