NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: May 4 – 10, 2018

This week: Screening of an acclaimed film that looks at the injustice sexual assault victims in China face; Wayne Wang’s Asian American classic; a work-in-progress play set in 1940s New York City Chinatown; new listings for exhibitions James Cohan Gallery, Guggenheim Museum, and Gallery 456; and more…

Coming up:

May 15 – Here to Stay: The Asian American Immigrant Experience presented by Asia Society and the Asian American Bar Association of New York talks about the human impact of the immigrant journey and their contributions to the fabric of American life.  We are offering tickets to this event.  Email us at by May 9 with the subject line “Here to Stay” for your chance to be selected for the drawing.

May 19 – Author Lauren Hilgers talks about her non-fiction work about a family’s escape from China.

Our weekly listing 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.

Extended deadline: May 31, 2018


2) 1st Dafen International Oil Painting Biennale – This inaugural international exhibition scheduled for October 2018 seeks works with the theme “Opening-up and Integration”.  The call for submission explains the theme: “Since implementing the policy of opening to the outside world, China has been closely connected with the world. With the opening-up attitude, integrated with global regional culture, it deepens the thought and participation for this era of various countries and nations. It realizes the diversity and multiplicity of culture.”

International submission deadline: May 15, 2018

3) Lotus Lee Foundation Travel Fellowship – Through the Travel Fellowship, Lotus Lee Foundation hopes to stimulate an in-depth discussion on the future development of the theater and performing arts industry. The fellowship aim to encourage students and young professionals to exam this topic from different perspectives including business model, the market expands, art & technology integration, investment, cross-cultural communication, etc.

The fellowship will provide its recipients an opportunity to explore the theater industry in Shanghai, China; to broaden their experience and knowledge on the cultural exchange; to deepen their insights on the future of international performing arts field.


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) Chan is Missing – Acclaimed filmmaker Wayne Wang’s feature film Chan is Missing (1982) follows the adventures of two cabbies on their search through San Francisco’s Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with $4,000 of their money. Their quest to figure out what happened to Chan and their missing cash leads them on a humorous journey that illuminates the pitfalls of Chinese-Americans trying to assimilate into contemporary American society. (Kanopy)

Chan is Missing won Best Experimental/Independent Film from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. In 1995, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”  Wayne Wang later went on to direct the beloved film The Joy Luck Club. This screening celebrates the role and influence of Chinese-American filmmakers on American independent cinema.

Saturday, May 5, 1 PM
Chatham Square Library, 33 E Broadway,


2) The Making of One Hand Clapping – In the third and final Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture Series event, One Hand Clapping cocurators Xiaoyu Weng and Hou Hanru deliver short talks contextualizing the exhibition and the Chinese Art Initiative, and Weng moderates a group conversation with exhibition artists Cao Fei, Duan Jianyu, Lin Yilin, Wong Ping, and Samson Young.

Saturday, May 5, 4 PM
Guggenheim Museum


3) In Search of Chinese Identity: Love and Loneliness in 1940’s New York – In the cold city streets of World War II’s Manhattan, the lives of two Chinese couples become deeply intertwined despite the stark social divisions that previously kept them apart. Surrounded by violence and the constant chatter of politics, the refined and elegant uptown husband and wife and the hardworking pair of Chinatown restaurant owners escape from the unwelcoming reality of a country at war by retreating into Chinese art, poetry—and forbidden romance. Join China Institute and Fault Line Theatre for a script reading of Chapters of a Floating Life, the most recent work-in-process of award-winning playwright Clarence Coo, and meet the author, director, and actors at our reception after the reading.

Monday, May 7, 5:30 PM
China Institute


4) Che Chen with Talice Lee and Patrick Holmes – Widely celebrated as the guitarist and multi instrumentalist in 75 Dollar Bill, his project with drummer Rick Brown, Che Chen has taken this Roulette/Jerome Foundation commission as an opportunity to push deep into the sound worlds of modal improvisation, untempered tunings, and extended, slow moving durational structures. Built around a just intonation tuning matrix and modes devised by Chen, this intimate, evening length work aims to slow the listener’s attention and direct it towards minute differences in pitch, timbre, and awareness.

