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.