NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: January 6 – January 12, 2017

Double Happiness Factory

Hello, everybody and Happy New Year! Are you as excited as we are for all the Chinese-related arts and culture events and art exhibitions featuring artists of Chinese descent in 2017?

Before we talk more about what’s coming up ahead, we would like to thank everybody for their support. Last year was another tremendous year for us, and we are encouraged by the interest everybody has shown in Beyond Chinatown’s positive approach towards appreciating, understanding, and spreading Chinese culture.   Our shared curiosity leads us to many discoveries and perspectives.

Here’s a recap of 2016:

  • We grew from 1,074 Facebook “likes” to 1,599 (oh, so close to 1,600!) last year, which outpaced our growth last year.
  • Our calendars listed about 550 events and nearly 150 exhibitions, almost 50% more than 2015.  Many of the people featured in these listings are from the active creative communities of actors, artists, and musicians from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau currently based in New York.
  • Partly because of being more selective about what to share, about a quarter fewer links were posted on Facebook, but they seem to have gotten higher rates of engagement.
  • We got busy on Instagram, posting 153 images spanning works by artists of Chinese descent, hints of an encounters with “Chineseness” in the things we see (sometimes unexpectedly), and historical and contemporary images that speak to the richness of culture and diversity of Chinese society and the Chinese diaspora.
  • We posted fewer articles on but garnered more page views, even accounting for the wildly popular Marry Me for Chinese Citizenship article.
  • We organized a docent-led tour of Asia Society’s No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki. It was the first of many tours of exhibitions we plan to organize.

In 2017, we will strive to be active online and to engage our audience in New York.  This year, there will be a number of changes in how we operate, the first of which begins with this post.  Since its inception, the weekly listing of events and exhibitions has been posted on Thursday and covers Friday to the next Thursday.  Going forward, to let everybody know about things to do in the upcoming week earlier, we’ll be publishing the weekly listing on Wednesday.  It will still cover Friday – Thursday but you’ll have more time to plan ahead, especially for weekend events.

This coming week: A guzheng performance by a musician and composer who creates sounds we don’t think we had heard before from the instrument; Hamlet re-imagined as a kunqu opera; a neo-baroque chamber composition; a film that draws comparisons between Tokyo and Taipei; the opening reception for local artist Tao Xian’s exhibition; and more…

Here’s a peek at what’s further ahead:

January 13 – Wu Hongfei at Webster Hall

January 14 – Jazz singer and saxophonist Stephanie Chou at Joe’s Pub

January 22 – Enno Cheng (鄭宜農) at Rockwood Music Hall

January 27 – February 4 – Eternal Bruce Lee film series at MoMA

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) Confucius – China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) returns to the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center this winter with Confucius, a new dance drama performed by the China National Opera & Dance Drama Theater. The production is directed and choreographed by Ms. Kong Dexin, a 77th-generation direct descendant of Confucius.

With traditional Chinese music, opulent costumes, and expressive choreography, Confucius tells the story of the legendary scholar’s journey through the kingdoms of Zhou Dynasty China, and his quest to instill codes of ethics, honor, and benevolence among the empire’s rulers. Told in six sections, “Inquiry,” “The Chaotic Time,” “Out of Food,” “Great Harmony,” “Mourning for Benevolence,” and “Happiness,” the dance drama’s structure reflects the inner and outer struggles of Confucius in expressionistic passages of dance and song, through one of the most turbulent and significant periods in China’s history.

Thursday, January 5 – Saturday, January 7, 8 PM
Sunday, January 7, 1 PM
David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center


2) Beijing Taxi – Presented in conjunction with the Guggenheim Museum’s current exhibition, Tales of Our Time, this film program features documentary and narrative works that explore topics shared with the exhibition, investigating concepts such as boundaries, territory, migration, and place.

Beijing Taxi is a timely, uncensored, and richly cinematic portrait of China’s ancient capital as it undergoes a profound transformation. The film takes an intimate and compelling look at the lives of three cab drivers as they confront modern issues and changing values against the backdrop of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Through their daily struggles infused with humor and quiet determination, Beijing Taxi reveals the complexity and contradictions of China’s shifting paradigm.

Dir. Miao Wang
2010, 78 min.
Mandarin with English subtitles


3) 17th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia – Taipei Cultural Center partners with Japan Society for the 17th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia which features 5 duos from Taiwan, Japan, and Korea:

– En-Cheng Liu/In Theater – Tschüss!! Bunny (Taiwan) – North American Premiere
– Po-Cheng Tsai/B Dance – Hugin/Munin (Taiwan) – North American Premiere
– Un Yamada/Co.Un Yamada – Les Noces (The Wedding) (Japan) – North American Premiere
– Akiko Kitamura & Navid Navab – TranSenses (Japan) – World Premiere
– Heung-Ryeol Jun+ Sang-Man Pyo/JJbrp – Jimmy & Jack (Korea) – North American Premiere

We have one ticket for the January 7 performance to give away.  To enter, email us at by 11:59 PM on Thursday, January 5.  We’ll pick a name and notify the winner Friday morning.

