Studio Series: Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai

In Process Talks moderated by Kamilah Forbes

During her creative residency, Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is developing her next work, Formosa.

Formosa finds Tsai exploring western ideals of beauty, globalization and labor through the lens of Barbie doll manufacturing in her ancestral homeland of Taiwan. Formosaderives its name from the Portuguese “Ilha Formosa,” meaning beautiful island, coined by sailors in 1566 after spotting the island of Taiwan. In Formosa, Tsai raises questions about global capital, beauty, exploitation, and choice through poetic narrative and counter-narrative contrasting the experience of Taiwanese factory workers with the material creation of Barbie – the Western icon of beauty. She further investigates how the global economy leads women of color to strive for these same standards of Western beauty through skin lightening, eyelid surgery, jawbone shaving andother forms of self-mutilation. Collaborators include Jesse Y. Jou (Director), Amissa Miller (Dramaturg), Jessica Chen (Choreographer), and Chie Morita (Producer).

The Studio Series offers an opportunity for research and development in a creative residency format, providing resources of time, space and a commission. The Studio Series is a research laboratory for physical explorations and new movement investigations with a focus on process, not final performance/product. The “performances” are intended to be informal public showings to share ideas with an audience in the intimate working space of the studio. Studio Series artists are curated internally by the Artistic Director in conjunction with Programming staff and guest curators from Urban Word NYC.

Studio Series is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Jerome Foundation.