Butterfly Wu: Queen of the Movies
Opening 2017.8.10 16:00
Organizer: Institute of Asian Art, Vancouver Art Gallery
Co-organizers: Taikang Space, Shanghai Center of Photography
Curators: Zheng Shengtian, Diana Freundl, Li Zhen
Artistic Director: Tang Xin
Butterfly Wu: Queen of the Movies will recount the life of film star Hu Die (1908-1989), a.k.a. Butterfly Wu, through a collection of reprints of rare photos on loan from the Poon Family. First exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery during its exclusive 2016 Institute of Asian Art Gala entitled In the Mood for Love, these 200 historical images depict the grace and poise of Hu Die, who was the first Chinese film star to receive widespread recognition in China and abroad. The exhibition will consist of three genre-specific
sections —film stills, travel photography and portraits—that will reveal interesting details about her life and the Chinese film industry in the early to mid twentieth century.
Hu Die was born in Shanghai and was the elder of two daughters of a chief inspector for a national railway.
After a nomadic childhood and youth—her father worked all over China—she returned to her home city in 1924 and enrolled in an acting class at Shanghai Film School. Hu Die found success relatively early: after graduation she had leading roles in many films. From 1928 to 1931, she starred in Burning of the Red Lotus Temple, an eighteen-part serial by studio Mingxing. During the 1930s she appeared in a number of important films, including Songstress Red Peony, Raging Torrent, Cosmetics Market, Salt Tide and Twin Sisters. In 1935 she travelled with the Chinese delegation to the Moscow International Film Festival. The group subsequently visited film communities in France, Italy, Germany and England, which resulted in a higher profile for the Chinese film industry. The actress also took part in welcoming foreign film delegations to China, notably meeting Canadian movie actress and ‘Queen of the Movies’ Mary Pickford in 1929. Hu Die herself became ‘Queen of the Movies’ in China after winning a contest organized by Shanghai newspaper Stars Daily. After a brief hiatus during World War II, Hu Die returned to acting until her retirement in her 60s. In her later years she moved to Vancouver, Canada, where she lived until her passing in 1989.
Butterfly Wu: Queen of the Movies is organized by the Institute of Asian Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and is co-curated by Zheng Shengtian, Adjunct Director of the Institute of Asian Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Diana Freundl, Associate Curator of Asian Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery; and Li Zhen, Researcher of Film Research Office and Graduate Tutor in China Film Art Research Center. And the exhibition is co-organized by Taikang Space and Shanghai Center of Photography. Taikang Space is a non-profit art institution devoted to collecting, exhibiting, researching, and promoting of Chinese contemporary art.During the past 14 years, Taikang Space has been systematically surveyed China’s contemporary art scene with its unique methodologies integrating historical perspective with problematic approaches. With the aim of retelling and re-activating multiplies of historical meanings under the current context. Taikang Space emphasizes the pertinence and potentials of mediums as the focus of research, particularly on the role of photography in its historical clue and contemporary power.
Supplementary exhibition information
Duration: 21 January - 18 March, 2018
Venue: Shanghai Center of Photography (SCop) / 2555-1 Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai