NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: September 30 – October 6, 2016


This week: China Institute’s lecture on its inaugural exhibition in its new gallery space; a symposium on Chinese art; three female Asian American boundary-crossing musicians; a talk that links ancient Chinese music with modern rock; a Tibetan film at MoMA; a film about the only bank prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis; the opening of MOCA’s exploration of Chinese food and identity; photographs from 19th century China; and more….

Update: China Institute has offered two tickets to the curator’s lecture on Friday.  Email us at or send us a message on Facebook.  The first people who contact us will get the tickets.

Coming up:

October 7 – The Other Lines of Time, an exhibition about Buddhist art of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang organized by Huayuan Art.

October 7 – Cloud Gate 2 at Dance for Fall Festival

October 12 and 13 – Writer Ge Fei drops by Columbia and China Institute to talk about his new book, The Invisibility Cloak

October 21 – Carsick Cars w/ Chui Wan & Alpine Decline at Baby’s All Right

October 28 – 30 Reel China, a biennial documentary film festival curated NYU cinema studies professor Zhang Zhen and anthropology and religious studies professor Angela Zito.

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


1) Art and China After 1989: New Perspectives – An emerging scholars symposium co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the NYU Department of Media, Culture, and Communication.

Examining key artists, groups, and movements active across mainland China and internationally whose visual and conceptual investigations reflect particular concerns among artists during the reform era: how to forge reality free from ideology, how to establish the individual apart from the collective polity, and how to define contemporary Chinese experience in universal terms.

Friday, September 30, 9 AM – 5 PM
NYU Steinhardt, East Building,, 8th Floor 239 Greene St.
Free, but registration required (wait list only)


2) Art in the Time of Chaos Curator’s Lecture – An overview introduction of the exhibition provided by Willow Weilan Hai, Director of China Institute Gallery and Chief Curator of ‘Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd-6th Centuries’, with discussion of the highlights of the exhibition by Guest Curator Annette Juliano, Professor of Asian Art and History, Rutgers University.

This exhibition is the first major survey to examine Chinese culture and its international influence during the Six Dynasties period, as well as the relationship between the two dominant political centers in the South and North.

Friday, September 30, 6:30 PM
China Institute in America, 100 Washington Street
$15/Non-member; $10/Member


3) The Hedonists – In this 25 minute short, Jia Zhangke takes on an eclectic tone and tries out some bold new tricks in this comic short commissioned by the Hong Kong International Film Festival, following three unemployed coal miners searching for work in the Shanxi region.

Screens as part of the New York Film Festival’s Shorts Program 2: International Auteurs.

Saturday, October 1, 6:45 PM
Sunday, October 2, 8:45 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.
$15/General admission; $10/Student


4) Encounters: A Musical Exploration by Susie Ibarra, Samita Sinha, and Jen Shyu – Susie Ibarra, Samita, Sinha, and Jen Shyu, three boundary-crossing performing artists explore their creative encounters with different musical and cultural expressions, will present a twenty-minute musical performance, then engage in a discussion about how explorations—of identity, gender, and the Asian American experience—can lead to new aesthetics.

Saturday, October 1, 8 PM; Live webcast here
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$20/Non-member; $17/Student and Senior; $15/Member


5) The Kam Grand Choirs and the Current Status of Chinese Rock – With history dating back to the Warring States Period, the over 2500-year-old Kam Grand Choir (侗族大歌) is a multipart polyphonic choir singing unique to the Dong ethnic minority in China. The Kam Grand Choir has been listed by UNESCO as a world-class intangible cultural heritage since 2009.

As a rock singer, writer and researcher on Kam Grand Choir, Ms. Wu will illustrate the current status of Kam Grand Choirs and Chinese rock by sharing her own research and musical experiences. She will mainly focus on how to protect this valuable ancient musical forms in contemporary times, followed by a video clip of “Thousands people singing Kam Grand Choirs”. She will also speak of the current status of Chinese rock and the linkage of these two traditional and modern musical forms and will give a performance of her own music.

Ms. Wu, researcher on Kam Grand Choir, writer and lead vocalist of rock band “Happy Avenue”, graduated from Tsinghua University, with two bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering and the editing of scientific books, and M.A. degree in modern Chinese literature.

Sunday, October 2, 1 PM
Flushing Library, 41-17 Main Street, Flushing


6) The Songs of Music – Voices from Taiwan – Curated by Dr. Hsing-Lih Chou and Chinese American Arts Council, this concert will immerse the audience in the most beautiful harmonies from across the continents. The Hai Tien Chorus joins forces with the seasoned Taipei Harmonic Chorus to demonstrate compelling vocal techniques and collaborative efforts.

Sunday, October 2, 1:30 PM
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing
$10/General admission (sold out)


7) Parties and Politics in Contemporary Taiwan – Lecture by political science professor Shelley Rigger of Davidson College

Part of the Modern Taiwan lecture series at Columbia University.

