It’s one of those pinch-me-is-this-for-real? moments: today I was sending an email to Joan Chen, yes THAT Joan Chen–the super talented and gorgeous film star and director. I think the first movie I saw her in was The Last Emperor and the most recent was Lust, Caution, much of which was set in Shanghai. Those two mega movies bookend an incredibly interesting career that still has lots of surprises in store. Checking out her filmography on Wikipedia I was delighted to note she starred in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, set in the lovely (no sarcasm intended) city of Baltimore (“Ball-more” for many natives), near where I grew up. Homicide used to be my favorite TV show so now I will be hunting this episode down. Did you know she also played Josie Packard in David Lynch’s TV series Twin Peaks?
Why was I emailing Ms. Chen? She has agreed to voice the Shanghai audiotour, which will highlight 20 objects in the exhibition and also features interviews with artist Zhang Jian Jun, curators Michael Knight, Dany Chan, and Nancy Berliner, and, of course, our Shanghai born director Jay Xu.
One of the things we want to include in the tour is some Shanghainese poetry. We will ask Ms. Chen who is from Shanghai and speaks native English as well to recite some of the poems in both languages so participants may hear the Shanghai dialect. Language, like food, is a great window into culture, but unlike food, which usually can be appreciated instantly by anyone, learning a culture through its language takes time. At least people will get an aural sample of the taste of Shanghainese.
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