Ming Wong, Life of Imitation, 5 min., 2009
Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life, 125 min., 1959
Douglas Sirk’s epic Imitation of Life was the filmmaker’s intentional Hollywood swan song. Steeped in emotional tension and full-blown melodrama, the film traces the career of struggling actress Lora Meredith (Lana Turner) as she ascends into stardom, leaving behind her daughter (Sandra Dee) and suitor (John Gavin) for the Broadway and Hollywood elite. By her side throughout the years is her faithful servant Annie (Juanita Moore), who has her own drama to contend with as her light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), passes for white in order to make a “finer” life for herself. Imitation of Life is the ultimate melodrama, from which The Broad’s Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life exhibition takes its name. Paired with the feature, Ming Wong’s Life of Imitation restages a key scene from Sirk’s film, casting three male actors from the three main ethnic groups in Singapore to alternate in the roles of Annie and Sarah Jane.
Doll Parts tickets include same-night access before the film program to the full museum, including the Cindy Sherman: Imitation of Life special exhibition, beginning at 5:30 p.m.