NYC Chinese Cultural Events and Art Exhibitions: September 14 – 20, 2018


This week: An essential film from the dawn of New Taiwanese cinema that “express the existential dilemma of being Taiwanese better than any other film”; two films from independent Chinese cinema champion Icarus Film; a talk about Modern Sky Festival in advance of the festival; a conversation with contemporary Chinese art critic Barbara Pollack and Guggenheim curator Xiaoyu Weng; eight new exhibition listings; and more…

Additionally, Taiwanese filmmaker Yung-Jen Yang and dancers Yahui Lu and Guanglei Hui are part of the New New Yorkers Art Opening Reception at Queens Museum on Sunday, September 16


Coming Up:

9/21- Taiwan’s digital minister at Asia Society

9/21 – Staged reading of a play inspired by the first Chinese American

9/21 – Concert of traditional Chinese music and native English speaking kids singing a Taiwanese pop song

9/22 – Modern Sky Festival featuring Dynamic Duo 다이나믹 듀오, Tizzy T, Yao 13 尧十三 with Special Guests Erbai 贰佰 + Song Dongye 宋冬野, Bohan Phoenix (Live) + Special Guest Akin 阿克江, Sunset Rollercoaster 落日飞车 and Se So Neon 새소년

9/22 – 9/27 – Xu Bing’s film critique of surveillance in ChinaOur weekly listing includes open calls and other opportunities for artists, filmmakers, and others involved with Chinese culture in this intro section.

9/27 – Debunking Myths About the Chinese Railroad Workers at MOCA

10/1 and 10/10 – Jia Zhangke’s latest film at the New York Film Festival


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

1) Books from Taiwan Translation Grant A grant opportunity for publishers or persons engaged in translation interested in translating works from Taiwan to obtaining funding for their projects.  Applications are due September 30, 2018.

2) Sinophone Musical Worlds and Their Publics – A call for papers that discuss how cooperation amongst individuals constitute musical worlds, the approach and paradox of political management of popular music, and the role of music in Chinese society.  Read the complete call for submissions. Abstracts are due October 31, 2018, and full articles are due February 15, 2019.


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) Erhu-Cello Duo with Wang Guowei & Michael Katz – The duo performs arrangements of traditional Chinese music and contemporary works by composers Zhou Long, Lei Liang, Yang Yong, and world premiere of a new work by Wang Guowei composed for the duo.

Saturday, September 15, 2 PM
Bruno Walter Auditorium, 111 Amsterdam Ave.


2) In Urban Space – DA League, a group of Chinese students and scholars at nine architectural schools on the East Coast, hosts Dongfan Chen, and the urban planning analyst Yuxiang Luo. They will approach the topic of the human and the space from the lens of art and urban planning respectively, and share their own insights.

Saturday, September 15, 3 PM
Parsons School of Design, 2 W. 13th Street, Room 1201


3) Meet the Artist: Mengwen Cao, the Lit List at Photoville – Join Mengwen Cao, one of the inaugural Lit List finalists, for a 30-minute artist talk at The Authority Collective’s container at Photoville NYC

Mengwen Cao is a Chinese photographer, videographer and multimedia producer based in New York. She graduated from the International Center of Photography. Her projects have been featured on The New York Times, Mashable, BUST, Foreign Policy, The Guardian.  Her recent work investigates the in-between space of race, gender and cultural identity.

View Mengwen’s work:

Or here at the Lit List:

Saturday, September 15, 4 PM
Photoville, Brooklyn Bridge Plaza


4) Dead Pigs 《海上浮城》- Five lives suddenly collide when pig farmer Old Wang’s entire stock dies en masse and turns up in Shanghai’s waterways, setting off a public health crisis.

Cathy Yan’s Dead Pigs assembles a cast of characters who embody dreamers, deadbeats, and ambitious movers who must answer the question of what the individual should do in a country relentlessly marching away from its past and toward progress.

