NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 20 – May 26, 2016


This week: Puppets from Taiwan; Chinese emperors; Metrograph shows two critically-acclaimed films — one classic and the other recent; a documentary about artist Mu Xin; performance art pieces by two local artists; Wong Kar-wai; a look at Chinatown’s culinary history; jianbings; and more…

Coming up:

5/31 and 6/1 – Angel Lam’s Lost in Shanghai, an experiment in form and content, that tells a story of 1940s Shanghai.

6/7 – Wang Bing’s the US theatrical release of Til Madness Do Us Part opens.

6/16-30 – MOMA’s series on Taiwanese cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing.

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

We post frequently on our Facebook page.  So check the page for links we share and get a heads up on events before we include them in these weekly posts.  Take a look also at our Instagram page.

If you’re interested in contributing to Beyond Chinatown, whether writing an article, contributing photos or artwork to be featured with our weekly events and exhibitions listing, letting us know about an event, send an email to

This week’s events

1) I Wan Jan Puppet Theater: An Afternoon of Chinese Theater – The I Wan Jan Puppet Theater of Taiwan (亦宛然掌中戏团), an institution founded in 1931, performs A Chance Encounter Leads to Marriage 《巧遇姻缘》, a Peking opera story about a wealthy rake accosted a virtuous young woman, who was eventually rescued by a handsome scholar. (NY Times)

Friday, May 20, 3 PM
Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 5th Ave, 6th Floor


2) Curators in Conversation: Christopher Lew – Christopher Lew, Associate Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, co-curator of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, and overseer of the emerging artist program at the museum talks with MOCA Curator and Director of Exhibitions Herb Tam Lew in MOCA’s series that engages Chinese American curators, artists and cultural producers across generations and geographies in critical conversations to deeply investigate the aesthetic concerns, subject matter, and experiences within the Chinese and Asian American cultural community.

Friday, May 20, 6:30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street
$12/Adult; $8/Senior and Student


3) Hibiscus Town 《芙蓉镇》– Hugely popular Third Generation filmmaker Xie Jin (谢晋)’s 1986 sweeping, classic melodrama of Chinese cinema is an epic narrative about a young woman and her husband trying to find happiness amidst rural poverty, and who find themselves caught up in the country’s Cultural Revolution of the Maoist late sixties.  The film was significantly cut for international release, but this time, Metrograph presents the original director’s cut.

Saturday, May 21, 1 PM
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street
$12 General admission


4) Dreaming Against the World 《梦想抵抗现实》 – China Institute presents a documentary portrait of Mu Xin (木心 , 1927-2011), one of the most original and overlooked Chinese artists and authors of the past century. Born in Wuzhen, near Shanghai, China, into a wealthy aristocratic family, Mu Xin was among those in the last generation to receive a classical education in the literati tradition, while at the same time he was also exposed through voluminous reading to the highest achievements of Western art and culture at a very young age.  A selection of Mu Xin’s prose fiction, An Empty Room, was published in English by New Directions Publishing in New York in 2011.  Last year the Mu Xin Museum in his hometown Wuzhen was opened to public.  Filmed on location in China and New York by Oscar and Emmy-nominated filmmakers Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello, Dreaming Against the World is the story of Mu Xin and his incredible commitment to his artistic vision.

Saturday May 21,  2PM
China Institute, 100 Washington Street (entrance at 40 Rector Street)
Free but advance reservation is required


5) Passport to Taiwan Festival 台湾巡礼文化艺术节 – Passport to Taiwan Festival is the largest outdoor event in the United States celebrating the Taiwanese American Heritage Week designated by the Congress in 1999.  The festival features world famous Taiwanese night market foods, the flavorful tea selection, unique Taiwanese crafts and the Taiwanese aboriginal music and dance.  Indie bands Paramount and Kung Fu Entertainment will perform.

