NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: December 8 – December 14, 2017

We’re back after an unintended two-week hiatus!  What did we miss?  Were we missed?

This week: Three 4+ hour long films, including one of our favorites, A Brighter Summer Day; a talk about the history of Chinese opera theaters in Chinatown, new exhibitions featuring local artists, the last weekend to see Zhu Yi’s look at transnational Chinese, A Deal; and more….

Also, Liu Jiayin’s Oxhide, which would have been on last week’s event and exhibition post, is at the Francesca Beale Theater at Lincoln Center Wednesday, December 6 at 8:30 PM as part of the series The Non-Actor.  In Liu Jiayin’s first film, over the course of 23 carefully choreographed shots, we watch the young filmmaker, her parents, and their cat act out a thinly fictionalized version of the life they share in a cramped Beijing apartment, where her father makes leather handbags.  Cinema-cope called the film an “astonishing diptych” through which “Liu’s wit, originality, and ingenious deployment of time and space masterfully demonstrate how the handmade and artisanal can exemplify a rare beauty of form”.

Also on December 6, the New York chapter of Young China Watchers hosts a discussion about Chinese students, now numbering 330,000, studying at US universities, what is driving the influx of Chinese students and what it means for American higher education, Chinese and American students alike, and the prospect for a smoother U.S.-China relationship.

Coming up:

Our first ever holiday gift guide featuring gift ideas relating to Chinese culture or by Chinese/Chinese Americans

December 19 – A concert by the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York showcasing the modern sounds of traditional Chinese instruments paired with Western and electronic instruments

December 22 – The 9th annual Echo Music Festival, showcases the best independent Asian artists

December 22 – Composers JunYi Chow and Steve Hui explore the link between soundscape and expression

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 us on Instagram.

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) Petition 《上访》– This long-form documentary in three acts begins in 1996 and ends with the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The first act depicts the difficulties facing petitioners at the Beijing South Railway Station Petition Office and the contradictory nature of the petition system; the second act focuses on a mother and daughter as they undertake the petition process from 1996 to 2008, illustrating how the system brings suffering and tragedy to their lives; and the third act follows petitioners living near the Beijing South Railway Station as they face forced eviction and the demolition of their homes to ensure smooth operations of the Olympic Games.

Dir. Zhao Liang (赵亮)
2009, China, 315 min.
Mandarin with English subtitles

Part of the film festival Turn It On: China on Film, 2000–2017 co-curated by Ai Weiwei and Wang Fen

Read the New York Timesreview of an abridged version of the film.

Friday, December 8, 12:00 PM
Guggenheim Museum


2) Chinatown Night Market hosted by Ed Lin – Come celebrate the reissue of Ed Lin’s 70s Chinatown crime trio–This Is a BustSnakes Can’t Run, and One Red Bastard. Admission includes a night of amazing food and copies of the first two books in paperbacks sporting a snazzy redesign by award-winning firm Spoon + Fork.

Friday, December 8, 6:30 PM
Museum Of Chinese In America


3) Jiabiangou Elegy: Life and Death of the Rightists 《夹边沟祭事》 – Jiabiangou Elegy recounts the persecution of inmates at the Jiabiangou labor camp in Jiuquan, Gansu province, and examines the way the victims’ final affairs were handled. During the Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957–59, over three thousand people were sent to Jiabiangou for re-education through labor. These people were labeled rightists, counterrevolutionaries, and anti-party dissidents. Over a three-year period, more than two thousand died from abuse and hunger; only a few hundred were rescued in the end. The film includes interviews with the few remaining Jiabiangou survivors and their children, and presents the conflict between the preservation and destruction of memory.

Directed by Ai Xiaoming (艾晓明)
2017, China, 409 min.
Mandarin with Chinese and English subtitles

Part of the film festival Turn It On: China on Film, 2000–2017 co-curated by Ai Weiwei and Wang Fen

Saturday, December 9, 12 PM
Guggenheim Museum


4) The World of Chinatown Theaters  – Nancy Rao, author of Chinatown Opera Theater in North America, a new book about the world of Chinatown theaters in New York and San Francisco and professor of music at Rutgers University, discusses the enormous complex story of these theaters. On the one hand, the elements outside of the theaters— impresarios competing for performers and audiences and business organizations facilitating the performances—and on the other hand, the world inside the theater, including Cantonese opera, stellar performers, legends and music.

Rao says, “Whether for young children and their families, men and women doing work at laundries or merchants and store owners, Cantonese opera was an important form of musical utterance. Few other genres matched opera songs as apt expressions of mood, values and feelings for them. In particular, during the period of renaissance in the 1920s, live performance was still the most important form of entertainment and theaters the largest gathering place in the community.”

