Press Release (10/20/11): MOCA to Open Lee Mingwei's The Travelers and The Quartet Project

Download a PDF of this press release: English


Excerpt from The Travelers Journal (click image to enlarge)

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of two ground-breaking new works by Taiwan-born American conceptual artist Lee Mingwei: The Travelers and The Quartet Project, which will be shown from October 20, 2011 through March 26, 2012. This show coincides with Lee's solo exhibition, The Moving Garden, opening at the Brooklyn Museum on October 5, 2011.


The Travelers (旅人計畫) is a participatory work commissioned by MOCA that began in September 2010 when Lee and MOCA released 100 journals designed by the artist to friends, family, acquaintances, and the general public. Having departed from their “home village” at the Museum, the books have been travelling around the world for the last year, passed from person to person like a chain letter with each participant adding a personal story about “leaving home” at some point in his or her life. The journals will eventually make their way back to MOCA, where they will be exhibited as part of Lee's show. The installation will also feature a reading room with furniture designed by the artist, offering visitors the chance to peruse the books in solitude. The Travelers was inspired by Lee's itinerant childhood as well as the stories of Chinese immigrants that are depicted as part of MOCA's permanent exhibition.


The Quartet Project (四重奏計畫) is an interactive video installation conceived in 2005 which also invites viewer participation and explores the notion of leaving home. Each of four monitors facing its own wall in a darkened gallery depicts a violinist performing an excerpt from Antonín Dvořák's American String Quartet. Viewers dictate in real time how the piece is orchestrated by activating or amputating parts of the music as they approach or walk away from the monitors. The piece is a personal response to the experience of a displaced Dvořák in America and suggests a central paradox of perception: sometimes the closer we get to a subject, the harder it is to understand. The Quartet Project was inspired by the classical music that Lee’s parents frequently played at home in Taiwan, and Dvořák's composition is what ironically reminded him of his homeland when he moved to America.


“Visitors to Lee Mingwei’s exhibition should be ready to interact with his work. Both projects invite people to action and by doing so, engage viewers in a dialogue about how our past impacts our present.” said Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions. “We’re pleased that MOCA’s work has inspired this significant artist to create such a profound, conceptually rich piece as The Travelers.”


Born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1964, Lee Mingwei has for over a decade been at the forefront of an artistic impulse that has gained traction in recent years: participatory projects grounded in trust and intimacy between strangers, with a foundation in the philosophy of generosity that relinquishes artistic control and thrives on the natural occurrence of each event and encounter. He has had solo shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1998), Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (1999), Museum of Modern Art, New York (2003), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2004), Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne, Germany (2005), Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taiwan (2007), Queensland Gallery of Modern Art ( 2008) and Mount Stuart, Scotland (2010). He has also been featured in biennials in Venice, Lyon, Liverpool (2006, 2010), Taipei, Echigo-Tsumari, the Whitney, and in the Asia Pacific Triennial. Lee earned a BFA from the California College of Arts and an MFA from Yale University, and currently lives and works in New York City and Berkeley, California. For more information about Lee Mingwei, please visit


This exhibition has been made possible with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Museums Program at the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties; and through the generosity of museum members.


Public Programs

Discussion with Lee Mingwei and Eugenie Tsai, moderated by Herb Tam
Thursday, October 27 2011, 6:30pm

Brooklyn Museum curator Eugenie Tsai (John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art) and artist Lee Mingwei talk about conceptual art practices, generosity, and how experiences of being Chinese shape artistic and curatorial work. Lee Mingwei’s Moving Garden is being presented at the Brooklyn Museum from October 5, 2011 to January 22, 2012.


Family Workshop: Finding Home
Saturday, November 12 2011 1:30pm
Saturday, Feb 11 2012, 1:30pm

Led by educators, participants will explore and find their own meaning of “home” with family members through poetry writing, art making, as well as a gallery walk through the special exhibition.


About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is the leading national museum dedicated to preserving and presenting the history and culture of people of Chinese descent in the United States. From its Maya Lin-designed home on the border of Chinatown and SoHo in New York City at 215 Centre Street, MOCA collects and displays historical and cultural artifacts, and organizes traveling exhibitions, classes, discussions, and events that explore all aspects of the Chinese American experience in the United States. MOCA began as a community-based organization founded in 1980, has evolved into a national keeper of cultural information and an influential voice in the ongoing history of Chinese and Chinese American culture across the country. The Museum’s original location at 70 Mulberry Street, currently the Collections and Research Center, is in the heart of Chinatown on the second floor of the historic, century-old school building that was once Public School 23. For more information, visit

Monday: 11am-5pm
Thursday: 11am-9pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am-5pm
The Museum is closed to the public on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except for prescheduled group tours and special programs.


General Admission: $7
Seniors (65+ with ID) and
Students (w/school ID): $4
Children under 12 in groups less than 8: Free
MOCA Members: Free


Target Free Thursdays: Free gallery admission every Thursday through the generosity of Target.


MOCA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational organization supported by its members, individual donors, and by public and private funds.