The Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

MOCA Monday: Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

Artist Lee Mingwei commissioned books that asked participants to reflect on the experience of leaving home.

In a break from MOCA Monday’s commitment to showcasing images from the collections, we’d like to share an image from a current exhibition: Lee Mingwei’s The Travelers. This piece was just written up in The New Yorker’s Goings on About Town. We invite you to view it through March 26. From their piece:

Two impressive installations by the Taiwanese-born artist grapple with the meaning of home. In “The Quartet Project” (2005), four video monitors, tucked behind partitions, document musicians performing Dvořák’s Op. 96 in F Major; known as the “American string quartet,” it was written while the Czech composer was on an extended visit to the U.S. The ambient play of light on the wall evokes both domesticity (home fires burning) and alienation (the flicker of TV spied through a stranger’s window). For “The Travelers,” which was commissioned by the museum in 2010, Lee made a hundred blank notebooks and invited participants to write down their thoughts about leaving home and then pass the books on to others and ask them to do the same. An air of distance is evident. One woman notes that in Europe, she says she’s from the U.S., in New York, she says she’s from California, and in San Francisco, she says she’s from Taipei. Even Maya Lin, who designed the museum, admits, “I still see myself as a Midwesterner, not a true New Yorker.” Through March 26.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, MOCA, MOCA Monday, , , , ,

MOCA Monday:

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

A traditional Lion Dance (from MOCA's opening festivities, Sept 2009.)

Happy New Year from our Family to Yours! May the next year bring you health, happiness and prosperity!

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MOCA Monday: Civil Rights

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

In 1963, more than 200,000 people participated in the March on Washington demonstrations. It was there that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech. On this day, MOCA is proud to honor the many protestors (of every color, class and creed) who have worked together to move this country closer to Dr. King’s dream.

Filed under: MOCA, MOCA Monday, , ,

My Whitney Biennial: Herb Tam and the problem with group exhibitions

Our Curator and Director of Exhibitions Herb Tam wrote a response to the Whitney Biennial on his personal blog Mind Spray, which has quickly gained traction in the online art world (including as the introduction to an article in the Huffington Post.) In case you’ve missed it, we present his original post here.

Every two years when the artists list for the Whitney Biennial gets released, emotional and intellectual debates stir about who was left out and what communities went unserved. It was no different this time around as the museum released Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sander’s selections for the 2012 version, likely to be the last in the Whitney’s current Marcel Breuer-designed building as it readies for the move to the meatpacking district. My twitter feed and various art blogs streamed early opinions – some expressed relief to see deserving artists finally make the cut, others bemoaned the under-representation of women and minority artists, there was an observation that the list seemed “Artforum-y,” etc.

All the attention is both a gift and a curse for its curators. The biennial, like the Oscar Awards, will always be judged harshly because its grand mission and history to survey the art of the contemporary (American?) moment makes it among the most prestigious group exhibitions to be included in, and also sets up an impossibly ambitious thesis to satisfy. I don’t envy the kinds of conceptual, logistical and political decisions the curators had and will have to face. The most important decisions are out of the way for them: deciding who’s on the final list. A few weeks ago artist and critic Sharon Butler, who writes the blog Two Coats of Paint, anticipating negative reaction to the leaked list, issued a challenge on her twitter (@TwoCoats): “everyone shld curate their 51-artist #whibi2012“.

So I decided to compile my own imaginary Whitney Biennial artists list, based on my conception of America as always carried along by the undercurrent of race. My decade was the 90s and my biennial would bring forth identity politics. It would look back into the 90s at how the politics of race and ethnicity were argued for, and in what kind of language. It would then recalibrate those debates in today’s terms, upon today’s means of communication and political struggle, to get a picture of racial dynamics now.

I was convinced nobody else thought this way until a few days ago when art critic Claire Barliant mentioned she had also been thinking seriously about art dealing with identity politics. How its moment had passed in the 90s, with much of the work dismissed as “victim” art, never to see critical attention return. What are the real reasons behind this, we wondered. Now was the time to do a show about this work, Claire asserted. A survey of its key works from the past and newer work that takes up the same issues today. We agreed that identity politics in art is well overdue its retrospective and contemporary attention. I was happy to hear someone else be so in tune with what I was feeling and this conversation prompted a revisiting of my list. Claire talked about identity politics as it related to sexual orientation and gender, which I hadn’t considered for my list, but which should be included in any show broadly stated as being about identity politics. I didn’t include those artists here because of time constraints.

