Ming Wong: LIFE OF IMITATION

January 22 – February 27, 2011

Ming Wong: LIFE OF IMITATION, an award-winning exhibition by the Berlin-based Singaporean artist Ming Wong, will have its American premiere at the Frye Art Museum on January 22. First presented at the 2009 Venice Biennale, where it won a Special Jury Mention award, the exhibition features multiscreen video installations; billboards by Neo Chon Teck, Singapore’s last surviving billboard painter; rare screen memorabilia; and photographs of cinema palaces. This exhibition, Ming Wong’s first in the United States, has been co-organized by the Singapore Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum.

In his installations Wong adapts landmark films of world cinema, such as Douglas Sirk’s Hollywood melodrama Imitation of Life (1959), addressing issues of racial identity, gender, language, and that which the artist refers to as “in-between, bittersweet, where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” In Love for the Mood, a “rehearsal of a rehearsal,” is Ming Wong’s tribute to Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong film In the Mood for Love (2000), set in the 1960s. Finally, Four Malay Stories reinterprets Malay showbiz icon P. Ramlee’s most famous films, with Wong himself playing sixteen stock characters in a comedy, a melodrama, a social drama, and a period drama.

Ming Wong rereads “national” cinema constructed through language and role-playing by re-interpreting and adapting classic films and engaging with performative notions of miscasting and parroting.

A full-color catalogue of Ming Wong: LIFE OF IMITATION is available in the Museum Store.

Ming Wong: LIFE OF IMITATION is co-organized by the Singapore Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, and funded by the Singapore Art Museum and the Frye Foundation with the generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. Media Sponsor for the exhibition is KUOW. Seasonal support is provided by ArtsFund.

Ming Wong: LIFE OF IMITATION is guest curated by Tang Fu Kuen. Coordinating Curator at the Frye is Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker.

The third Singapore Biennale, organized by the Singapore Art Museum of the National Heritage Board and supported by the National Arts Council, will be held at the Singapore Art Museum, the National Museum of Singapore, Old Kallang Airport, and Marina Bay from March 13 to May 15, 2011. For more information about the Biennale, please visit www.singaporebiennale.org.

Image Credits:
Designed by Ming Wong and hand-painted by Neo Chon Tech. In Love for the Mood, 2009. Acrylic emulsion on canvas. 96 x 158 in. Singapore Art Museum Collection.
Ming Wong. In Love for the Mood, 2009. Three-channel video installation. Singapore Art Museum Collection.
Ming Wong. Life of Imitation, 2009. Two-channel video installation. Singapore Art Museum Collection.
Designed by Ming Wong and hand-painted by Neo Chon Tech. Four Malay Stories, 2009. Acrylic emulsion on canvas. 96 x 120 in. Singapore Art Museum Collection.
Ming Wong. Four Malay Stories, 2005. Four-channel video installation. Singapore Art Museum Collection.

"Life of Imitation serves up some fascinating puzzles. By teasing its way around language barriers, it delivers something both cheeky and deep."

Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times