Ming Wong's Obssession with Impersonation

While he is recently most well known for his work, Life of Imitation, which involves actors impersonating roles from famous movie scenes, Ming Wong himself has slipped into a dozen roles, making impersonation seemingly a stubborn motif of his works.

'I impersonate these characters/actors/personalities - they are all wrapped into one - as a tribute to both the vision of their creators (writers, actors, filmmakers) and the roles that they represent. often they hold up a mirror to the moral values of society, usually on the brink of change. Most of these films were made in the 60s & early 70s, which were tumultous times for pre-independent Singapore, post-war Germany & Italy. Even though its the same person in these guises, after a while, the differences in race, gender, age, nationality, class status etc become irrelevant, what remains is the vision of the artists/filmmakers and the symbolic roles of these characters.'

We asked Ming to share 7 of his most meaningful impersonations here.

Ming Wong as Gustav von Aschebach, the artist in crisis who goes on holiday to Venice.

Ming Wong as Tadzio, the most beautiful boy in the world, the subject of von Aschenbach's obsession.

These are the 2 main protagonists in 'Death in Venice' (Visconti's 1971 film version of Thomas Mann's classic novella).

Ming Wong as both the old German cleaning-lady and her younger Moroccan immigrant car mechanic husband in Fassbinder's 1974 film 'Ali: Fear Eats the Soul'.

(Above 2) Ming Wong as the maid in Pasolini's Teorema, who performs a miracle in her village and becomes a saint, and buries herself alive in the soil of Italy, at a place and time when agriculture gave way to urbanisation, capitalism and materialism.

Ming Wong as P Ramlee as Kassim Selamat the blind saxophone player in the classic Malay Melodrama 'Ibu Mertuaku' ('My Mother-in-law').

Ming Wong as Mak Dara as the Mother-in-law.

Watch out for his new works in Singapore at the Singapore Biennale next year 6 March.

About Ming Wong

Ming Wong's practice explores the performative veneers of language and identity through his own 'world cinema'. He represented Singapore at the 53rd Venice International Biennale in 2009, gaining critical acclaim for his presentation 'Life of Imitation', which won Special Mention (Expanding Worlds). He has also shown at the Sydney Biennale 2010, Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver and ZKM Center for Art & Media amongst others. He has assumed international residencies at ACME studios, London, and K├╝nstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Past awards include the London Artists' Film and Video Award by Film London and the Pearson Creative Research Fellowship at the British Library.

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