Presented by the Museum of Chinese in America
In 1566, Portuguese sailors spotted the island of Taiwan and renamed it “La Ilha Formosa” on their sailing maps. For centuries, the name, Formosa, was used throughout the Western world.
From 1967 to 1987, Barbie dolls were solely manufactured in a small industrial town in northern Taiwan.
Inspired by the image of men and women working in this Taiwanese factory to create these American icons of beauty, ”Formosa” is a solo show which pushes the questions of global capital, beauty, exploitation, and choice via a poetic narrative and counter-narrative contrasting the experiences of these factory workers with the material creation of this Western icon of beauty. Through poetry, multimedia, movement, and spectacle, she explores how, decades later, global economy leads women of color to strive for these same standards of Western beauty through skin lightening, eyelid surgery, jawbone shaving and other (at times) gruesome forms of self-mutilation.
Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who fights for cultural pride and survival through how she spits and how she lives. She has been featured at over 300 performances worldwide at venues including the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the House of Blues, the Apollo Theater, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and three seasons of the award-winning ”Russell Simmons Presents HBO Def Poetry.”