Tuesday, October 4, 4:10 PM
Schermerhorn Hall (1198 Amsterdam Ave), Room 963, Columbia University
Free, no registration required


8) Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – Quick: what was the only bank that was actually prosecuted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis? The astonishing but correct answer is Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, founded in 1984 by Thomas Sung, which specializes in small loans to members of the Chinese-American community. The latest film from Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Life Itself) is a vivid chronicle of the legal battle mounted by Sung and his formidable daughters when the Manhattan DA’s office charged the bank with systemic fraud, larceny, and conspiracy. Abacus is a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life. It is also a cautionary tale.

Thursday, October 6, 8:45 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.
$15/General admission; $10/Student (standby only)


1) Tharlo Tharlo (Shide Nyima), an innocent shepherd living a secluded life in the mountains, has been ordered by the local police chief to obtain an ID. Claiming, “I know who I am,” Tharlo doesn’t see the point of the document, but he reluctantly travels into town to have an ID photo taken. There he encounters a young, modern, and beautiful barber, Yangsto. Immediately smitten by her charms, Tharlo spends the night with Yangsto at the karaoke bar and discovers a world completely unknown to him.

Renowned Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden continues the exploration of the conflicts between modern and traditional Tibetan life he began in previous features Old Dog, The Search, and Silent Holy Stones. Shot entirely in black and white, Tharlo reveals in vivid contrast the simplicity of the countryside and the disorientation of a fast-changing small town.

Review by Screen Daily

At MoMA through October 4.


2) I Belonged To You 《从你的全世界路过》– Based on the bestselling series of short stories by renowned Chinese writer Zhang Jiajia, The movie is a touching romantic tale revolving around two radio disc jockeys and the world they inhabit. They find the audience they reach reflects their own love and heartbreak, and forces them to deal with issues larger than just their own lives.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 September 30.


2) Operation Mekong 《湄公河行動》– Inspired by the true story known as the Mekong Massacre – two Chinese commercial vessels are ambushed while traveling down the Mekong River in the waters of the Golden Triangle, one of the largest drug-manufacturing regions in the world. 13 sailors are executed at gunpoint, and 900,000 methamphetamine pills are recovered at the scene. Upon discovery, the Chinese government immediately sends a band of elite narcotics officers led by Captain Gao Gang (Zhang Hanyu) to the Golden Triangle to uncover the truth behind the murders. Tea field owner and Golden Triangle-based intelligence officer Fang Xinwu (Eddie Peng) joins the investigation. After it is discovered that the drugs seized on the Chinese ships had been planted by the henchman of a notorious drug cartel leader named Naw Khar, the governments of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China launch a joint task force to apprehend the criminal. The road to justice is, however, paved with dangerous and deadly obstacles.

The film faces a ban in Thailand.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 September 30.

Soulmate 《七月与安生》– A 30 year-old working woman Li Ansheng’s life in Shanghai is suddenly disrupted by the publication of a novel, entitled Qiyue and Ansheng, a chronicle of her friendship with Qiyue during her youth. Her long repressed memories are unleashed with the force of a tsunami.  The two girls seemed destined to become friends from the moment they entered high school.  Though they were inseparable and believed that their bond would last for the rest of their lives, the cruelty of youth eventually led them to separate paths. Even more shocking is the discovery of a long buried secret shared by the women – a secret that serves as an emblem of their youth and the proof of their friendship.

At AMC Empire 25


In addition to the below,

Bushwick Open Studios is happening this weekend.  Visit artist studios and see works of art by Cynthia Lin (17-17 Troutman Street), Hilda Shen (126 St. Nicholas Avenue), Wei Xiaoguang (56 Bogart, #3C), Fina Yeung and others.

Fina Yeung’s work will be featured in two locations:

Hollaback Exhibition

Studio 301 NYC, 301 Ten Eyck, Brooklyn
September 30 – October 7, 2016
Opening on September 30, 6 – 10 PM

Seeking Space Making The Future
David & Schweitzer Contemporary, 56 Bogart St, Brooklyn
September 30 – October 16, 2016
Opening on September 30, 6 – 10 PM

Yiyang Cao, who recently had a solo exhibition that explored the idleness of waiting, will have her video works shown at the visual art, and music event Brackish #1 on October 6.

Opening and Newly Added:

1) Lan Zhenghui – Re-thINK Ink (Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, 9/9 – 10/31) – Lan Zhenghui’s Re-thINK Ink: Landscape aims to re-contextualize the ancient genre as it undergoes transformation by modern practitioners forging the past with the future. Just as Chinese literati artists sought to depict not merely the still life of nature but its kinetic sweep and song, Lan Zhenghui’s ink scrolls pursue mass and velocity at the horizon where landscape meets abstraction.

