Ming Wong

Born in Singapore
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Art Gallery of New South Wales

If you never see another motion picture in your life 2024
digital print
Courtesy the artist

Ming Wong presents gender, culture and class as acts of performance. Using video, digital imagery and installation, he reinterprets iconic films and characters from world cinema, using himself and other performers to play multiple roles in foreign languages.

Reimagining Stanley Kramer’s 1959 film On the beach, Wong’s poster interrogates the ideas of nuclear demise and waning hope that underwrite the famously theatrical film. Starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire, much of the story focuses on the beaches of Melbourne where those who have survived nuclear fallout await their inevitable death in the wake of a third world war. In Wong’s reimagining, titled If you never see another motion picture in your life, the melodrama of the source material is mingled with that of drag performance.

The apocalyptic 1959 film was produced at a time when Australia’s remoteness still dominated Euro-American imaginings of this country. Through Wong’s radical reinterpretation, the emotional resonance of On the beach is amplified rather than diminished. His playful manipulation prioritises emotional authenticity over faithful replication – how the end-of-days may look is dwarfed by the enormity of how it will feel.

Born in Singapore and currently based in Berlin and Stockholm, Ming Wong is an interdisciplinary artist working with performance, video and installation to unravel ideas of ‘authenticity’ and the ‘other’ with reference to the act of human performativity. Through a re-telling of world cinema and popular culture and re-readings of cultural artefacts from around the world, Wong’s artistic research and practice explore the politics of representation and how culture, gender and identity are constructed, reproduced and circulated.

Read more about the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, by purchasing the catalogue here.