Events and Exhibitions: November 30 – December 3, 2015

Ai Weiwei Zodiac Heads at Princeton University

After a quiet week because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the calendar is full again this week.

Taiwanese and Chinese directors, and films that explore the “queer Asian diasporic experience against an ever-shifting backdrop of colonialism and political change” Talks about a book originally commissioned as anti-Communist propaganda by the United States Information Service that was unavailable in English for 50 years, higher education in China, and Chinese Millenials. Poetry reading for Liu Xia (劉霞), wife of imprisoned writer, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. And a preview of an upcoming production of Dream of the Red Chamber.

Coming up next week:

Zhang Hongtu and Herb Tam have a conversation and gallery walk through on December 6.

Later that day, Cantopop superstar Eason Chan hits the stage at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

We add listings to our event and ongoing exhibition calendars as we learn of them.  If you know of anything or would like to contribute photos or an article, shoot us an email at beyondchinatown@gmail.com.

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Coming up this week…

1) Soul 《失魂》– Chung Mong-hong’s latest is a metaphysical mindbender about the transmigration of the soul in the guise of a Lynchian thriller. After he collapses one day on the job, a restaurant chef’s body is seemingly possessed by a strange new spirit—and then the corpses start piling up. Bursting with the director’s dazzling stylistic flourishes, Soul is part blood-spattered shocker, part provocative meditation on reincarnation.

Directed by Chung Mong-hong
Taiwan, 111 minutes, 2013
Mandarin with English subtitles

Part of BAMcinématek’s series Chung Mong-Hong

Monday, November 30, 7:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinema, Peter Jay Sharp Building, Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn
$14/General Admission; $10/Students and Seniors; $7/Members

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2) Book Talk: Eileen Chang’s Naked Earth – One of the greatest and most loved of modern Chinese writers, Eileen Chang (张爱玲) illuminates the dark corners of the human existence with a style of disorienting beauty. Her late work Naked Earth (赤地之戀), originally commissioned as anti-Communist propaganda by the United States Information Service, is the story of two earnest young people confronting the grim realities of revolutionary change in the early years of Mao’s China. Unavailable in English for more than fifty years, it is a harrowing tale of perverted ideals, damaged souls, deepest loneliness, and terror.

At this event celebrating Naked Earth’s publication by New York Review Books (the first time it has been published outside of Hong Kong), China Institute Senior Lecturer Ben Wang will speak about Chang’s life, the unusual circumstances surrounding Naked Earth’s writing, and the timeless precision of Chang’s prose.

An excerpt can be read here.

Tuesday, December 1, 6:30 PM
China Institute, 100 Washington Street
$15/Non-members; $10/Members

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3) Liu Xia Tribute Reading: Nick Flynn, Tina Chang, Ming Di, Ken Chen & Antonio Aiello – The Asian American Writers Workshop, Graywolf Press, Housing Works, and Pen America Center come together for a reading of Liu Xia’s (劉霞) Empty Chairs: Selected Poems 《空椅子》, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern. Born in Beijing in 1961, the Chinese painter, photographer, and poet Liu Xia has been under house arrest at her home in Beijing since 2010, when her husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. As she writes in her poem Dark Night, which published in AAWW’s The Margins: “Eyes will return tonight / with their ghosts / in the shape of tombstones.”

This event will feature readings from Empty Chairs, along with a discussion of Liu Xia’s work and the translation process, as well as ongoing issues surrounding freedom of expression and the current political climate in China. Featuring translator Ming Di, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, AAWW Executive Director Ken Chen, and Guggenheim Fellow Nick Flynn. Moderated by Antonio Aiello, Content Director and Web Editor for PEN American Center.

Read more about the presenters here.

Tuesday, December 1, 7 PM
BookCourt, 163 Court St, Brooklyn
Free

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4) Parking 《停車》– A man’s search for the owner of a double-parked car becomes a bizarre black-comic journey into the night world of Taipei. Among the colorful characters he encounters: an elderly couple who mistakes him for their long lost son, a mysterious one-handed barber, and a runaway prostitute. Awash in neo-noir atmosphere, Parking is a dreamlike urban odyssey set to music by John Cage and Smog.