Chen has assembled a new ensemble especially for this piece featuring Talice Lee (violin, voice), Patrick Holmes (clarinet, voice) and himself (bass recorder, voice, electric organ). Bracketed by long tone harmonies and unison themes, individuals improvise at length with extemporaneous support from the other two players. The trio’s interaction is often framed by static, microtonal chords from Chen’s organ, resulting in a “triangle within a circle” structure of voices.

Che Chen is a musician and multi-instrumentalist based in Queens and Stonybrook, NY where he works for the family cancer diagnostics business. Born in 1978 to Taiwanese immigrant parents, Chen studied painting and drawing before turning his attention to sound. This change in direction has made improvisation, the harmonic series and the ecstatic possibilities of music his main preoccupations ever since. Chen’s interest in modal, microtonal improvisation has led him to an earnest, if rather informal study of the musical traditions of North Africa, India, and the middle east, as well as the acoustical theories underpinning their tuning systems (just intonation). After more than a decade of experimentation with an uncategorical variety of musical instruments and sound making objects, he went into the woodshed with the electric guitar, which eventually led him to form 75 Dollar Bill with percussionist Rick Brown in 2012. While principally a duo, 75 Dollar Bill’s modal, polyrhythmic sound often manifests itself in expanded lineups varying in size from small ensembles to 25-piece marching band.

Wednesday, May 9, 8 PM
Roulette Intermedium, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn



Angels Wear White 《嘉年华》- A bold and, in Mainland China, unprecedented use of genre film to shine a light on a culture of bureaucratic corruption and conspiratorial silence which puts vulnerable young women at particular risk. Two schoolgirls are assaulted in a motel; Mia, a teenager on-duty at the desk who is the lone witness, says nothing to the authorities for fear of reprisal, but she begins to buckle upon meeting one of the victims, 12-year-old Wen, and finds herself sucked into an intrigue involving media, local government, and more. A harrowing and uncompromised sophomore feature from Vivian Qu, resonant with the global reckoning of the #MeToo moment.

Named a Critic’s Pick by the New York Times

At Metrograph


Group Shows, Local Artists, and Other Art Events:

Artist Lulu Meng for whom everyday clothing and other personal objects have represented personal history and experience is part of MediumMatters group show presented by Biggercode Gallery  and FIT that also includes illustrator Yiting Lee.   472 Broome Street, 5/3 – 5/10

Qingshan Wang & Junnan Lyu: Displacement is being presented by 7s Labo.  36 E. Broadway, 5/4 – 5/11

Frieze Art Fair is in town.  Keep an eye out for Chinese artists and galleries from Asia.

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.”


Opening and Newly Listed:

1) Yun-Fei Ji – Rumor Ridicules and Retributions (James Cohan Gallery (Grand Street), 4/28 – 6/17) – In this body of work, Yun-Fei Ji turns his attention to the stories of people living in rural China. The realities of life outside the nation’s largest cities have largely been ignored by narratives of rapid urban growth. Rural lives are often governed by the whims of the powerful, robbing them of physical and spiritual rootedness. Ji is interested in the ways in which people enact their agency both individually and collectively in the face of these larger societal forces, often through subtle but willful acts of resistance.

Indebted to the long history of folktales in China, Ji is inspired by the tall tales and ghost stories that he has gathered in the Chinese countryside. Full of ghosts, demons, and other eccentric characters, these stories have frequently functioned as metaphors for power structures and defiance. They are stand-ins for the political undercurrents and the complex tug-of-war underlying the social reality of rural communities. Ji’s own political sympathies have attracted the attention of Chinese authorities, leading government censors to cover portions of his paintings on view during the 10th Shanghai Biennale in 2014.

Ji first moved to the United States in the late 1980s. After spending the past six years in Beijing, he currently divides his time between New York and rural Ohio – an experience that has amplified his perceptions of the cultural and ideological disparities in this turbulent political moment. He sees similarities between the migration discourses that he has explored in a Chinese context and the current immigration debates in the United States. In both countries, there is an active “othering” and suspicion of immigrants or migrant workers, fueled by the rhetoric of political leaders.

