NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: February 17 – February 23, 2017


This week: Shadow puppets; a film about nationalists from China, Taiwan, and Japan; an exhibition tour and artist conversation at Klein Sun Gallery; a film about plastic waste in China; a film and panel talk about politics and immigration and the duty of civil engagement; and more…The weather will be really great this weekend.  So, go check out a few of the exhibitions that are going on right now!

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

February 17 – Lunar New Year Shadow Puppet Slam hosted by Chinese Theatre Works

February 20 – A conference on global histories of music theory which includes music from China

February 22 and 23 – Plastic China, a film about the human and environmental costs of plastic waste screens as part of Doc Fortnight 2017: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media

February 24 – Kevin Chu, Research Manager at the Museum of Chinese in America, talks about the work of Emile Bocian, a photographer who photographed the Chinese community for The China Post in the 1970s and 1980s, and how his collection came to the museum.

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) Terra Nullius or: How to Be a Nationalist – Presented in conjunction with 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.

Following three groups of nationalists from China, Taiwan, and Japan, Terra Nullius or: How to Be a Nationalist focuses on the geopolitical issues surrounding the disputed islands known in Japanese as Senkaku, in Chinese as Diaoyu, and in English as the Pinnacle Islands, and the filmmaker’s attempts to set foot upon them. Claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan, these minor, remote, and uninhabited islands, only approximately 7 square kilometers in total size, are located roughly 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, 330 kilometers east of China, and 170 kilometers northwest of the westernmost tip of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands.

Friday, February 17, 1 PM
Saturday, February 18, 1 PM
Guggenheim Museum


2) Lunar New Year Shadow Puppet Slam – Start the Year of the Rooster off right with light! The 2nd NYC Shadow Puppet Slam returns with another brilliant selection of shadow performance by local puppet illuminati. Chinese Theatre Works’ Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin host an evening of short works ranging across the full spectrum of traditional and cutting edge shadow theater, animation, video, and film.

Friday, February 17, 7 PM
Flushing Town Hall


3) Exploring the Universe of Art – In conjunction with the current exhibition Self-Created Universe, Klein Sun Gallery is pleased to present Exploring the Universe of Art, a program and brunch consisting of a walkthrough and conversation featuring artists Liang Ban and Ye Funa. Introduced by Beili Wang, the walkthrough will consist of a performance by Liang Ban, where he will tag his Magician of the Earth series. The conversation led by Leeza Ahmady (Independent Curator and Director of Asia Contemporary Art Week) and Iona Whittaker (Art Critic) will explain how both artists’ works relate to and juxtapose each other through the lens of constructing and re-enacting. Ye Funa will livestream the event on different social media platforms.

Saturday, February 18, 12 – 3 PM
Klein Sun Gallery, 525 W. 22nd Street


4) Chinese Couplets  – In Chinese Couplets, Felicia Lowe searches for answers about her mother’s emigration story during the Chinese Exclusion era. Through tough intergenerational conversations, Lowe weaves history into a personal narrative and reveals the deep impact of US government legislation on immigration on one family. (MOCA)

The screening at the Museum of Chinese in America is followed by a panel discussion.  The film provides the context for the post-screening forum on the historic echoes of President Trump’s recent executive order, the impact of the Administration on Asian Americans, and how we can leverage Asian Americans’ historical, cultural, socioeconomic, and political experiences to strengthen civic engagement.

Muzna Ansari, Immigration Policy Manager, New York Immigration Coalition
Liz OuYang, Civil rights attorney
Jack Tchen, Founding Director, Asian/Pacific /American Studies Program and Institute, NYU
Tsui Yee, Immigration attorney

Sunday, February 19, 3 PM
First Chinese Baptist Church, 21 Pell Street

Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America

Wednesday, February 22, 6 PM
Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main Street, Flushing


5) Global Perspectives in Histories of Music Theory – This conference brings together music scholars and historians of science to develop new insights into global histories of music theory. Together, our participants investigate convergences and divergences across time and place. With talks on subjects including tuning theories in ancient China and court music in fifteenth-century Korea, this event explores how complex concepts in mathematics, cosmology, and artisanal practice arose in response to similar concerns around classifying pitches, modes, and instruments.

Monday, February 20, 1 – 8 PM
Heyman Center for the Humanities, Columbia University


6) Trial Reenactment: The Murder of Vincent Chin – The Brooklyn Law School Asian Pacific American Law Student Association & Brooklyn Law Students for Public Interest present a re-enactment of an important trial that galvanized Asian American communities to fight for legal justice.

Read about the significance of the case at the New York Times

Tuesday, February 21, 6 PM
Forchelli Conference Center at Feil Hall, 22nd Floor, 205 State St., Brooklyn


7) The Assembly Presents Yuxiang Dong and Zhi Wei – Photographers Yuxiang Dong and Zhi Wei present their respective works. Come see their photographic prints and their creative processes

Wednesday, February 22, 7:30 PM
Rubber Factory, 29c Ludlow St.


8) Plastic China 塑料王国– China is the world’s largest importer of plastic waste; throughout the country there are nearly 30 towns engaged in processing this refuse in highly toxic environments. In this powerful critique of global overconsumption, the stories of two families, and a particularly feisty and optimistic 11-year-old girl, reveal the human and environmental costs of living and working in these artificial—and truly plastic—landscapes.