Sunday, May 22, 12-5 PM
Union Square North


6) HE Monthly Performance Event-Rooftop – Huisi He is part of this monthly performance art that highlights untraditional performance venues to push performance artists out of their performance comfort zone. In the event, both audience and artists encounter unpredictable situations during performance.

Sunday, May 22, 2:30 PM
296 Cooper Street, Brooklyn


7) Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin: iHistory: Everyday Life and Culture in the Early 21st Century – As part of Queens International 2016, Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin (覃小诗) presents a panel discussion occurring in the year 2116. The event takes Qin’s installation and video KZ as a point of departure, consisting of a glitchy, but still functioning, iPhone discovered 100 years in the future. The recovered device displays the phantom activity of the 2016 user, rapidly flipping through her calendar, maps, and videos.  This iPhone-as-artifact will serve as the fictional prompt for the discussion, looking back on our current time from the speculated future.

Sunday, May 22, 3 – 4 PM
Queens Museum, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Suggested admission $8/Adult; Free/Student


8) I Wan Jan Puppetry: Workshop – Master puppeteer, Lee-Chiu Kuang, leads this children’s workshop where participants can paint their own hand puppet based on classical Chinese puppetry designs. Participants get to keep their puppet. Master Lee also instructs participants on manipulating Chinese hand puppets for maximum drama.

Sunday, May 22, 1 PM
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing
$12/Children; $7 Member Children


9) I Wan Jan Puppetry: Performance – The I Wan Jan Puppet Theater of Taiwan (亦宛然掌中戏团), an institution founded in 1931, performs A Chance Encounter Leads to Marriage 《巧遇姻缘》, a Peking opera story about a wealthy rake accosted a virtuous young woman, who was eventually rescued by a handsome scholar. (NY Times)

Sunday, May 22, 2:15 and 4 PM
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing
$13/General Admission; $10/Members; $8/Child; $6/Member Child


10) Crossing Paths With…Taiwanese Hand Puppetry  Members of the I Wan Jan Puppet Theater of Taiwan and Chinese Theater Works discuss tradition and innovation in Taiwan hand puppets in this moderated discussion.

Sunday, May 22, 3 PM and 5 PM
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing


11) An Evening with Wong Kar-Wai – Wong Kar Wai (王家卫) joins La Frances Hui, Associate Curator, Department of Film, to discuss his films (along with short film clips), work processes, and partnerships with various long-term collaborators, both on and off screen.
Known for his striking visual sensibility, Wong Kar Wai, cinema’s reigning aesthetician, has taken films about romance and heartbreak to a whole new level, earning the hearts and minds of critics and cinephiles alike who favor loftier philosophical and moral inquiry. Lovelorn and lonesome souls, always played by the most glamorous film stars, inhabit a richly constructed world saturated with elaborate visual and sonic details. Lush colors, sensuous music, and sinuous movements combine with kinetic camerawork, shifting film speeds, and exhilaratingly fast editing to create a total sensory overload whereby Wong explores themes of time, memory, love, and loss.

Monday, May 23, 7:30 PM
Museum of Modern Art, Titus Theater 1
Tickets sold out


12) Food Demonstration and Tasting with Mr. Bing – Food demonstration with LES jianbing (煎饼) restaurant Mr. Bing founder, Brian Goldberg, and a 6-course tasting menu paired with Tsingtao Beer.

Wednesday, May 25, 6 PM
China Institute, 100 Washington Street
$75/Non-members; $45/Members; $25/Patron Members


13) Chinatown: A Legacy of Culinary Diversity – Although outsiders often see Chinatown as unchanging, it is a diverse and dynamic community. Manhattan’s Chinatown emerged in the early 1870s, when Chinese merchants established themselves at the eastern edge of the Five Points area. A varied restaurant culture quickly emerged: some Chinese-owned restaurants in Chinatown served Western food, while others offered the cuisine of Guangdong (Canton), the home province of the vast majority of Chinese immigrants.