Yun-Fei Ji has employed the stacked perspective and flattened space of classical Chinese painting throughout his career, reinvigorating this traditional style as a means of contemporary storytelling. The conscious two-dimensionality of Ji’s compositions imbues his narratives with an immediacy that compels the viewer’s attention. His paintings are acts of resistance in their own way, insisting that these stories of cultural degradation, struggle, and resistance are worth telling.

Yun-Fei Ji – ‘The Village Wen’s Progress’, 2017. Watercolor and ink on Xuan paper, 19 1/2 x 132 1/2 in. (49.5 x 336.6 cm)


2) One Hand Clapping (Guggenheim Museum, 5/4 – 10/21) – The artists in this exhibition explore the ways in which globalization affects our understanding of the future. Their commissioned works represent a range of traditional and new mediums, from oil on canvas to virtual-reality software.

In her paintings and sculptures, Duan Jianyu celebrates the marginal figures who haunt the transitory zone where rural and urban, primitive and modern intersect. Wong Ping’s animated video, driven by the artist’s dark and risqué humor, addresses the tension between an aging population and the relentless pace of the digital economy. Lin Yilin’s VR simulation tests the potential of such technology to enable us to inhabit the experience of another person or even an object—in this case, a basketball. In her fantastical film installation, Cao Fei examines the physical and psychological impact that automated industry exerts on the human body and society. Samson Young plays upon our obsession with values of truth and authenticity by inventing an array of impossible musical instruments and digitally engineering their sounds. Together, these works challenge a universal, homogeneous, and technocratic future determined by economic growth and technological advancement.

The show’s title, One Hand Clapping, is derived from a koan—a riddle used in Zen Buddhist practice to transcend the limitations of logical reasoning—that asks, “We know the sound of two hands clapping. But what is the sound of one hand clapping?” Emerging from a tradition that originates in China’s Tang period (618–907), the phrase “one hand clapping” encompasses a history of cross-cultural translation and appropriation that continues into the present. Popularized by its use as the epigraph to American author J. D. Salinger’s 1953 book of fiction, Nine Stories, this koan has also served as the name of a British band, the title of an Australian film, and the title and lyrics of a Cantonese pop song. In this exhibition, “one hand clapping” serves as a metaphor for the ways in which meaning is destabilized in a globalized world. Evoking the idea of solitude, the image of “one hand clapping” also speaks to the ability of artists to put forth a singular vision that can contest entrenched beliefs, stereotypes, and power structures.

The artists in One Hand Clapping are connected by their deep involvement in specific places, namely, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and New York; their critical examination of our systems of exchange, communication, and production; and their imagination of multiple futures as a form of poetic revolution.


3) Dik Liu: Still Lifes (Gallery 456, 5/4 – 6/1) – Artist statement: My interest in creative brushwork and lighting effects led me to these intimately scaled fruit and flower paintings; subject matter which has recurred throughout my career. But, I revisit the subject heeding the counsel of Ezra Pound: make it new.

Working in a small scale frees me from making grand pronouncements, and I approach these small paintings as studies. I resolve these paintings in front of the viewers, taking on an air of improvisation. Painting in shorthand, I pare the realism of light and space to its marrow, reducing what I see in the subject into a few splashy brush strokes. It thus invites the viewers to link these strokes together, revealing the illusion in their mind’s eye. The viewers and I are equal partners in the creative process.

I paint to evoke the sensation of seeing these fruits and flowers soaked in bright light, reflecting the light rays to penetrate my corneas and funnel through my pupils before slamming onto the back of my retinas, exciting every rod and every cone of my optic nerve. I replicate these retinal excitements in the paintings by pumping up their color intensity so that they mimic the saturated light I see in the objects. When these sensations are mimicked exactly, painting is made new, and renewed with it is our expectation of seeing itself.