Saturday, December 9, 2:30 PM
Museum of Chinese in America


5) A Brighter Summer Day 《牯嶺街少年殺人事件》– A deeply personal epic comparable in scope and impact to the Godfather movies and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, Yang’s extraordinary memory film stretches tautly over four hours of screen time and more than 100 speaking parts. Set in the early 1960s (Yang’s own teenage years) and inspired by the true story of Taiwan’s first juvenile homicide case, the film follows rebellious teenager Xiao Si’r (the debut role of Chen Chang, years before appearing in Happy Together and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) as he comes of age amid rival street gangs and the “White Terror” witch hunts of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang government. Few movies more readily call to mind the great, sprawling novels of the 19th century and their portraits of ordinary individuals caught in the maelstrom of a changing society.

Dir. Edward Yang (楊德昌)
1991, Taiwan, 237 min.
Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Shanghainese

Saturday, December 9, 4 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.


6) Screening with Ting Liu and Saba Riazi – Two films by NYU film school grads that look at the experiences of foreigners settling down in America.

Saturday, December 9, 6 PM
HB Playwrights Theater, 124 Bank Street


7) Chinese Landscape Paintings in Color Materials – Chinese landscape paintings are traditionally done using black ink, but Yu Hanyu, President of the Benyuan Academy of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy in Beijing, is one of the practitioners who apply color materials such as cinnabar and dust gold to their works. At this lecture, Mr. Yu will discuss the history and development of this style of painting, partially illustrated with his own paintings. Yu Hanyu has held major exhibitions in and out of China; his paintings are in the collections of major art institutions in China.

This lecture will be conducted in Chinese, with no interpretation. Free, but advance registration is requested.

Sunday, December 10, 2 PM
China Institute


8) CAAM’s & PBS’s: Who is American? The Chinese Exclusion Act – Join for a free screening of the preview of Center for Asian American Media’s (CAAM) & PBS’s “Who is American? The Chinese Exclusion Act” set to debut in 2018.

Read more about it here:

Sunday, December 10, 3 PM
21 Pell Street


9) 店面 Residency: Make & Film Shadow Puppets – W.O.W.  店面 Artist-in-Residence Emily Mock leads a papercutting workshop on Saturday and a shadow puppet workshop on Sunday.  The works from the workshops will be incorporated into a month-long window display at the Wing On Wo & Co. storefront window.

Sunday, December 10, 5 PM
Wing On Wo & Co. basement studio, 26 Mott Street


1) A Deal – Like many new upper-middle-class Chinese families, Mr. and Mrs. Li are proud to give their only daughter a life they could only dream of (an Ivy League degree in art and an apartment in Manhattan), until they realize she’s turning into a dangerous stranger.

A Deal is a dark comedy that features a Chinese family’s home buying journey in New York in winter 2015, a time of increased real estate property ownership by overseas Chinese and a sharp decline in the value of the Chinese yuan against the US dollar. It reveals the ideological conflicts between the East and the West in contemporary society by tracking a little stream of the global cash flow.

This is the first Off-Broadway production for international known playwright Zhu Yi and A Deal will simultaneously tour China in Mandarin.

November 15 – December 10
Urban Stages, 259 W 30th St.


2) M. Butterfly  – The first Broadway revival of David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning play stars Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Award winner Clive Owen as Rene Gallimard, Jin Ha as Song Liling and is directed by Tony Award winner Julie Taymor. M. Butterfly, charts the scandalous romance between a married French diplomat and a mysterious Chinese opera singer – a remarkable love story of international espionage and personal betrayal. Their 20-year relationship pushed and blurred the boundaries between male and female, east and west – while redefining the nature of love and the devastating cost of deceit.

talks about how the play has always been more than the salacious story on which it is based and how it remains provocative through 30 years of shifting social views and geopolitics

Through February 25, 2018
Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th Street


Group Shows and Local Artists:

Wang Xu is one of the artists at The 2017 Socrates AnnualThe Socrates Annual – formerly known as The Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition – is an annual exhibition of new public art that addresses the most urgent issues of today.

Chinese Indonesian artist FX Harsono is one of the artists in Asia Society’s After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History which runs from September 8, 2017 – January 21, 2018.  A frequent theme in his work is about being part of the ethnic Chinese minority in the country.  From the exhibition page:


Opening and Newly Listed:

1) Cai Dongdong: Photography Autocracy (Klein Sun Gallery, 11/30/17 – 1/6/18) – With a strong background in photography and image production theory, Cai Dongdong’s practice reaches beyond photography – it is a topology of image. In Cai’s installations, a photograph may serve strictly as a reference point or a gateway towards the story Cai is constructing or reconstructing.