Beginning in the 1960s, shifting immigration laws transformed the neighborhood and its food. New arrivals from Hong Kong and Guangdong now mixed with ethnic Chinese from Southeast Asia, and, beginning in the 1980s, Fujian province and other parts of mainland China. All of these newcomers have further diversified the food culture of New York’s oldest Chinese American neighborhood.

Join Museum of Food and Drink at the Chatham Square branch of the New York Public Library for a panel discussion on Chinatown’s dynamic culinary past and continuing evolution with food writer Francis Lam, James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author Kian Lam Kho, and more.

Wednesday, May 25, 7 PM
Chatham Square Library, 33 East Broadway
Tickets sold out


14) Hello Taiwan! – Two indie bands from Taiwan, Paramount and Kung Fu Entertainment (Lil Man, BR aka Buzz Rhyme, RPG, CK-700, Handsome, and Taiwan’s legendary Hip Hop icon, Dwagie), play their second New York show.

Thursday, May 26, 6 PM
SOB’s, 204 Varick St


15) China’s Great Emperors – Joanna Waley-Cohen, Julius Silver Professor of History, New York University; Provost, NYU Shanghai talks about Emperor Qianlong and the Qing Dynasty.

Thursday, May 26, 6:30 PM
China Institute, 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor
$15/Non-Member; $10/Member and Student


16) Attabu II《 阿罩霧風雲II:落子》 – Attabu II《 阿罩雾风云II:落子》 is the second part of a two-part documentary film series about the rise and fall of the Wufeng Lin family (雾峰林家) in Wufeng District, Taiwan who sail from China to Taiwan in 1746 where they would become one of the most powerful clans in Taiwan due to services for the Qing dynasty.

Part II continues the story from the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, when Taiwan officially became a Japanese colony. Under Japanese rule, the Lin’s influence waned as the clan members came to support different political ideologies. After Japan’s defeat in World War II and Kuomintang’s retreat due to the Chinese Civil War, some clan members were then persecuted as traitors or communist sympathizers by the Republic of China administration during the period of White Terror.

‘Attabu’ refers to the original name of the Wufeng area under the language of the Taiwanese Plains Aborigines.

Thursday, May 26, 6:30 PM
Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in New York, 1 East 42nd Street

Ongoing Films and Shows

1) Kaili Blues 《路边野餐》 – Recently shown at MOMA and Film Society Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films series, this multiple prizewinner at the Locarno Film Festival is one the most audacious and innovative debuts of recent years.  Bi Gan’s endlessly surprising shape-shifter comes to assume the uncanny quality of a waking dream as it poetically and mysteriously interweaves the past, present, and future.  Chen Sheng, a country doctor in the Guizhou province who has served time in prison, is concerned for the well-being of his nephew, Weiwei, whom he believes his thug brother Crazy Face intends to sell. Weiwei soon vanishes, and Chen sets out to find him, embarking on a mystical quest that takes him to the riverside city of Kaili and the town of Dang Mai.  Through a remarkable arsenal of stylistic techniques, the film develops into a one-of-a-kind road movie, at once magical and materialist, traversing both space and time. (Adapted from New Directors/New Films)

Dir. Bi Gan
2015, 113 minutes
China, Mandarin with English subtitles 113 minutes

Opens at Metrograph May 20.


2) Midnight Kill – This original play by written and directed by Yangtze Repertory Theatre Co-Artistic Director K.K. Wong tells of a school campus in a Chinese rural village during the 1970’s that becomes a theater of twisted, oppressed but indelible human desires. Daily mundane activities become an absurd performance of ordinary people’s basic emotions. The play is based around an actual murder story that occurred in a mountain hamlet in Anhui province, where Wong lived for five years.

The play is a drama set among the teachers of a small elementary school in a rural farming village in northern China during the early 1970s, when China’s Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution was at its height. Under the country’s autocratic rule, extreme forms of collectivism, asceticism, and class warfare ran rampant in every corner of the country. In this crucible of passion, ideology and deprivation, a married woman has been having an affair with a young teacher. The play opens with the scene where the teacher has already killed the woman. The rest of the play traces their relationship as a flash back, eventually revealing the motivations behind the killing.

Presented by Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America.

May 6 -22
Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 PM, Sundays at 2:00 PM
Theater for the New City (Joyce & Seward Johnson Theater), 155 First Ave.
$20/General Admission; $15/Senior and Student
Wednesdays: Pay what you can.


3) Finding Mr. Right 2: Book of Love 《北京遇上西雅图之不二情书》– Being the sequel of the hugely successful 2013 movie “Finding Mr. Right”, the pair will rekindle their romance and head to new and exotic locations in the U.S. and Europe. Both Chinese actor Wu Xiubo and actress Tang Wei return to reprise their original roles.

At AMC Empire 25.

Current Art Exhibitions

In addition to the listings below, three local artists are participating in group shows:

Ceramics maker Xiaoyun Fan and Naomi Kuo participate in LIC Arts Open May 18 – 22

Naomi is part of Rhapsody in Color at Samuel J. Wood Library at Weill Cornell Medical College through 6/10.

Fina Yeung shows her Urban Cages, a mixed media cardboard painting installation about her memory of growing up in a very crowded city, Hong Kong, at Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition’s Wide Open 7 (5/7 – 6/12).

Xiaoshi Vivian Vivian Qin is part of Queens International 2016.  Through 7/31.

Opening and Newly Added:

Xu Lei – New Works (Marlborough Gallery, 5/12 – 6/18)  –  While Xu Lei has been a prominent artistic figure in his native China since the mid-1980s, this occasion marks his first major solo exhibition in the United States.  Trained in classic Chinese painting techniques, and using traditional tools, the artist, who has had ties with the avant garde “85 New Wave” movement, utilizes his own visual language in order to explore the relationship between the notions of “emptiness” and “phenomenal form.”

In his refined and singular practice, Xu Lei retraces and revives the past while creating a dialogue between modernity and tradition.  Using rich hues, especially his favored blue, the artist evokes fantastical places—mountains, seas, skies—that are layered with noble emotion.  Xu Lei has said that for him, color is ideology. (read the complete press release)

Closing soon:

Qian Wu – The First Solo Exhibition of Qian Wu’s Artworks (2011-2016) (Gallery 456, 4/29 – 5/20)

Christophe Pouget + Hung Yi “Crossroads of the World” (Emmanuel Fremin, 4/7 – 5/21)

HER Gaze: An Exhibition of Contemporary Women Artists from Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, 5/3 – 5/25)

Son: Signal of Authority (inCube Arts, 5/7 – 5/28)

Taca Sui (塔可) – Steles – Huang Yi Project 《碑錄—黄易计划》 (Chambers Fine Art, 3/31 – 5/28)


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

Qian Wu – The First Solo Exhibition of Qian Wu’s Artworks (2011-2016) (Gallery 456, 4/29 – 5/20)

Christophe Pouget + Hung Yi “Crossroads of the World” (Emmanuel Fremin, 4/7 – 5/21)

HER Gaze: An Exhibition of Contemporary Women Artists from Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, 5/3 – 5/25)

Son: Signal of Authority (inCube Arts, 5/7 – 5/28)

Taca Sui (塔可) – Steles – Huang Yi Project 《碑錄—黄易计划》 (Chambers Fine Art, 3/31 – 5/28)

New Voices: A DSL Collection Story – (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/7 – 6/18)

Xu Lei – New Works (Marlborough Gallery, 5/12 – 6/18)

A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Chinese Textiles Ten Centuries of Masterpieces from the Met Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Chinese Lacquer Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/15/15 – 6/19/16)

Cao Fei (MoMA PS1, 4/3 – 8/31)

Stage Design by Ming Cho Lee (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/28 – 9/11)

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/31/15 – 10/11/16)

Lead image: Gao Brothers – Mao’s Guilt, Bronze, 45 1/4 x 28 1/3 x 30 1/3 in.  Photo by Andrew Shiue.  Read about the work here.