National Museum of Asian Art announces premiere of centennial-commissioned film
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National Museum of Asian Art announces premiere of centennial-commissioned film
Abiding Nowhere still in the National Museum of Asian Art’s courtyard; photo by Claude Wang.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art has announced the world premiere of Abiding Nowhere, a film it commissioned from Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang in honor of the museum’s centennial last year. The film will be screened during the Berlinale Special portion of the 2024 Berlin International Film Festival (known as the Berlinale), and it will premiere in the U.S. at the museum’s Meyer Auditorium March 1; tickets are available online.

Abiding Nowhere is the 10th in an ongoing series of works known as the Walker series, which Ming-liang has produced independently from the museum since 2012. Abiding Nowhere is the first in the series to be made in the United States and was shot in the museum’s Freer Gallery of Art and at other locations in the Washington, D.C., area.

Inspired by Xuanzang, the seventh-century monk who walked from China to India and became the inspiration for the famed literary work A Journey to the West, the Walker films all feature Tsai’s creative partner Lee Kang-sheng in the robe of a Buddhist monk, who has the uncanny ability to move very slowly, interacting with landscapes and people in cities all over the world.

“I want to thank Tsai Ming-liang for devising such an innovative platform to showcase the National Museum of Asian Art during our centennial and congratulate him and the team on the inclusion in the 2024 Berlinale,” said Chase F. Robinson, the museum’s director. “Our museum’s film program has long underscored our continued commitment to engaging with partners around the world, and it aligns with our strategic goals to reach a variety of audiences and to foster a museum culture that is creative and collaborative. This project is a wonderful celebration of those values.”

“As a longtime fan of Tsai’s work, it was an honor to be able to commission a film from him,” said Tom Vick, the museum’s curator of film, and the executive producer of Abiding Nowhere. “His way of depicting locations in the museum and the D.C. metropolitan area made me see them in a whole new way. I will be excited to celebrate his recognition with him and the production team in Berlin and to host the U.S. premiere at our museum in March.”

Vick has been the curator of film at the National Museum of Asian Art since October 2001. He has worked as a consultant for the International Film Festival Rotterdam and served on the juries of the Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal, Filmfest DC and the Smithsonian African American Film Festival. He has contributed essays to Directory of World Cinema: Japan, Film Festival Yearbook, Asian Geographic and other publications. He is the author of Asian Cinema: A Field Guide (2007) and Time and Place Are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki (2015).

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