NYC Events and Exhibitions: February 19 – February 25, 2016

Mulin Lyu

So many great things this week! Confucius is in New York; a discussion about feminism in China; two documentaries about China — one relating to a photographer’s view of China’s massive scale and another a historical narrative blended with experimental theater; contemporary Chinese, Taiwanese, and American composers interpret beautifully cultures (watch the two videos we included with the listings); a food and music festival; Chinese ballet; local Chinese photographers are featured in a show; and one of China’s biggest movies ever opens in NYC.

Read Aliza Ma’s interview with Jia Zhangke for Film Comment in which he talks about Pet Shop Boys, his connection with music, cinematography, changes in China, and his relationships with family and wife Zhao Tao.

Don’t forget to eat tangyuan for the Lantern Festival on February 22.

Coming up:

The Queens World Film Festival features local Chinese and Chinese American filmmakers.

A talk with Chung (Fanky) Chak whose journeys through Chinatowns of the West are on view at Gallery 456.

The New York Children’s Film Festival will include two Chinese films.

Asia Week and The Armory Show are coming in March.  We’ll let you know about the Chinese artists participating and being featured.

We add talks, films, performances, performances, exhibitions, featuring or relating to Chinese, Taiwanese, diasporic artists and topics to our event and ongoing exhibition calendars as we learn of them.

If you’re interested in contributing to Beyond Chinatown, whether writing an article, contributing photos, letting us know about an event, send an email to

Subscribe to our newsletter from the right side of the page.  In addition to articles we’ve written, we’ll include links that we’ve posted on our Facebook page.

This week’s events

1) Hello Kongzi, a Pop Up New Media Carnival – Hello Kongzi is the first Cultural Renewal program that uses cartoon images and interactive installations to illustrate traditional culture and the teachings of the Great Sage: the five constant virtues of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and sincerity.

Virtual reality experience

See more photos in our Facebook album.

Friday, February, 19, 10 AM – 7 PM
Times Square, near TKTS booths


2) “Networked Feminism in China” Roundtable – As part of its exploration of how the internet is regulated by the Chinese government, FIREWALL Internet Cafe, a project by Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, hosts a roundtable discussion about China’s Young Feminist Activists, and the role of the Internet in this movement.   Panelists:

  • Lu Pin, Program manager of Media Monitor for Women Network and chief editor of Feminist Voices, a major leading feminist alternative media in China
  • Lu Miaoqing, Deputy Director of the Public Interest Law Committee of the Guangzhou Lawyers Association and Visiting Scholar at The China Center, Yale University, researching U.S. law related to women’s rights and employment discrimination.
  • Xintong Liu, designer, social innovator, and feminist organizer.
  • Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, visual artist and adjunct professor, creator of FIREWALL Internet Cafe, NYC

Moderated by Susan E. McGregor, Assistant Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism & Assistant Professor at Columbia Journalism School, where she teaches data journalism & information visualization, with research interests in digital security.

Facebook event page

Friday, February 19, 7:30 PM
Orbital, 155 Rivington Street
Free, but RSVP requested


3) Spotlight Asia: Ring in the Year of the Monkey – The American Museum of Natural History celebrates with family activities and performances by Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company and Chinese Theatre Works

Saturday, February 20, 12 PM
American Museum of Natural History
Free with museum admission


4) Manufactured Landscapes – Internationally acclaimed artist Edward Burtynsky is famous for his large-scale, immaculately conceived, dauntingly crystalline photographs of industrial landscapes, such as quarries, factories, mines, and dams. When director Jennifer Baichwal follows him to China, where he shoots the evidence and effects of its massive industrial revolution, she doesn’t merely watch him work—she gets inside, pans around, and uses a full cinematic arsenal to mimic, complicate, and even subtly critique his imagery. An opening tracking shot through a seemingly endless factory is among the most staggering in contemporary cinema, using movement and time to describe an interior space so vast that it seems like a work of science fiction.

