NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: June 9 – June 15, 2017


This week: A film by Wayne Wang that takes place in NYC’s Chinatown shortly after the lifting of the Chinese Exclusion Act; documentaries about comfort women and another about factory workers at the Human Rights Watch Festival; a concert featuring Taiwanese composers and musicians; a documentary about a Taiwanese family that immigrated to Okinawa following World War II; new exhibitions by Ai Weiwei and Jennifer Wen Ma; and more…

In addition to the upcoming week’s listing, here’s an event that we found out about after last week’s post:

W.O.W Maker Series Presents: Grandma’s Recipes Book Launch – Designed by NYC-based graphic designer Christal Sih and published by Singapore’s Math Paper Press, Grandma’s Recipes is a compilation of photographs, writings and a Chinese-Singaporean family’s recipes. Join us as Christal talks about her process in publishing her first recipe book inspired by and in collaboration with her grandma (who will be skyping in from Singapore!). This book launch is the first event of a series profiling different Asian American makers and creatives at Wing On Wo & Co.

Thursday, June 8, 7 PM
Wing On Wo & Co., 26 Mott Street

Additionally, you can watch on PBS online Forever Chinatown, a half-hour documentary about artist Frank Wong’s dioramas of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1940s and ’50s.  The video is available through June 7. Read more about his labor of love on Hyperallergic.

Coming up:

June 17 – The Wind Walk, a casual concert featuring works by Taiwanese composer Hung-Ping Chang.

June 18 – Lost in Shanghai, a musical play written and composed by Angel Lam that tells a story of love and intrigue in 1940s Shanghai.

June 19 – Mighty Peking Man, a 1977 HK attempt to capitalize on the 1976 movie King Kong

June 30 – July 15 – New York Asian Film Festival. The full line up was just announced this week!

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.

We’re looking for contributors!  If you’re interested in writing an article, contributing photos or artworkto be featured with our weekly events and exhibitions listing, letting us know about an event, send a pitch at


1) Eat a Bowl of Tea – Taking place in New York City’s Chinatown shortly after the Chinese Exclusion Act is lifted, newly married couple Ben Loy and Mei Oi face the challenge of choosing between traditional family values and contemporary American ideals in this romantic drama.

The New York Times said “[one] of the highest accomplishments of Eat a Bowl of Tea is [its] ability to embrace both the particulars of Chinese-American culture and its universal heart.

Dir. Wayne Wang
1989, 102 min.

Friday, June 9, 8 PM
Columbus Park, 67 Mulberry St.


2) Music From China Youth Orchestra “Take the Stage” Teen Performing Arts Festival presented by Chatham Square Library – The Music From China Youth Orchestra participates in a festival showcasing the talents of Chinese American youths to promote their cultural heritage in the Chinatown community.

Saturday, June 10, 2 PM
Chatham Square Library, Community Room, 33 East Broadway


3) Impression Formosa: A Sketchbook of Contemporary Music from Taiwan – Ilha Formosa is the Portuguese historical name for Taiwan, meaning “beautiful island.” This concert, performed by members of the acclaimed New Asia Chamber Music Society, illustrates this imagery with three pieces by Taiwanese composers, among whom Shiuan Chang and Huang-Ping Chang will be present at the performance.

Program includes:

String Quartet for Folk Tune – Shiuan Chang (張玹)
Piano Trio – Tyzen Hsiao (蕭泰然) (1938-2015)
Silk Road Fantasi String Quartet – Hung-Ping Chang (張紅蘋)
Piano Quartet No.1 in G minor, Op. 25 – J. Brahms (1833-1897)

Saturday, June 10, 4 PM
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, 1 East 42nd Street


4) The Apology – Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines were amongst thousands of girls and young women who were sexually exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, many through kidnapping, coercion and sexual slavery. Some 70 years after their imprisonment, and after decades living in silence and shame about their past, the wounds are still fresh for these three former ‘comfort women’. Despite multiple formal apologies from the Japanese government issued since the early 1990’s, there has been little justice; the courageous resolve of these women moves them to fight and seize their last chance to share first-hand accounts of the truth with their families and the world, and to ensure that this horrific chapter of history is neither repeated nor forgotten.

Dir. Tiffany Hsiung
2016, 104 min
Bisaya, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Korean

Saturday, June 10, 7 PM
IFC Center

Sunday, June 11, 8:30 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.