Old Wang is a longtime pig farmer who invests his money in China’s burgeoning tech industry. Candy Wang is a hairstylist facing off mega-developer Golden Happiness Properties, which wants to evict Candy from her ancestral land for a new development. American expat Sean Landry is the chief architect of this project with Golden Happiness. He has questionable credentials, but slides under the radar thanks to the popular bureaucratic attitude of never asking too many questions. Wang Zhen is just trying to make ends meet, kowtowing to the city’s elite youth as a waiter in a roast pig restaurant bar. There, he meets Xia Xia, the wealthy and spoiled child of a successful businessman. Though they may not have met yet, the motley crew of Dead Pigs is already bound together by simply existing in modern China.

Yan’s Dead Pigs is a portrait of humanity in a country that has adopted an attitude of modernizing at all costs. Full of dark images, but paired with a jaunty, delightful humor, Dead Pigs  veritably bounces in contrast to the social realism that has come to characterize popular arthouse in China today. (Asian American International Film Festival)

Saturday, September 15, 7:30 PM
Brooklyn Army Terminal, 80 58th St, Brooklyn


4) Annie Chen Trio 2018 Residency At Tomi Jazz – Annie Chen returns to New York after five months in China and performs two sets with her trio at the midtown Japanese jazz bar.

Saturday, September 15, 11 PM
Tomi Jazz, 239 E 53rd St


5) The Sandwich Man 《兒子的大玩偶》– The first glimmering of the New Taiwanese Cinema comes in the form of a triptych of working-class daily life during (cold) wartime, scripted by Wu Nien-jen from a story by Huang Chunming entitled His Son’s Big Doll. In Hou’s vignette, a man makes his living carrying advertisement sandwich boards (hence the film’s title); in the second, two ambitious young salesmen discover too late that the pressure-cookers they sell are defective; and in the final segment a laborer is run down by a car—but his family discovers a silver lining. The Sandwich Man “expresses the existential dilemma of being Taiwanese better than any other film.” (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

Dirs. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Jen Wan, and Zhuang Xiang Zeng
1983, Taiwan, 105 min.
In Taiwanese with English subtitles

Screens as part of Some Are Better than Others: The Curious Case of the Anthology Film

Sunday, September 16, 4:40 PM
Monday, September 17, 6:50 PM
Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th Street


6) Bitter Money 《苦錢》– To understand contemporary China, caught in a Great Leap Forward from feudalism into postmodernity, you can ask for no better guide than Wang Bing, whose films render the lives of the working poor and internal migrant Chinese down to their bare, harsh physical facts. In Bitter Money, Wang follows two teenage cousins journeying together to the city of Huzhou, seeking a better life and discovering only endless labor, abusive interpersonal relationships, and exploitation without recourse. Harrowing and massively humane.

Dir. Wang Bing
2016, China, 152 min.
In Chinese with English subtitles

Screens as part of Icarus Films at 40

Sunday, September 16, 8:30 PM
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow St.


7) Oxhide 《牛皮》– A key work in the 21st century boom of Chinese independent documentaries, Liu’s totally assured debut film offers a privileged glimpse into everyday life as lived by one working-class Chinese family crowded into a Beijing apartment. The disarming intimacy is explained by the fact that the family is Liu’s own, while the 23-year-old director plays herself in this deft nonfiction-narrative hybrid, which in twenty-three static shots confined completely to the apartment manages to encompass some vast truths about family life.

Dir. Liu Jiayin
2005, China, 110 min.
In Chinese with English subtitles

Wednesday, September 19, 3:45 PM
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street


8) Independent Publisher Panel with Sming Sming Books and DREAMER FTY  – A book is more than a collection of words on a series of pages. The tangibility and durability of a physical book cannot be replaced by digital text and online publishing. At the same time, technological advancements in printing has allowed limited edition books and small presses to thrive and has encouraged the growth of art book fairs around the globe.

