Ming Wong: Next Year

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With 明年 | Next Year | L’Année Prochaine, the artist transposes the French New Wave classic Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) to the French Concession in Shanghai and to the future.

Within this scenography of shifting time and space appear the two protagonists – one male, one female – both played in turns by the artist himself and a body double. In contrast with the original film where they discuss what happened last year, the narrator and the characters describe precisely events and their feelings next year, as though they had time-travelled back from the future. This poetic surrealism in their words is further enhanced by the conjugation of their spoken lines into the future tense in French.

Together, the three separate video loops disrupt any sequential order of reality, memory, or illusion, and hints at a notion that cultural perceptions of time and space remain steadfastly unfixed.

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For the installation Scenography for a Chinese Science Fiction Opera, Ming Wong transformed the Nave gallery space at UCCA into a full-scale three-dimensional theatre stage set, constructed out of hand-painted wooden backdrops.

Visitors can walk through the interior of a spaceship – derived from science fiction movies from America and Europe in the 50s and 60s, but fused with the aesthetics of a traditional Chinese ornamental garden – and then beyond swirls of clouds into outer space – inspired by cosmological design motifs from traditional Chinese opera and ancient religious cave murals – towards the swirling vortex of the universe, symbolized by a kaleidoscopic, disorienting wheel of color.

The diverse iconography in the work represents a multifaceted cultural landscape and a nonlinear timeframe derived from the artist’s recent investigations into various aspects of the modernization of Cantonese opera, including its scenography and cinematic transformations, and its unlikely relationship with the development of science-fiction in China.

In this work, the viewer seems to be walking towards the future yet facing the past, which calls into question the linear, continuous and quantitative aspects of time.

Accompanying the stage set is a series of photographs of the artist as a space explorer within this scenography, entitled “Ascent to the Heavenly Palace”. The costumes, backdrops and poses recall an uncertain nostalgia of chinese propaganda posters, children’s space adventure books and pantomime.

Text: Ming Wong


Ming Wong
Windows On The World (Part 2)
24 channels video installation

Image Courtesy the artist and SHANGHAI BIENNALE


Exhibition View
Shanghai Biennale
Ming Wong: Windows On The World (Part 2)
Power Station of Art

Image Courtesy the artist and SHANGHAI BIENNALE


Ming Wong
Windows On The World (Part 1)
Mixed Media installation

Image Courtesy the artist, Para Site and Spring workshop

Photo by Clenn Eugen Ellingsen

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Ming Wong:
Scenography for a Chinese Science Fiction Opera
mixed media installation featuring a hand painted theatre stage set.

Image courtesy UCCA
Photo by Eric Gregory Powell