5) After Spring, the Tamaki Family 《海的彼端》 – A documentary about Taiwanese immigration history in Okinawa, Japan.  The Tamaki family emigrated from Taiwan before World War II and became the largest Taiwanese immigrant family in Okinawa where they were political refugees under three decades of U.S. occupation.  Spanning 80 years, the film reveals how a family waded through and survived in the tide of the vicissitudes of East Asian history.

Dir. Huang Yin-Yu
2016, 96 min.
In Taiwanese and Japanese with English subtitles


Sunday, June 11, 2 PM
Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 5th Ave.


6) Annie Chen Septet at Club Bonafide – Jazz singer Annie Chen performs original compositions and arrangements of traditional Chinese and Polish music.

Sunday, June 11, 9:30 PM
Club Bonafide, 212 E. 52nd Street


7) Complicit – Shot below the radar, Complicit follows the journey of Chinese factory migrant worker-turned-activist Yi Yeting, who takes his fight against the global electronic industry from his hospital bed to the international stage. While battling his own work-induced leukemia, Yi Yeting teaches himself labour law in order to prepare a legal challenge against his former employers. But the struggle to defend the lives of millions of Chinese people from becoming terminally ill due to working conditions necessitates confrontation with some of the world’s largest brands including Apple and Samsung. Unfortunately, neither powerful businesses nor the government are willing to have such scandals exposed.

Dirs. Heather White and Lynn Zhang
2017, 90 min.
In Mandarin with English subtitles and English

Screens as part of the Human Rights Watch Festival.

Screening followed by panel discussion with filmmaker Heather White and Todd Larsen, Executive Co-Director, Consumer and Corporate Engagement, Green America

Monday, June 12, 6:30 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.


8) Southeast the Peacocks Fly (Session 1) -In this two-session series, China Institute Senior Lecturer Ben Wang will delve into the epic narrative poem Southeast the Peacocks Fly 《孔雀东南飞》. Written by an anonymous poet at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, it is a tale in which love soars above death to defy destiny and ultimately triumphs over the strict feudal and social confines of its era. The blending of its unique theme of feminism, depicted poignantly for the first time in Chinese literature, and surpassing poetic writing technique has evoked deep sympathy in readers and has been passionately praised by generations of Chinese over the centuries.

This series is being presented in conjunction with the exhibition Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou. The lecture will be conducted in English. No previous knowledge of the Chinese language is required.

Thursday, June 15, 6:30 PM
China Institute


1) 410[Gone] – The Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America presents the New York premiere of 410[GONE] by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, the prize-winning author of The World of Extreme Happiness.  The dark and dazzling play uses comedy, Chinese mythology and cyber-imagery to explore how we release loved ones when they are gone.  The play will be acted in English with Chinese subtitles.

Where do we go when we die? In Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s dark and dazzling play, a boy named Seventeen has committed suicide and wanders into the Chinese Land of the Dead, a dominion ruled by Goddess of Mercy and Monkey King. His elder sister, Twenty-One, has been reliving the night of the suicide in order to find her lost brother. Between the lines of life and death, the siblings reflect on identity and explore heritage, but in the end, they must face the ultimate question: if there is no love without pain, what does it mean to love?

The play combines references to Chinese mythology and Chinese Opera with a wide variety of pop culture references, including the Dance Dance Revolution arcade game and pachinko arcades.  The title, 410[GONE],  refers to the http 410 status error code, “Gone,” which indicates that the requested resource has been intentionally removed and will not be available again.  We’re offered a multicultural take on the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, with death portrayed as something of a video game.  Seventeen is moving through a digitally-enanced version of the traditional Chinese underworld, encountering the Goddess of Mercy and the Monkey God, who struggle to process the impact this intruder has in their ordered world. Meanwhile, his sister is searching for a meaningful solution to the mystery of his death.  After a series of hilarious events between the lands of the living and the dead, Twenty-One finally meets Seventeen again only to realize she has to set him free.

June 2 – 18
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave.

The Goddess of Mercy and the Monkey King in ‘410[Gone]’. Photo by Hunter Canning


2) Abacus: Small Enough to Jail – From acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.

At IFC Center through June 13.

At IFC Center


If you’re in the Chelsea area, visit Fluid Horizons, the SVA Computer Art MFA thesis exhibition includes a number of Chinese students.  The show is at SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor and runs from May 30 – June 10.

