For his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Ming Wong creates a series of videos and scenic backdrops that center around the making of Roman Polanski’s seminal 1974 film Chinatown. Shot on location in the Gallery at REDCAT, Wong’s reinterpretation, Making Chinatown, transforms the exhibition space into a studio backlot and examines the original film’s constructions of language, performance and identity. With the artist cast in the roles originally played by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Belinda Palmer, key scenes are reenacted in front of printed backdrops that are digitally rendered from film stills and kept intact within the video installation. The wall flats adhere to the conventions of theatrical and filmic staging while taking on qualities of large-scale painting and sculpture.
Wong has been recognized internationally for his ambitious performance and video works that 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. Making Chinatown is Wong’s first project focused on the American context of filmmaking and draws upon Polanski’s iconic film for its use of Los Angeles as a versatile and malleable character. Wong treats the film as a text through which he is able to inhabit and impersonate the qualities that are particular to the place it represents. Making Chinatown mimics and reduces the techniques of mainstream cinema in order to emphasize the theatrical qualities that underlie cinematic artifice.
Ming Wong (b. 1971, Singapore) currently lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at the Museum of Moving Image, Queens, New York, as part of Performa 11; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou, China; the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and the Singapore Art Museum. He has been included in such notable exhibitions as based in Berlin at Atelierhaus Monbijoupark in Berlin; the 2010 Gwangju Biennial; and in 2009 at the Singaporean Pavilion for the 53rd Venice Biennale.