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Long-Bin Chen, "New York Buddha Project" (installation view at Long-Bin Chen Studio, New York), 2007. Used phone books

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) presents its first full-scale, contemporary art exhibition in its recently expanded location at 215 Centre Street, on the cusp of SoHo and Chinatown in Manhattan. Curated by Zhijian Qian from The New School, Here & Now: Chinese Artists in New York is a three-part exhibition showcasing twelve contemporary artists of Chinese heritage who have established noteworthy careers in New York City. Here & Now will move visitors beyond the framework that defines Chinese artists as “traditional,” “westernized,” or “hybrids of East and West.” The exhibition explores what it means to be Chinese-American by questioning the usefulness of these categories in regards to Chinese artists today.

The exhibition, on display in MOCA’s Bloomberg Special Exhibitions Gallery, will be accompanied by a series of panel discussions, artist workshops, and a full-color, illustrated catalogue that features interviews with Xu Bing and Wenda Gu. The exhibition is organized into three seven-week long chapters—Visual Memories, Crossing Boundaries, and Towards Transculturalism.

“In addition to our core exhibition, With A Single Step: Stories in the Making of America, which focuses on the Chinese American experience through the lens of history and artifacts, Here & Now encourages MOCA’s audience to think about Chinese heritage from an artistic viewpoint,” said S. Alice Mong, MOCA’s director. “We are thrilled that our new home at 215 Centre Street allows the Museum to have a dedicated space for art and related exhibitions.”

“As an institution of ethnic culture, the Museum of Chinese in America can present an unusually nuanced perspective on Chinese and Chinese American artists,” said curator Zhijian Qian. “Here and Now: Chinese Artists in New York does not oversimplify what these artists have in common as persons of Chinese descent, but rather demonstrates how diverse they are as individuals who are not necessarily equally Chinese. The twelve artists featured in this exhibition originate from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United States, and their paths to New York have taken them across the world and down various roads of cultural exploration.”

The first installment, "Visual Memories," showed how four artists have reconnected with Chinese art tradition in the United States, their adopted country of settlement. Before their migration out of China, Xu Bing, Yun-Fei Ji, Lin Yan and Cui Fei had very limited exposure to traditional Chinese art practices. In fact, they were largely trained in Western art. The artists’ detachment from the Chinese tradition was further encouraged by the unprecedented enthusiasm of China’s “Reform and Open-Door” policy, which embraced modern Western art and culture.

The second installment, "Crossing Boundaries" (November 19, 2009 until January 4, 2010), explores four artists’ diverse approaches to cultural boundaries. Ming Fay, Zhang Hongtu, Long-Bin Chen and Shiyi Sheng relocated to New York from different places at different times, with disparate educational and life experiences. Before their relocation to New York, issues of cultural identity were scarcely of their concern, as the Han Chinese culture was, and still is, predominant in their homelands. It was only after they had settled in New York that they individually realized they could not avoid cross-cultural issues, both in life and art. A certain hybridity in their works evinces a focus on cross-cultural issues, but their responses to those issues vary greatly in their approach.

The third and final installment, "Towards Transculturalism," (January 21-March 8, 2010) presents four artists of Chinese descent who are part of the transculturalism trend in this era of globalization. Working in varied media and styles, Emily Cheng, Hung-Chih Peng, YoYo Xiao and Shen Chen share an interest in using a universal language in the creation of their art. Although they all have some connection with the Chinese art tradition, they pursue methods that are understandable and acceptable to an international audience. In their later careers, each departed from the Chinese tradition and moved in a direction that transcends notions of Eastern or Western art. Currently their art is receiving greater attention not only in New York but also in global cities in Asia, and China in particular, where they frequently exhibit their works.

Part I: Visual Memories (September 22-November 2, 2009)
Xu Bing (b. China, 1955; arrived in Wisconsin, 1990)
Yun-fei Ji (b. China, 1963; arrived in Arkansas, 1989)
Lin Yan (b. China; arrived in New York, 1986)
Cui Fei (b. China; arrived in Pennsylvania, 1996)

Part II: Crossing Boundaries (November 19, 2009-January 4, 2010)
Zhang Hongtu (b. China, 1943; arrived in New York, 1982)
Long-bin Chen (b. Taiwan; arrived in New York, 1994)
Ming Fay (b. China, 1943; Hong Kong, 1952; arrived in California, 1970)
Shiyi Sheng (b. China; France; New York)

Part III: Towards Transculturalism (January 21-March 8, 2010)
Hung-Chih Peng (b. Taiwan, 1969; Taipei, Beijing, New York)
Yoyo Xiao (b. China; arrived in New York, 2003)
Emily Cheng (b. U.S.)
Shen Chen (b. China, 1955; arrived in Maine, 1988)

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© 2009 Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA).