NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: December 15 – December 21, 2017

Andy Enero – Macau

This week: Lots and lots of films, including Feng Xiaogang’s government-delayed Youth, documentaries selected by Ai Weiwei, and classics such as In the Mood for Love (preceded by an interpretation by artist Ming Wong) and The Goddess; Chinese instruments meet a new generation of musicians and composers; a group show about Hong Kong identity; and more….

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) The Road 《大路朝天》 – In 2010 builders broke ground on the Xu-Huai Highway, a section of China’s 100,000-kilometer highway system in the mountainous western region of Hunan province. Zhang Zanbo spent more than three years at the construction site filming the conditions of the migrant laborers, contractors, officials, and local residents there. The rise of this highway has been marked by frequent public security incidents, acts of resistance, and mafia interventions. The construction has laid the landscape and many historical and cultural sites to waste. As this miracle of modern engineering takes shape, it offers an apt allegory for the dreams of a nation.

Dir. Zhang Zanbo 《张赞波》
China, 2015, 94 min.
Mandarin and Hunan dialect 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

Friday, December 15, 12:00 PM
Guggenheim Museum


2) Silver City《白银》-Because of the West-East Gas Pipeline project and the so-called village urbanization campaign, the people of a long-isolated town in northwest China are removed, by force and deceit, from the land that has sheltered them for generations. The real protagonist of this film is the desolate land that stands in for the restlessness and helplessness of the people.

Directed by Li Peifeng (李沛峰)
2009, China, 98 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

Friday, December 15, 1:35 PM
Guggenheim Museum


3) Dream Walking《梦游》– This film follows four artists living on the margins of society whose passionate discussions belie their stark and impoverished living conditions. The subjects are performance artist Li Wake, painters Wang Yongping and Ding Defu, and poet Motou Beibei, who is hailed online as a genius but in reality works as a security guard. Overcome by ennui, lost in the uncertainties of their everyday lives and their artistic identities, the artists express certain hopelessness.

Directed by Huang Wenhai (黄文海)
2005, China, 86 min.
Mandarin with English subtitles, 86 min.

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

Saturday, December 16, 12 PM
Guggenheim Museum


4) Disturbing the Peace 《老妈蹄花》– On the afternoon of May 12, 2008, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit Wenchuan county in northern Sichuan province, devastating a vast area of mountainous terrain and killing some 70,000 people, including thousands of children who were in school when it hit. Around the country, concerned citizens began to question why the government-built school buildings collapsed so easily, burying thousands of children alive, when other edifices had withstood the strike. In response to suspicion that corruption had resulted in deficient construction for the schools, the government concealed information and refused to release the number and names of the students who had died. Activist Tan Zuoren was arrested for investigating the deaths, charged with inciting subversion of state power. Ai Weiwei, who was also researching the situation and would eventually publish the full roster of names on his blog, was invited to testify at Tan’s trial. As soon as Ai and his group arrived in Chengdu, they were followed and filmed. This harassment culminated with the police breaking into Ai’s hotel room and beating him, causing cranial trauma. This film records Ai and his lawyers as they repeatedly travel to Chengdu to seek an explanation from the authorities. The documentary exposes the naked violence of the relationship among the people, the law, and its enforcers.

Dir. Ai Weiwei (艾未未)
China, 2009, 80 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

Saturday, December 16, 1:30 PM
Guggenheim Museum


5) Rouge 《胭脂扣》 – In the tradition of Douglas Sirk and Vincente Minnelli, Hong Kong auteur Stanley Kwan creates expressively stylized emotion spectacles etched in sumptuous mise-en-scène. In this entrancingly strange and sensual ghost story, 1930s courtesan Fleur (HK icon Anita Mui) dies of an opium overdose in a suicide pact with her forbidden lover (Leslie Cheung). She goes to hell, but he doesn’t join her there as expected. Fifty years later she returns to Earth in search of him… This outré premise is played by Kwan with supreme sincerity, yielding a majestically melancholy memory piece and a rich, provocative exploration of the link between love, sex, and death.

Dir. Stanley Kwan (关锦鹏)
1987, Hong Kong, 93 min.
Cantonese with English subtitles

Screens as part of the series Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama

Saturday, December 16, 4 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W. 65th Street


6) 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.

Workshops will be taught in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. The studio space fits around 10 people, so workshops will be on a first come first serve basis.

Sunday, December 16, 5 PM
Wing On Wo & Co. basement studio, 26 Mott Street


7) In the Mood for Love 《花樣年華》– Wong Kar Wai’s swoon-inducing instant classic made Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung the star-crossed dream team of the early 2000s art house. They play next-door neighbors driven by loneliness into a platonic romance amid the alleyways and noodle shops of 1960s Hong Kong, only to discover that their own spouses are carrying on an affair. The breathless, will-they-won’t-they tension is pushed to intoxicating heights by the luscious mise-en-scène: Christopher Doyle’s caressing cinematography; the sensuous use of slo-mo; the red- and green-saturated, patterned print-galore period art direction (that wallpaper!); and the haunting, endlessly repeating strains of Nat King Cole. “Quizás, quizás, quizás…”

Dir. Wong Kar Wai
2000, Hong Kong/China, 98 min.
Cantonese, Shanghainese, French, and Spanish with English subtitles

Preceded by:

In Love for the Mood
Ming Wong, Singapore, 2009, 5m
A Caucasian actress (Kluane Saunders) replaces Cheung and Leung and attempts to deliver her lines in Cantonese by repeating after Wong’s offscreen voice.

Both screen as part of the series Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama

Saturday, December 16, 6 PM
Walter Reade Theatre, 165 W 65th St.


7) End with a Book! – Join Asia Art Archive in America’s year-end celebration, fundraiser, and third annual book raffle. Eight lucky guests will take home a special book designed by artists, including Patty Chang, Song Dong and Yin Xiuzhen, Trần Minh Đức, Aisha Khalid, and others.

Pay-what-you-wish for drinks and dumplings. All donations of $50 and above will be automatically entered into the raffle.

Saturday, December 16, 6:30 PM
Asia Art Archive In America, 43 Remsen St, Brooklyn


8) Have Sword Will Travel: One-armed Swordsmen Double Feature! – This event is the first of a new monthly series, co-presented and programmed by Subway Cinema (the minds, blood, and sweat behind the New York Asian Film Festival) and Quad Cinema. The series focuses on rogue warriors, rebel swordsmen and other wandering heroes from the Far East and explores the multifaceted figure of the knight errant in East Asian films.

One-armed Swordsman, 7 PM

The watershed in kung fu and wuxia cinema history, ‘The One-Armed Swordsman’ is the film that changed everything: emblazoned with brooding machismo and blood-soaked action, this tale of of a swordsman who loses his arm to his master’s pampered daughter propelled director Chang Cheh and actor Jimmy Wang Yu to superstardom.

Directed by Chang Cheh (張徹)
1967, Hong Kong, 111 min., 35mm
Mandarin with English subtitles

The New One-Armed Swordsman, 9:30 PM

Then rising star David Chiang takes the crippled warrior tale to another level. Chiang portrays a proud swordsman who is tricked into severing his own arm after losing to a cunning rival. Humbled, he hides in an inn, but the death of his blood brother forces him to unsheathe his blade again.

Directed by Chang Cheh (張徹)
1971, Hong Kong, 102 min., 35mm
Mandarin with English subtitles

Saturday, December 16, 7:15 PM
Quad Cinema


9) ECHO – ECHO showcases the modern sounds of traditional Chinese instruments paired with Western and electronic instruments, as arranged by New York composers. The performance includes arrangements of classic Chinese folk songs as well as original works featuring fusion and genre-crossovers.  Musicians include Lu Liu, Nan Zhang, Sun Vicky, Yi Liu, Dimeng Yuan, XiRen Wang and Dong Liu.

See a clips from rehearsals:

Use code ECH27957 for 20% off tickets

Tuesday, December 19, 8 PM
Carnegie Hall


10) The Goddess 《神女》– In her greatest role, Chinese silent-cinema icon Ruan Lingyu plays a prostitute who sacrifices everything to give her young son a better life, but finds herself beaten down by society at every turn. Startlingly frank and ahead of its time in its compassionate depiction of sex work, this devastating “fallen woman” drama achieves transcendent pathos through the stunning artistry of Ruan Lingyu. Her suicide one year after the film’s release at the age of 24 would deprive the world of one of its greatest silent actresses, but her magnetic, astonishingly naturalistic presence—recalling the modernity of Louise Brooks crossed with the grit of Barbara Stanwyck—is here forever immortalized.

Dir. Wu Yonggang (吳永剛)
1934, China, 73 min.
Chinese intertitles with English subtitles

Digital restoration courtesy of the China Film Archive. The screening will be accompanied by a live piano performance by Donald Sosin.

Screens as part of the series Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama


1) Youth 《芳华》 Following his acclaimed comedy I Am Not Madame Bovary, popular Mainland director Feng Xiaogang plunges into the still-painful memory of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath, telling a decades-spanning tale that begins with a People’s Liberation Army arts troupe touring the provinces. The ensemble’s outcast and scapegoat, dancer He Xiaoping (Miao Miao), is at the center of this emotional, intimate epic, which charts a history of heartbreak and everyday heroism through stunning widescreen photography and the music of Teresa Teng. (Metrograph)

The film was abruptly shelved in China in September, halting its release worldwide, but purportedly with a few changes, it hit the theaters.  The LA Times calls the film an “imperfect but stirring drama”.