Friday, January 6, 7:30 PM
Saturday, January 7, 7:30 PM
Japan Society


4) Out There – Tokyo. Or perhaps, Taipei. A hybrid of fiction and documentary, and navigating mysteriously between the two cities, Takehiro Ito’s beguiling film follows a director looking for a new actor, so that he can resurrect a stalled film project. This actor is Ma (as himself), born in Taiwan, who wanders around Tokyo on roller blades. More than searching for a place, he is searching for an emotion: the feeling of being home. The two men wonder how one can exist in this world. Travelling back and forth through secret gates between Tokyo and its former colony, Taiwan, Out There is in turns a documentary, a film within a film, a love story, and a story about wandering. Following Edward Yang’s footsteps (the film starts from a failed documentary project on this Taiwanese director), Ito has also created a film in which the cities are among the main characters.

Dir. Takehiro Ito
2016, 148 mins.
In Japanese, Chinese, and English with English subtitles

Director Takehiro Ito will attend the screening.

Saturday, January 7, 4 PM
Museum of the Moving Image


5) Making an Era – The Song of Zheng – Wang Changyuan (王昌元), who has performed for many dignitaries and heads of states, is recognized by many as one of the greatest living guzheng performer, and has been a teacher and mentor for a younger generation of musicians, including many in the New York area, where she resides.  The concert celebrates her 60th anniversary as a performer and the 50th Anniversary of her masterpiece ‘Battling the Typhoon’ 《戰颱風》

Sunday, January 8, 1 PM
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center


6) Three 《三人行》– Three takes Johnnie To back to his favorite genre, the urban police thriller, for a stylistic tour de force (including an extended shootout in a hospital, presented in a single take) that incorporates some brilliant theatrics among its three lead performers: Louis Koo as a stolid, unsmiling police commissioner; Wei Zaho (Shaolin Soccer) as an emergency room surgeon with doubts about her abilities; and the pop singer Wallace Chung, darkly charismatic as a conscienceless killer who puts a bullet in his own brain to avoid being sent to prison.

Dir. Johnnie To
88 min, 2016
Hong Kong/China
In Cantonese with English subtitles

AV Club calls the film a “rollicking thriller”, and Variety says the film’s “action, timing, character chemistry and psychological intrigue are all synched to perfection and that the film is “first-rate entertainment”.

Sunday, January 8, 5 PM


7) Space-Time Continuum-Pro et Contra, Composed by Dai Bo – Space-Time Continuum-Pro et Contra is a contemporary chamber concerto composed by Dai Bo for thirteen wind and string instruments, with the harpsicord taking center stage. The ultra-traditionalist style of this piece expresses an aesthetic pursuit of the specialization of time. The violin combines overtone and vibrato with bow playing; the harpsichord’s presentation is bantering, with dissonance; the oboe adds a tinge of tragedy. Each instrument finds its their place in the complex rhythms and irregular syntax of this unique piece, which mimics a phonograph playing at an unstable tempo, the needle jumping from time to time, creating an ethereal effect.

This piece is an attempt to bring time and space away from lineal movement. It is a dialogue between European musical languages and traditional East Asian music, and between Baroque concerto grosso and chamber concertos with twentieth-century characteristics.

Followed by a reception.

Part of Shanghai/New York: Future Histories

Monday, January 9, 7 PM
Asia Society


8) I, Hamlet – I, Hamlet is a virtuosic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a one-man contemporary performance starring Chinese opera star Zhang Jun. Rewritten in ancient Chinese prose and sung in the classical techniques of Chinese Kunqu opera, I, Hamlet juxtaposes Chinese and Western art forms. Adapting the Kunqu Opera style of monologue, Jun plays four roles – Hamlet, Ophelia, the ghost of Hamlet’s father and the gravedigger, while also drawing on traditional Chinese opera characters known as Sheng (male roles), Dan (female roles), Jing (painted roles) and Chou (clowns). Going beyond the story itself, this re-interpretation explores the inner world of Hamlet, as he battles with forces of light and darkness, life and death, love and revenge.

In Chinese with English subtitles.

Part of Shanghai/New York: Future Histories

Monday, January 9, 8:30 PM
Asia Society


1) Railroad Tigers 《铁道飞虎》 – In this action-comedy caper harkening back to Jackie Chan’s classic Hong Kong films, a railroad worker  and his ragtag group of freedom fighters find themselves on the wrong side of the tracks when they decide to ambush a heavily armed military train filled with desperately needed provisions. Unarmed and outnumbered, they must fight back against an entire army using only their wits, in a series of a dazzling set pieces and action scenes rivaling anything seen on the big screen.

Variety isn’t a fan but its review has good commentary on the expectations from aging action stars.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 January 6.


2) The Wasted Times  《罗曼蒂克消亡史》– In this espionage drama set in 1930s Shanghai, a Japanese spy must track down the former ally who massacred his family.

Film Journal International says the film “is a poorly digested amalgam of work by art-house filmmakers like Zhang Yimouand Hou Hsiao-hsien. Despite two of Asia’s most accomplished stars and a plot laced with sex and violence, the movie is too confusing and poorly paced to find much of an audience here.”  The New York Times echos these faults, saying it “plays like a movie carved out of a much larger mini-series, whose segments are then shown out of order.”

At AMC Empire 25


Opening and Newly Added:

1) Phantom Pains (Gallery 456, 1/6 – 2/3) – Phantom pain refers to a painful sensation caused by body parts that have been amputated. The limb is gone, but the pain is real. People who experience phantom pain are often reluctant to address this sensation, for the fear that they will be considered crazy, as if they are haunted by a ghost. Patients wander within the field between perception and reality.

In Phantom Pains, Ryota Sato and Tao Xian, explore this intermittent spectral realm of mediation in different ways, yet with the same goal of unraveling the layered statuses of perception. With practices including installation, painting, and video, the artists question the function of images as a point of contact when examining perception mediated by our bodies. Their works negotiate the distance between the image and the reality it signifies.

Tao Xian has been making works that examine the faultiness of preserving memory. In particular, her work focuses on the sense of alienation we all experience with respect to images, how they affect us while also creating a distance. Our memory is recreated and distorted every time we access it. To her, the failure of retrieving a memory is like dealing with a ghost — you want to see it but can never. She is interested in seeing what happens when things that belong to the past meet the digital process, how the result then speaks to the viewer, what will be lost, and what can still be recognized. In ‘Phantom Pains’, Tao shows a series of paintings that are representations of digital accidents that had occurred within a scanner bed. She uses painting as a means to represent the moment of transformation, when the image is neither visible nor invisible, neither analog nor digital.

Sato’s project, “Why is the Internet So Slow?”, attempts to teach nature, the wonders of Nature. He has set up a pedagogical system for nature to understand and learn human ideologies of Nature. Sato’s interests lie in how the human gaze functions as a primary tool for understanding and shaping the idea of Nature. The desire to see ghosts engages in the same methodology as the desire to see Nature in its perfect form. Thus, the desire to see ghosts fuels and trains our gaze to summon ghosts to appear before us. Our bodies function as observatory machines that constantly cross-check ideology and reality, which are two separate domains that never meet. However, these observing bodies create a space or portal where only ghosts can exist.

Tao Xian – ‘Kabukicho’, 2016. Oil on Linen, 58 x 42 in.


Closing soon:

Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman (New Museum, 10/19 /2016 – 1/5/2017)

No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki (Asia Society, 9/9/16 – 1/8/2017)

In Perspective: Lin Yan, Song Xin and Cui Fei (Chambers Fine Art, 11/17 – 1/28/2017)


Current shows:

Visit the exhibition calendar for details for the current shows listed below. Check the museum or gallery’s website for hours of operation.

Project Mah Jongg (Museum of Jewish Heritage, 10/15/16 – Jan 2017)

Cheng Ran: Diary of a Madman (New Museum, 10/19 /2016 – 1/5/2017)

No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki (Asia Society, 9/9/16 – 1/8/2017)

In Perspective: Lin Yan, Song Xin and Cui Fei (Chambers Fine Art, 11/17 – 1/28/2017)

Phantom Pains (Gallery 456, 1/6 – 2/3)

A Fine Line (Art100 Gallery, 12/8/16 – 2/6/17)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 2/26/17)

Tales of Our Time 故事新编 (Guggenheim Museum, 11/4/16 – 3/10/17)

Art In a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China, 3rd – 6th Centuries (China Institute, 9/30/16 – 3/19/17)

Infinite Compassion: Avalokiteshvara in Asian Art (Staten Island Museum, 10/22/16 – 9/25/17)

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)

Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/29/16 – 8/6/17)

Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th – 19th Century (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 -10/9/27)

From the Imperial Theater: Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Colors of the Universe: Chinese Hardstone Carvings (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6/25/16 – 10/9/17)

Lead image: A 1986 photo that shows a factory making blankets patterned with the Double Happiness character.  Bedding like this is popular with newlyweds.  Xinhua photo by Li Changyong taken from here.