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Ming of Harlem A film set constructed inside the Tiger enclosure at the Isle of Wight Zoo for artist / filmaker Phillip Warnell

For serveral years in a Harlem flat prior to their discovery 2003, Antoine Yates shared his home with Ming the tiger and Al the aligator. Inspired by this story our set design included elements to recreate spaces and features from Yates' own apartment but this time installed within the context of a Zoo's tiger enclosure, where boundaries between domesticity and the wildness of the natural world would blur.

Rather than an exact replica, areas of the apartment set were adapted to encourage engagement by the tiger as it prowled. Elements of landscape topography and vegetation emerging within the familiar domestic settings of rooms and furniture.


Warnell's 71min film communicates a range of poetic reflections on human-animal relationships, constructed territories and the artificiality of domestic scenarios.

The project also involved strategic consideration of camera and crane techniques to enable filming without operators being inside the enclosure fence!

More info on the film: www.phillipwarnell.com/
Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air Phillip Warnell, UK/Belgium/USA, 2014, DCP, 71m
Completed : September 2014
Financed by The Wellcome Trust, ACE, VAF, FWB (Belgium)
Image Credits: © Phillip Warnell & big other films