Exhibition Preview: Thu 2 May, 6pm - 9pm
Take a first look at our new exhibition, part of The Lives of Artists season at the Bluecoat.
The evening will give you a preview of Our Mountains Are Painted on Glass by Michelle Williams Gamaker as well as Role Model by Dahong Hongxuan Wang.
Award winning moving image artist Michelle Williams Gamaker (b.1979, London) has developed Fictional Activism to interrogate 20th Century cinema, by retelling the histories of marginalised actors and by proposing critical alternatives to colonial storytelling in British and Hollywood studio films.
Known for her inventive filmmaking and screenwriting, Williams Gamaker draws on and celebrates the classic movies she watched growing up, and takes inspiration from early Hollywood and British cinema. The exhibition at Bluecoat will screen Thieves, a fantasy adventure retelling of The Thief of Bagdad. The Thief of Bagdad, a silent, black and white film from 1924, was remade in colour in 1940.
Our Mountains Are Painted on Glass was co-commissioned by South London Gallery and DCA.
Dahong Hongxuan Wang, an artist who has played the role of Anna May Wong in several of Williams Gamaker’s works, will exhibit her new film Role Models. Hongxuan Wang’s new film follows the path of Anna May Wong who travelled to her ancestral hometown of Taishan, Guangdong. Having been rejected by Hollywood in favour of actors in the racist make-up technique of yellowface, Wong set off on a tour of China. Reflecting back on her time in China and America, Wong said “It's a pretty sad situation to be rejected by the Chinese because I'm 'too American' and by American producers because they want other races to act Chinese parts.” Through her vocal and symbolic acts of resistance and critique, Hongxuan Wang finds a role model in Anna May Wong, “a modern, Chinese, young female performer has finally found her lifetime role model”. Role Models will feature a director-like Anna (played by Hongxuan Wang), who ultimately succeeds in dominating the whole documentary process.
Writer Jennifer Lee Tsai will perform in response to our The Lives of Artists season as our featured writer. Her work often looks to the second generation immigrant experience, and explores themes of ancestral trauma, loss and belonging. Tsai draws on her own life, the lives of her family and the lives of others around her to create beautiful and powerful work that helps us understand each other and resonate with our own sense of self.
The exhibitions form the basis for a new approach which will see the Bluecoat split its programming into three seasons.