Wu Tsang
MOBY DICK; or, The Whale

Wu Tsang, MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, Teatro Goldoni, Venezia, 2022. Photo: Enrico Fiorese.
MOBY DICK; or, The Whale (2022), Dir. Wu Tsang, Prod. Schauspielhaus Zürich.
Wu Tsang, MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, Teatro Goldoni, Venezia, 2022. Photo: Enrico Fiorese.

TBA21–Academy in collaboration with The Hartwig Art Foundation presents the Italian premiere of Moby Dick; or, The Whale: a feature-length silent film with a live symphony orchestra directed by award-winning artist and filmmaker Wu Tsang. 

Moved by the Motion, a group of interdisciplinary artists take on one of the “Great American Novels” in their adaptation of Moby Dick. Writer Sophia Al-Maria and director Wu Tsang, currently the in-house director at the Schauspielhaus Zurich, tackle the novel’s subterranean currents. Wu Tsang, whose works often explore hidden histories and marginalized narratives, and her collaborators, create a silent film that follows the white whale above and below the surface of the water, developing a visual cosmology that resists the exploration and exploitation of the earth under imperial colonialism. The staging of Moved by the Motion interweaves the story of the whaler's 'floating factory' with the early days of the film industry. The Zurich Chamber Orchestra provides a live soundtrack to the film scored by Caroline Shaw and Andrew Yee with Asma Maroof.

The film reconsiders the wider context of the voyage of Moby Dick— interconnecting storylines from tumultuous mid-19th century maritime history, via the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to Western imperialism, the beginnings of modern capitalism and mass civil unrest. Through powerful imagery, staging, choreography and music, Moby Dick is presented as a figure of thought seen through a post-colonial lens — re-framing its history, characters and story using the magic of cinema, illusion, and metaphor.

MOBY DICK; or, The Whale is produced by Schauspielhaus Zurich in collaboration with Zürcher Kammerorchester (ZKO). TBA21–Academy is co-commissioning this work with LUMA Foundation, Superblue, Hartwig Art Foundation, The Shed, DE SINGEL and The Whitney Museum of American Art.
About the makers
Wu Tsang is an award-winning filmmaker and visual artist. Tsang’s work crosses genres and disciplines, from narrative and documentary films to live performance and video installations. Tsang is a MacArthur 'Genius' Fellow, and her projects have been presented at museums, biennials, and film festivals internationally. Awards include 2016 Guggenheim Fellow (Film/Video), 2018 Hugo Boss Prize Nominee, Creative Capital, Rockefeller Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Warhol Foundation. Tsang received her BFA (2004) from the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and an MFA (2010) from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Currently Tsang works in residence at Schauspielhaus Zurich, as a director of theatre with the collective Moved by the Motion.

Tosh Basco was born in California and rose to prominence in the drag scene in San Francisco in the 2010’s. Well known for her movement-based performances under the name boychild, Basco’s photography and drawing accompany her performance practice enfolding language, representation and becoming together in spaces where they are presumed to exist as discrete entities. She is co-founder of the collaborative entity Moved by the Motion with Wu Tsang and collaboration remains a vital aspect to her work. Basco’s work has been presented at the Venice Biennale; the Sydney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA, Los Angeles; ICA London among other institutions.

Asma Maroof is an electronic producer/composer and DJ (aka Asmara), who performs internationally in music, film, and art venues including the Sydney Opera House, the Whitney Museum, Unsound Festival, and the MTV VMAs. She has worked with artists M.I.A., Kelela, Tink, Fatima Al Qadiri, Venus X, and is a member of the musical group NGUZUNGUZU (Fade to Mind). Her soundtracks have graced Kenzo, Celine, and Louis Vuitton runway shows, commercials for Nike, Alexander Wang, and Telfar.  With filmmaker and frequent collaborator Wu Tsang, she’s scored Anthem, Duilian, Into a Space of Love, and One Emerging From a Point of View. 

Kyle Luu is a stylist, costume designer and consultant based in New York City. Her clients include Solange Knowles, Travis Scott, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Garage Magazine, Interview Magazine, Nike and many more.

The Zurich Chamber Orchestra is one of the leading ensembles of its kind. Founded by Edmond de Stoutz the orchestra performed first in 1945. Since 2016, the orchestra is playing without a permanent conductor. Instead, Music Director Daniel Hope is leading the orchestra from his instrument, thereby following the dynamic principle of «Play & Conduct». The ZKO regularly visits international festivals such as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival or Odessa Classics.

London-born conductor Kevin Griffiths (1978) regularly conducts concerts with the following orchestras among others: Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Basel Symphony Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della svizzera italiana,
Berlin and Zurich Chamber Orchestras. He is also an annual guest at the Menuhin Festival Gstaad and the Vaduz-Classic Festival in Liechtenstein. From 2011 to 2018 he was Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Collegium Musicum Basel.
Festspielhaus St. Pölten
April 15, 2023

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

February 25, 2023, 7:30 pm
March 4, 2023, 7:30 pm
April 1, 2023, 7:30 pm
May 6, 2023, 7:30 pm


March 21, 2023, 5 pm
May 23, 2023, 5 pm
June 6, 2023, 5 pm

Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid
February 20, 2023

Luma Foundation, Arles 
July 6 - 10,  2022

Holland Festival, Amsterdam
June 17 & 18, 2022

DE SINGEL, Antwerpen
April 22 & 23, 2022

Teatro Goldoni, Venice
April 20, 2022

The Shed, New York
April 15, 16, 17, 2022

Schauspielhaus, Zurich
March 12, 14, 17 & 20, 2022
April 5, 6, 28, 29, 2022
May 14, 15, 23, 24, 2022