Event Details

WHAT: Presentation of Artist Book Oriental Silk 鄉綢 by Xiaowen Zhu, Nicky Harman and Kenneth Wong, followed by QA (online)

WHEN: Feb. 26, 2022, Saturday 2:00-3:00 PM Beijing Standard time


With its shimmering hues and supple touch, silk is perhaps the best medium to address whether memory has color or texture. But can corporate history be art? Oriental Silk, the fascinating long-term project by Berlin-based Chinese artist and writer Xiaowen Zhu, answers the question with a resounding "yes." The project takes its name from Oriental Silk Company, which was founded in Los Angeles in the early 1970s and headed for decades by Kenneth Wong and his family. Through her multi-sensory works, Zhu opens up a multifaceted view of a firm that is distinguished, like its silk products, through its own style, colors, tactility, and values. The people, places, and stories that make up the phenomenon of Oriental Silk form a fascinating, vivid tapestry in which the past and present, art and life, are closely interwoven.

Three speakers will appear in this online event. Xiaowen Zhu will make a presentation of the English-Chinese bilingual artist book Oriental Silk 鄉綢 (Hatje Cantz, 2020). Nicky Harman, the translator of the story "Oriental Silk: The Silk King of Beverly Hills" featured in the book, will join the conversation. Kenneth Wong, the subject of Xiaowen's homonymous project and the protagonist of the story, will also participate from Los Angeles. Together, they will talk about their collaboration and share their thoughts on one of the book's main themes: nostalgia, or homesickness –鄉绸 "silk from home" being a play on 鄉愁 "homesickness".

Participants in China who would like to see and touch the book's multiple layers of text and graphics before or during the event may order the book at https://shop162043994.v.weidian.com/item.html?itemID=4426845185&spider_token=3913

The international stock list can be found on Xiaowen's website: https://www.zhuxiaowen.com/orientalsilkbook

MEMBERS ONLY: This event is free and exclusively for members of RASBJ and partner RAS branches. If you know someone who wishes to join RASBJ to attend this event, please ask them to sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 72 hours beforehand.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click "Register" or "I Will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration you'll receive a confirmation email; if you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder.


  • Xiaowen Zhu

    Xiaowen Zhu


    Xiaowen Zhu is a Berlin-based artist and writer. Zhu’s artworks have been widely shown internationally, including the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, US; USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, US; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK; Whitstable Biennale, UK; Central Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing China; Chronus Art Center, Shanghai, China; ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany; among others. She has given lectures and talks at Heidelberg University, Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, University of Southern California, University of California, Los Angeles, Lund University, and more. She is the assistant director of Times Art Center Berlin.

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  • Nicky Harman

    Nicky Harman

    Nicky Harman is based in the UK and translates fiction, and occasionally non-fiction and poetry from Chinese. She has won several awards, including the 2020 China Special Book Award, the Mao Tai Cup People's Literature Chinese-English translation prize 2015, and the 2013 China International Translation Contest. When not translating, she works for the registered non-profit Paper Republic, which promotes Chinese literature in translation. She also runs literary events, writes blogs, and gives talks.

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  • Kenneth Wong

    Kenneth Wong

    Ken Wong graduated from UCLA in 1969 and 1972 with degrees in Engineering. He worked in the aerospace industry as a Software Engineer for almost two decades, specializing in computer graphics and man-machine interfaces as applied to avionics and tactical displays, with a particular interest in designing and developing solutions. In 1989, Ken left his engineering career to take over his parent’s silk import business, Oriental Silk Company, which supplied silk fabric imported from China and India to various fashion designers and interior decorators as well as the movie and television industries for many years. He successfully ran Oriental Silk Company for more than 30 years, before he sold it and retired in 2020.

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