Watch the trailer:

and an extended clip:

Saturday, February 20, 2 PM
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria
$12/Adult; $9/Student and Senior


5) 2016 Taiwan Rising Stars Classical Music Concert – Formed in 2002 when the four founding members came together for a concert tour of Taiwan, the Formosa Quartet is deeply committed to championing Taiwanese music and promoting the arts in the land of its heritage and the world beyond.  The group has been praised by Strad Magazine, Gramaphone, and David Soyer, cellist of the Guarneri Quartet.  The group has performed internationally and was the winner of the First Prize and the Amadeus Prize at the London International String Quartet Competition in 2006


1. Beethoven: String Quartet in F major, Op. 59 No. 1
2. Shih-Hui Chen: Returning Souls: Four Pieces on Three Formosan Amis Legends in 2014*
3. Dana Wilson: Hungarian Folk Songs*

*Commissioned by the Formosa Quartet

The Amazon page for the Returning Souls album says “Particular Chinese/Taiwanese myths and ideas stand behind these compositions. Melodies and instrumental techniques, topics and texts, and the use of Chinese musical structures such as heterophony, and the peculiar stretta effects which can be seen both in terms of metric as well as in terms of sonic arrangements, are all elements that can be explained as derived from Chinese and Taiwanese musical practice. Each of the pieces revolves around a small number of notes and motifs which are continually reinterpreted. The compositions feature colorful sounds and they exemplify Chen’s particular predilection for effective timbres, for the potent qualities of “noise” as well as of “silence” as part of a comprehensive musical whole. Not unlike many other composers of Chinese descent, who consider it important to express their “Chineseness” in music, Chen employs this style to great effect.”

Saturday, February 20, 4:30 PM
Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in New York, 1 East 42nd Street
Free, but RSVP required


6) Xi’an Famous Foods Lunar New Year Festival – This food and music event celebrates the New Year with prominent stars such as Far East Movement, Kina Grannis, Taiwan rapper Softlipa, and Taiwan pop singer Kimberly Chen.  Otafuku, Yonekichi, Korilla, Mokbar, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, and Xi’an Fmous foods will offer their menus and signature dishes.  In addition to providing a fun and memorable experience, it also supports Apex for Youth, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving under-privileged Asian-American youth through education and mentor programs.

Saturday, February 20, 5:30 PM
Terminal 5, 610 W. 56th Street
$60/General Admission; $120/VIP; $280/V-VIP


7) Mr. Zhang Believes 《痴》— Zhang Xianchi’s politics have always been at odds with the times. Born into a Chinese Nationalist family, he became an active Communist Party supporter, until the Communists came to power and he was jailed as a supposed rightist counterrevolutionary due to his family background. Blending historical narrative with experimental theater, director Qiu Jiongjiong lifts the veil on the oft-forgotten history of the early years of the People’s Republic of China with insight and crafty wit.

Screened as part of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight 2016.

2015. China. Directed by Qiu Jiongjiong. 135 min. In Mandarin; English subtitles

Saturday, February 20, 6 PM
Sunday, February 21, 4:30 PM
$12/Adult; $10/Senior; $8/Student; Free/Member


8) FIREWALL Internet Cafe Artist Reception – Join Franklin Furnace Fund, Asian Women Giving Circle, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for a reception of FIREWALL Internet Cafe, created by Joyce Yu-Jean Lee in collaboration with Dan Phiffer.

Sunday, February 21, 6 PM
Chinatown Soup, 16B Orchard Street


9) Migrant Labour in China: A Post-Socialist Transformation By: Joseph S. Murphy Institute/CUNY — Join the Murphy Institute & the Asian American / Asian Research Institute for an important discussion with Pun Ngai, author of Migrant Labor in China, forthcoming in 2016 from Polity Press, moderated by Ruth Milkman, Research Director, Murphy Institute.

