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The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging focuses on the transformative power of music identity in immigrant Chinese communities from 1850s to the present. During this period, disparate music genres converged with historic milestones, including changes in U.S. immigration legislation and China’s soft power emergence. The exhibition delves into how Chinese immigrant communities have yearned for the ‘old country’, fashioned new American identities, or challenged stereotypes through their embrace of music forms as far-reaching as Cantonese opera, hip hop, Asian American Movement music, Taiwan love ballads, Canto-pop, western classical, karaoke, Beijing underground rock, and many other genres.

The exhibition is co-curated by Hua Hsu, staff writer at The New Yorker, and MOCA’s curatorial team: Herb Tam, Curator and Director of Exhibitions, and Andrew Rebatta, Associate Curator.

Starts
May 2, 2019
Ends
September 29, 2019
Category

Exhibition Texts

Is your radio always tuned to the same station?
Are you a mixtape of different sounds and voices?

Musical tastes often solidify in our formative years when we’re asserting our place in the world. We try on the hairstyles, fashions, and speech patterns that go along with the music we choose to buy, listen to, play, or obsess over. If it fits, we adopt it as our own.

For the Chinese community in America, musical tastes can carry a political charge: what we choose to listen to is a way to align with or against a world view. Our music might be a cultural home. An iconic song like Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart,” which this exhibition is named after, could be a surrogate for the homeland left behind and a reminder of who we really are. But what do we mean by “Our music”? How do we begin to define it?

Think of this exhibition as a massive mixtape of some of the music that matters to Chinese in America. We begin with a conversation about music memories with Chinatown resident Marcella Chin Dear, New York-based musician and activist Taiyo Na, Los Angeles/New York-based artist Amy Yao and Beijinger artists and musicians Yuanyuan Yang, Zhao Cong and Zhu Wenbo.

The exhibition is organized into sections that bridge an expansive range of musical genres, approaches, and artists. In one section, we consider the relationship between traditional Chinese opera and rap music. Another brings together Asian American Movement music and underground rock in Beijing. Karaoke culture is contrasted with church singing. By free-associating in this way we hope the exhibition will prompt you to actively explore how music, memory, and belonging are connected.

Source Materials: Opera, Chinatown Sounds and Hip-Hop

Disciplines: Western Classical Music and Experiments in Noise

Tenderness: Looking for Home in Cantopop, Mandopop, and Yellow Music

Amateur Hours: Ecstatic Performance in Partying and Worship

Sound Clashes: Electronic Music in the Diaspora

Movements: Beijing Rock, Asian American Folk, and Songs of Revolution

Abstracted: Creative Encounters in the Margins

Exhibition Video

Installation Views

Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
Installation view of The Moon Represents My Heart: Music, Memory and Belonging at MOCA
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Chinese Medicine in America

Converging Ideas, People and Practices

April 26, 2018September 16, 2018

Zhang Hongtu, Story of One Circle, 1983, Ink, gouache and acrylic on rice paper, Courtesy of the artist