Sherman Ong

Making films is like a spiritual pilgrimage for me to understand myself, channelling the experiences of my forebears and connecting with the history of this region.

As a child, I grew up listening to stories from my elders all the time: the drama, the gossips, the grouses and discrimination, the rituals and superstitions, the familiar infidelities and sacrifices, the animistic and the shamanistic beliefs, and the daily epic of a Peranakan background where hybridity and diversity have always been part and parcel of my upbringing.

These oral narratives are like storyboards unfolding in my head, guiding my eventual path to telling stories and making films about a region known as the Nusantara, traversing the notions of origin, diaspora and migration with the personal and the intimate stories of peoples whose ancestors have arrived into the region from different times through different waves of migration.

My ancestors were from Malacca and came to Singapore to do business in the late 18th century. I would say even before Singapore was part of Malaysia, Malacca and Singapore had a connection in terms of family and trade ties, which went back to the 1700s. To fully understand the breadth of Singapore, one has to appreciate her connections with Malaya and the region.

The description by Tun Sri Lanang illustrates clearly the Nusantara as a region full of diversity and conducive for trade and commerce helped by the monsoons and excellent harbours.

” When we consider the extent of this unparalleled Archipelago; the vanity and peculiar character of its people; the infinity of its resources; its contiguity to China and Japan, the most populous regions of the earth; and the extraordinary facilities it affords to commerce, from the smoothness of its seas, the number and excellence of its harbours, and the regularity of its monsoons ; it would be vain to assign limits, or to say how far and wide the tide of commerce might not have flowed, or how great the progress of civilization might not have been, had they been allowed to pursue their free and uninterrupted course, protected and encouraged by a more enlightened and liberal government.”
~ Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals) compiled by Tun Sri Lanang in 1612, translated by Dr John Leyden

I think as a filmmaker, I am a medium chanelling from my own recessses of deep histories, mingling myths and fables from the region with contemporary stories and dilemmas about migration and diaspora.

Sherman is a filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. His practice has always centred on the human condition and our relationships with others within the larger milieu.

Winner of the Prudential Eye Awards 2015 for Photography and the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award 2010, Sherman has premiered works in Art Biennales, major Film Festivals and Museums around the world, including the Venice, Singapore, Yin Chuan, Jakarta Biennales, Fukuoka and Asia Pacific Triennale, Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, The Tate Modern, Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, Musee du Quai Branly Paris, Centre Pompidou Paris, Institute of Contemporary Arts London, Noorderlicht Photo Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival, VideoBrasil Contemporary Art Festival, Singapore Art Museum, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Queensland Art Gallery, South Australia Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius Contemporary Art Centre, Lithuania and MART Museum of Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy.

He is a founding member of 13 Little Pictures, a film collective based in Singapore. He also serves on the committee of the Singapore International Photography Festival, as an educator at schools and universities, and was an Associate Artist of the Substation.

He was invited to participate in the Singapore Pavilion in the Venice Biennale (2009) which garnered a Special Mention. He is nominated for the APB-Singapore Art Museum Signature Art Prize 2011 and was one of the Top 30 Finalists of the Sovereign Asian Art Award 2016. He collaborated on the Little Sun project headed by Olafur Eliasson which premiered at the Tate Modern London in 2012. His works are in the collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Singapore Art Museum and the Seoul Art Centre Korea.

In the summer of 2017, he exhibited in SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia (1980s to Now) co-organised by the National Art Center, Tokyo, the Mori Art Museum, and the Japan Foundation Asia Center in Tokyo, Japan.

HONORS & AWARDS
2016
Sovereign Asian Art Award (Top 30 Finalist)
Hong Kong
2015
Prudential Eye Awards (Photography) 2015
Singapore
2013
Honorable Jury Mention (Motherland), 18th Contemporary Art Festival Videobrasil
Brazil
2011
Nominated for the APB-Singapore Art Museum Signature Art Prize
Singapore
2010
ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award
Singapore
2010
Hubert Bals (Script Development) Fund
Netherlands
2009
Special Mention (Ming Wong, Singapore Pavilion) Venice Biennale
Venice, Italy
2009
Best Screenplay (Hashi), Singapore Film Awards
Singapore
2009
Forget Africa Commission, Rotterdam International Film Festival
Netherlands
2007
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum Artist Residency Award
Fukuoka, Japan
2005
Special Jury Prize (Exodus), Independent Film & Video Awards
Hong Kong, China
2005
ArtConnexions:Goethe-Institut Artist Residency Award
Singapore
2004
Best Experimental Film (Exodus), Int’l Panorama of Independent Filmmakers
Greece
2004
Special Jury Prize (Exodus), Malaysian Video Awards
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2004
Special Festival Prize (Exodus), La Cittadella del Corto Short Film Festival, Italy2002Best Documentary (The Ground I Stand), Malaysian Video Awards
Malaysia

ARTIST RESIDENCIES
2005
Goethe Institute Art Connexions Residency (Hanoi, Vietnam)
2007
Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan
2009
Rotterdam Film Festival Forget Africa Residency (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania)

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2010  
ICON de Martell Photography Award
Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore

2010
Ticket Seller
Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, USA

2009  
Sherman Ong
Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Australia

2008  
Hanoi Monogatari (Hanoi Story),
Zeit Foto Salon, Tokyo, Japan

2008
HanoiHaiku: Month of Photography Asia
2902 Gallery, Singapore

2007  
Missing You
Fukuoka Art Asian Museum, Fukuoka, Japan

2006  
HanoiHaiku
Angkor Photography Festival, Siem Reap, Cambodia

         

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017
Sunshower
Contemporary Art from South East Asia, National Art Centre Tokyo, Japan

2017
Move on Asia 2017_Mobilized Representation
Alternative Space Loop, Seoul, Korea

2017
Joined by the Crown
George Town Festival, Penang, Malaysia

2016
South East Asia Platform
Art Stage, Singapore

2016
Sovereign Asian Art Award (Top 30 Finalist)
Hong Kong

2016
The City of Homeless
Arko Art Centre, Seoul, Korea

2016
Yin Chuan Biennale
Yin Chuan, China

2015
Prudential Eye Awards
Art Science Museum, Singapore

2015
Open Seas
Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon, France

2015
Singapore en France SG50
Cinematheque Francaise, Paris, France

2015
Mind the Gap:Mapping the Other
National Library, Singapore

2015
Dreams:Moving Images
M+ Hong Kong

2015
Rendez-vous with the Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon
ICA, Singapore

2015
Flooding in the Time of Drought
Centre for Contemporary Art Centre, Singapore

2014
Daegu Photo Biennale
Korea

2014
Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale
Fukuoka, Japan

2014
Lost in Landscape
MART Museum of Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto, Italy

2014
Art Stage Singapore
Art Plural Gallery, Singapore

2014
The Disappearance
Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore

2014
Coming Home – Bang Bang Wonderland
PassionArts Festival, Singapore

2013
Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Cinema)
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia.

2013
Cinema Encounters: Sherman Ong
Casa Asia, Barcelona & Madrid, Spain

2013
Migrants (in)visibles
Espace Khiasma, Paris, France

2013
Motherland – Xiao Jing
Open House (Marina), Singapore

2013
Motherland
Chan Hampe Gallery, Singapore

2013
18th Contemporary Art Festival Videobrasil
Sao Paulo, Brazil

2013
Urban Living: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be
Singapore

2012
Little Sun by Olafur Eliasson
Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom

2012
Asia Serendipity
Teatro Fernando Gomez, Photo Espana Madrid, Spain

2012
Panorama
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

2012
PIMP the TIMP Volume II
Galerie Lichtblick, 21st International Photoszene Cologne, Germany.

2012
Cross-Scape
GoEun Museum of Photography, Busan, Korea

2012
I want to remember
Rotterdam International Film Festival, Netherlands

2012
Crossing SEA(s)
2902 Gallery, Singapore (Fringe event of Art Stage Singapore)

2011
Unseen: Cinema of the 21st Century
Queensland Art Gallery, Australia

2011
Changwon Asian Art Festival
Sungsan Arts Hall, Changwon, Korea

2011
17th International Contemporary Art Festival Videobrasil
Sao Paolo, Brazil

2011
Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space
Prague, Czech Republic