Works of master photographers such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore, and Lewis Wickes Hine have the ability to pull viewers into a particular time or location. Part of this power came from the fact that these photographers lived contemporaneously with their photos. On the contrary, images used in Cai’s work often came from a time before Cai was born, a nostalgically tumultuous time in China. The world presented by Cai is not a full reconstruction of the old times, but a paradoxical coexistence of the past and the current. When you start a conversation with Cai’s work, you will gradually realize its subtle compatibility away from the world that the work is seemingly set up in – this is when the utopia of the past is breached. To Cai, images nowadays subconsciously exert an autocratic control over people’s mind the same way that he applies a variety of artistic techniques to make all the images in his work “act against their will”.

Opening reception; Thursday, November 30, 6 – 8 PM, 525 West 22nd St.

Cai Dongdong, The Mountain Cutters, 2017. Gelatin silver print, stones, wood20 © Cai Dongdong, courtesy Klein Sun Gallery


2) What do you see?—Contemporary Art from Taiwan (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York, 11/30/17 – 1/26/18) – The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York is pleased to announce What do you see?—Contemporary Art from Taiwan, a two-month long exhibition showcasing artwork from seven Taiwanese artists on the subject of reality and the ways in which we interpret our reality through sight and language. The artists explore and examine reality by incorporating their experience and understanding of history and their social environment. The exhibition hopes to create a dialogue with local artists and foster cultural exchange and collaboration between Taiwanese artists and their international peers.

This marks the first time that works from Art Bank, Taiwan will be shown in New York. A program under the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Art Bank aims to promote artistic creation and the cultivation of Taiwanese artists through a public collection program.

Curator: Yan-Huei Chen
Artists: Teng-Yuan Chang, Qing-Yao Chen, I-Ting Hou, Yu-An Liao, Pei-Shih Tu, Yi-Li Yeh and Goang-Ming Yuan


3) Lin Yan: Gateway (Fou Gallery, 12/2 – 1/21/18) – For this exhibition, Lin Yan creates a total environment with ink and Xuan paper representing the architectural elements of the early 20th century brownstone apartment of the Fou Gallery. Lin molds the architectural features out of ink and Xuan paper in the parlor room such as foliated moldings surrounding the windows, an embellished radiator, a hollowed-out fireplace, ornamental details of the ceiling, and a double door––the gateway to the gallery. Sculpted paper paintings will be installed in juxtaposition with this portal and the space’s windows. Negative spaces enclosed in these crafted paper become filled with spirituality awakened by natural and artificial lights. Lin changes our relationships with ordinary objects and enriches our everyday realities with art. The exhibition also presents some of Lin’s recent smaller works.

Lin Yan – ‘Silent Sound’ (detail), 2017. Xuan paper and ink. 174 x 46 x 12 in. (443 x 117 x 30 cm)


4) Re-Re-positioning the Present (International Studio & Curatorial Program Project Space, 12/5 – 2/16/18) – Curated by ISCP alumna Hsiang-Ning Huang in ISCP’s Project Space, featuring work by the contemporary Taiwanese artist known as “Shake.” The exhibition aims to address the complex political reality of Taiwan, historically located on the boundaries of different empires.

During a half century of Japanese colonization from 1895-1945, Taiwan served as a base for Japan, and place to maneuver to the south. After the end of World War II, the exiled government from China took over Taiwan. During the Cold War, Taiwan became part of the frontier for the US to fend off Communist powers. As neoliberalism has arisen, the empire assumes yet another new face.

Shake’s work draws from a variety of sources such as historical archives, poetry and personal memoirs, and tries to reach identity, territorial, cultural and institutional issues. Re-Re-positioning the Present features a series of video installations collected under the title The Subduction Zone, where Shake employs unique Taiwanese topography as a metaphor to represent the island’s geopolitical history and present condition, using a mesmerizing depiction of tectonic plates, as well as archives, poems, and military songs sung in schools. In An Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier, the main materials will be archives and personal writings from the post-WWII period to the Cold War period. The project aims to represent the conflicts and ruptures that occurred during the process of redefining the imperial boundaries. In addition to presenting a comprehensive picture of the historical and legal context with the archives, it also examines life experiences on the island of Taiwan through personal writings as well as how these experiences have formed and changed being contained and excluded by the Empire.

Shake, The Subduction Zone Series, Our Status Quo, (video still), 2016, FHD video installation with surround sound and color, 4 min, 5 sec. Courtesy of the artist.


5) Roadside Picnic – The Zone (Chambers Fine Art, 12/14 – 1/27/18) – A group exhibition of Chinese artists living in New York, curated by Hiroshi Sunairi and Yixin (Sam) Gong.

The title of the exhibition is taken from a short science fiction novel written by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky in 1971. The 1979 art film Stalker directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, is loosely based on the novel, with a screenplay written by the Strugatsky brothers. Set in the indefinite future, the Stalker works as a guide who leads people through the “Zone”, an area in which the normal laws of reality do not apply. Touching upon themes of displacement and changing realities, the curators will present the work of 10 artists: Chang Yuchen, Lang Zhang, Miranda Fengyuan Zhang, Tan Tian, Tiger Chengliang Cai, Tingying Ma (in collaboration with Tina Wang and Kang Kang), Wang Tuo, Yi Xin Tong, Wei Xiaoguang, and Weigang Song.

Compared to the practices of Chinese artists represented in much of the current Western art scene, these artists, educated in the United States, create works that defy the ‘exoticization’ of their Chinese-ness. Their use of diverse art mediums, including painting, video, film, installation, performance, dance, drawing, and sculpture are fused with personal, idiosyncratic, theoretical, formal, satirical, poetic and ineffable contents.

“As the title implies, ROADSIDE PICNIC is the food meant to be eaten on an excursion by the side of a road. Where does this road lead to within the New York art world, to a maturity of style and content back in China, or toward becoming the leading voices of contemporary discourse?  ROADSIDE PICNIC is a celebration of the state in flux as our global world rattles anxiously and attentively”.

Wei Xiaoguang – ‘Untitled (Caves)’, 2017. Oil on canvas, 46 x 60 in. (117 x 152 cm)


6) Momentos-Captured Memories (BIGGERCODE Gallery, 12/1 – 12/15) – aAn experimental group exhibition featuring works from Ning Fang, Gina Hong, Weiyi Quan and Yesiyu Zhao. All artists are SVA (School of Visual Arts) students and graduates, who represent the New York art scene in four different categories: painting, sculpture, design and lightening. These young artists have created works that act like a refreshment in the industry. Their creations focus on the currently matters and self-recognition, instead of ideas that have been explored by many predecessors.



Closing soon:

Guo Hongwei: Plastic Heaven (Chambers Fine Art, 11/16 – 12/9)

Li Jun: Zi Jie at East Lake (ACAW x Mana Contemporary, 10/15 – 12/15)

Song Dong: Eating the City (ACAW x Mana Contemporary, 10/15 – 12/15)

Brook Hsu: Panic Angel (Deli Gallery, 11/17 – 12/22)

Uncharted Waters (Boers-Li Gallery, 10/6 – 12/23)

Current shows:

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

Li Jun: Zi Jie at East Lake (ACAW x Mana Contemporary, 10/15 – 12/15)

Song Dong: Eating the City (ACAW x Mana Contemporary, 10/15 – 12/15)

Momentos-Captured Memories (BIGGERCODE Gallery, 12/1 – 12/15)

Brook Hsu: Panic Angel (Deli Gallery, 11/17 – 12/22)

Uncharted Waters (Boers-Li Gallery, 10/6 – 12/23)

Cai Dongdong: Photography Autocracy (Klein Sun Gallery, 11/30/17 – 1/6/18)

Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World (Guggenheim Museum, 10/6/17 – 1/8/18)

Lin Yan: Gateway (Fou Gallery, 12/2 – 1/21/18)

What do you see?—Contemporary Art from Taiwan (Taipei Cultural and Economic Center, 11/30/17 – 1/26/18)

Roadside Picnic – The Zone (Chambers Fine Art, 12/14 – 1/27/18)

Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (multiple sites NYC, 10/12/17 – 2/1/18)

Re-Re-positioning the Present (International Studio & Curatorial Program Project Space, 12/5 – 2/16/18)

Patty Chang: The Wandering Lake, 2009 – 2017 (Queens Museum, 9/17/17 – 2/18/18)

chin(A)frica: an interface (NYU, Institute of Fine Arts, 10/27/17 – 2/18/18)

FOLD: Golden Venture Paper Sculptures (Museum of Chinese in America, 10/5 /17 – 3/25/18)

In Focus: An Assembly of Gods (Asia Society Museum, 9/26/17 – 3/25/18)

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

Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 10/21/17 – 7/22/18)

Streams and Mountains without End: Landscape Traditions of China (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/26/17 – 1/9/19)

Lead image: Preparation of lamb paomo, a Shaanxi speciality, is stew of hand-torn bread (called mo ) cooked in lamb broth and served with lamb meat