You may know Ivana Wong as a singer-songwriter, but she has also ventured into the world of art as she pushes the boundaries of both her own creative pursuits and the local art landscape. Growing up in a musical family, she has always seen music as a natural form of self-expression, which blossomed into a successful career in pop music. Over the years, however, she has also developed a passion for the visual arts, which manifested as the art project, The Missing Something.
Rather than having just one exhibition, the project comprises multiple chapters to “record the changes of feelings and emotions in moments when something around us ceases to exist”, she says. The first chapter, The Pink Room Experience, took place in March and April, while the second show, which will also be Wong’s first major solo exhibition, will take place later this year.
The Pink Room Experience was about the labelling culture, which refers to the way people are categorised as a result of stereotyping. “I think it stems from ‘the missing compassion’,” Wong says. “It’s an important topic because stereotypes shape our behaviour, beliefs, society, and ultimately, the world.”
Music and lyrics were at the core of the exhibition, but it also incorporated elements of other art forms, such as photography, videography and interactive installations, to invite the audience to examine the topic from different angles. One of the exhibits, for example, was a rack with Wong’s writings that questioned people’s fixed beliefs; another exhibit, The Pink Room, took visitors on a virtual journey of sound and sight through a world of labels. “It’s a multi-sensational experience, which reflects how the labelling culture has been intruding multiple facets of our lives and our souls in an overwhelming manner,” she explains.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected things about the exhibition was the guided tours led by Wong herself. “I started to give tours to elaborate further on the concepts behind [the show],” she says. And in the process of explaining the details of the artworks to her audience, she realised that the tours had turned into story sharing sessions. “I couldn’t be more grateful that people were eager to share their thoughts and personal stories with me.”
Such direct artist-audience interaction is rare, and for Wong, it was a crucial part of the exhibition to engage visitors in a meaningful way. As she says, “The experience had transformed into a hub for conversation and dialogues with meaning; and what was initially just a unidirectional expression became a solid, memorable experience.”