Directed by Chung Mong-hong
Taiwan, 112 minutes, 2008
Mandarin with English subtitles

Part of BAMcinématek’s series Chung Mong-Hong

Tuesday, December 1, 7:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinema, Peter Jay Sharp Building, Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn
$14/General Admission; $10/Students and Seniors; $7/Members

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5) China’s Millennials: The Want Generation – Journalist Eric Fish discusses his first book, China’s Millennials: The Want Generation, which profiles Chinese youth from around the country and how they are navigating the education system, the workplace, divisive social issues and a resurgence in activism. Brought up with lofty expectations, China’s Millennials have been accustomed to unprecedented opportunities on the back of an economic boom. But today, China’s growth is slowing and its demographics rapidly shifting, with the boom years giving way to a painful hangover.

Fish, a millennial himself, first moved to China in 2007, where he taught Chinese university students and then earned his master’s degree at Tsinghua University. Through his time both teaching and studying, he became drawn to the stories of young Chinese who were coming of age.

Wednesday, December 2, 6:30 PM
Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St, Flushing
Free

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6) Doctor 《醫生》– Chung Mong-hong first feature established his singular vision, an enigmatic documentary about two teenage boys: one, an Iowa doctor’s son who committed suicide at age 13, the other a patient of the same doctor who, seven years later, is dying of cancer. Shot in ghostly black and white, this poignant true story draws parallels between the lives of the two boys while remaining fascinatingly open-ended.

Directed by Chung Mong-hong
Taiwan, 92 minutes, 2006
Mandarin with English subtitles

Part of BAMcinématek’s series Chung Mong-Hong

Tuesday, December 2, 7 PM
BAM Rose Cinema, Peter Jay Sharp Building, Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn
$14/General Admission; $10/Students and Seniors; $7/Members

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7) Streams of Desire: The Video Work of Richard Fung: Program 1 –  Presented by CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, this program features four video works by Richard Fung—spanning from 1986-2000—that place desire within the spaces of time, geography, and the body. Traced through the artist’s explorations of queer sex, racial and sexual representation, illness, and kinship, these videos center queer Asian diasporic experience against an ever-shifting backdrop of colonialism and political change. Revisiting these bold and imaginative works allow us to reflect on the power of memory and the queer imagination amidst current narratives surrounding representation, cultural assimilation, and sexual politics. The screening will be followed by a moderated panel discussion featuring scholars and community activists based in NYC.

“Chinese Characters”, 1986, 20:30 minutes, Canada, english
The second video in Fung’s oeuvre and one of the first video works to tackle the ambiguous relationship between gay East Asian men and North American gay pornography. Candid, playful, and experimental in form, Fung interweaves a complex series of interviews, archival gay pornography, and superimposed dramatic elements to draw a parallel between the Chinese legend about the search for the source of the Yellow River and contemporary Asian-Canadian gay men’s search for pleasure.

“Fighting Chance”, 1990, 31:00 minutes, Canada, english
This video was a response to the silencing of gay Asian voices in both mainstream gay and Asian media surrounding the issues of HIV/AIDS. Focusing on the experiences of four Asian men, each person describes the personal, medical, and political impacts of living with HIV.

“Steam Clean”, 1990, 03:30 minutes, US, subtitled multi-lingual
A steamy safe sex PSA commissioned by Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

“Sea in the Blood”, 2000, 26:00 minutes, Canada, english
A beautiful and meditative personal essay that traces the artist’s relationship to living close to illness–first with his sister’s diagnosis with thalassemia (hereditary blood disease) and AIDS in his partner Tim.

Wednesday, December 2, 7 PM
NYU Cantor Film Center, Theater 102, 36 E. 8th Street
Free

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8) The Fourth Portrait 《第四張畫》– A wayward young boy is sent to live with his estranged ineffectual mother when his father dies suddenly. He finds escape from his troubled home life through drawing, but a mystery haunts him: what became of his long lost older brother? Strikingly shot in muted blue tones, Chung Mong-hong beguiling coming-of-age tale won him Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Horse for best director.

