Opening Thur, Oct 26, 5-8pm; exhibition Oct 26 - Dec 23, 2017
Requiem is a contemporary art exhibition that is inspired by the largely unknown story of the Chinese American diaspora, and the significant role of Hong Kong charity Tung Wah Group of Hospital's efforts in repatriating dislocated Chinese bodies in the United States since the 19th century.
During the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese in America had limited access to burial lands and saw homecoming as the significant ritual for the dead. Relying on local family associations as mini agents, and using Hong Kong as terminal, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals facilitated the repatriation of the bones from the U.S. back to their home in China. In response to this history, Chinese Culture Center invites third generation Chinese American artist Summer Mei-ling Lee to reflect on the legacy, and at the same time, explore topics of homecoming under the global context of diaspora.
In early 2017, Lee made her way to Hong Kong where hospital historians shared the story of their remarkable efforts, and, on one of her visits to the Coffin Home, opened for her one of the many unclaimed bone boxes they continue to protect. This one, like one third of the boxes shipped over the seas from the United States, was empty-a 'soul summoning box'.
The installation leads visitors through darkened galleries where hanging scrolls partially obscure wall murals painted with ash. Light projections reveal these paintings in brief glimpses. Deep within the exhibition, visitors encounter the bone box that was opened for Lee in Hong Kong. Lee has commissioned a new interpretation of 'Pie Jesu' from Gabriel Faure's mass Requiem, op. 48-arranged for erhu and cello-which can be heard throughout the exhibit. Clips from film footage shot both in Hong Kong and of a performance piece by Lee, that took place in and around the abandoned Chinese tombstones at the margins of the Lincoln Park Golf Course near San Francisco's Legion of Honor museum, will also be on view.