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Wong Hoy Cheong: Days Of Our Lives

Days Of Our Lives: Reenacted photographs with models from Europe’s former colonies, based on French paintings. Artist's statement.
Sep 2009

Art museums all over Europe in their architectural splendour have historically been the guardians and depository of this Europeanness. Their art collections of paintings and sculptures are to preserve for eternity iconic moments of European culture and history. But Europe has changed and is still changing. With large migrant populations from former colonies who have made Europe their homes, notions such as Frenchness or Britishness or Germaness are not only in constant flux but needs to be reenvisioned. What constitutes "Europeanness" now?

Named after a soap opera in U.S. which has been running practically everyday for over 40 years, Days Of Our Lives is a series of six photographs which explores this new Europeanness. These reenacted photographs or tableaux vivants (living pictures) are based on French paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon (France) which depict domestic scenes: preparing food; relaxing, reading and playing music; giving charity to the poor or being evicted from home or going off to war. They are paintings of ordinary people and their everyday activities and problems.

While these paintings are of the past, their topicality and emotions are still as resonant and relevant today. While the characters inhabiting these paintings are of obvious European extraction, the reality has radically shifted. Using models from Europe’s former non Judeo-Christian colonies in Africa, Middle East and Asia, these photographs instead reprise these "days of our lives" with Muslim Nigerians, Iranians, Turkish and Buddhist Burmese minorities. The Judeo-Christian Europeanness of another epoch gives way to a new fluidity and diversity. The past lives in the present, and the present in past as domiciled and naturalized migrant minorities reconstructs a new Europeanness for this century.


These photographs are commissioned by Lyon Biennale 2009; with the kind permission of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon and the support of Larson Juhl.

Days of Our Lives. 2009
Digital photographs on coated canvas



Photography & Post Production:

Ng Kim Hock

Lighting Design:

Mike Muschamp

Make-up & Wardrobe:

Shahnaz Baharuden

Shahrin Baharuden

Sets & Props:

David Wong



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