Long known as the world’s factory, China is the largest manufacturing economy ever seen, accounting for more than 10% of global exports. China is also, of course, home to the largest workforce on the planet, the crucial element behind its staggering economic success. But who are China’s workers who keep the machine running, and how is the labour process changing under economic reform?

Tuesday, February 23, 6:30 PM
The Joseph S. Murphy Institute – 25 West 43rd Street. 18th floor.


10) [The World: Through Grids] Photography Exhibition Opening Reception — Opening reception for a photography show presented by The Grids  See below for description.

Tuesday, February 23, 7 PM
Ouchi Gallery, 170 Tillary Street, Suite 105, Brooklyn


11) Ballet in China: From Swan Lake to “Red” Ballets  – The National Ballet of China, a beloved national symbol in its homeland and an iconic cultural emissary to the global community, will make a landmark appearance at China Institute together with Mme. Feng Ying, renowned ballerina and Artistic Director of the National Ballet of China. She will speak about this renowned danced company and the evolution of ballet in China, touching on the differing styles and how the company¹s storied traditions continue to develop in the present day, with dancers from the company demonstrating key points.

Wednesday, February 24, 6:30 PM
China Institute, 40 Rector Street
$20/Non-member; $10/Member


12) China and the World: Africa — Given its experience of colonialism, Africans have long been suspicious of Chinese intentions on the continent. In 1966, the first president of Congo-Brazzaville, Fulbert Youlou, warned that China not only sought to colonize Africa but “would in due course turn the entire continent into a gigantic rice field.” Recent allegations of unprecedented Chinese state-sponsored acquisitions of African farmland seem to indicate that Youlou’s prediction is materializing. These reports have alarmed many who now fear that Africa, with its large tracts of untouched arable land, will enter a new colonial era.

In her book, Will Africa Feed China?, National Committee director Deborah Bräutigam, a leading expert on Sino-African affairs, analyzes the nature of Chinese agricultural investment in Africa. After conducting research in several African countries, Dr. Bräutigam discovered that despite claims of a calculated Chinese plan to control rural Africa for its own purposes, Chinese agricultural investment in Africa has been remarkably limited; in fact, China exports more agricultural goods to Africa than it imports.

The concern is not limited to agriculture; Chinese investment throughout Africa has generally been viewed through a neocolonial lens. The widespread suspicion calls into question the foundation of Sino-African relations. Join Dr. Bräutigam as she discusses her book, and Chinese policy in Africa more generally.

See new exhibitions listing below for descriptions.

Thursday, February 25, 5:30 PM
Dorsey & Whitney LLP, 51 West 52nd Street
Free, but registration required

13) Tales from the Cave Presented by Music From China & Talujon Percussion– Harold Meltzer’s Guangzhou Circle, commissioned for the collaboration and making its world premiere, represents the composer’s intimate response to a work of architecture, a circular skyscraper in China called Guangzhou Circle.  The building’s design is inspired by the ancient and iconic Chinese image of double jade discs (symbols for infinity) where the disc-shaped building is “doubled” by its reflection in the Pearl River.  Written for Wang Guowei on different kinds of Chinese 2-string fiddles with a percussion quartet, Zhou Long’s Tales from the Cave is inspired by the art of the Dunhuang Mogaoku grottes and folk music from this Silk Road region.  Using Chinese ensemble and percussion quartet, Ling Long by composer Xie Peng is a metaphor for a state of exquisite beauty, drawing from elements of Beijing opera.

On its own, Talujon performs Qu Xiaosong’s Lam Mot for three percussionists.  Music From China performs Wang Guowei’s Tea House II for erhu, pipa and zheng, a reflection on the cultural and social essence of the tea house as a focal point of Chinese folk life and drawing from musical storytelling genres of the Yangzi River delta.

Thursday, February 25, 8 PM
LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing

Ongoing Films and Shows

1) The Mermaid 《美人鱼》– Stephen Chow’s latest absurdist comedy is about a businessman who falls in love with a mermaid who was sent to kill him.  The film earned $275.1 million in its first week and was part of a $548 million week in China, a worldwide record for box office take, beating the week Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released.