Followed by post-screening discussion with the director.

Screens as part of Doc Fortnight 2017: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media.

Dir. Jiu-liang Wang
2016. China, 81 min.
In Chinese with English subtitles.

Wednesday, February 22, 7:30 PM
Thursday February 23, 4 PM
Museum of Modern Art


1) The Great Wall -In this action-fantasy epic set in 11th century China, two mercenaries from the West (Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal) are captured by a military organization that are headquartered in a fortress on the Great Wall. In time, the duo get caught up in a battle between the Chinese warriors and a supernatural menace that the Great Wall was built to repel. Jing Tian, Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Willem Dafoe, and Eddie Peng co-star. Directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers), this collaboration with Hollywood is the most expensive Chinese film to date. (Jack Rodgers, Rovi)

The film is accused of white washing or white knighting (spoiler alert) and having a threadbare story but is beautiful and a lot of fun.

Opens at multiple theaters around the city February 17.


2) Duckweed乘风破浪》– An emotional story by popular blogger Han Han about the reconciliation between a father and his son. Ah Lang, a youth from a small town, thinks that his father Ah Zheng never understood his occupation and life. In a fateful occurrence, he is able to experience his father’s legendary and interesting life in the past.

Review by Variety

Opens at AMC Empire 25 February 10


3) Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back 《西遊伏妖篇》  – After killing Miss Duan in the last story, Monkey King is now tamed by Tang Sanzang and has become one of his disciples. Tang continues his journey to the West with Monkey King, Sandy and Pigsy. They encounter and flight with many demons during their treacherous journey. These demon battles enable them to grow and learn how to become a better person.

Tsui Hark’s sequel to Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons was the top grossing film in China in the first weekend of the Chinese New Year.

The Hollywood Reporter says the film is undemanding but notes Tsui and Chow’s imaginative treatment of classic Chinese stories.

At AMC Empire 25


4) Made in China – From the creative talents behind the highly-regarded Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey comes a new darkly comedic puppet musical.

Inspired by true events, Made In China is a fantastical exploration of human rights, consumerism, and morality as told through the unlikely love story between an odd middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor. Made In China features 30 puppets, seven puppeteers, music inspired by both American and Chinese traditions, and animated video.

Visit Wakka Wakka Productions’ Facebook page for information on ticket discounts.

The musical is a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

January 10 – February 19
59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th St.


Opening and Newly Added:

1) Vestigial Future (Gallery 456, 2/17 – 3/17) – It is with uncertainty that we look inward and observe the most mysterious parts of ourselves; the physical vestiges of the humans we once were that serve as a reminder of our profound common ancestry. Something as animal as a tailbone and as menacing as an appendix are signs that we have always on a biological level aspired to adapt to our environment. In this current political climate we change our gaze to look outward at uncertainty, confront it, and wonder how we can better negotiate a landscape in flux and full of anxiety. Through diverse practices, the artists partaking in Vestigial Futures are choosing to respond to this zeitgeist through aggressive adaptation via imagined connections and psychic appendages. These supplemental parts manifest in object (and mixed media)-extensions that recognize a collective need to re-assess our bodies, and thus our agency, in the world. The sense of urgency that motivates this exhibition is magnified as we find ourselves increasingly disembodied, tethered to disposable electronic artifacts, carriers of our digital soul. Through creating contemporary artifacts these artists seek new ways of relating, gaining strength in connections as they break down social, political, and material hierarchies. We invite the audience to delve with us into the deep present in order to project our possible futures.  (Amanda Nedham)

Participating artists:

Amanda Nedham
Andrew LaFarge Hamill
Blake Hiltunen
Hao Ni
Yi Xin Tong
Joeun Actchim

Closing soon:

Ye Funa and Liang Ban: Self-Created Universe (Klein Sun Gallery, 1/12 – 2/25)

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

Pauline Benton and the Red Gate Exhibition (Flushing Town Hall, 2/3 – 2/26)

Su Yu-Hsien and Cici Wu: A Disappearing Act (Triangle, 2/16 – 2/27/2017)


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.

Ye Funa and Liang Ban: Self-Created Universe (Klein Sun Gallery, 1/12 – 2/25)

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

Pauline Benton and the Red Gate Exhibition (Flushing Town Hall, 2/3 – 2/26)

Su Yu-Hsien and Cici Wu: A Disappearing Act (Triangle, 2/16 – 2/27/2017)

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

Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-ki (Lévy Gorvy Gallery, 1/19 – 3/11)

David Diao: HongKong Boyhood (Postmasters Gallery, 2/4 – 3/11)

Vestigial Future (Gallery 456, 2/17 – 3/17)

Renqian Yang: Complementary Colors (Fou Gallery, 1/14 – 3/19)

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

Construction and Contemplation: Noa Charuvi, Li Gang (Art100 Gallery, 2/16 – 3/31/2017)

Ho Sintung: Surfaced (Chambers Fine Arts, 2/2 – 4/1)

Celebrating the Year of the Rooster (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1/25 – 7/4/2017)

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- 3/26/17) 

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 -10/9/17)

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: Hiking trails in Hong Kong are full of wildlife surprises; one might encounter sneaky macaques or a family of boars sniffing out your lunch. On a jungly path within the Aberdeen reservoir, however, there was a familiar city sight: a sign indicating foot massages are nearby.  Photo and caption by Ysabelle Cheung