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Wu Tsang



In the film installation, Duilian, Wu Tsang (USA) recreates the untold love story of the famous 19th-century Chinese poet, feminist and revolutionary Qiu Jin (秋瑾) and the female calligrapher and publisher Wu Zhiying (吳芝瑛). A revered figure in China for her martyrdom in the anti-Manchu revolution, Qiu also defied gender norms, refusing to bind her feet and dressing as a man.  

Set aboard a ship in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Duilian moves between Qing Dynasty China and present-day Hong Kong. In this cinematic work, martial arts action sequences are interwoven with tender scenes of Qiu Jin and Madame Wu. Played by Wu Tsang and her real-life partner and collaborator, boychild, they converse with one another using translations of Qiu Jin’s poems.  

Based in New York and Berlin, Tsang developed the film’s script through a series of collective ‘mistranslation’ sessions with members of Hong Kong’s queer communities, allowing for multiple readings, imaginings and desires to emerge. Rewriting the dominant narrative of Qiu Jin’s life into a story of love and loss, Duilian interrogates the role that language plays in shaping history and the assumptions and omissions that reside within.

Funding provided by the United States Government.

About the Artists

Wu Tsang is an artist, performer and filmmaker. Her films, performances, and installations have been presented at museums and film festivals internationally. Tsang’s first feature WILDNESS (2012) premiered at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight and won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at OUTFEST Los Angeles. Her recent short YOU’RE DEAD TO ME premiered on PBS and won the 2014 Imagen Award for Best Short. Tsang has presented projects at the Tate Modern (London), the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), the Whitney Museum and the New Museum (New York), the Hammer Museum and MOCA (Los Angeles), Gwangju Biennial (South Korea), Liverpool Biennial (UK), and the 2012 Whitney Biennial (New York). Tsang is a 2014 Rockerfeller Bellagio Creative Arts Fellow and a 2015 Creative Capital Fellow.


Image: Wu Tsang, Duilian, 2016, single-channel colour video with sound, 26:16 minutes, image courtesy the artist, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi/Berlin and M+, Hong Kong. © Wu Tsang

Funding provided by the United States Government.