Review by the South China Morning Post

Opens Friday, February 19 at AMC Empire 25


2) FIREWALL, a pop-up Internet Cafe + Art Project – FIREWALL is a socially engaged research and interactive art project designed to foster public dialogue about Internet freedom. Video and installation artist Joyce Yu-Jean Lee, in collaboration with artist and technologist Dan Phiffer, invites residents and tourists of NYC to commune over free tea and Wi-fi at Chinatown Soup, a creative space on the border of New York City’s Lower East Side. FIREWALL enables participants to simultaneously search images on both Google in the U.S. and Baidu in China to investigate online censorship and manipulation of information between these two countries. In this cooperative performance, Lee explores a rapidly developing web culture, the nuances of language translation, and the notion that everything can be found on the Internet.

February 9 – March 6.  Reception February 21.
Chinatown Soup, 16B Orchard Street
Free [updated]


3) Mountains May Depart 《山河故人》 – The plot of Jia Zhangke’s new film is simplicity itself. Fenyang 1999, on the cusp of the capitalist explosion in China. Shen Tao (Zhao Tao) has two suitors—Zhang (Zhang Yi), an entrepreneur-to-be, and his best friend Liangzi (Liang Jin Dong), who makes his living in the local coal mine. Shen Tao decides, with a note of regret, to marry Zhang, a man with a future. Flash-forward 15 years: the couple’s son Dollar is paying a visit to his now-estranged mother, and everyone and everything seems to have grown more distant in time and space… and then further ahead in time, to even greater distances. Jia is modern cinema’s greatest poet of drift and the uncanny, slow-motion feeling of massive and inexorable change. Like his 2013 A Touch of Sin, Mountains May Depart is an epically scaled canvas. But wherethe former was angry and quietly terrifying,the latter is a heartbreaking prayer for the restoration of what has been lost in the name of progress. A Kino Lorber release.

At Film Society Lincoln Center


4) The Monkey King 2 《 西游记之孙悟空三打白骨精》 – This sequel to the immensely popular film replaces Donnie Yen with Aaron Kwok “pick[s] up with considerably more storytelling assurance and technical prowess than the first film demonstrated, Cheang and his army of writers dive into the action quickly, ensuring they leave room for actual character development and narrative cohesion this time around. Briskly paced with (mostly) strong visuals and the requisite gravity-defying action choreography (this time courtesy of Hong Kong martial-arts stalwart Sammo Hung), this Monkey King is one of the strongest entries into the long list of films and television series based on the literary classic by Wu Chengen.”  Read the full review at The Hollywood Reporter.

At AMC Empire 25.


5) IP Man 3 《叶问3》– Donnie Yen ignites the screen in a return to the role that made him an icon – as Ip Man, the real-life Wing Chun grandmaster who mentored Bruce Lee. In this explosive third installment of the blockbuster martial arts series, when a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer (Mike Tyson) make a play to take over the city, Master Ip is forced to take a stand. Fists will fly as some of the most incredible fight scenes ever filmed play out on the big screen in this soon-to-be genre classic.

Reviews from The Hollywood Reporter and A.V. Club

At AMC Empire 25

Current Exhibitions

Just added and opening:

1) The World: Through Grids (Ouchi Gallery, 2/23 – 2/28) – This photography show features works from eight ambitious Chinese artists based in New York City.  Combining their reflections on inner selves and curiosities of the outside world, these young talents choose to document such explorations through their lenses, ranging from landscape to abstraction.  The show is presented by The Grids Studio, a new creative agency and multidimensional platform serving young photographers throughout the country.

