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New Women

Aug 26, 2017
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

In Search of Miss Ruthless sets the stage for a public persona from the future. This series of public programmes reflects on diasporic communities and pageant infrastructures through discussions, screenings, performances, and workshops. Public programmes are developed and co-produced with the generous support of Spring Workshop. Additional support was provided by the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.


New Women: Reading of an adapted play by Hương Ngô

“Gossip is a fearful thing,” wrote Ruan Lingyu in her suicide note. A star of Shanghai’s leftist cinema in the 1930s, her fate was eerily prophesied by her last movie, “New Women.” Nine years later in 1944, seminal Vietnamese playwright Vũ Đình Long published Đàn bà mới or New Women, the story of a writer who is preyed upon by the male publisher of a women’s magazine. This cautionary tale links the pursuit of a career and modernist ideals of independence and self-determination to her downfall and disgrace.

These early 20th century stories give us an opportunity to reexamine today how the creative and intellectual labor of women interacts with patriarchy and capitalism. In this dramatic reading, Hương Ngô has adapted the play by omitting all of the male voices. This process leaves behind blank spaces and long pauses, opening the text to a contemporary reinterpretation. The reading will take place within a sculptural set fabricated by Ngô, using geometric costumes that Ngô designed.

The adapted play will be read by La Chiquitta, Claudia Jim, and Jes Fan.

About Miss Ruthless

Miss Ruthless is a fantasy figure of popular support that can represent “our beautiful Hong Kong up on the world stage,” as sung in Hong Kong Our Home. The search for Miss Ruthless began at Para Site in the summer of 2017. Drawing on the depths of diasporic souls and taking pageantry as method, Miss Ruthless is international and her presence is writ in universal history. Following poet Helene Cixous, we ask of Miss Ruthless: What if she were alive? What if, in looking at her, we animated her?

Website: ruthless.international
Instagram: @ruthless.international
Facebook: facebook.com/ruthlessfans