Friday, 16 March 2012, 24:00 | midnight

#32: Ming Wong

Ming Wong’s ambitious performance and video works engage with the history of world cinema and popular forms of entertainment. Working through the visual styles and tropes of such iconic film directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wong Kar-wai and Ingmar Bergman, Wong’s practice considers the means through which subjectivity and geographic location are constructed by motion pictures. Wong examines the original film’s constructions of language, performance and identity. With the artist cast in the roles of the original actors, key scenes are reenacted often in front of rough printed backdrops that are digitally rendered from film stills and kept intact within the video.

Ming Wong presents in a one-night-only screening his “Italian works” shot on location in Venice and Naples:

Life & Death in Venice / Leben und Tod in Venedig / Vita e Morta a Venezia, 2010, single-channel version, specially edited for the cinema with live grand piano accompaniment by Ming Wong himself!

Originally a 3-screen video installation created with the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès , the work is a revisitation of Death in Venice – Luchino Visconti’s 1971 fi lm version of Thomas Mann’s 1912 novella. The artist performs the roles of both the ageing composer/writer Gustav von Aschenbach as well as Tadzio, the adolescent boy whose uncorrupted youth and beauty mirrors the older man’s state of crisis and impending death. Entirely self-directed, produced and conceived whilst his presentation for the Singapore Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale was still on-going, the film was shot in several original locations of the book/film as well as against appropriated backdrops of artworks in the Venice Biennale in 2009.

The ‘Adagietto’ from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no.5 – the theme tune of Visconti’s film – performed live by the Ming Wong himself on the grand piano.

Devo partire. Domani / I must go. Tomorrow, 2010, GERMAN PREMIERE, single-channel version, specially edited for the cinema

Originally produced as a 5-channel video installation by Napoli Teatro Festival Italia 2010 and Singapore Biennale 2011, this work is inspired by the cult arthouse 1968 Italian film Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The artist plays every character of a bourgeois Italian household which goes through an identity crisis after the visitation of a mysterious Stranger. Ming Wong has adapted the story to contemporary times and to the setting of Naples. Entirely filmed on location, the work makes extensive use of the Neopolitan landscape – including the Scampia drug ghetto, the failed industrial desert of Bagnoli, the volcano of Vesuvius, the archeological museum and the vibrant streets of Naples – to offset the attempts by the Singapore-born artist to pass off as archetypal Italian characters inhabiting these genuine spaces. Ghosts of the past revisit their lives; statues of Gods come alive. Visions of an apocalyptic future, references to Italian cinema and cinema history enter the picture, recalling not just Pasolini’s work but also his persona and legacy.


Ming Wong (b. 1971 in Singapore) lives and works in Berlin. He studied Chinese Art at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore and Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Art, University College London. Wong’s artwork assembles language and identity and creates it’s own “World Cinema”. His performance-videos show this “everyday life cinema” as a stage of queer politics of representation and combines with the story of a melodrama by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, P. Ramlees or modern dance. Solo exhibitions (selection): Singapore Art Museum (2010); Singapore Pavilion, 53. Venice Biennial (2009); Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2008). Group exhibitions (selection): Gwangju Biennial, Sydney Biennial, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (all 2010); Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz (2009); ZKM|Zentrum für Kunst- und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe (2008).

Ming Wong’s web site: