NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: April 13 – April 19, 2018

Terracotta Army Excavation

This week: A talk on censorship in China by the editor of the Chinese edition of the New York Times and another on music during the Cultural Revolution; the last in a youth-0riented film series from W.O.W.; new exhibitions at Fou Gallery, MoMA PS1, Queens Museum (and all over the place), Chambers Fine Art, and more…

Coming up:

April 20 – Screening of Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

April 21 – A discussion about Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin, author of Notes of a Crocodile and a counterculture icon and a martyr in the movement for LGBT rights in Taiwan.

April 21 – A fable in the form of a play by Taiwanese playwright Wei Yu-Chia.

April 25 – Guangzhou Dream Factory, a film about Africans chasing the Chinese dream in the country’s southern city.

Our weekly listing now includes open calls and other opportunities for artists, filmmakers, and others involved with Chinese culture in this intro section.

1) 4th D.C. Chinese Film Festival – The DC Chinese Film Festival has announced its open call for submissions. The Festival is determined to provide a global platform for Chinese-speaking filmmakers, films in the Chinese language, and films about Chinese-speaking cultures. We have been very impressed by the depth and breadth of its programming. Two years ago, we happened to be in DC during the festival and caught ‘The Chinese Mayor’ and was really impressed by the inquisitiveness of the audience and the long, unrushed, and thoughtful conversation with director Zhou Hao following the film.

Regular deadline: May 1, 2018


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) WOW Youth Series: Third World Newsreel x CAB Screening – The W.O.W. Youth Series kicked off with an Asian American Female Filmmakers Panel this past June, centering Asian American female narratives and voices and discussing the many obstacles Asian American female filmmakers face in a predominantly white and male film industry. NYU film student and W.O.W short film director, Denise Zhou, moderated a discussion with three Asian American female filmmakers, ManSee Kong, Ursula Liang, and Theresa Loong about how their race and gender intersect to inform their work and address their challenges working in the film business.

As a concluding event of this series, W.O.W. Youth Series holds a 3-part screening collaboration with Third World Newsreel and Chinatown Art Brigade


This raw, gutsy portrait of New York’s Chinatown captures the early days of an emerging consciousness in the community. We see a Chinatown rarely depicted, a vibrant community whose young and old join forces to protest police brutality and hostile real estate developers. With bold strokes, it paints an overview of the community and its history, from the early laborers driving spikes into the transcontinental railroad to the garment workers of today.

From Spikes to Spindles was directed by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Christine Choy and a newly remastered HD version is now available

From Spikes to Spindles is co-presented by Third World Newsreel — celebrating 50 years of progressive, alternative, independent media by and about communities of color and social justice issues #TWN50Years (


Love and labor intersect in Resilience, a 18 minute short documentary in which I, the director, document the impact of sweatshop conditions on my family life. The film follows the lives of me, my sister Virginia, and our mother, Sau Kwan, an immigrant from Hong King who works in a garment factory. “Resilience” captures Kwan as a passionate leader in the movement against inhumane sweatshop conditions in the United States.
Resilience had its US debut at the 2000 Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival in New York and its’ International debut at the 2001 Mayworks Festival in Toronto, Canada. Resilience was also screened at the Directors Guild of America for the 2002 Visual Communications Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film & Video Festival.


Farewell, New Southwind is an observational documentary following a lively restaurant worker on the last day of a popular home-style Hakka Chinese restaurant in New York City, shuttering after 30 years of operation. The film is in Cantonese, with bilingual Chinese + English subtitles.

Friday, April 13, 7 PM
Wing On Wo & Co, 26 Mott St.


2) 2018 China Institute Fashion Design Competition – The China Institute Fashion Design Competition supports emerging designers by promoting creativity inspired by China’s culture and aesthetics in contemporary, global design. Join China Institute for a conversation about Fashion in China and the U.S. with Bil Donovan, Hazel Clark, and Lyn Slater. Following the panel discussion, Design Competition finalists will debut their submissions in a live runway show that culminates in the selection of the competition’s winner. To evaluate the young designers’ submissions, China Institute assembled a board of renowned judges with diverse backgrounds at the intersection of art, fashion and design. The judges include: Bil Donovan, Artist-in-Residence at Dior; Hazel Clark, Professor of Fashion Studies and Research Chair of Fashion; Lyn Slater, cultural influencer, model, writer, Professor at Fordham University and founder of the “Accidental Icon” blog; Peter Som, prominent designer and fashion consultant; and Karen Van Godtsenhoven, Associate Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

Dozens of participants competed by submitting a portfolio of three unique designs that comprised of illustrations, technical design details, fabrics and material swatches, and a written statement outlining how their designs were inspired by China. Ten finalists were selected by the panel of judges to create the designs in their portfolios, and will face off in front of our jusdges and audience in this live runway show where they will compete for a $10,000 prize.

The finalists are: Guanyu Chen, Atlanta, GA; Karen Heshi, New York, NY; Shenyue Huang, Atlanta, GA; Zirui Huang, New York, NY; Anqi Jiang, New York, NY; Mia Rubin, New York, NY; Chu Wang, Savannah, GA; Tiantian Wang, New York, NY; Shalyn Webber, Savannah, GA; and Yanting & Yanchen Yao, New York, NY.


3) When Ink Meets with Oil: A Comparison between the Chinese Ink Painting and Western Oil Paining – This event brings you Wei Zhen, Vice Dean of the School of Art and Media, Beijing Normal University, and director of its art museum. A painter, art educator, art critic and art historian, Professor Zhen will be sharing his experience of art as ‘manifestation of the marching steps of human civilisation’ and an inner dialogue between the ‘I’ and the ‘me’. As the title suggests, the lecture focuses on genre-by-genre comparison and contrast between Chinese ‘literati’ ink wash works and Western masters’ oil paintings, framed in the context of art history and presenting the audience with a visual panorama of art in the large and a visual scrutiny of our very own artistic identity in the small. The accompanying slideshow of diptychs is a poetic celebration of the very finest of fine arts, national and universal.

This lecture will be conducted in Chinese, with no interpretation.

Saturday, April 15, 2 PM
China Institute


3) Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company: CrossCurrent V – CrossCurrent is a Live Music with Dance project presented annually to showcase the works being developed by the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company. This presentation features a curated concert by Nai-Ni Chen and Prof. Yin Mei bringing guest artists from Taiwan and China. The program is accompanied by classical and contemporary music performed by the New Asia Chamber Music Society.

Saturday, April 15, 2 PM
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd, Flushing


4) “Reaching the Chinese Public through the Barriers of Censorship: The View from the New York Times Chinese Language Website” – Ching-Ching Ni, Editor-in-Chief, New York Times Chinese in a discussion moderated by Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Columbia University

Monday, April 16, 12 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918, Columbia University


5) Movie Music of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: Political Control and Artistic Creativity – During the Cultural Revolution, music was tightly constrained by political correctness, but Zhang Shuo believes that these very restrictions pushed composers to greater artistic creativity. He will illustrate this argument with clips from narrative movies from that period (not the more commonly studied “model operas”).

Zhang Shuo, Lecturer, Department of Music, Beijing Institute of Education
Moderated by: Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science

Monday, April 16, 4 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918, Columbia University


6) Marimba Superb with Chin-Cheng Lin – Award-winning Taiwanese marimbist Chin-Cheng Lin presents his original marimba compositions works by young Belgian composer, Korneel Decae in this special marimba event. Appreciate the marimba as not just a percussion instrument, but also as a melodic solo instrument through the beautiful transformation of Romantic music – Nocturne No.1 in B flat Minor by Chopin and Impressionistic music – Clair de lune by Debussy. The second half of the program focuses on Mr. Lin’s three movements’ marimba concerto No.3 “Notre Dame de Paris” for six-mallet marimbist and piano.

Wednesday, April 18, 8 PM
Will Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall


None this week.


Group Shows and Local Artists:

Hong Kong artist Wong Ping and Chinese artists Song Ta and Shen Xin are part of the New Museum’s triennial group show Songs for Sabotage which “questions how individuals and collectives around the world might effectively address the connection of images and culture to the forces that structure our society. Together, the artists in Songs for Sabotage propose a kind of propaganda, engaging with new and traditional media in order to reveal the built systems that construct our reality, images, and truths. The exhibition amounts to a call for action, an active engagement, and an interference in political and social structures urgently requiring them.”