Asia Society hosts Inspired by Zao Wou-Ki as part of a series of exhibitions that presents the work of New York City students created in response to the great artistic traditions of Asia.  This year the exhibition presents student artwork inspired by the Asia Society fall 2016 exhibition No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki.  The exhibition runs through August 6.

Read our review of Geng Xue’s Mount Sumeru currently on view at Klein Sun Gallery.

Opening and New Listed:

1) Hansel and Gretel (Park Avenue Armory, 6/7 – 8/6) – Pritzker Prize-winning architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron and artist/activist Ai Weiwei explore the meaning of public space in our surveillance-laden world, referencing the story of Hansel and Gretel in which the children lose their way and feel a sense of menace in a space they know and trust. The artists take advantage of the vast openness of the Drill Hall, creating a 21st century public place in which the environment is disconcerting, the entrance is unexpected, and every movement is tracked and surveyed by drones and communicated to an unknown public.

The work builds on the artists’ shared practice as designers of form and investigation (the Beijing Olympic Stadium and “quite simply the best summer Serpentine Pavilion ever” according to Time Out London) and their deep interest in the public realm whether through activism or architecture. Ai Weiwei has described their collaborations as follows: “My experience of working with Jacques and Pierre is that we never think separately. It’s like three soldiers in the war—and that’s a good feeling: we have a constant understanding.”


2) Jennifer Wen Ma: Entry Niches (Van Doren Waxter, 5/11 – 8/25) – Jennifer Wen Ma creates a new site-specific installation, Night Which Contains the Sea, for the foyer at Van Doren Waxter

This installation in two parts posits a world of duality represented in Yin and Yang, fullness and emptiness, light and dark, positive and negative space, motion and stillness. It is a freeze frame of energies in flux and establishing balance, reflected in these forms still in the process of becoming.

On one side, a form comprised of a voluminous and chaotic mass of cut black paper is suspended from the top of the recess. Cascading down from the mass are dark colored glass pieces in shapes reminiscent of teardrops, embryos, cancer cells, and other organic forms. Lowest hanging and farthest from the paper form are sperm-shaped glass.

In the mirroring niche, a single large clear glass sculpture hangs. The bulbous form is reminiscent of the breasts and buttocks of a voluptuous woman, inspired by the Venus of Willendorf. Rising up from the bottom of the niche to meet and cradle the glass form is a nest of cut paper, formed from the cut-away parts of the paper from the first niche.


Closing soon:

Liu Xiaofei: Assembly Line (ART100 New York, 4/20 – 6/10)

Saved by the Web? (Postmasters Gallery 4/29 – 6/10)

Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze (Chambers Fine Art, 4/6 – 6/17)

Geng Xue – Mount Sumeru (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/4 – 6/17)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art (QCC Art Gallery CUNY, 3/16 – 6/20) 


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.


Lin Sha (Gallery 456, 5/12 – 6/9)

Liu Xiaofei: Assembly Line (ART100 New York, 4/20 – 6/10)

Saved by the Web? (Postamsters Gallery 4/29 – 6/10)

Endurance: New Works by Xie Xiaoze (Chambers Fine Art, 4/6 – 6/17)

Geng Xue – Mount Sumeru (Klein Sun Gallery, 5/4 – 6/17)

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art (QCC Art Gallery CUNY, 3/16 – 6/20) 

Rewoven: Innovative Fiber Art – Part III (El Museo de Los Sures, 4/18 – 6/30)

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

Jennifer Wen Ma: Entry Niches (Van Doren Waxter, 5/11 – 8/25)

Age of Empires: Chinese Art of Qin and Han Dynasties (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 4/3 – 7/16)

Jennifer Wen Ma: Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted (Sandra Gering Inc, 5/11 – 7/28)

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

Hansel and Gretel (Park Avenue Armory, 6/7 – 8/6)

Body, Self, Society – Chinese Performance Photography of the 1990s (The Walther Collection, 4/14 – 8/19)

Informality (group show with Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong, NYFA Gallery, 5/4 – 9/1)

Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant (Museum of Food and Drink Lab, 11/11/16 – 9/3/17)

Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/6/2016 – 9/10/17) 

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

Ian Cheng (MoMA PS1, 4/9 – 9/25)

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: Ciqikou (磁器口) in Chongqing. Photo from Tauno Tõhk’s Flickr.  Licensed through Creative Commons