Thursday, January 27, 2011

LIFE OF IMITATION / Ming Wong

In Love for the Mood, 2009, by Ming Wong
3-channel digital video installation

As arts-funding continues to dwindle, I'm reminded of how lucky we are in Seattle. We're certainly not immune from the cuts, but at the end of the day it's nice to know that we live in an area that supports the arts and remains committed to bringing innovative, world class exhibitions to our city. And just in case you didn't know, we did it again!


Four Malay Stories, 2009, by Ming Wong
4-channel digital video installation

Right now, Frye Art Museum is exhibiting art by Berlin based artist Ming Wong. LIFE OF IMITATION is the artist's American debut. This work was originally commissioned by Singapore for the 53rd Venice Biennale where it received a Special Mention award.
In his video installations, Wong builds layers of cinematic language, social structure, identity, and introspection through his own retelling of world cinema. He deliberately “miscasts” himself and others in reinterpretations of classic film scenes, often playing all the roles himself and using languages he neither speaks nor understands. With sly and tragicomic performances of speech and gesture, Wong exposes both cultural mistranslations and connections to disrupt assumptions about nation, family, self, and other.
Life of Imitation, 2009, by Ming Wong
2-channel digital video installation

The exhibition is a cinephile's dream. In addition to the direct references of film in his video pieces, the artist (along with curator Tang Fu Kuen) has rounded out the exhibition with with an amazing display of Singapore film ephemera (from the private collection of Wong Han Min), newly painted movie posters (made by the last remaining Singapore billboard painter, Neo Chohn Teck) and intimate photos of collapsing movie houses.

Together, these works attempt to tell the forgotten history of the golden age of Singapore cinema. If you want to see it (and I bet you do!), it's only here for one more month (closes on Feb 27). To me, the historical undercurrents of this show are as interesting as the art itself, so I highly recommend the supplemental programming like the teas and lectures.

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