Wu Tsang in her "Shape of a Right Statement" video, 2008.
36 S Wabash Ave #1201, Chicago, IL 60603, United States
In 2004, Wu Tsang received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Los Angeles, California 90095, United States
In 2010, Tsang attained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Wu Tsang and boychild.
In 2004, Wu Tsang received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, in 2010, she attained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
In 2004, while still an undergraduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tsang organized the "PILOT TV: Experimental Media for Feminist Trespass!!!", a temporary, queer and feminist television studio, offering sets, props, cameras and technical support to over 250 participants for the creation of short skits and thematic "trans-feminist" programming. Formed in the spirit of media collectives, including DIVA TV, Paper Tiger Television, the Videofreex and Raindance, "PILOT TV" encapsulated the participatory, community-based "sweat-space", that Tsang would activate in later projects.
Tsang's projects include "Mishima in Mexico" (short film), "Tied and True" (short film), "Shape of a Right Statement" (video), "Damelo Todo", "Breakdown" (performance), "Green Room" (installation), "For how we perceived a life" (installation), "Full Body Quotation" (performance), "P.I.G." (Politically Involved Girls) (performance) and others.
Tsang’s work as an artist emerges from collaboration, particularly as a co-organizer of a weekly nightclub, called Wildness, which was a flashpoint for underground art and community activism in Los Angeles. Taking place at an immigrant gay bar near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, Wildness created a space, where the bar’s longtime patrons, queer people of color, mixed with artists and performers. Tsang’s feature film "Wildness" (2012) documents this scene and the perpetual negotiation of race, gender and socioeconomic class among the patrons, who wrestle with questions of gentrification, authenticity and ownership as they encounter each other’s realities. The bar itself plays a leading role in the film, serving as an omniscient narrator and embodying the imaginative and performative acts, through which cultural fictions are formed and expressed.
In her film "Duilian" (2016), Tsang blurs fantasy and reality to explore the gap between the well-known public persona of Qui Jin, an early twentieth-century revolutionary Chinese poet and the obscurity of her personal life and sexuality. The film imagines Qui Jin’s relationship with her female friend and calligrapher, Wu Zhiying, as an intimate love affair.
Wu produced many other films, the latest of which include "Kelela: All it Took" (2017), "We hold where study" (2017), "Into A Space of Love" (2018) and others. Her films, performances and installations were presented at museums and film festivals internationally.
Since 2014, Tsang has been making art with the gender nonconforming performance artist boychild, with whom she also has a romantic relationship. Through boychild, Tsang developed her interest in dance.
In 2017, Wu acted as a visiting faculty member at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Currently, she divides her time between New York City and Berlin.
Wu Tsang incorporates strategies of activism, art making, event planning and stage production across a range of multi-disciplinary projects. She combines or juxtaposes the avant-garde and cerebral with sensual, often emotionally charged representations, that prompt deeper inquiries into how individuals and communities resist ingrained social prejudices. Her work also considers prescient debates about a generation's claim to a subculture and social gathering as a form of insurgency and the political capacity of contemporary art.
While Tsang’s work has a rich visual style, her attention to shifting identities and transitional spaces and communities emphasizes contingent identifiers, such as language, voice and persona. Like the generations of artist activists and collectives, who preceded and inspired her, Tsang uses media and the frameworks of popular media forums, such as cinema, television, theater and dance clubs in order to consider how a public persona might be crafted to embody resistance.
Quotations: "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."
Wu has a romantic relationships with boychild, who is also her collaborator.