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Artist talk on the making of Oriental Silk: Xiaowen Zhu's new documentary exploring the legacy of a Chinese American family.

Modern Languages and Cultures Research Seminar Series in collaboration with HOMELandS.

Documentary filmmaker and media artist Xiaowen Zhu will present her new work Oriental Silk, a 30-minute documentary film exploring a family legacy behind the first Chinese silk company in Los Angeles.

Oriental Silk explores the worldview of the owner of the first silk importing company in Los Angeles, USA. Carefully and quietly, the film observes this owner, Kenneth Wong, as he goes through his daily routine in the store and tells his story: how his parents, first-generation Chinese immigrants, realized the American dream through the store; how the once legendary store’s fortunes rose in close connection with the Hollywood entertainment industry, then fell with the proliferation of cheaper silk in the new global economy; how he himself came to be the owner of the shop and caretaker of the family legacy; and about his deep feelings for the shop, its history, and its future.

Following the screening, Xiaowen Zhu will have an artist talk reflecting on her artistic practice to communicate the complex experience of being an international person and to wrestle with the notion of a disembodied identity.

About the artist

Xiaowen Zhu is a documentary filmmaker, media artist and writer. Described as a visual poet, social critic, and aesthetic researcher, she uses video, photography, performance, installation and mixed media as platforms to communicate the complex experience of being an international person and to wrestle with the notion of a disembodied identity.

Born and raised in Shanghai, Zhu is currently based in London, UK. She is the first receipt of the TASML Artist Residency Award and Marylyn Ginsburg Klaus Post-MFA Fellowship. She was an artist-in-residence at ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and V2_Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is a mentor of the British Film Institute Film Academy, a member of the Los Angeles Art Association, and formerly a Visiting Professor of Media Art at Syracuse University and Marymount College in USA. Zhu received her MFA in Art Video from Syracuse University, USA and BA in Film, TV Production & Media Art from Tongji University, China.

Zhu’s work has been shown at Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum (Beijing China), Chronus Art Centre (Shanghai, China), Art Basel Hongkong, ZKM | Centre for Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (Rotterdam, the Netherlands), ISEA2011 (Istanbul, Turkey), Dumbo Arts Centre (New York, USA), Videonale (Berlin, Germany), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, USA), Los Angeles Art Association (Los Angeles, USA), Venice Arts Gallery (Los Angeles, USA), Strozzina Art Space (Florence,Italy), Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (Norwich, UK), Toronto Urban Film Festival (Toronto, Canada), DOK Munich (Munich, Germany), Film Winter (Stuttgart, Germany), Athens Video Art Festival (Athens, Greece), K3 Film Festival (Austria), Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, USA), Shanghai eArts Festival (Shanghai, China) and more.

Free admission

The event is free and open to the public. Non-University of Westminster attendees please register with Cangbai Wang.

Oriental Silk film poster