Mindy Meng Wang
Nexus Arts
4th November 2022

“When” is an immersive performance, an intermeshing of film and music and is the brainchild of guzheng player, Chinese-Australian Mindy Meng Wang.

The central focus of the work is the effect of the pandemic in China, not as a commentary or opinion piece, but simply an observation of its effect on the Chinese and from their experience. In dealing with loneliness, absence and the disease, Wang and her excellent filmmakers, Kun Li and Hai Tang, paint a sad and at times, quite bleak picture.

As the visuals appear on a very large screen, Wang, together with Daniel Jentsch on electronics and Anita Quayle on electric cello, provide a haunting soundtrack. There are times when the music comes to a standstill so as to enable the voices in the film to be heard clearly, to maximize their effect. For the most part, Wang’s score gives context with sympathetic music that at times seems almost minimalist in approach. 

As is evident from the instrumentation, this is not traditional Chinese music. Jentsch’s wide range of electronic sounds provided the bedrock over which Quayle and more particularly, Wang added music that crossed the two cultures. It takes not only guts but also a great deal of talent to be able to successfully create a performance that not only melds two very different artforms, film and music, but also two cultures. Here Wang has succeeded in blending all of these ingredients into a performance that tells a story and tells it very well.

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