Directed by Chung Mong-hong
Taiwan, 105 minutes, 2010
Mandarin with English subtitles

Tuesday, December 2, 9:30 PM
BAM Rose Cinema, Peter Jay Sharp Building, Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn
$14/General Admission; $10/Students and Seniors; $7/Members

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9) Academic Freedom, Free Expression, and China’s Quest for World-Class Universities – The Center for Public Scholarship’s Endangered Scholars Worldwide, Scholars at Risk Network and University of New Orleans Press are hosting a panel discussion of China’s higher education system, its goals and the challenges it is facing. Our discussion will reflect on the government’s stated goal to create world-class universities in China, and will ask how this can be reconciled with continuing reports of prosecutions or other pressures against individual scholars and intellectuals.

Can China become a world leader of higher education without full academic or expressive freedom? What challenges does this pose for western universities partnering with Chinese higher education, whether domestically by hosting student exchanges and Confucius Institutes, or through overseas programs or branch campuses? And what do these challenges in China mean for institutions partnering with higher education communities in other countries where academic and expressive freedom may be similarly constrained?

Panelists:
Teng Biao, Chinese human rights lawyer; visiting scholar, NYU School of Law
Jewher Ilham, author and activist for her imprisoned father, Ilham Tohti
Carl Minzner, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law

Moderator: Jerome Cohen , faculty director, US-Asia Law Institute, NYU School of Law

Thursday, December 3, 6 PM
The New School, Starr Foundation Hall, 63 Fifth Avenue
Free

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10) Falling City 《危城之恋》– In this romantic drama, Wan’er (Min Chunxiao), a demure but strong-willed young woman from a literary family, is married to the brutish son of a wealthy family. After he essentially deserts her, Wan’er’s attentions turn to his younger brother (Zhou Shuai), an idealistic poet and outspoken advocate against Japanese aggression.

Film scholar Ting-woo Cho will introduce the screening.

Directed by Zheng Dasheng
China, 100 minutes, 2012
Mandarin with English subtitles

Thursday, December 3, 6:30 PM
China Institute, 100 Washington Street
$15/Non-members; $10/Members

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11) From Page to Stage: A Dream of Red Pavilions Special Preview Sharing – Regarded as one of the ‘Four Great’ novels of China, A Dream of Red Pavilions (紅樓夢) is the love story between Bao Yu (Precious Jade) and Dai Yu (Dark Jade) in 18th century China.

This Lunar New Year, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre will premiere this work that is little-known outside of Asia in New York City. Please join the co-directors Tisa Chang and Lu Yu, and the playwright Jeremy Tiang for a moderated discussion on the process of creating and producing this celebrated Chinese classic, from adapting it for an American audience to designing costumes that incorporate elements of traditional 18th century details as well as modern fashion styles.

Thursday, December 3, 6:30 PM
Museum Of Chinese In America, 215 Centre Street
Free


Ongoing Films and Shows

1) Double It! –  From internationally renowned Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng ( 陳士爭, director of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s Monkey: Journey to the West), a story straight out of your favorite comic book, hip-hop dance numbers, and a dazzling martial arts showcase choreographed by one of China’s foremost kung-fu experts. The story revolves around a normal super hero costume party that grows to resemble a living comic book, with performers transforming from everyday citizens into the mighty men and women they emulate. Part acrobatic super hero saga, part kinetic martial arts theater, Double It like nothing you’ve seen before.

November 24, 2015 – January 18, 2016
Baruch Performing Arts Center
$55/Admission; $25/Students

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2) A Journey Through Time with Anthony 《 陪安东尼度过漫长岁月》– Based on the novel by Anthony Ma, A Journey through Time with Anthony is a series of diary entries by Anthony (known as “the bunny”) which seems his life filled with twists and turns when he encounters his dream girl.

