24 Hour Exhibition: Making Chinatown
In his seven-channel video installation Making Chinatown (2012) artist Ming Wong reconstructs a Hollywood classic to complicate the relationship between identity, language and performance. Originally commissioned by REDCAT in LA and filmed in its gallery, the video installation is a remake of Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir film “Chinatown,” with the artist cast in roles originally played by Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston and Belinda Palmer. Key scenes were reenacted and shot on site in the gallery. The backdrop and setting of each scene were reconstructed, often digitally rendered and printed on cardboard, with the intention to underline the theatrical quality of cinema. The seven channels all play simultaneously with different scenarios, lines of conversations, and music background merging into each other and the sense of space and time collapses. Wong brings forward the connection of cinematic interpretation and the concept of Chinatown: when the ending of the film fades into a black background unrevealing the Chinatown location in the original film, the void of reference echoes the fictional nature of Chinatown as a no-place, constructed in an often-detached cultural context, nowhere but anywhere at the same time.