Opens at AMC Empire 25 December 15


2) The Thousand Faces of Dunjia 《奇門遁甲》– Legendary director Yuen Wo Ping and writer/producer Tsui Hark breathe new life into the wuxia genre, weaving together fantasy, humor, and breathtaking martial arts action. Dao, a naïve young constable, discovers a secret society with supernatural abilities that has protected mankind for centuries. (Subway Cinema)

Opens at AMC Loews 34th Street 14 December 15


3) 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 December 17, 2018
Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th Street


Group Shows and Local Artists:

Hunter College’s MFA Thesis exhibition includes artists Eugina Song, Yang Yu, and Julie Zhu and is on view December 15 – January 7, 2018.  Additionally, NYU’s ITP program’s Winter Show is December 17 and 18.

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) Infinite Narratives – Tomato Grey Artist Collective Exhibition (Chinese American Arts Council, 12/16 – 1/17/18) – In direct response to Tomato Grey’s New York exhibitions in 2010 and 2012, scholar Alexandra Chang of New York University published an essay entitled “Approaching the Infinite Narrative: Asian Art Now & The Tomato Grey Collective” in 2014. In this article, Chang discusses cultural narratives and their unfolding in the “Now” vis-à-vis the complex trans-national tendencies of a “Hong Kong identity”

While the self-proclaimed Hong Kong artists from the Tomato Grey collective will produce works that explicitly reference Hong Kong, the partnering non-Hong Kong artist will be asked to “copy” and “respond to” the perceived identity as projected in the work, in acts of deliberate and creative misreading. The “now-ness” is brought into sharp focus through a chain of representation, re-presentation, and re-appropriation.

See the link for full exhibition description.

Participating Tomato Grey Collective Artists and their collaborations include:
Samson Young & Seth Cluett, Bing Lee & Ik Joong Kang, Kwong Pui See & Erika Kobayashi, Kaho Albert Yu & Yoko Naito, Annysa Ng & Patrick FabianPanetta, Wong Kit Yi & Emily Cruz Nowell.

Opening reception: December 15, 6 – 8 PM
Panel discussion with Alexandra Chang, Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programs at A/P/A Institute at NYU and Tomato Grey Collective Artists, moderated by Ingrid Pui Yee Chu, Curator and Writer / Co-Director & Curator, Forever & Today, Inc., December 16, 4 – 5:30 PM


2) [.Zip:Unzp the Future 释放未来] (3LD Art & Technology Center, 12/9/17 – 1/26/18) – An immersive Audio-Visual projection space with full hour “Album” of 9 media art pieces,In the manner of “Album”, the Exhibition “zipped” 9 immersive works with different themes and then “unzipped” them into a novel and imaginative immersive field domain. The artists include: Feng Hao花形瘦 AKA.Flower, Gan JianLoga HongZhen YuAKA.In_K, James CaoRaven KwokLoong YouAKA.Pink Money x Wu JuehuiAKA.UFO, Zheng Shi.

See exhibition page for complete description.


3) REN Studio: Extraordinary Ordinary (Biggercode Gallery, 12/10/17 – 1/17/18) – Renqian Yang, the creator behind Ren Studio, seeks to break the boundary between painting and ceramics, while searching for a delicate balance between the two media. For Yang, clay is her canvas. The flowing details, vivid brushstrokes and changing hues on the ceramic works all hold a strong painterly quality.

Interested in the concept of interdependent binaries, Yang attempts to present sets of complementary colors in the functional ceramic works of Ren Studio. By revealing various contradictions that exist in the color field and in natural world, Yang’s work addresses the unity and the contradiction of dichotomies—restriction and freedom, complexity and simplicity, representation and abstraction.

Co-presented with Fou Shop, an extension of Fou Gallery.

Opening reception: December 20, 6 – 8 PM


4) Between Here and Home (384 Broadway, 12/12/17 – 1/7/18) – What does it mean to be Chinese in the contemporary moment of technological transformation as well as dangerous nationalist imagery? In Between Here and Home, seven photographers — one Chinese, three American-born-Chinese, one who emigrated to Queens from China as a young child, a Taiwanese Canadian, and a Filipina who has worked in Hong Kong — share their perspectives on various aspects of Chinese life and culture, both in China and in the diaspora, including New York City’s Chinatowns. They document traditional communities facing tremendous change, personal journeys of discovery, and political conflict. 

Artists include Alan Chin, Xiaomei Chin, Edward Cheng, Xyza Cruz Bacani, Corky Lee, and Annie Ling.

Curated by Alan Chin and presented by Think!Chinatown

Opening Reception: December 15, 6 – 9 PM


Closing soon:

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.

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)

Infinite Narratives – Tomato Grey Artist Collective Exhibition (Chinese American Arts Council, 12/16 – 1/17/18)

REN Studio: Extraordinary Ordinary (Biggercode Gallery, 12/10/17 – 1/17/18)

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)

[.Zip:Unzp the Future 释放未来] (3LD Art & Technology Center, 12/9/17 – 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: St. Paul Church stands opposite of the Grand Lisboa in Macau.  Photo by Andy Enero, licensed through Creative Commons: