Coinciding with his work-in-progress exhibition on the Royal Institute of Art’s Rutiga Golvet art space, artist Ming Wong talks about his ongoing research project ”Tales from the Bamboo Spaceship” and the creation of a science-fiction Chinese opera, inspired by the history of cinema and traditional performance in Hong Kong, now marked by clashes by young protesters fighting for democracy.
Ming Wong presents the latest chapter in his ongoing exploration of the concept of “future” in Chinese modernity, and how it manifests itself in the unlikely relationship between science fiction and Cantonese opera cinema. “One Table, Two Chairs” represents the basic minimalist setting of traditional Chinese opera performance. From a royal court to a humble household, a mountain, a city wall, or a boat, – multiple configurations of “one table, two chairs” allow for the imagination of shifting settings. At the art school’s Rutiga Golvet space the artist invites the visitor to board the Bamboo Spaceship, to imagine an alternative future in the collision between traditional theatre, queer cinema and a people’s resistance.
On one wall the artist has mapped out a timeline of ideas, and an accompanying video essay speculates on a Sci-Fi plot of time and space travel, gender and genre crossing. Explorations start from the late 19th century, when Cantonese Opera troupes sailed around the Pearl River Delta in ‘Red Boats’, forming close connections with Southern Kungfu and uprisings against the corrupt Qing government, alongside clashes with pirates in the region. The timeline runs through a cultural chasm between the suppression of traditional Chinese opera during the Cultural Revolution in mainland China, and the rise of the Kungfu martial arts film genre from Hong Kong and Taiwan. It extends to a future of renewed significance in traditional beliefs of man’s relationship with the sea and protection against the forces of nature.
The current clashes between young protesters and the police and government in Hong Kong are important markers to the project and its direction. The artist visits the city for further research in early October. The work-in-progress exhibition at Rutiga Golvet is on display until 25 October 2019.
Onboard the Bamboo Spaceship: One Table, Two Chairs.
Inaugural lecture by Ming Wong, Professor of Fine Art specialising in Performance in the Expanded Field.
Thursday 26 September 2019, 16:00. House 28.
Part of #mejanencounters at the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm and open to all.
About the artist:
Ming Wong builds layers of cinematic language, social structure, identity and introspection through his re-telling of world cinema and popular culture in his videos, installations and performances. With imperfect translations and reenactments, he casts an actor (often himself) as every character in a story. Wong attempts to unravel ideas of ‘authenticity’, ‘originality’ and the ‘other’, with reference to the act of human performativity. He looks into how culture, gender and identity are constructed, reproduced and circulated, as well as how it all feeds into the politics of representation. Though untrained as an actor, he has embarked on an artistic practice that is at once highly influenced by cinema and is in constant dialogue with measures of performativity, gender, and difference. Recent projects have become more interdisciplinary, incorporating performance and installation to flesh out his exploration of cultural artefacts from around the world. His work has been shown recently at Busan Biennale, South Korea; Dakar Biennale, Senegal; Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Para Site, Hong Kong; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin; Centre National de la Danse, Paris; (all 2018).He has had solo exhibitions at leading institutions worldwide, including UCCA, Beijing; Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo; REDCAT, Los Angeles; He has participated in Sydney Biennale (2016 & 2010); Asia Pacific Triennial (2015); Shanghai Biennale (2014); Lyon Biennale (2013); Liverpool Biennial (2012); Gwangju Biennale (2010); Performa 11, New York (2010). He represented Singapore at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 with the solo presentation Life of Imitation, which was awarded a special mention.