On the occasion of Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, we are pleased to organize a presentation by two independent publishers, Vivian Sming of Sming Sming Books and Yue Zhou and Mengsha Zhao of DREAMER FTY, on the history and output of their respective presses. Following the presentation, the participants will engage in a dialogue on questions of materiality, distribution, politics of translation, and regionalism in the field.

Wednesday, September 19, 7 PM
Asia Art Archive in America, 43 Remsen Street, Brooklyn



9) [CANCELED] Modern Sky Festival NYC Talk – “China Pop! The Business of Independent Music in China”  – Ahead of Modern Sky Festival NYC 2018 at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on September 22, Modern Sky artists and executives give an exclusive talk at China Institute to share insights on the growing indie scene in China.

Participants in this very special talk session include Modern Sky founder and CEO Shen Lihui, Brooklyn-via-Chengdu rapper Bohan Phoenix, and Modern Sky North America President Michael LoJudice and VP of Artist Development & Booking Sijie Liu. Lucy Dong, founder of China Music Business News.

Thursday, September 20, 6 PM
China Institute, 40 Rector Street


10) Barbara Pollack’s “Brand New Art From China” Book Launch – Launch event for a new book, ‘Brand New Art from China’ by critic and curator Barbara Pollack, one of the world’s leading authorities on Chinese contemporary art. Guggenheim Museum curator Xiaoyu Weng will join her in conversation.

Thursday, September 20, 6 PM
James Cohan, 291 Grand Street


11) Pell St. Jasmine Tea Launch – Join for the launch of Wing On Wo & Co.’s newest tea, Pell St. Jasmine, just in time for Moon Festival. Charlene Lewang of Tranquil Tuesdays will be pouring tea and community activist, Jeanie Chin will be setting up a table for individual numerology readings. We will also be serving up a limited supply of our homemade mooncakes – join us!

Thursday, September 20, 7 PM
Wing On Wo & Co, 26 Mott Street


1) Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair – Annual book fair includes exhibitors nos:books from Taiwan; Charlen Man and Dreamer FTY from China; and New York-based publisher of independent comics from China and the United States, Paradise Systems

Thursday, September 20 – 23


2) Crazy Rich Asians – The first film since The Joy Luck Club 25 years ago to feature an all-Asian cast is a rom-com based on Singaporean American writer Kevin Kwan’s best-selling book of the same name.

Rachel Chu is happy to accompany her longtime boyfriend, Nick, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. She’s also surprised to learn that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and he’s considered one of the country’s most eligible bachelors. Thrust into the spotlight, Rachel must now contend with jealous socialites, quirky relatives and something far, far worse — Nick’s disapproving mother.

At local multiple theaters in the New York area


Group Shows, Local Artists, and Other Art Events:

Chen Dongfan’s Doyers Street street mural, The Song of Dragon and Flowers, is a must see.


Opening and Newly Listed:

1) Documenting China, Stories of Change (Photoville, 9/13 – 9/23) – In 1978, after two decades of a crippled economy, China announced a new policy of “Reform and Opening Up.” This policy brought on an economic miracle and drastically altered the country’s landscape, culture, and people. Since then, “change” became synonymous with China.

From the surprising fate of China’s shrinking cities, to the quiet resilience of young migrant women, this exhibition features long-term projects by Chinese visual storytellers, who examine a country that is constantly adapting and redefining itself.

Features: Chen Ronghui, Cheng Xinhao, Du Zi, Jiao Dongzi, Wang Dansui.
Presented by Lishui Photography Festival
Curated by David Barreda, Ye Ming


2) Yuanyuan Yang: Theater of Crossroads (Gallery 456, 8/31- 9/28) – The first solo exhibition by Beijing-based artist Yuanyuan Yang in New York showcases photographs and a performance video from four different projects—10 Days in Kraków (2014), At the Place of Crossed Sights (2015-2016), Dalian Mirage (2017-ongoing), and Yang’s current research about a group of pioneering female performers of the Chinese diaspora. Interlacing the existing stories and historical events embedded in the works from these projects, the exhibition forms a cohesive narrative oriented around migration and war in the 20th century. Yuanyuan Yang highlights five prominent figures in relation to the aforementioned projects and, through these characters, the exhibition gives voice to individual stories and re-contextualizes the complex history of diaspora and cultural circulations.