Think!Chinatown’s Everyday Chinatown invites you to call in to listen in on members of the Chinatown community as they share stories of commonly found household items in Chinatown. Window displays of these objects will be scattered around the neighborhood from the Lunar New Year to March 31. This project of cultural translation, self-representation, and inter-generational exchange is funded by the Citizen’s Committee for NYC.


Opening and Newly Listed:

1) Mel Chin: All Over the Place (Queens Museum, 4/8 – 8/12) – Mel Chin: All Over the Place, presents a multi-location exhibition with exciting manifestations of the work of Mel Chin co-produced by the Queens Museum and No Longer Empty. The exhibition will span nearly four decades of Chin’s malleable and wide-ranging approach to artistic practice. Exhibition sites in New York City include the Queens Museum, Times Square, and the Broadway-Lafayette subway station.

The objects and project artifacts in All Over the Place will be organized around the thematic strands that have long preoccupied Chin’s thinking, including the natural environment, socioeconomic systems and injustice, the weight of lamentations as well as the lightness of humor to reveal truths. Botany, ecology, and oceanography are examples of the disciplines that intersect in the artist’s politically charged work and demonstrate how art can promote social awareness and responsibility and reanimate curiosity. Select works will highlight Chin’s engagement of multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork in order to posit community-based solutions to ecological and sociopolitical crises. As a result of such teamwork, Chin’s work challenges the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.

Continue reading the press release.


2) Chen Dongfan: Nevermore (昨夜星辰昨夜风) (Fou Gallery, 4/14 – 6/24) – The exhibition includes a collection of Chen’s recent abstract works that shows an increasing tendency of improvisation.  The exhibition’s Chinese title “Zuo Ye Xing Chen Zuo Ye Feng (昨夜星辰昨夜风)”, which literally means the breeze and the stars from yesterday evening, is an excerpt from the poem “Untitled” written by Li Shangyin, a foremost Chinese poet of the late Tang Dynasty. The English title “Nevermore” was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, in which “Nevermore” is repeated eleven times. Chen suggests that the exhibition title and and his works should be viewed separately. However, the subtle connection between the Chinese and the English titles activates an imaginative space, which seems metaphoric and elusive.

Why does Chen choose the two poets? Li’s poem, though cryptic and allusive, reveals his deliberate depiction of subtle and mysterious emotions in love. As a forerunner of Symbolism, Edgar Allan Poe suggested the idea of “pure poetry”, as a means to celebrate the aesthetic reflection of formalism, allusiveness and rhythmic juxtaposition. These poetic features resonate with Chen’s vision in his recent works, revealing a lyrical connection with these two poets.

Continue reading the press release.

Opening reception: Saturday, April 14, 5 – 8 PM

Chen Dongfan, Shangri-La, 2018. Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 83 x 70 inch. Photograph by Eugene Neduv © Chen Dongfan, courtesy Fou Gallery


3) Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan (MoMA PS1, 4/15 – 9/3) – Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan brings together a selection of performance works by two Chinese artists of different generations that address the relationship between the body and the land. Since the 1980s, the status of land in China has been undergoing radical transformation, mirroring shifts from collectivism to individualism and from socialism to capitalism. The exhibition juxtaposes videos and photographs of early performance works by Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965) with those of more recent performances by Li Binyuan (Chinese, b. 1985).

Li Binyuan. Freedom Farming. 2014. Image courtesy the artist


4) Cocoon (Pfizer Building (630 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn), 4/19 – 5/4) – The exhibition Cocoon is inspired by two Chinese proverbs: “作茧自缚” (zuo jian zi fu) and “破茧成蝶” (po jian cheng die). The former, which means spinning a cocoon around oneself until one is imprisoned, is an admonition; the latter, which refers to breaking the cocoon during the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, is a congratulation. This pair of metaphors describes two contradictory phenomena in the course of a single life: one is static, passive, and inert—a mere thing in-itself (en-soi); the other is fluid, active, potent—an animated being for-itself (pour-soi). These proverbs encapsulate a duality that echoes Jean-Paul Sartre’s notions of facticity and transcendence, that coexist in an ambiguous mixture. One constitutes the givenness of a human being’s here and now: a past, a body, and a social environment; the other entails the freedom of choices one must make in order to interpret and surpass one’s current bearings. A conscious individual is always caught between the immediacy of the concrete present and the unfolding of life into an unknown horizon. Time, with all of its paradoxes, transcends one’s situation into the happening; however, a person must consciously take up authorship of their future identity to avoid turning into an automaton amid the practicalities of everyday life.

