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March 2010, Ming Wong @ Invaliden 1


Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
Videostill, 3 channel video installation, HD projection, colour, with sound
Courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin

 

Ming Wong: Life and Death in Venice
Gallerie Invaliden 1
Gbr Brunnenstrasse
22 10119 Berlin
February 13th through March 20th, 2010


A large red velvet curtain fills the window of Invaliden 1, in the centre of which hangs a hand-painted movie poster advertising, “Life & Death in Venice”.

Ming Wong’s installation comprises two large screens, suspended opposite each other, on which are projected scenes based on Visconti’s 1971 movie, Death in Venice (itself an adaptation of a Thomas Mann novella from 1912). In Wong’s version the artist plays both the dying composer Aschenbach and the elusive object of his unrequited desire, the youthful Tadzio.

On the wall, a small monitor shows the artist seated at a grand piano in the darkened interior of a belle epoque hotel playing a fragment of Mahler that serves as the soundtrack. This same interior is the setting for the only scene in the looped projections in which the gazes of the two characters meet.

Wong’s project was conceived and executed during his participation in the Singapore Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, Life of Imitation, for which he won special mention. His practice is characterized by the recreation of canonical scenes from world cinema in which lines of race, gender and identity are blurred through intentional and unintentional faults of transcription.

Too old to be the angelic Tadzio and too young to be the decrepit Aschenbach, the disguised artist wanders around Venice, various art installations serving as the backdrop for what the accompanying text frames as a meditation on the dilemma of the mid-career artist – neither the next big thing nor yet the elder statesman.

This somewhat banal reading of the work’s intent belies the fact that Wong has created a scenario in which he is both the subject and object of his own gaze. A narcissistic mirror in which the fleeting reflections are in more or less constant motion, their progress indifferent to the other (though of course here “the other” is in fact the self).  

In Mann’s original novella the relationship between Tadzio and Aschenbach (if we can call it that - they barely exchange words) is construed as an allegorical playing out of the tensions between the Appolonian and the Doinysian. Stationed at the piano and sight-reading the score, Ming Wong occupies the metaposition of an indifferent narrator, an ironic dialectic resolution of the looped and doubled self-reflective gaze in which he has contrived to find himself trapped.




Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
Videostill, 3 channel video installation, HD projection, colour, with sound
Courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin


Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
installation view, (3 channel video installation, HD projection, colour, with sound)
courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin



Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
installation view, (3 channel video installation, HD projection, colour, with sound)
courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin



Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
poster of the exhibition
courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin


Ming Wong, Life and death in Venice, 2010
installation view (hand painted cinema billboard, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 160 cm)
courtesy of Invaliden1 galerie Berlin

David Selden


Formerly an artist and  gallerist,  David Selden is a freelance writer
living and working in Berlin. He writes about music for dorfdisco.de 
and maintains the blog Unter den roten Geweihen 

view all articles from this author

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