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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NYAFF 2010: Saturday with Sammo

NEW YORK, June 26 – I missed the opening of the 2010 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), so my first impression of this year’s festival started with the screening of Eastern Condors (東方禿鷹).

Eastern Condors is a particularly special film to my generation of Hong Kong film fanatics. I was first exposed to the film in the early 90s. I was probably a ‘tween at the time. I remembered watching the film on a poor grainy VHS tape with bad tracking. So the prospects of seeing it on the big screen were very exciting to me.

After the film, Sammo Hung (洪金寶) participated in a short Q&A with the folk at the NYAFF. They discussed a variety of topics concerning the making of the film. Hung appeared visibly tired, but he heroically powered through the appearance. The kung-fu legend even acted out some of the behind the scenes stories. He seemed both warm and gracious to his fans.

A real treat for the audience was the surprise appearance of Joyce Godenzi (高麗虹), who is Hung’s wife. She was the lead actress in Eastern Condors and several other kung-fu flicks. Godenzi initially gained public attention as a former Miss Hong Kong and fashion model. She parlayed her successful modeling career into a decade long Hong Kong film career. She starred in some memorable martial arts films such as She Shoots Straight and License to Steal. Despite her age, Godenzi is still stunningly beautiful (minus the short 80s hairdo). I was hoping that she would participate in the Q&A, but sadly she didn’t.

After the Sammo Hung Q&A, I stuck around the theater until the screening of Kung-fu Chefs. It’s another Sammo Hung film of a more recent vintage. While waiting for the screening to start, I unexpectedly ran into a bunch of friends from other blogs, podcasts, and local anime clubs. They were pretty chill.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Do You Know What Time It Is? It's Tuen Ng Time.

zòng zi (粽子)

It's that time of year again! It's Tuen Ng Jit (端午節). The holiday is traditionally celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar (Julian: June 16, 2010). It honors the famous Chinese scholar Qu Yuan (屈原) who committed ritual suicide by throwing himself in the Miluo River. The festival is primarily celebrated with dragon boat races and the consumption of zòng zi (or zòng).

I didn't do any dragon boat racing but ate my fair share of zòng.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Different Shade of Red

NEW YORK, June 4 – The Chambers Fine Art held an impressive exhibition opening for a young Chinese artist named Ye Nan. The exhibit is named Red Phosphorous and had an interesting mix of abstraction, industrial grit, and political propaganda.

Who Conquered Theirs

Most of Ye Nan's work consisted of thin layers of paint and red liquid phosphorous. Phosphorous is an industry chemical used to make matches, pesticides, toothpaste, and detergents. The phosphorous, which is used in Nan's paintings, gives his work an industrial quality similar to Robert Rauschenberg's Combines in some respects.

Ideal Nation

In terms of content, Nan's use of overtly political titles and subversive imagery adds a philosophical element to his work. Although he is too young to remember the early Chinese Communist revolution, he masterfully incorporates its propaganda techniques into his art. For example, his monochromatic use of the color red and the frequent employment of flag motifs are directly referencing the visual vocabulary of early Chinese Communist propaganda.

We Still Have Many Virgin Islands

Despite his visual usage of Communism propaganda techniques, the spirit of Ye Nan's artwork is actually the product of contemporary Chinese attitudes and modes of thinking. According to the exhibition statement, his work is drawing inspiration from industrialization, science, politics, and rock music.

Ultimate Victory

Ultimate Victory (detail)

Friday, June 11, 2010

New R2 Unit

I just bought a new R2 unit (a.k.a. portable air conditioner) from some filthy Jawas. I hope it doesn't have a bad motivator. Wait, I think it speaks Bocce!

Monday, June 7, 2010


Breathing Underwater Short by Eric Nakamura and Saelee Oh

NEW YORK, June 4 – As a major promotional tour, Scion (division of Toyota Motor Corporation) sponsored a gallery installation consisting of avant-garde short films. Touring under the name of Scion Installation Six, the gallery show held an exhibition opening at the Eastern District in Brooklyn.

Surprisingly the gallery space was a small sliver of real estate that was probably someone's garage in a former life. In terms of set-up, the show consisted of three different projectors which played several short films simultaneously. Each projector was focused on different spots along the gallery's bare walls, and gallery visitors were constantly shifting their attention from one spot to another.

The gallery installation tour featured videos from many different artists including Eric Nakamura (Giant Robot Magazine), Saelee Oh, Dust La Rock, Funeral Fog, Ill-Studio, Josh Graham, Mark Mothersbaugh, Monihan Monihan, PMKFA, and Sage Vaughn.

There were a few notable film shorts.

Breathing Underwater. The first was an animation piece by Eric Nakamura and Saelee Oh. Their brightly colored animation was a cut-out stop-motion video similar to South Park. The short featured an underwater world of sea creatures, fish, and bizarre characters. It was very serene. Behind the Scenes of Breathing Underwater

Video Montage by Dust La Rock

Dust La Rock. Another amazing short film was created by Dust La Rock. It was a bizarre film collage of famous images including Roman busts, religious symbols, and Black Panther demonstrations. The whole film was framed by graphics similar to a film leader countdown. I enjoyed the bizarre mixture of symbolic and historical references.

Holographilia by Ill-Studio

Holographilia. It's probably one of the most psychedelic films of the entire traveling gallery show. Ill-Studio's creation featured mannequin hands floating across the screen and disembodied human hands playing piano keys superimposed over a marble wall. A sad creepy piano melody is played during the entire film. Very creepy. Behind the Scenes of Holographilia

The Scion Swag Bags

Some gallery visitors came for the amazing videos, and others came for the swag. The gallery was stuffed with tons of Scion swag bags.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

The New Grand Tour

NEW YORK, June 3 – A group of notable artists traveled to the remote regions of China (including Tibet) to find artistic inspiration. Their travels resulted in an interesting group show at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. The show was titled "The New Grand Tour" borrowing the name from a western cultural practice of sending young (aristocratic) adults to tour the great cities of Europe.

I had a few problem with the curating of the show. The gallery did not label any of the pieces in the show. Especially in a group show, identifying artists and their works is important. I asked someone working at the gallery for any gallery guides, lists of works, or a simple exhibition postcard. They had no clue, and I couldn't find any literature located in the exhibition area. Forget the website. It's a very beautifully designed flash menu system, but it's not functional.

Regardless of the curating problems, the art was pretty interesting. The incorporation of local religious and tradition folk art with a modern aesthetic was fascinating.

Artists featured in the show: Suitman & Young Kim, Deanne Cheuk, José Parlá, Rey Parlá, Rey, Rostarr A.K.A., Romon Kimin Yang, and Davi Russo.

Here are a few pieces from the show:

Artist: José Parlá

Artist: Suitman & Young Kim

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