Times Square Arts: Mulan

A video-based work created through virtual reality, Chun Hua Catherine Dong’s Mulan reimagines the legendary Chinese folk heroine of the same name to explore gender and the plasticity and plurality of the body. Inspired by ancient Chinese storytelling, performance traditions, and marine biology, Dong used 3D VR tools to create an imaginary aquatic fantasy world where Mulan disguises her identity and gender, in order to coexist and become one with the nudibranch — a colorful deep-sea organism with striking forms, unique defenses, and ambiguous gender identities. Ultimately Mulan becomes not only a hybrid being, but a part of the surrounding marine ecosystems. Donning the protagonist in a colorful Beijing Opera costume and staging her on the rainbow-hued nudibranch, Dong proposes the pluralities within this folk character, and challenges historically male-dominated theater traditions.

Mulan was created in collaboration with Kudo Albus, a digital artist in Shanghai.

“Through performative gestures and expressions, I re-interpret Mulan from a feminist perspective. This work also raises questions about the binary system, about how to merge the boundaries of self/other, culture/nature, and human/animal, creating a new social relation that supports different ways of living and diverse beings in order to sustain and survive.” — Chun Hua Catherine Dong


Chun Hua Catherine Dong (she/they) is a Chinese-born Tiohtià:ke/ Montréal-based multimedia artist. Dong’s artistic practice is based in performance art, photography, video, VR, AR, and 3D printing within the contemporary context of global feminism. Body is political. Dong began their artistic career as a performance artist. Working within the gap between body as image and body as experienced reality, Dong uses the body—often their own body— as a visual territory in their work and a primary material to activate social commentary on gender, identity, and immigration. By encapsulating these global issues in microcosm or magnifying personal predicaments until they become universally visible, Dong presents the body as an embodiment of dynamic human relations, locating themselves at the nexus of author, artwork and audience.

Dong received an MFA in Intermedia from Concordia University and a BFA at Visual Art from Emily Carr University Art & Design in Canada. Dong has exhibited their works at The International Digital Art Biennial Montreal (BIAN),  The International Biennial of Digital Arts of the Île-de-France (Némo), MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, Kaunas Biennial, The Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne in France, Quebec City Biennial, Foundation PHI for Contemporary Art, Canadian Cultural Centre Paris, Museo de la Cancillería in Mexico City, The Rooms Museum, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, DongGong Museum of Photograph in South Korea, He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen, Hubei Museum of Fine Art in Wuhan, The Aine Art Museum in Tornio, Bury Art Museum in Manchester, Art Museum at University of Toronto, Varley Art Gallery of Markham, Art Gallery of Hamilton, and more.

Valérie Hasson-Benillouche founded Galerie Charlot in 2010 with the aim to champion innovative practices in contemporary art. Attentive to artistic experimentation, Galerie Charlot develops a reflection on the relationship between art, technology and science.Through its pioneering attitude, Valérie Hasson-Benillouche has created a space dedicated to contemporary art where her expertise in the world of digital art brings together artists, collectors and scientists. The gallery’s calendar is punctuated by conferences and performances around digital art and its place in contemporary art. It exhibits emerging, mid-career and established artists.Partnerships with galleries, institutions and curators are key points to develop the gallery’s international influence, as well as participation in festivals, off-site exhibitions, round tables and fairs in Paris, Basel, Brussels and New York, among others.

Partner of the Nemo Festival, member of the Arcadi jury, and Laguna Price Venezia, Valérie has been part of the SIGGRAPH Paris Reflection Committee and participates in various conferences, including those held at Elektra-Montreal, ArtBrussel, and Ars Electronica-Linz. She develops specific projects with companies such as Hermes, Société Générale, Audemars Piguet, Oddo Bank, C21 Hotels, and Shiseido. She is also a member of the CPGA and is on the committee of the FHDN Foundation and the Digital Humanities Foundation.Valérie and her team are dedicated to the development of digital art as a major art form, an essential part of contemporary art.

Support for Midnight Moment is provided in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the Times Square Advertising Coalition.

Midnight Moment is made possible by the Times Square Advertising Coalition, ABC SuperSign, American Eagle, Branded Cities, Clear Channel, Coca-Cola, Diversified, Express, Heritage Outdoor Media, Levi’s, LG, Line Friends, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Midtown Financial, Morgan Stanley, New Tradition, Outfront, Paramount, Prudential, Sensory Interactive, Sephora, Sherwood Equities, Show + Tell, Silvercast, Swatch, TSX, and T-Mobile.

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Maria Lewis

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