These highly idiosyncratic and intricate narratives are embodied in each project in this exhibition. In a theater play format, Dalian Mirage stages stories of various figures from different eras in the context of the Sino-Japanese War and the colonial history of Dalian, China under Japanese occupation between 1905-1945. The work reveals the forgotten homecoming of displaced Japanese in China. By narrating stories of several photographers in Porto Alegre, Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the artist’s personal encounters with them, At the Place of Crossed Sights explores the history of European and Chinese immigration to Brazil. The artist’s newly developed and ongoing project traces a lost 1939 film by female Chinese-American filmmaker Esther Eng. By assembling surviving fragments of the Chinese diaspora, Yang intends to unveil the backstage world of female performers in the Cantonese opera, film and entertainment scene between 1914-1970. Collectively, Theater of Crossroads sheds light on marginalized groups under the impact of colonial policy and identity politics.


3) Liao Guohe: Burn Witches (Boers-Li Gallery, 9/8 – 10/20) – In his New York debut solo exhibition, this self-proclaimed realist, Liao creates a systematic visual language that gives him freedom to speak out about the social climate in China and beyond. Often threaded through a thematic, non-linear narrative, Liao’s serial paintings challenge the strictures of text vis-à-vis image by juxtaposing Chinese characters with ingenious symbols and idiosyncratic elements. Burn Witches features Liao’s latest series reflecting on the infrastructure of power. Aroused by the current dynamics in Chinese politics, Liao’s new body of work conjures up the ‘witch’ as a fluid identity defined through power relations of global relevance and imbued with such symptoms of social unease as anxiety, fear, struggle and mistrust.


4) Zhang Xioagang: Recent Works (9/7 – 10/20) – The paintings in the exhibition build on Zhang Xiaogang’s long-held interest in portraiture and narrative imagery with domestic scenes as his primary subject matter. However, in these recent works, a new compositional dynamic has emerged through the figures. In the artist’s earlier figurative portraits, such as the iconic Bloodline – A Big Family series, the subjects are presented in group formations, positioned in the foreground of the canvas. In these new portraits, a powerful weightlessness or instability emerges. The figures drift upon the canvas, balance on precarious wooden stools, and even float within a bathtub of water—projecting a sense of isolation and alienation from their environments.

With this new series, the artist has introduced collaged compositions into his practice, tearing and layering the paper material into textured works that emphasize the fragmentary nature of memory. The collage technique merges with the act of painting, with the two presenting corresponding executions of both physical and cerebral creation. Both the technical and figurative composition of the works reflect the artist’s broad interrogation of the nature of painting as a physical manifestation of the unconscious and as interpretive of individual and collective memory.

Zhang Xiaogang – ‘Mirror No. 2, 2018’, Oil on paper with paper and cotton rope collage, 142 cm × 112 cm (55-7/8″ × 44-1/8″). © Zhang Xiaogang, courtesy Pace Gallery


5) Shang Yang: New Works (Chambers Fine Art, 9/15 – 11/3) – Born in 1942 in Hubei province, China, Shang Yang was nearly forty years old when he first won wide acclaim with the painting Boatmen of the Yellow River that he submitted for his postgraduate degree at the Hubei Academy of Fine Arts, Wuhan. As with so many of his countrymen, the tumultuous political history of China that coincided with the leadership of Mao Zedong, not least the chaos of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, led to a belated start for his professional career. With this painting he abandoned the Socialist Realist style that prevailed in China at the time and embarked on a career of restless experimentation that continues until the present day.