Photographers include: Zhe Chen (陈哲), Zilan (Sandy) Fan (范子岚), Juefang (觉方), Ke Lin (Lucy) Liu (刘柯麟), Mulin (Eddie) Lyu (吕沐霖), Ziyin (Stephanie) Pan (潘子殷), Qimu Tan (谭淇木), and Zhiyue (Will) Wang (王志越)

Ke Lin Liu

Mulin Lyu


Zhiyue Wang

Zilan Fan


2) Aboveground-40 Moments of Transformation Chinese Feminist Photo Exhibition (Skybridge Art Space, The New School, 2/13 – 2/27) – A photography exhibition of young feminist activism and the struggle for gender equality in China, Aboveground—40 Moments of Transformation documents young Chinese activists’ impressive efforts to combat stigma, discrimination, and violence against women in pursuit of these ideals. These activists use public spaces as their battlefront to gain visibility and spark open dialogue. But in China, bringing the fight for gender equality above ground comes at great personal risk. This exhibition frames and explores the determination with which these young feminists are pushing for a China with true gender equality.

The exhibition is co-hosted by the India China Institute, China Rights in Action, Feminist Task Force, and Asian American Arts Centre.


Closing soon:

Ze Dong – Uneventful Duration (Miyako Yoshinaga, 2/11 – 2/20)

Wei Xiaoguang – Humble (Fresh Window, 1/22 – 2/21)

Chung Sum (Fanky) Chak (翟松森) – Looking for Gold Mountain (456 Gallery, 1/29 – 2/26)

Phoenix Gallery Associate Members 2016 (Phoenix Gallery, 2/3 – 2/27)

Aboveground-40 Moments of Transformation Chinese Feminist Photo Exhibition (Skybridge Art Space, The New School, 2/13 – 2/27)

The Real Thing (Flowers Gallery, 1/28 – 2/27)

Lucky in Love: Traditional Asian Wedding Dress Exhibition Opening Reception (Flushing Town Hall, 2/14 – 2/28)

Tango – Wake Up! (Carma Asian Tapas, 2/6 – 2/28)

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

Catalyst (Queens Museum, 10/3/15 – 2/28/16)

Visit the exhibition calendar ( for details for the following shows below.  As always, check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Ze Dong – Uneventful Duration (Miyako Yoshinaga, 2/11 – 2/20)

Wei Xiaoguang – Humble (Fresh Window, 1/22 – 2/21)

Chung Sum (Fanky) Chak (翟松森) – Looking for Gold Mountain (456 Gallery, 1/29 – 2/26)

Phoenix Gallery Associate Members 2016 (Phoenix Gallery, 2/3 – 2/27)

Aboveground-40 Moments of Transformation Chinese Feminist Photo Exhibition (Skybridge Art Space, The New School, 2/13 – 2/27)

The Real Thing (Flowers Gallery, 1/28 – 2/27)

Lucky in Love: Traditional Asian Wedding Dress Exhibition Opening Reception (Flushing Town Hall, 2/14 – 2/28)

Tango – Wake Up! (Carma Asian Tapas, 2/6 – 2/28)

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

Catalyst (Queens Museum, 10/3/15 – 2/28/16)

Cai Dongdong (蔡东东) – Fountain (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19)

Zhong Biao (钟飙) – The Other Shore (彼岸) (Klein Sun Gallery, 2/18 – 3/19)

Martin Wong: Human Instamatic (11/4/15 – 3/13/16) (extended)

Fu Xiaotong (付小桐) – Land of Serenity (寂净之地) (Chambers Fine Art, 2/11 – 3/26)

SUB URBANISMS: Casino Urbanization, Chinatowns, and the Contested American Landscape (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24 – 3/27/16)

Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1923-1968 (Museum of Chinese in America, 9/24/15 – 3/27/16)

HATCH Series x Spaces (Spaces, 2/18 – 3/18)

The Eccentrics (Sculpture Center, 1/24 – 4/4)

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 by Mulin Lyu, one of the artists featured in The World: Through Grids at Ouchi Gallery next week.  Courtesy of The Grids Studio.