TANG FU KUEN
Life of Imitation
Date: 24-Mar-2011 – 24-Apr-2011
Location: Contemporary Art Tasmania
In Life of Imitation, artist Ming Wong and curator Tang Fu Kuen revisit the context of the “Golden Age” of Singapore cinema in the 1950s and ’60s—an era in which Singapore experienced the struggles of nation building, rapid modernization and cultural flux. Through cinema, Singapore’s multi-ethnic worlds connected. But soon after gaining Independence in 1965, the vibrant film industry collapsed. Wong uses film—unique for capturing the complex relations within society—to reflect on the hybrid roots of Singaporean culture and on shifting surfaces of ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’.
In his installations, Wong re-interprets pivotal scenes from world cinema, playing all the roles himself or using deliberately miscast actors. With sly and tragicomic performances of speech and gesture, he exposes both cultural connections and mis-translations, and disrupts assumptions about nation, family, self, and other. Co-organized by the Singapore Art Museum, Ten Days on The Island and CAST Gallery, the Australian debut of Life of Imitation includes two of the artist’s re-interpretations of world cinema: Four Malay Stories (Cinema 1), and Life of Imitation (Cinema 2). The exhibition also presents screen ephemera by private collector Wong Han Min and Ming Wong’s photographs of abandoned cinema palaces. Combining archival and re-invented materials, Life of Imitation bridges real and fictional processes to form a dialogue between the past and present.
Ming Wong (b.1971) was the solo artist representing the Singapore Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His achievement in Life of Imitation won Special Mention from the jury and wide international acclaim. He lives and works in Singapore and Berlin.