Review by The New York Times

At AMC Empire 25.

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3) Our Times 《我的少女時代》 – The big-screen debut of veteran Taiwanese TV drama producer Frankie Chen Yu-shan is a smartly cast, sweetly nostalgic teen romance with juvenile storytelling. Described as the woman’s version of You Are the Apple of My Eye (2011), the semi-autobiographical Asian blockbuster about the first love of author-helmer Giddens Ko, Our Times manages to portray young romance in all its awkward splendor but fails to live up to the narrative sophistication and emotional persuasiveness of the earlier film. Yet just when you prepare to down the last of the popcorn, screenwriter Sabrina Tseng springs a surprise or two that sets this romantic comedy apart from other syrupy boy-meets-girl numbers. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Review at Taipei Times

At AMC Empire 25

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4) The Assassin 《刺客聶隱娘》 

Hou Hsiao-Hsien
2015 | 105 minutes | Taiwan/China/Hong Kong
Mandarin with English subtitles

A wuxia like no other, The Assassin is set in the waning years of the Tang Dynasty when provincial rulers are challenging the power of the royal court. Nie Yinniang (Shu Qi), who was exiled as a child so that her betrothed could make a more politically advantageous match, has been trained as an assassin for hire. Her mission is to destroy her former fiancé (Chang Chen). But worry not about the plot, which is as old as the jagged mountains and deep forests that bear witness to the cycles of power and as elusive as the mists that surround them. Hou Hsiao-hsien’s art is in the telling. The film is immersive and ephemeral, sensuous and spare, and as gloriously beautiful in its candle-lit sumptuous red and gold decor as Hou’s 1998 masterpiece, Flowers of Shanghai. As for the fight scenes, they’re over almost before you realize they’ve happened, but they will stay in your mind’s eye forever.

Best Director, Cannes Film Festival

Official selection: New York Film Festival

At IFC Center and Film Society Lincoln Center.


Exhibitions

Just added and opening:

Let us know if there’s anything else people need to see.

Closing soon:

Chinese American Arts Council 40th Anniversary Show (Gallery 456, 10/30 – 12/4)

Zhang Huan – Let There Be Light (Pace Gallery, 11/30 – 12/5)

Poren Huang – The Dog’s Notes (Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, 11/7 – 12/6)

“Who is My Neighbor? NYC” (Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center, 9/12 – 12/8)

Body Politics (Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, 10/15 – 12/11)

Visit the exhibition calendar (http://ow.ly/pxe9o) for details for the following shows below.  As always, check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Chinese American Arts Council 40th Anniversary Show (Gallery 456, 10/30 – 12/4)

Zhang Huan – Let There Be Light (Pace Gallery, 11/30 – 12/5)

Poren Huang – The Dog’s Notes (Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, 11/7 – 12/6)

“Who is My Neighbor? NYC” (Walls-Ortiz Gallery and Center, 9/12 – 12/8)

Body Politics (Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, 10/15 – 12/11)

GAMA: Idylls of the Kings (诸王的花谷) (Chambers Fine Art, 10/29 – 12/19)

Samson Young – Pastoral Music (Team Gallery, 11/5 – 12/20)

Schutze Stone – One Buck Mobile Art Show #bigmoneybigart (mobile gallery, 10/24 – 12/23)

Zeng Fanzhi – Paintings, Drawings, and Two Sculptures (Gagosian Gallery, 11/6 – 12/23)

Ling Jian (凌健): Nature Chain (自然链) (Klein Sun Gallery, 11/19 – 12/23)

The Art of Gene Luen Yang (Society of Illustrators, 11/10 – 12/23)

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24 – 1/31/16)

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968 (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24/15 – 1/31/16)

Martin Wong: Human Instamatic (11/4/15 – 2/14/16)

Zhang Hongtu (Queens Museum, 10/18/15 – 2/28/16)

Chinese Textiles Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/06)

Chinese Lacquer Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/06)

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/31/15 – 10/11/06)

Lead image: Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads in front of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University