Lerne Deutsch mit Petra Von Kant / Learn German with Petra von Kant
digital video installation
10:00 mins, 2007
This work was developed by the artist as part of a personal, self-designed German language and cultural immersion programme, while he was preparing to relocate to Berlin in August 2007.
Believing that one of the best ways to get insight into a foreign culture is through the films of that country, the artist has adopted one of his favourite German films as his guide, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, about a successful but arrogant fashion designer in her mid-thirties, who falls into despair when she loses the woman she loves.
Putting himself in the mould of German actress Margit Carstensen as Petra Von Kant – a role for which she won several awards – the artist attempts to articulate himself through as wide a range of emotions as displayed by the actress in the climactic scene from the film, where our tragic lovesick anti-heroine goes through a hysterical disintegration.
With this work the artist rehearses going through the motions and emotions and articulating the words for situations that he believes he may encounter when he moves to Berlin as a post-35-year-old, single, gay, ethnic-minority mid-career artist – i.e. feeling bitter, desperate, or washed up. (“Ich bin im Arsch”)
With these tools, he will be armed with the right words and modes of expressions to communicate his feelings effectively to his potential German compatriots.
Ming Wong (1971, Singapore) is an artist working with cinema and popular culture to consider the construction, reproduction, and circulation of identity. Wong represented Singapore at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 with the solo presentation Life of Imitation, which was awarded a Special Mention. He has had solo exhibitions at leading institutions worldwide, including UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo; Singapore Art Museum; REDCAT, Los Angeles; and Neuer Berliner Kunstverein. Wong has been included in numerous international biennials, including the Venice Biennale; Performa, New York; Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane; Sydney Biennial; Shanghai Biennale; Lyon Biennale; and the Liverpool Biennial. He lives in Berlin.