Some of the artists in my list (see below) may be upset that their work is seen through this frame, and those that aren’t on it may be disgruntled by the omission (though I doubt that). It was a difficult list to compile, though easier because nothing was at stake. This show won’t go on, and I highly doubt I’ll ever be asked to curate one of these. Having gone through this exercise, I can only imagine the agony of the Whitney Biennial curators as they made excruciating decisions to exclude a lot of deserving artists, many of whom are their friends. But when their biennial opens the light of criticism, envy and adoration will shine brightly on them and the artists they’ve selected. For now, I hope you read these names carefully and maybe do a google search of them. Their work deserves the attention and I’m intoxicated with excitement thinking about their work assembled together some day.

Here’s my list:

Jaishri Abichandani, Manuel Acevedo, Derrick Adams,Terry Adkins, Elia Alba, Laylah Ali, Blanka Amezkua, Tomie Arai, Nicole Awai, Nadia Ayari, Radcliffe Bailey, Tamy Ben-Tor, Sanford Biggers, Karlos Carcamo, Nick Cave, Patty Chang, Mel Chin, Ken Chu, Seth Cohen, Robert Colescott, Papo Colo, William Cordova, Jimmie Durham, Brendan Fernandes, Benin Ford, Coco Fusco, Chitra Ganesh, Rupert Garcia, Rico Gatson, Mariam Ghani, Renee Green, Alejandro Guzman, David Hammons, Skowmon Hastanan, Leslie Hewitt, Donna Huanca, Arlan Huang, Yoko Inoue, Emily Jacir, Arthur Jafa, Rashid Johnson, Jennie C. Jones, Brad Kalhamer, Jayson Keeling, Swati Khurana, Byron Kim, Terence Koh, Simone Leigh, Shaun Leonardo, Lam + Lin, Bing Lee, Nikki S. Lee, Kalup Linzy, Miguel Luciano, James Luna, Tala Madani, Kerry James Marshall, Charles McGill, Yong Soon Min, Ivan Monforte, Irvin Morazan, Yamini Nayar, Manuel Ocampo, Joe Overstreet, Cliff Owens, Fahamu Pecou, Paul Pfeiffer, Adrian Piper, William Pope.L, Jaune Quick-To-See Smith, Sara Rahbar, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Faith Ringgold, Athena Robles, Rafael Sanchez (the one who had a solo show at Exit Art in 2010), Jacolby Satterwhite, Dread Scott, Seher Shah, Xaviera Simmons, Jeff Sonhouse, Mary Ting, Slavs & Tatars, Sol’Sax, Hong-An Truong, Juana Valdes, Mary Valverde, Kara Walker, Kay WalkingStick, Hank Willis Thomas, Saya Woolfalk, Lynne Yamamoto

Now we want to know: what do you think? Are group exhibitions inherently problematic? Should we pursue a new model? Who would you include in a group show or to whom would you give a solo exhibition?

Filed under: Exhibitions, MOCA, , , , ,

MOCA Monday: Fly to Freedom

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection. For more information, visit our website.

A ship made entirely of folded paper by refugees detained after the Golden Venture ran aground.

MOCA’s Fly to Freedom Collection includes 123 paper sculpture created by passengers of the ship Golden Venture.  The Golden Venture ran aground on June 6, 1993 and a significant portion of the nearly 300 passengers were held in detention by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, some for up to four years.  Detainees created sculptures first as gifts to pro-bono lawyers who took up their cases, and later, to pass time during the long days spent incarcerated.  Sculptures vary in design and subject matter, including simple pineapples to more complex forms like eagles, which supporters began to call “freedom birds.”  While connected to a specific immigrant experience, this collection illuminates the development, transmission, evolution, and maintenance of an often over-looked traditional art form.

Filed under: Collections, MOCA, MOCA Monday, , , , , ,

MOCA on Twitter

  • We've moved! Please follow along @mocanyc for Museum exhibitions and programs information and culturally relevant links. 7 years ago