New York, NY 10013
Working dually as artists and anthropologists, Hong Kong-based duo Zheng Mahler present New York Post- et Préfiguratif (Before and After New York), a multi-media performance that explores the shifting interplay of global economies and migration, drawing remarkable parallels between their fieldwork in Hong Kong and the experiences of French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss who was exiled in New York in the 1940s.
Two figures are at the center of this story: Bull, a young East African businessman who worked from Chungking Mansions, an informal commercial center and gathering place for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, and a Beijing Opera singer outfitted in traditional costume. The performance is staged as a conversation between the Bull, played by Kenyan-American actor Irungu Mutu, and a Beijing Opera singer, portrayed by Nuo An, a Chinese dancer currently based in New York, who performs excerpts from Day Job Opera Dreams, a piece based on the migration stories and work experiences of Beijing Opera singers living in New York written by Kuang-Yu Fong, executive director of Chinese Theater Works. The performance is a visually and sonically lush Afro-Sino encounter between the characters. The work’s syncretic narratives and melding of cultural expressions, as well as its traversal of time and space, imbues it with poignant reflections on Western modernity filtered through the prism of Asia and Africa at a time when the world is now experiencing the most intense flows of migration since World War Two.
Curated by Adrienne Edwards.
Image credit: Zheng Mahler, New York Post- et Préfiguratif (Before and After New York), 2015. A Performa Commission. Photo by Paula Court
Supported by Australia Council for the Arts.