Installation view, photo courtesy Ethan Cohen Fine Arts

Installation view, photo courtesy Ethan Cohen Fine Arts


2) Lee Kit – Skin (Jane Lombard Gallery, 9/15 – 10/29) – Skin, Lee Kit’s third solo exhibition in New York, is inspired by his work entitled Skin (the secret) included in his first US solo museum exhibition Hold your breath, dance slowly, currently on view at the Walker Art Center (through October 9, 2016). The familiar ‘stuff’ of daily life become silent foils for the individual experience. Throughout his practice, Lee Kit engages the quotidian in order to evoke the transcendent and unspeakable: desire, loss, and vulnerability.

Recently, Lee Kit has been intuitively examining negative emotions and desire, perhaps stemming from a sense of helplessness in the wake of a troubled global situation and the profound uncertainty in his native Hong Kong. However, this show is decidedly apolitical. Instead, Lee Kit calmly exposes the small moments that occur between and within, yet resolutely distinct from, catastrophe. He peels back the ‘skin’ of the day-to-day, a disclosure at once violent, slow, and poignant.

Lee Kit’s work does not permit pretension, easy answers, or simple summaries. Rather, these seemingly unassuming works haunt the space, veiling and unveiling in equal measure. They draw our attention, gently and urgently, to the connections that exist beneath the surface of our world, our lives, our bodies, and our relationships.


3) Dev Harlan, Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, Jayoung Yoon – Eighteen (Usagi Gallery, 9/15 – 10/14) – Eighteen exhibits Dev Harlan, Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, and Jayoung Yoon — three artists working in sculpture, installation, and transformation over time.

Each of the artists produces works that transcend static objecthood.  Sculpture is investigated as a substrate to experience time, through motorized kinetics, video projection, or timed lighting.  Here, the sequence of artworks in 18, each propelling themselves forward via some active process, explores eighteen panels as a way to tell time.

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong is a New York-based artist working at the boundary of art and architecture.  Her sculptures explore the scaled architectural model as a point of tension between actuality and a desired projection of reality.  Breathing Sculptures is a series of dynamic fabric sculptures that fold into a collapsed, flat state, and then rise up to create habitable volumes.  In a gradual, continuous state of compression and expansion, the spaces resemble a living structure. Monumentality, an installation composed of small sculptures, explores the obsolescence of monuments.

Jayoung Yoon is an interdisciplinary artist using human hair as a medium. Her artworks are a synthesis of sculpture, video, and painting employed to heighten perceptual consciousness, and sometimes alter individuals’ experiences of space and time.
Dev Harlan’s work operates at a point of increasing fluidity between physical and digital practices. Installations and sculptures are often constructed from geometric primitives, tessellated surfaces or appropriated objects. Surfaces and spaces are activated with the use of digital projections, relying on a structured relationship between light and surface over time

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong - 'Monumentality', Description: Installation of plaster sculptures, each 3” x 3” x 3” (detail)

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong – ‘Monumentality’, Description: Installation of plaster sculptures, each 3” x 3” x 3” (detail)


4) Qing Dynasty Peking: Thomas Child’s Photographs (Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, 9/23 – 10/25) – Rare early photographs of Peking (Beijing) by Thomas Child, from the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection, will be exhibited for the first time in New York.

Qing Dynasty Peking: Thomas Child’s Photographs, curated by Stacey Lambrow, features a selection of over 40 original nineteenth-century albumen silver prints. These views of Peking, made in the 1870s and 1880s, are from the earliest comprehensive photographic survey of the ancient city. During his nearly two decades as a resident of Peking, Child produced the most extensive photographic documentation of the city and its environs. The images depict the architecture, monuments, people, and culture of Peking during the early years of photography in late imperial China. Child’s photographs offer a unique glimpse into the country’s rich cultural past.

Among the highlights of the show is a photograph of a Bride and Bridegroom (1870s) in traditional Chinese dress. It is one in a series of three images Child took pertaining to late Qing dynasty wedding customs. The woman in this photograph is the daughter of Zeng Goufan, a high-ranking official of the Han dynasty. Descendants of Zeng Goufan will attend the opening reception of the exhibition to see the photograph of their ancestor’s wedding for the first time.

The photographs included in the exhibition are often the only records of buildings and sites that were later altered or destroyed. Due to historical factors, a scarcity of scholarship, and the fact that very few of Child’s photographs have survived, there has never been an exhibition in New York devoted to the photographer’s work. Child was also a pioneering documentarian, producing printed labels with descriptive text to accompany his photographs. It is evident from his photographs and their labels that he took great care to understand the long history and culture of the Chinese people. Child learned to speak Chinese, and he spent time among Chinese residents while he was in Peking, sharing with them his knowledge of the art of photography.