Opening reception: May 10, 6 – 8 PM

Dik Liu


4) The Fuck Off Generation Chinese Avant Garde in the Post-Mao Era, Part 2 (Ethan Cohen, 5/10 – ??) – The monumental exhibition Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World opened at the Guggenheim Museum in the end of 2017. The far-reaching, impressive selection of artworks and artists, once again, put Chinese Contemporary art in the spotlight for international curators, scholars, collectors and art professionals. Being a very recent, recognized phenomenon in the history of art, Chinese Contemporary came to the fore of global culture in the last three decades.

From the very beginning, Ethan Cohen Gallery made its name for pioneering the genre of contemporary Chinese art, particularly the movements that arose in the wake of Mao Zedong’s death. As a reaction to and conversation with Theater of the World, the gallery is proud to present an alternative more intimate narrative to the story told by Guggenheim curators and researchers. This Ethan Cohen Gallery show, entitled The Fuck Off Generation: Chines3

0.e Art in the Post-Mao Era, is in some ways a corrective to the Guggenheim’s rather conventionally encyclopedic approach that missed the defiant fervor and dramatic innovation of the era’s avant-garde spirit. Chinese artists were bursting out of the imposed constraints of the Mao years and even of what went before, the inexhaustible past centuries of traditional art. With the current show, the gallery aims to add a sharp inflection missing from the Guggenheim’s vision of that time and scene.

The end of the 1980s in China was a turning point for global politics and the world economy. The country straddled residual neo-communist authoritarian rule and unfettered free enterprise generating a headlong momentum that culminated in the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989. For artists who grew up with the Cultural Revolution’s legacy of oppressive political and artistic controls, the new era demanded fresh experiments in the language of expression. Young artists rose to the occasion. In many ways they led the charge to a wider freer horizon. China’s opening to the West furnished them with the esthetic tools to grapple with epochal changes, to question and subvert, implode and rebuild the artistic conventions. Many of the works in this show at first glance may not seem explicitly radical or provocative to our contemporary eyes, yet each piece was indeed groundbreaking.


Closing soon:

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

Sui to Tang, A Golden Age of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture (Throckmorton Fine Art, 3/1 – 4/28)

Katie Yang – Serendipity (Denise Bibro Fine Art, 3/15 – 4/28)

Matthew Wong (Karma Gallery, 3/22 – 4/29)

Cocoon (Pfizer Building, 4/19 – 5/4)

Pity Party (Sleep Center, 4/13 – 5/4)

Xeno 外人 (Chinatown Soup, 4/28 – 5/5)

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.

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

Sui to Tang, A Golden Age of Chinese Buddhist Sculpture (Throckmorton Fine Art, 3/1 – 4/28)

Katie Yang – Serendipity (Denise Bibro Fine Art, 3/15 – 4/28)

Matthew Wong (Karma Gallery, 3/22 – 4/29)

Cocoon (Pfizer Building, 4/19 – 5/4)

Pity Party (Sleep Center, 4/13 – 5/4)

Xeno 外人 (Chinatown Soup, 4/28 – 5/5)

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

Jia-Jen Lin – Funes’ Broken Mirror (Rubber Factory, 4/21 – 5/23)

Cici Wu: Upon Leaving the White Dust (47 Canal at 291 Grand Street, 4/18 – 5/27)

Crystal W. M. Chan Solo Exhibition (The National Arts Club, 4/30 – 5/25)

Subject: China (NYU China House, 4/13 – 5/31)

Dik Liu: Still Lifes (Gallery 456, 5/4 – 6/1)

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

Yun-Fei Ji – Rumor Ridicules and Retributions (James Cohan Gallery (Grand Street), 4/28 – 6/17)

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

The Fuck Off Generation Chinese Avant Garde in the Post-Mao Era, Part 2 (Ethan Cohen, 5/10 – ??)

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)

Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/9)

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co.: General Store and Apothecary in John Day, Oregon (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/9)

One Hand Clapping (Guggenheim Museum, 5/4 – 10/21)

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

Lead image: In Taroko Gorge, Hualien, Taiwan. Photo by Andrew Shiue