Among the 25 recipients of this year’s John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s ‘MacArthur Genius Grant’ is award-winning, bi-coastal trans filmmaker and visual performance artist, Wu Tsang, the foundation announced Thursday, October 4.
Tsang, who is based in New York but spends significant time in Los Angeles, has developed a reputation for documentary and narrative techniques that often explores the hidden histories and marginalized narratives of LGBTQ people, as well as the act of performing itself.
Tsang joins HIV/AIDS activist and epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves and LGBTQ ally, the Reverend William J. Barber II, a pastor and president of the NAACP/North Carolina, among social activists, human rights advocates, journalists, playwrights, lawyers, writers, computer scientists.
“Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties,” MacArthur Fellows Program managing director Cecilia Conrad said in a statement, “these 25 MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities.
“Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all,” Conrad added.
Tsang received a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004 and her Master’s in Fine Arts from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2010.
Tsang’s films and artworks have been presented in festivals, broadcast, and art exhibitions around the world, including SXSW Film Festival; Berlinale Film Festival; Toronto Hot Docs International Film Festival; MoMA, as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, among many other national and international venues.
The MacArthur Foundation described Tsang’s first feature film, Wildness (2012) saying [the film] “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 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.”
Reporting by the Staff of the Los Angeles Blade and wire service reports.