Thomas Child - No. 182 Bride and Bridegroom, 1870s

Thomas Child –
No. 182 Bride and Bridegroom, 1870s


5) Artists from EJ Contemporary Fine Arts Museum (Gallery 456, 9/27 – 10/4) – Founded in 2011, the EJ Contemporary Fine Arts Museum originally served as artist Han Hsiang-Ning’s living quarters & studio while in Dali, China.  Many people have visited the studio even before it expanded into the art museum as seen today.  The works on display mostly consist of the artist’s works from his studio in New York, as well as his contemporary art collection.


6) Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016- 3/26/2017) – The show weaves together complex stories through a dynamic video installation featuring pioneering chefs, new restaurateurs, and persevering home cooks. In Chinese the saying Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy refers not only to the delicate balance of flavors that defines Chinese cooking but also the ups and downs of life. Set in an immersive video installation, the tapestry of tales that emerges will be rich with immigration experiences, food memories, favorite dishes and cooking inspirations that define the culinary—and personal—identities of these chefs, drawing visitors into the middle of a conversation about how food defines Chinese in America. Ceramics by Heidi Lau and Lu Zhang accompany the show.


7) Art In A Time Of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd–6th Centuries (China Institute, 9/30/2016 – 3/19/2017) – The Six Dynasties period, from the 3rd to 6th centuries, was one of the most dynamic periods in Chinese art history, akin to the European Renaissance in the impact it had on artistic creativity and the celebration of individual expression. This exhibition presents the artistic innovations and achievements evidenced by recent archaeological findings from both the Southern and Northern Dynasties across four major disciplines: ceramics, sculpture, calligraphy and painting.

Installation view at China Institute Gallery, photo by Andrew Shiue

Installation view at China Institute Gallery, photo by Andrew Shiue


Closing soon:

1) Yang Yi: First Responders (Chinatown Soup, 9/10 – 9/30)

2) Shen Jingdong + Jon Tsoi – No Head No Heart (WhiteBox, 9/1 – 9/30)

3) Artists from EJ Contemporary Fine Arts Museum (Gallery 456, 9/27 – 10/4)

4) Zhai Liang: Living Room (Fou Gallery, 8/18 – 10/9)

Installation view, Zhai Liang, The Living Room, photo by Patricia Chen.

Installation view, Zhai Liang, The Living Room, photo by Patricia Chen.


Current shows:

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.

Yang Yi: First Responders (Chinatown Soup, 9/10 – 9/30)

Shen Jingdong + Jon Tsoi – No Head No Heart (WhiteBox, 9/1 – 9/30)

Jacky Tsai – Culture Clash (208 Bowery, 9/22 – 10/2)

Artists from EJ Contemporary Fine Arts Museum (Gallery 456, 9/27 – 10/4)

Miao Xiaochun – Metamorphosis (Klein Sun Gallery, 9/8 – 10/8)

No Cause for Alarm (La MaMa Galleria, 9/15 – 10/8)

Xu Zhen (James Cohan Gallery, 9/8 – 10/8)

Zhai Liang: Living Room (Fou Gallery, 8/18 – 10/9)

Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings (Metropolitan Museum of Art, through 10/9)

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Metropolitan Museum of Art, through 10/9/2016)

Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th – 19th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, through 10/9/2016)

Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/31/15 – 10/11/2016)

Dev Harlan, Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, Jayoung Yoon – Eighteen (Usagi Gallery, 9/15 – 10/14)

Folk My Life (New York Foundation for the Arts Gallery, 7/22 – 10/21/2016)

Lee Kit – Skin (Jane Lombard Gallery, 9/15 – 10/29)

Lan Zhenghui: Re-thINK Ink-Landscape (Ethan Cohen, 9/9 – 10/31/2016)

Cultural Revolution, Propaganda Art, and Historical Memories (Reading Room, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, 9/22 – 11/22)

Gang Zhao (Jack Tilton Gallery, 9/13-10/22)

Erote (The Hollows Art Space, 9/7 – 10/30)

Han Bing: Urban Amber (FitzGerald Fine Arts, 8/1 – 11/1)

Wu Jian’an – Ten Thousand Things (Chambers Fine Art, 9/8 – 11/12)

Cultural Revolution, Propaganda Art, and Historical Memories (Reading Room, C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University, 535 West 114th St., 9/22 – 11/22)

Zhang Peili: Continuous Reproduction (Asia Society, 9/9 – 12/4)

No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki (Asia Society, 9/9/16 – 1/8/17)

Art In A Time Of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd–6th Centuries (China Institute, 9/30/2016 – 3/19/2017)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016- 3/26/2017) 

Hung Yi – Fancy Animal Carnival – (Garment District pedestrian plazas on Broadway from 36th to 41st Streets, 9/20/16 – 4/15/17)

Lead image: Photo from Jingdezhen, porcelain capital of the world.  Courtesy of the artist, Bingshu Hou.