NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: July 14 – July 20, 2017

Xu Bing – Phoenix

This week: Seven Chinese-films are part of the New York Asian Film Festival’s closing weekend; Gong Linna and Bang on a Can All-Stars re-interpret Chinese music and poetry; a Chinese band who had Brian Eno play on their first EP; and a musical about the Kowloon Walled City.

New exhibitions include Sun Xun in Times Square; New York-based artists Lin Wang and Ye Qin Zhu; and video art by Ye Funa.

Be sure to see Considerate Creations: Chameleons – Part II at Gallery 456 and Age of Empires: Chinese Art of Qin and Han Dynasties at The Metropolitan Museum of Art before they close on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Coming up:

July 21 – Dinner with the co-curators of MoCA’s exhibition, Sour, Sweet, Spicy, Bitter.

July 26 – August 5 – Asian American International Film Festival

July 27 – Taiwan Excellence Product Showcase

July 29 – Taiwanese bands Fire Ex, Dadado Huang + Berry j, and Sangpuy at Taiwanese Waves.

August 4 and 7 – Death Ray on Coral Island 《珊瑚岛上的死光》, China’s first sci-fi movie 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.  For art, images, and other instances of Chineseness we see, follow our Instagram page.

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


1) Cloud River Mountain – Eclectic vocalist Gong Linna joins the daring Bang on a Can All-Stars for two performances at the Lincoln Center Festival.

On Cloud River Mountain, she sings in both Mandarin and English over the groove-driven melodies and lush soundscapes of the All-Stars, weaving ancient Chinese storytelling together with Western songwriting in a raucous musical mix. Inspired by the verses of classical Chinese poet Qu Yuan, these seven songs channel the mystical stories of the past and merge them with the churning, clanging sounds of the future.

Friday, July 14, 8 PM
Saturday, July 15, 8 PM
Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 W. 59th St.


2) Duckweed 《乘风破浪》  Within the flood of recent Chinese films about father-son reconciliation, Duckweed is the most playful, powered by the easy charm of two of China’s most in-demand stars. After a reckless encounter with a fast-moving train in 2022, arrogant rally driver Tailang (Deng Chao, the one-man environmental hazard from Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid) is transported back to 1998, and enlisted into the gang led by his own father Zhengtai (Eddie Peng, taking a break from the gym to show his comedic chops). An existential crisis hits when Tailang realizes that future mother is not yet on the scene, even though she must get pregnant soon before his father is imprisoned for six years. Highlights of their familial bonding include a farcical bedroom seduction scene. Han Han’s follow-up to his poetic The Continent accelerated past the billion yuan ($150 million) milestone domestically and boasts a rare 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Dir. Han Han
2017, China, 101 min.
In Mandarin with English subtitles

Co-presented with Confucius Institute Headquarters and China Institute.

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Saturday, July 15, 12:30 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


3) Mrs. K  This could very well be the spectacular action-movie swan song for Hong Kong actress Kara Wai. An amazing icon of 1970s and 1980s Shaw Brothers films, she’s reunited with Ho Yuhang, with whom she worked on the celebrated 2009 drama At the End of Daybreak. Whatever the eponymous Mrs. K might have been, she isn’t anymore. Comfortably settled in her role as loving housewife, she lives a suburban existence focused on her family—her gynecologist husband (Taiwan rocker Wu Bai) and her daughter (Siow Li Xuan). She is slowly easing into the idle pleasures of semi-retirement. But her peace is short-lived: a former associate (Simon Yam) from Macau has found her in her exile and is seeking retribution for a past misdeed. To save her kidnapped daughter, Mrs. K will have to return to her former bad-ass self.

Dir. Ho Yuhang
2016, Malaysia, 96 min.
In Cantonese, Mandarin, Malay, and English with English subtitles

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Saturday, July 15, 5:30 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


4) Vampire Cleanup Department 《救僵清道夫》– Deep within Hong Kong lies a secret government department dedicated to vampire busting. The headquarters of the Vampire Cleanup Department (VCD) are situated directly beneath an ordinary garbage collection station, and its officers are street cleaners by day. After being attacked, and then rescued by VCD, a nerdy teen (Babyjohn Choi) learns that he’s immune to vampire toxins. Recruited by VCD, he falls in love with a beautiful vampire (Penang-born Lin Min-chen) on his very first mission. Instead of stabbing her through the heart—which after all now belongs to him—he secretly trains her to be human again. This tongue-in-cheek debut feature by directors Chiu Sin-hang and Yan Pak-wing (screenwriter of Full Strike, NYAFF 2015) is a throwback to old-school comedies, featuring a heady mix of newcomers and veterans including Richard Ng, Yuen Cheung-yan, and Chin Siu-ho, the original Mr. Vampire.

Dir. Yan Pak-wing, Chiu Sin-hang
2017, Hong Kong, 94 min.
In Cantonese with English subtitles

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Saturday, July 15, 10 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


5) Godspeed 《一路順風》  Writer, director, and screenwriter Chung Mong-hong delivers a wry comedy of manners in the guise of a gangster noir. A sadsack slacker and small-time crook (Na Dow) is tasked by a taciturn mob boss to traffic a package down south; unable to find a proper means of transport, he is practically forced by old cabbie Lao Xu (Hong Kong comedy legend Michael Hui) to be his fare for the cross-country journey. What ensues is a postmodern reinvention of the comedic double act as the pair of unsuspecting drug mules incessantly bicker over money, share strange anecdotes about the meaning of life, and suffer an endless run of bad luck largely due to Lao Xu’s chronically poor decision-making. Meanwhile, the southern gangsters they are driving toward are having an existential crisis of their own, in a bloody maelstrom of plastic-wrapped furniture, chainsaw-unfriendly motorbike helmets, and vicious dog-eat-dog betrayal.

Dir. Chung Mong-hong
2016, Taiwan, 111 min.
In Mandarin, Taiwanese, Thai with English subtitles

Presented with the support of the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York.

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Sunday, July 16, 1 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


6) With Prisoners 《同囚》– Andrew Wong’s film about juvenile delinquents can be viewed as a companion piece to Herman Yau’s equally raw and powerful From the Queen to the Chief Executive (2001). Based on true stories, both argue that a society should be judged on how it treats its weakest. Young gang leader Fan (Neo Yau) is sentenced to three months of detention after scuffling with a drunken, off-duty cop who was publicly abusing his girlfriend. Senior staff members at Sha Tsui Detention Center don’t believe in rehabilitation but nevertheless practice Margaret Thatcher’s “short, sharp shock” method of reeducation, without Britain’s post-1997 reforms. The youths are dehumanized, routinely beaten and, at one point, even forced to eat their lunch menus (ketchup last!). The best advice that the rebellious Fan gets is to conform and wait until he’s 24 to commit crimes—so he can be sent to a prison that respects human rights.

Dir. Andrew Wong Kwok-kuen
2017, Hong Kong, 100 min.
In Cantonese with English subtitles

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Sunday, July 16, 3:20 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


7) Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight 《今晚打喪屍》 – Geeks become the unlikely heroes of their own comic book fantasies when the zombie apocalypse comes to Hong Kong. Lung (Michael Ning, Port of Call) lives with single-mom Shan (Carrie Ng, Naked Killer) in an abandoned theater. He partners with his comic sidekick (Louis Cheung), hot cousin (Cherry Ngan), prodigal dad (Alex Man), and an abandoned bride (Venus Wong) to fight back with innovative weapons including homemade flying guillotines. The comedy is fast and loose, with real estate agents its particularly hilarious targets. Produced by Clement Cheng (Gallants, NYAFF 2010), this riotous crowd-pleaser is developed from director Alan Lo’s debut short Zombie Guillotines (2012), a do-it-yourself guide to weaponing up for Z-Day with everyday objects in a hair salon. Fans of The Walking Dead may think they’ve witnessed every trick in the zombie playbook. They’re wrong. They haven’t yet encountered a giant alien chicken that lays explosive golden eggs.

Dir. Alan Lo
2017, Hong Kong, 107 min.
In Cantonese with English subtitles.

Q&A with director Alan Lo and actress Carrie Ng. North American Premiere.

Screens as part of the New York Asian Film Festival.

Sunday, July 16, 5:30 PM
SVA Theatre, 333 W. 23rd Street


8) Qing Cheng/Dark City – A young refugee girl arrives penniless and alone in what appears to be the most frightening place on earth, Qing Cheng – the Dark City. Follow Ahn’s journey as the harrowing becomes habitable, and hope and humanity triumph in a dangerous city. Based on the real-life Kowloon Walled City just outside of Hong Kong, this uniquely Chinese/American musical offers up a timely exploration of the refugee experience.

Book, music, and lyrics by contemporary American classical composer Daniel Walker who has worked with Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau, composed Marco Polo: The Last Mission, which premiered by the Shanghai Ballet Company as part of the opening festival of China’s World Expo, and arranged music for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Thursday, July 20, 7 PM
The Green Room 42 at Yotel, 570 Tenth Avenue


9) Re-TROS with The Great Sunshine Buddha, Simon Doom – Re-TROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) began in the underground music scene of Nanjing, China in 2004. Lead singer/guitar/keys Hua Dong had just returned from studying abroad in Germany and was drumming for seminal Chinese post-punk band P.K.14 when he formed the band with bassist Liu Min, now his wife. Soon, the couple moved to Beijing, enrolled a local drummer, and began playing out in Beijing clubs.

The band quickly caught the attention of Beijing’s Modern Sky Records and were signed to the label in 2005. Shortly thereafter, they recorded their first EP ‘Cut Off!’ in Modern Sky’s then basement studio, with keyboard contributions by a visiting Brian Eno. The record received critical praise in China, and soon the band was playing sold-out shows to a growing legion of die-hard fans.

Thursday, July 20, 8 PM
Baby’s All Right, 146 Broadway, Brooklyn


1) New York Asian Film Festival – Get wooed by die-hard romantics, unnerved by devil children, and bear witness to the fury of angry young men on paths of destruction in the sweet sixteenth edition of the New York Asian Film Festival. Wild cinematic outings that always have something to say about the human condition, this summer’s crop of titles range from the heartwarming to the desperately dark. Dive headfirst into the raging sea of talent from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and across South East Asia—filmmakers unafraid to take on controversial subjects and explore complex emotions.

The festival runs from June 30 – July 16 at Film Society Lincoln Center and SVA Theatre.  Read about our recommended films here.


2) Our Time Will Come 《明月幾時有》 – Set in the 1940s, the film tells the story of a legendary woman “Fang Gu”, who is one of the key figures during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. It also portrays the fight and struggle for freedom and independence by youths of the resistance groups. (Wikipedia)

The Hollywood Reporter says: “While not without its longueurs or tonal inconsistencies, the film is a beautifully mounted and emotionally engaging piece. But its discreet aesthetics might be out of sync with audience tastes in both mainland China and Hong Kong, even though it should generate a better reception there than the much longer and more obtuse The Golden Era.”

At AMC Empire 25


Opening and New Listed:

1) Sun Xun: Time Spy (Times Square, 7/1 – 7/31) – Times Square Arts presents artist Sun Xun’s Time Spy on Times Square’s electronic billboards from 11:57 p.m. to midnight every night in July. This project is a part of Midnight Moment, a monthly presentation by The Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts.

A violin with wings flies through a sky filled with spinning moons, while rotating machinery gives way to strange landscapes and pressure valves. These chimerical images come together in Sun Xun’s Time Spy, a 3D animated film created from thousands of individual hand-carved woodcuts. Hundreds of Chinese art students assisted Xun in carving each frame of the film, juxtaposing traditional and analog illustration methods with modern 3D animation across digital screens in a way that turns the antithetical into the elegant. The film employs images of traditional Chinese themes like the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth) in a symbolic exploration of the nature of time and how we try to make sense of it.

Free 3D glasses will be distributed every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for passersby to view the animated film in three dimensions.


2) The Cosmos of Seeds: Paintings, Sculptures, and a Chapbook “Sculptures Of Arhat” by Ye Qin Zhu (The Hand, 7/8-7/29) – Ye Qin Zhu was born in Taishan, China (1986). He earned his BFA from The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art (2010). He was the director of Redwood Arts Studio (2014 – 2016), where he taught drawing and painting to the kids in the community he grew up in, Sunset Park Brooklyn. In 2012 he co-founded Socotra Studio, a collaborative design and build studio. Ye Qin is the program coordinator of Art Palestine International (2008 – 2012 and 2016 – present), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to exhibiting contemporary Palestinian art.

“My work tells the story of emergence. Pieces begin from less than a thought, arising seemingly from nowhere. How they appear is owed to all that is folding and unfolding, decaying and emerging. Their telling and retelling collapses the “here” and “present” with the groundless and boundless, opening worlds foreign yet familiar, evident yet unlikely. There are traces of natural law, hints of a living universe, and symbols that weave in and out of every piece.

My chapbook “Sculptures Of Arhat” develops this pattern through watercolors, proses, and poems. From the inkling of ideas and emotions, various worlds mature and become interwoven.”

Ye Qin Zhu, Warp (detail), 2017, mixed media on panel.


3) Ye Funa: An Alternative Cinema (Metro Pictures, 7/13 – 7/30) – Metro Pictures invites Ye Funa to exhibit at 83 Pitt Street works conceived during her current residency with the K11 Art Foundation (KAF). Working without a brick-and-mortar space as KAF’s Online Resident Artist, Ye has organized the One Second Film Festival—an open-call video festival for Instagram and Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of the app. An Alternative Cinema at 83 Pitt Street manifests the project as a video installation comprising hundreds of submitted videos displayed across smartphones, tablets and monitors in a deluge of information that reflects the visual welter of our digital age.

Along with the installation, Ye presents a new work titled Flying Dance. Consisting of a 30-minute video and photographs, she performs various female roles based on characters from popular Chinese television shows.

Opening reception: July 13, 6-8 PM, 83 Pitt Street. Open Thursdays 12 – 6 and by appointment.


4) Lin Wang: Tenant, Tranant, Trance (Gallery Sensei, 7/18 – 7/20) – In Tenant, Tranant, Trance​, “tranant,” taking components from its two adjacent words, coincides with a variant of “trānō,” a Latin word meaning “permeate” or “penetrate.” The sequence sounds like balderdash. Whereas it epitomizes the process of a being transforming from a corporeal, concrete body into what is fluid and elusive. With the above as a premise, Lin Wang​ creates a psychedelic domestic setting that is breathing vigorously. What unfolds in front of the spectator is an array of home appliances. The corporeal traces of some “prior tenants” are left in these machines, underneath which secret souls form and grow.

Opening reception:  July 18, Tuesday, 6 -8 PM, Gallery Sensei, 135 Eldridge St.


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.

Ceramicist Heidi Lau is part of Morph, a group show at Asya Geisberg Gallery of contemporary ceramic sculpture.  The artists in Morph paint expressionistically with glaze, weave in hair, inlay surfaces, squash perfect forms, recombine tchotchkes, and subvert genres heedless of strict boundaries.  The exhibition runs through August 11.


Closing soon:

Considerate Creations: Chameleons – Part II (Gallery 456, 6/16 – 7/14)

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

Dongze Huo in the Connective Project (Rose Garden in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 7/7 – 7/17)

Installation view, the Connective Project, photo by Dongze Huo.

Lin Wang: Tenant, Tranant, Trance (Gallery Sensei, 7/18 – 7/20)

Summer Selections (Art Projects International, 6/21 – 7/22)

Shanlin Ye & KAORUKO: On the Verge (Jim Kempner Fine Art, 6/17 – 7/23)


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.

Considerate Creations: Chameleons – Part II (Gallery 456, 6/16 – 7/14)

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

Dongze Huo in the Connective Project (Rose Garden in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 7/7 – 7/17)

NSFW: Female Gaze (Museum of Sex, 6/21 – TBC)

Lin Wang: Tenant, Tranant, Trance (Gallery Sensei, 7/18 – 7/20)

Summer Selections (Art Projects International, 6/21 – 7/22)

Shanlin Ye & KAORUKO: On the Verge (Jim Kempner Fine Art, 6/17 – 7/23)

Mountain River Jump! (山河跳) – Reality Check 《鬥法》(Sleep Center, 6/10 – 7/25)

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

Material Mythos (Geary Contemporary, 6/22 – 7/29)

Drea Cofield & Ping Zheng: Summer 2017 (Nancy Margolis Gallery, 6/29 – 7/29)

The Cosmos of Seeds: Paintings, Sculptures, and a Chapbook “Sculptures Of Arhat” by Ye Qin Zhu (The Hand, 7/8 – 7/29)

Ye Funa: An Alternative Cinema (Metro Pictures, 7/13 – 7/30)

Nightshift (The Clemente, 7/8 – 7/31)

Sun Xun: Time Spy  (Times Square, 7/1 – 7/31)

A New Ballardian Vision (Metro Pictures x Leo Xu Projects, 6/29 – 8/4)

Ji Zhou: Real Illusion (Klein Sun Gallery, 6/22 – 8/5)

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)

Morph (Asya Geisberg Gallery, 6/22 – 8/11)

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

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

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

Transitions: Dong Yuan, Lam Tung-pang and Lao Tongli (Chambers Fine Art, 6/22 – 9/2)

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)

Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou (China Institute, 5/25 – 11/12/17)

Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong – Constellation (Seward Park, June 2017 – June 2018)

Lead image: Xu Bing – Phoenix at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York in 2014. Both a symbol of China’s glittery rise in the late 20th century and an homage to the labor contributed to it, the work consists of a pair of phoenixes, male and female, constructed from over 12 tons of debris, leftover building materials, and tools from constructions sites around China and lined with thousands of LED lights. 

Here, the 90 and 100-foot birds are suspended as if in flight in the cathedral’s enormous nave. Xu has said “The birds have different meanings in different places. This cathedral is monumental and very lofty, and the phoenixes now have a sacred quality.”