Artists' Film - 18 Sep 2016

Making Chinatown

In anticipation of his new work for Frieze Film, Ming Wong reflects on his 2012 ode to Roman Polanski

'In my performance and video works, I re-interpret iconic moments from world cinema and popular culture, often portraying multiple key characters myself irrespective of language, gender, ethnicity, or nationality. The aim is to uncover gaps and slippages that haunt the notions of 'authenticity' and 'originality' in self and society, and reveal how one's identity is constructed, reproduced and circulated. 

Making Chinatown draws upon Roman Polanski’s seminal film Chinatown (1974) which was a 'neo film noir' that drew its symbolism of casting Chinatown and Chinese as symbols of menace, from the era of the 'Yellow Peril', the geo-political xenophobic perception of Chinese immigrants in Europe and America originating from the late 19th century.

Here I have cast myself in the key roles of detective, femme fatale, villain and victim (originally played by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Belinda Palmer respectively), revealing a new sense of complicity and the unknown in an incestuous narrative of betrayal, desperation and destiny: 'Forget it, Jake... it's Chinatown.'

Click here to read 'The Volcano Lover', Dominic Eichler's frieze feature on Ming Wong and his homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini

Ming Wong was born 1971 in Singapore and lives and works in Berlin. He studied Chinese art at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore, and has a MFA in Fine Art Media from the Slade School of Art in London. Numerous solo exhibitions include those at: Ullens Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing (2015); Shiseido Galley, Tokyo (2013); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2012); and the 53rd Venice Biennial (2009) where he was awarded a Special Mention.