Tsai Ming-liang, the world-renowned avant-garde director, will make his first public visit to the United States in over a decade. Tsai has been invited by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art in Washington D.C., the Harvard Film Archive in Cambridge, the University of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The momentous occasion will be accompanied by major retrospective programs at these cultural organizations to showcase Tsai’s cinema.
From September 30 through October 24, Tsai will be joined by actor Lee Kang-sheng and Anong Houngheuangsy, both of whom are featured in his latest film, “Days,” for visits to Chicago, Washington D.C., Cambridge, and New York City. The retrospective programs will screen 21 Tsai’s works over his 30-year career, including 2021 short films “The Night” and “The Moon and the Tree.” Tsai will give a special talk/performance titled “Improvisations on the Memory of Cinema,” which incorporates storytelling, drawing, and reminiscing over his life and work, to audiences in Washington D.C. and New York City. First presented at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, this partially improvised event serves as an intimate self-portrait of an artist at work.
Moreover, MoMA announced that the museum has acquired one of Tsai’s masterpieces, “Face,” which was commissioned by the Louvre and shot largely within the museum’s premises in 2009. According to MoMA, “With the world-renowned art collection as its backdrop, Face is a gorgeously shot and composed work filled with dreamy sequences that resemble performance art installations.”
In response to the news, Tsai shared that “It is like a dream come true since I have always wanted to bring my films to museums.” Tsai has devoted himself to the creation of contemporary art in recent years, and he believes that films are also a form of artwork. For the upcoming US retrospectives and tour, Tsai said that he feels very honored to receive invitations from major art and academic institutions in the United States. While Tsai doesn’t consider himself to be a prolific film director, each and every film he’s produced has received critical acclaim at home and abroad. With the company of Lee and Houngheuangsy, “I can imagine this journey will be memorable,” Tsai added.
A leading filmmaker of contemporary Chinese-language cinema, Tsai Ming-Liang has produced one of the most striking cinematic oeuvres of the past quarter-century. Malaysian by birth, Taiwanese by residence, internationally funded but belonging to nowhere in particular, Tsai’s moody, pensive, deadpan films are haunted by loss, failure, and broken attachments. But these films are not mere exercises in nostalgia: collaging the fragments of contemporary life into a cinema of alienation, precarity, and queerness, Tsai’s slow style and serial characters iterate and interrogate all the ways attachment falls short amid the austerity, inequality, and increasing uncertainty rapidly proliferating in the margins of modernity.
Tsai’s US tour was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but it was postponed due to the pandemic.
The tour is made possible by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture.
For screening schedules and program details:
The University of Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University: https://www.tsai2020.com/
Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C.: https://asia.si.edu/events-overview/films/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Dseries%26seriesid%3D1485281
Harvard Film Archive: https://harvardfilmarchive.org/programs/the-face-of-time-recent-films-by-tsai-ming-liang
The Museum of Modern Art: https://www.moma.org/calendar/film/5204