The artist Ming Wong re-enacts scenes from Fassbinder's film "Angst Essen Seele Auf" ("Ali: Fear Eats the Soul")(1973) playing 14 different characters, in German.
In this work Ming Wong investigates theatrical manifestations of language and identity. Based on the conviction that film is the best-suited medium to gain insights into foreign languages and cultures, Ming reinterprets classics of world cinema, foreign-language TV films, and theatre productions.
During his residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Ming developed his latest video work, „Angst Essen/Eat Fear", a reconstruction of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's movie „Angst essen Seele auf" (1973), which tells the story of Emmi, an elderly cleaning woman from Munich, who falls in love with a much younger Moroccan immigrant worker named Ali. The two unlikely lovers start living together as a couple, which at that time in Germany was socially looked down upon, if not deemed downright scandalous.
In Fassbinder's film, their relationship threatens to turn into a disaster under the pressure of hostile and discriminatory social reflexes. In "Angst Essen/Eat Fear", Ming plays and recites all the roles. Speaking an approximate German, he embodies up to five persons at the same time, relentlessly switching between various identities defined by gender, age or nationality. If Ming chose Fassbinder's film, it was not merely for its notoriety but because it addresses notions like 'outsider' and 'foreignness' in an exemplary manner.
Beyond a reflection on identity and alterity -- a topic which is at the heart of his artistic project -- Ming's works are enlivened by a deeply funny and entertaining dimension, which helps reveal the positive options unlocked by a playful state of 'in-betweenness' -- in-between ethnicities, languages and genders.
Presented in the RBC Learning Studio at TIFF Bell Lightbox.