Wu Tsang is a filmmaker, artist and performer based in Los Angeles. Her work is concerned with queer and trans community and community-practices.
Tsang's feature documentary, Wildness, documents the Los Angeles trans bar "Silver Platter". Wu Tsang directed and produced the film. It was co-written with Roya Rastegar. The film was premiered at the MoMA Documentary Fortnight in New York and has been screened at festivals in Canada, the US, and Chile. Since 1963, "Silver Platter" has been a historic bar that patronised by a predominantly Latin LGBT community. Wildness documents what happens when a group of young artists host a weekly performance night at the bar. Documenting the collision between the two LGBT communities, the film poses questions about community, space, and ownership. In an interview, Tsang describes how her film represents a number of people are often stereotyped (trans people, people of colour, and queer communities) and she experiments with how to be accountable to the communities that she documents.
Wu Tsang's short films include:
- Duilian (2015): The film explores the life and writings of Qiu Jin, a Chinese feminist revolutionary who was executed at the age of 31 for attempting to foment revolution against the Qing dynasty. Lesser known, and highlighted in the film, is her long-term queer relationship with calligrapher Wu Zhuying. Wu Tsangs plays Wu Zhuying, and long-time Wu Tsang collaborator, Boychild, plays Qiu Jin.
- You're Dead to Me (2013): In suburban California, a Chicana mother who is mourning the death of her teenage daughter two years earlier. On the eve of Dia de los Muertos, everything changes when Death offers her a choice she could not make in life. The cast includes Laura Patalano and Harmony Santana. The film was widely show in LGBT and other film festivals, and won various awards, including best short and best actress.
- Tied and True (2012): Co-written with Nana Offoriatta-Ayim, the film takes place in a fictional post-colonial African city, inspired by Île Saint-Louis, Senegal. It tells the story of two star-crossed lovers while exploring the themes of assimilation, alterity and racism.
- Mishima in Mexico (2012): Starring Alex Segade and Wu Tsang, the film is inspired by the 1950 novel by Yukio Mishima, Thirst for Love. It takes place in Mexico City, where a writer and director check into a hotel together to work through their creative process, while integrating Mishima's work into their own, and into their lives.
Performance, Video, and Installations
In a 2014 interview, Tsang states, "For me performance is like research; lived experience is fundamental. I have to do these things to understand or have any critical analysis. I've never been someone who's going to stay behind the camera and observe. I don't perform onstage that often, but when I do it's often part of a process—it's a way of thinking through things."
- Shape of a Right Statement (video, 2008)
- The Fist is Still Up (neon sign in the Silver Platter, Los Angeles, 2008)
- P.I.G. (Politically Involved Girls) (with Zackary Drucker and Mariana Marroquin, performance at New Original Works Festival, Los Angeles, 2009)
- The Table (with NGUZUNGUZU and Total Freedom, Jalisco Bar, Los Angeles, 2010)
- Damelo Todo (Silver Platter, Los Angeles, 2010 and Clifton Benevento, New York, 2011)
- Full Body Quotation (performance at Performa 11, New Museum, New York, 2011)
- For how we perceived a life (Take 3) (installation, New Museum Triennial, New York, 2012)
- Green Room (installation, Whitney Biennial, New York, 2012)
- Tied and True (video, co-written with Nana Offoriatta-Ayim, 2012)
- Mishima in Mexico (video, with Alexandro Segade, 2012)
- Breakdown (performance, with Ashland Mines and Kelela Mizanekristos, Tate Modern Tanks, London, 2013)
- A Day in the Life of Bliss (2-channel video installation, with boychild, 2013)
Awards and honors
In 2012, Tsang was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film". At Outfest 2012, Wildness won the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary. Also in 2012, her work was featured in the Whitney Biennial and the New Museum Triennial. She won the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award (2013). In 2014, she was included in the Hammer Museum's 2014 "Made in L.A." biennial. In 2015 she received a Creative Capital Award for A Day in the Life of Bliss.
- Wildness (external link)
- "WU TSANG". wutsang.com. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
- "¿Qué pasó con los martes? - WILDNESS THE MOVIE - trailer". wildnessmovie.com. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- "Wu Tsang | Filmmaker Magazine". filmmakermagazine.com. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- "Artist Wu Tsang on her new film exploring the life of 'China's first feminist', Qiu Jin". Time Out HK. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- "Official Page, You're Dead To Me - Short". Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- "Wu Tsang". art-agenda.com. Retrieved 2015-12-17.
- Cheh, Carol (June 30, 2014). "Artists at Work: Wu Tsang". East of Borneo. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- "CLIFTON BENEVENTO | 2011 Wu Tsang PR". cliftonbenevento.com. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- "Outfest 2012". outfest.org. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- "Wu Tsang :: Foundation for Contemporary Arts". www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org. Retrieved 2018-04-19.
- "Made in L.A.: Wu Tsang". Hammer Museum. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
- Wu Tsang on IMDb
- "WU TSANG". wutsang.com. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- "Queer love economies: Making trans/feminist film in precarious times". Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory. 23: 66–82. doi:10.1080/0740770X.2013.792634. Retrieved 2014-07-25.
- http://wildnessmovie.squarespace.com/storage/Dean%20Spade%20make-shift%20web.pdf "Wildness" essay by Dean Spade
- http://wildnessmovie.squarespace.com/storage/WB%2712_Tsang.pdf "Wildness" essay by Wu Tsang in the Whitney Biennial Catalogue
- http://wildnessmovie.squarespace.com/storage/nifstc_wu%20roya.pdf A Conversation between Wu Tsang and Roya Rastegar
- Sister of the sword: Wu Tsang, the trans artist retelling history with lesbian kung fu
- Judah, Hettie (2017-05-17). "Sister of the sword: Wu Tsang, the trans artist retelling history with lesbian kung fu". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-23.