Artists include: James Chan, Jia Chao, Magdalena Dukiewicz, Huiqi He, Zheheng Hong, Liam O’Brien, Liang Shaoji, Jingyu Shi, Amalia Ulman, Richard T. Walker, Graham Wilson.  Curated by Lux Yuting Bai

Continue reading the press release.

Opening reception: April 19, 6 – 9 PM

Liam O’Brien, Early April (detail), 2016, high definition single-channel video, 5:15min. Commissioned by Open City Inc, publisher of RealTime. Image courtesy of the artist


5) Yan Shanchun: West Lake II (Chambers Fine Art, 4/19 – 6/2) – Yan Shanchun graduated from the Printmaking Department of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Fine Arts) in 1982, and thus belongs to the generation of artists who were the first to graduate after the academies were closed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Yan’s career has followed an unusual path. For a decade after joining the staff of the Shenzhen Fine Arts Institute in 1993, he devoted most of his time to scholarly pursuits, only returning to painting in 2005. Since 2010, however, he has simultaneously explored the imagery of West Lake in Hangzhgou in paintings and etchings. The current exhibition, Yan’s third exhibition at Chambers Fine Art, focuses on his most recent paintings of West Lake and the fascinating dialog between his paintings and etchings which are inspired by the same subject matter although totally different in scale and impact.

The celebrated city of Hangzhou, located in an area of considerable wealth and culture is centered on West Lake, a source of inspiration for poets and painters for hundreds of years.  Even when Yan was not living in Hangzhou, memories of the famous lake and celebrated viewing-points never left him and they became the inspiration for much of his work. Although he is now able to see the lake on frequent visits to Hangzhou, seeing it is less important to him than his memories of it and its unique position within the history of art in China. It is no exaggeration to refer to him as the painter/poet of West Lake, successor to the numerous artists who from the Song dynasty onwards have referred to it in their works.

Continue reading the press release.

Lake Hill #2, 2017. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 83 3/4 x 60 1/4 (213 x 153 cm)


Closing soon:

Jesse Chun: Name Against the Same Sound (Baxter Street / The Camera Club of New York, 3/14 – 4/14)

Zao Wou-Ki: Watercolor. Ink on Paper. Porcelain (Marlborough Gallery, 3/15 – 4/14)

Wang Dongling: Poetry and Painting (Chambers Fine Art, 2/25 – 4/14)

Art Across Archives (384 Broadway, 2/17 – 4/22)

Benrei Huang: My Own Keepers (Gallery 456, 3/30 – 4/27)

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.

The Fuck Off Generation: Chinese Art in the Post-Mao Era, Part 1 (Ethan Cohen Gallery, 1/31 – ??)

Zhang Engli – The Garden (Hauser & Wirth, 1/25 – 4/7)

Liu Shiyuan: Isolated Above, Connected Down (Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 2/22 – 4/7)

Jesse Chun: Name Against the Same Sound (Baxter Street / The Camera Club of New York, 3/14 – 4/14)

Zao Wou-Ki: Watercolor. Ink on Paper. Porcelain (Marlborough Gallery, 3/15 – 4/14)

Wang Dongling: Poetry and Painting (Chambers Fine Art, 2/25 – 4/14)

Art Across Archives (384 Broadway, 2/17 – 4/22)

Benrei Huang: My Own Keepers (Gallery 456, 3/30 – 4/27)

Cocoon (Pfizer Building, 4/19 – 5/4)

Yingqian Cao – The Illusion of Certainty (Pearl River Mart Gallery, 5/12)

Yan Shanchun: West Lake II (Chambers Fine Art, 4/19 – 6/2)

Chen Dongfan: Nevermore (昨夜星辰昨夜风) (Fou Gallery, 4/14 – 6/24)

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)

Mel Chin: All Over the Place (Queens Museum, 4/8 – 8/12)

Land: Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan (MoMA PS1, 4/15 – 9/3)

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

Lead image: Toll booth in Wuhan. Photo by Andrew Shiue