2011
Cross-Scape, Kumho Museum of Art
Seoul, Korea

2011
Cross-Scape, Jeonbuk Museum of Art
Jeonju, Korea

2011
Metropolis – City Life in the Urban Age
Noorderlicht International Photofestival, Netherlands

2011
Ming Wong:Life of Imitation
Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA

2011
Ming Wong:Life of Imitation
Contemporary Art Spaces Tasmania, Australia

2011
Ming Wong:Life of Imitation
Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan

2011
I want to Remember
Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore

2011
Singapore Survey 2011: Imagine Malaysia
Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore

2011
Photo Ireland
Dublin, Ireland

2011
Short Cuts
Singapore National Museum, Singapore

2011
Now or Never
ION Art Gallery, Singapore

2011
Kumbukumbu Za Mti Uunguao | Memories of a Burning Tree

2011
Kandy International Film Festival
Sri Lanka

2011
When the end of Winter is almost Spring

2011
Rotterdam International Film Festival
Netherlands

2011
Tickets

2011
Gdansk Docfilm Festival (Competition)
Poland

2010
Ming Wong:Life of Imitation
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

2010
Malaysia-Singapore Cinema
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

2010
Daegu Photography Biennale
Daegu Culture and Arts Center, Korea

2010
Nanjing Biennale
Jiangsu Art Museum, Nanjing, China

2010
Rainbow Asia
Hangaram Museum, Seoul Art Centre, Seoul, South Korea

2010
The Tropics-Views from the Middle of the Globe
Jim Thompson Art Centre, Bangkok, Thailand

2010
The Last Book
The Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Switzerland

2010
Banjir Kemarau | Flooding in the Time of Drought

2010
Rotterdam International Film Festival
Netherlands

2010
Barcelona Asian Film Festival
Spain

2010
Rome Asian Film Festival
Italy

2010
Kumbukumbu Za Mti Uunguao | Memories of a Burning Tree

2010
Rotterdam International Film Festival
Netherlands

2010
Goteborg International Film Festival
Sweden

2010
Hong Kong International Film Festival
China

2010
Tokyo International Film Festival
Japan

2010
Singapore International Film Festival
Singapore

2010
Montreal World Film Festival
Canada

2010
Bangkok World Film Festival
Thailand

2010
Durban International Film Festival
South Africa

2010
Mumbai International Film Festival
India

2010
Rome Asian Film Festival
Italy

2010
Milan Festival of African
Asian and Latin American Cinema, Italy

2010
Cinemanila
Manila, Philippines

2010
Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival
Jogjakarta, Indonesia

2010
When the end of Winter is almost Spring

2010
Montreal World Film Festival
Netherlands

2010
Tickets

2010
Montreal World Film Festival
Netherlands

2010
Hawaii International Film Festival
USA

2009
Ming Wong:Life of Imitation
Singapore Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

2009
Code Share:10 Biennales, 20 Artists
Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania

2009
Fluid Zone:Jakarta Biennale
National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia

2009
Die Tropen – Views from the Middle of the Globe
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany

2009
Banjir Kemarau | Flooding in the Time of Drought

2009
Hong Kong International Film Festival

2009
Cinema Digital Seoul
Korea

2009
Bangkok World Film Festival
Thailand

2009
Osian Cinefan International Film Festival
India

2009
Cinemanila International Film Festival
Philippines

2009
Q! Film Festival, Jakarta Indonesia

2009
Hashi

2009
Best Screenplay Award
Singapore Film Awards, Singapore

2009
Rotterdam International Film Festival

2009
Barcelona Asian Film Festival Spain
Spain

2009
Rome Asian Film Festival Italy
Italy

2009
Sofia Film Festival
Bulgaria

2008
Wonder
Singapore Biennale
City Hall, Singapore

2008
In-between (Asian Video Art)
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan

2008
Cut2: New Photography from Southeast Asia
Valentine Willie Fine Art, Singapore

2008
The Last Book
Biblioteca Nacional Buenos Aires, Argentina

2008
Photo Art Asia
Bangkok, Thailand

2008
Out of Berlin…pass the picture!
Goethe Institut, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2008
OsTropicos – Views from the Middle of the Globe
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2008
Cut: New Photography from Southeast Asia
Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2008
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2008
Clermond-Ferrand International Short Film Festival
France

2008
Hashi

2008
Singapore International Film Festival
Singapore

2008
Mumbai Women’s Film Festival India
India

2008
State of Things

2008
Asean + 3 Film Festival
Sinema Old School, Singapore

2007
Photoquai-World Visual Arts Biennale, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France

2007
OsTropicos – Views from the Middle of the Globe, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Brasilia, Brazil

2007
Singapore Art Show
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

2007
Making Heroes
Striking The Missing Chord, National Library, Singapore

2007
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2007
Independent Contemporary Dance Festival
Cultural Center of the Philippines

2007
Films of Desire
Neemrana, India

2007
Arts House
Singapore

2007
HDB Housing Project

2007
History Gallery
National Museum Singapore

2006
Another Asia, Noorderlicht Photo Festival
Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

2006
40º1`N/3º36`W, Aranjuez
Plaza de Parejas, Aranjuez Spain

2006
Landscape & Architecture
Art Salon, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2006
ArtConnexions
Goethe Institut/IFA

2006
RMIT Gallery
Melbourne, Australia

2006
National Museum Jakarta
Indonesia

2006
Vietnam Fine Arts Museum
Hanoi Vietnam

2006
IFA Gallery Stuttgart
Germany

2006
IFA Gallery Berlin
Germany

2006
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2006
3rd International Dance Video Festival
Tokyo, Japan

2006
The Circle

2006
Commonwealth Film Festival
Manchester, United Kingdom

2005
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2005
Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival
Sao Paulo, Brazil

2005
10th Hong Kong Independent Film and Video Awards
China

2005
Jakarta International Dance Film Festival
Indonesia

2005
VideoLisboa#5
Portugal

2005
Drought (Dance Film)

2005
Yokohama Art Triennial (Closing Presentation)
Japan

2005
Meat, Vegetables & Dessert

2005
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Netherlands

2005
4th Bangkok International Experimental Film Festival Thailand

2005
ArtConnexions
Space 217, Singapore

2005
The Circle

2005
DIBA Digital Barcelona International Film Festival
Spain

2005
El Pollo de Quijote

2005
Finalist 4th Centennial of Don Quixote Short Film Awards
Spain

2005
State of Things

2005
Singapore Short Cuts
Singapore History Museum, Singapore

2004
Singapore Season
Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK

2004
Month of Photography
Singapore Arts Festival, Alliance Francaise, Singapore

2004
Spirituality in Modern Singapore
Goethe Institut, Singapore

2004
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2004
International Panorama of Independent Filmmakers
Greece

2004
International Film Festival Rotterdam
Netherlands

2004
Malaysian Video Awards
Malaysia

2004
Bangkok International Film Festival
Thailand

2004
Barcelona Asian Film Festival
Spain

2004
Circuito Off Venice International Short Film Festival
Italy

2004
Turin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Italy

2004
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival
USA

2004
La Cittadella del Corto International Short Film Festival
Italy (Special Festival Prize)

2004
New York Asian American International Film Festival
USA

2004
Rome Asian Film Festival
Italy

2004
Dance On Screen, International Dance Film Festival London
UK

2004
Rencontres Internationales Paris-Berlin
Paris, France

2004
Bilbao International Documentary and Short Film Festival
Spain

2004
Asia-Europe Foundation Dance Forum
Hebbel Theatre, Berlin, Germany

2004
.MOV International Digital Film Festival
Philippines 2004

2004
State of Things

2004
Zero Gravity, Multimedia Art Asia Pacific
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore

2003
Towards the Month of Photography 2004
Alliance Francaise, Singapore

2003
Exodus – Wanita Yang Berlari

2003
Q Film Festival Jakarta
Indonesia

2003
Di Mana Bumi Dipijak | The Ground I Stand

2003
Videobrasil – International Electronic Art Festival 2003
Sao Paulo, Brazil

2003
7th Thai Short Film and Video Festival 2003
Bangkok Thailand

2003
State of Things

2003
Emergency Filmmaking Project
The Substation, Singapore

2002
60’s Now
Singapore Art Museum,Singapore

2002
Di Mana Bumi Dipijak | The Ground I Stand

2002
7th Malaysian Video Awards
Malaysia

2002
8th Hongkong Independent Short Film & Video Festival

2002
Women Inspire Film Festival 2002
Singapore

2002
2nd Singapore Shorts Film Festival
Singapore

2002
Contemplation Room
Danish Ministry of Culture, Overgaden Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark

2002
Danger Museum
Institute of International Visual Arts, London, UK

2002
Aus Kobberling
Kassel, Germany

2001
Time-Image in the Peranakan House
Central District Arts Festival, Singapore

 

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan
Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
Seoul Art Centre, Korea
Malaysia-Singapore Collection, National University of Singapore

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