Shang Yang was less affected than artists of a younger generation by the stylistic experimentation associated with the ‘85 New Wave, the wide-spread proliferation of artist associations that occurred in China in response to the influx of information regarding contemporary art, literature and philosophy in the West during the 1980s. However, in the late 1980s and early 1990s he entered a brief period of stylistic polymorphism. The most important of these phases occurred in 1988-1989 when he executed a group of abstract paintings titled States in which the focus was on the nature of the materials.

Continue reading about the exhibition

Shang Yang – ‘Decayed Landscape’, 2018. Mixed media on canvas, 122 x 436 cm (48 x 171 3/4 in)


6) The Impossibility of Form (Cuchifritos Gallery, 9/15 – 10/14) – In their eighth annual collaboration, Cuchifritos Gallery and Residency Unlimited presents new works from artists Tomás Cunha Ferreira (Portugal), Tzu Tung Lee (Taiwan), and Kairon Liu (Taiwan).

Tomás Cunha Ferreira’s work combines various supports, in a cross-border and open circuit practice – they function as prototypes, which can take on various stages and states – as reading scores, notations, visual poems, emblems, patterns, paintings, murals, etc. To this extent, each work results in a condensed hybrid figure, whose reading is in constant transition between visual elements and rhythmic or sonic ones. Tomás Cunha is currently running a beach project at Cova do Vapor, Trafaria – a fisherman’s marginal community in the outskirts of Lisbon (Vapor nº1, may 2018, included works and performances at the beach by Ana Cardoso, Alexandre Estrela, Tomás Cunha Ferreira, Martin Laborde, Gary Hill, Miguel Soares, João Simões and Belén Uriel).

Lee Tzu-Tung(李紫彤) is a new media artist, a political activist, and a visual anthropologist whose art practice combines rigorous academic research with political activism. Through performances, web-art, installations, fictional and experimental films she examines how one can survive, manipulate, regain autonomy through their political identities, with a special focus on the hegemony of Chinese Sino-centrism, the trauma of modernity and the current epistemological injustice. Lee Tzu-Tung was awarded the Experimental Film funds from the National Cultural Art Foundation in Taiwan. Her political work includes organizing monthly conferences at Café Philo Chicago and Café Philo New York,  working with the political youth NGOs Overseas Taiwanese for Democracy, and editing the bilingual political magazine NewBloom.

As a visual artist and photographer, Kairon Liu‘s practice reflects his observations about beliefs in human society through the creation of narratives exploring different issues related to religion, disease, and common values. Since 2017, Kairon is developing the project Humans As Hosts focused on understanding the living situation of people with HIV and heightening awareness about AIDS. In collaboration with social networks, NGOs, and Health Authorities, Kairon recruits HIV-positive individuals to volunteer as participants. The resulting images are to be viewed as the proof/disproof of the stereotypical prejudices and discrimination produced by society. Kairon Liu is the National Winner of the 201  Sony World Photography Awards (SWPA for his project “Married the Christmas”).


7) Chow Chun Fai (Eli Klein Gallery, 9/8 – 11/17) – Fai is one of the many artists influenced by the socio-political turmoil which transpired after the return of Hong Kong, a former British colony, to mainland China in 1997. As past chairman of Fotanian Artist Village in Fo Tan and a member of Factory Artists Concern Group, Fai is one of the few well-known artists in China who is actively engaged in politics.

In the “Painting on Movies” series, Fai perfectly recreates scenes from notable international films and paints English translations as subtitles. Each piece has a unique Hong Kong viewpoint which reveals the continued dilemmas that Hong Kong people face in regard to their identity. Fai’s works exhibit the local culture of Hong Kong, and more specifically the heightened social tensions caused by the socio-political turmoil dating back to 1997.

This exhibition has been developing since 2016. Wishing to take advantage of New York’s highly diverse socio-political environment, Fai shipped all 19 pieces, many unfinished, to the gallery to continue his works. Since then, he has taken residency at the Gallery which has afforded him an unlimited amount of time to complete and draw inspiration for his upcoming exhibition. Fai incorporates enamel industrial paint to create many of these paintings, a technique used to paint old billboards in front of cinemas.

Continue reading about the exhibition.

Chow Chun Fai – ‘Chicken and Duck Talk: The relationship between Chinese boss and his staff is very close’, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 59 1/16 x 78 3/4 in. (150 x 200 cm)


8) Metamorphosis: Liu Dan’s Fantastic Landscape and the Renaissance (Nicholas Hall, 9/13 – 11/23) – In this exhibition, Liu Dan will present a major landscape painting inspired by the Renaissance German artist Martin Schongaeur’s iconic print Christ Carrying the Cross alongside the original print, as well as a small selection of Old Master works on paper from the Renaissance onward by Parmigianino, Perino del Vaga, and Il Guercino among others. This is his first exhibition with the gallery and the first of its kind in New York to present Liu Dan’s painting in the context of its original European point of reference.

Liu Dan is among the most original and significant living artists in China. While working with the triad of ink, paper, and brush – the one constant in an otherwise highly diversified tradition for Chinese ink paintings in the past centuries – Liu Dan has pioneered an idiosyncratic idiom in the contemporary practice of ink that redefines the boundaries of the convention.

The painting on view is extremely rare in Liu Dan’s small oeuvre for its direct reference to a specific Old Master picture. Derived from Schongauer’s multi-figural composition, it is executed with utmost technical finesse and alludes to traditional Chinese landscapes. Replete with illusionistic details, the painting takes on an abstract quality. It demonstrates the artist’s profound knowledge of Classical Chinese paintings as well as an enlightened appreciation of the European Old Masters. The exhibition will be an extraordinary opportunity to experience Liu Dan’s work with the European historical sources that have been absorbed into the worldly and timeless vision of the artist.

Liu Dan – ‘Nanjing, China 1953 – Perceiving the Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, 2015. Ink rice on paper, 114 x 365 cm


Closing soon:

Kang Muxiang – Rebirth (5/17 – 9/15, Garment District Plazas, Broadway btwn 41st and 36th Streets)

Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/16)

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co.: General Store and Apothecary in John Day, Oregon (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/16)

Liu Chang: The Light of Small Things (Fou Gallery, 7/14 – 9/23)

Documenting China, Stories of Change (Photoville, 9/13 – 9/23)

Yuanyuan Yang: Theater of Crossroads (Gallery 456, 8/31- 9/28)

Current shows:

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

Kang Muxiang – Rebirth (5/17 – 9/15, Garment District Plazas, Broadway btwn 41st and 36th Streets)

Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People, and Practices (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/16)

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co.: General Store and Apothecary in John Day, Oregon (Museum of Chinese in America, 4/26 – 9/16)

Liu Chang: The Light of Small Things (Fou Gallery, 7/14 – 9/23)

Documenting China, Stories of Change (Photoville, 9/13 – 9/23)

Yuanyuan Yang: Theater of Crossroads (Gallery 456, 8/31- 9/28)

Cecile Chong – El Dorado / The New 49ers (Lewis H. Latimer House Museum, 5/12 – 10/14)

The Impossibility of Form (Cuchifritos Gallery, 9/15 – 10/14)

Liao Guohe: Burn Witches (Boers-Li Gallery, 9/8 – 10/20)

Zhang Xioagang: Recent Works (9/7 – 10/20)

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

Shang Yang: New Works (Chambers Fine Art, 9/15 – 11/3)

Chow Chun Fai (Eli Klein Gallery, 9/8 – 11/17)

Metamorphosis: Liu Dan’s Fantastic Landscape and the Renaissance (Nicholas Hall, 9/13 – 11/23)

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

Lead image: On the banks of the Yangtze River in Wuhan.