Xin Lu is a large-scale media project exploring the intersections between autobiography, tourism, travel, immigration, exile, and displacement. In this project, Ma uses the metaphor of nomadism to examine his family history, which branches out from the former British colony of Hong Kong. He envisions Xin Lu (from the Chinese phrase xin lu li qing, literally translated as heart—road—experience — journey) as a conceptual road movie that travels in between cities and countries as well as language and identities. An autobiographical approach in this project allows for in-depth examination of displacement on all levels, where the specificity of Ma's personal and family history can bring out a broader analysis of social and political issues.

Installations etc.______
Writings & Interviews______
Ideas & Archives______








A major component of this project is four linked experimental videos. Three of the videos investigate significant points in a journey: departure (Mother/Land), passage (Movements East—West), and arrival ([os]). The fourth video, Myth(s) of Creation, is an examination of the travelogue itself, and acts as an index to the other tapes.

Myth(s) of Creation
(1997) 17 minutes, Betacam SP Video

Myth(s) of Creation is a conceptual road movie that not only travels between cities and countries, but language and identities as well. This experimental video combines diary accounts of family trips to China, Europe, and the U.S. with excerpts from travel writing, testimonies of political exiles and refugees, and quotes from theoretical discussions on nomadic subject positions. Read more

(2000) 25 minutes, Betacam SP Video

Mother/Land takes off from a series of interviews Ma conducted with his mother before and after her departure from Hong Kong in 1996. This event triggers an exploration of other departures—such as Ma’s own journey back to the United States seventeen years ago, and the turnover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Read more

Movements East—West
(2003) 17 minutes, Digital Video

Movements East—West is structured as a composite timeline of sixty dates and places, starting in 1841 and ending in 2001. In this chronology, significant dates in Ma's personal and family history mingle and intersect with world historical events, showing the larger social and political forces behind his migrations. Read more

(2007) 57 minutes, Digital Video

The fourth and final video in Ma's Xin Lu project, [os] excavates the personal and the collective, the colonial and the transnational, the traumatic, the wistful, the queer, and the spectral to tell intersecting stories about our desires to return to the past. Its title represents the etymological ‘ghost’ that haunts the creation of the word ‘nostalgia’, which combines the Greek word nostos (return home) and New Latin algia (akin to Greek neisthai to return). Read more


Exhibition of The Xin Lu Project

The four videos in the Xin Lu series can be exhibited individually as single-channel works, or in the following formats:

  1. Video Bus Tour: the four videos are shown on tour buses equipped with media viewing capacity. A site-specific route is designed for each site. Lectures, performances, informal discussions, food, and other planned and spontaneous actvities will be incorporated into individual tours based on consultations with local artists, activists, cultural historians, and other collaborators. The aim of the site-specific tour is to link issues raised by the videos with local history and communities, thereby “siting” these videos to where they are shown. Examples of issues and communities include Chinese American experiences, queer social formations, haunted locales, and the many transnational sites created by “legal” and “illegal” migrants. Local performers and artists are invited to collaborate and participate as unconventional tour guides. Ma also participates on the tour, introducing and discussing the videos as they are screened. The videos can be screened in the order that works best with that specific tour. The duration of each tour is approximately four to six hours, depending on the distance traveled and the number of stops. Read more about the Los Angeles tours, May 3 and 4, 2008

  2. Screening as Video Series: a combination of the four videos are screened as a program (TRT 120 mins.). There is no set order. The tapes can be screened in chronological order, or in any combination thereof. They are produced with this format in mind.

  3. Screening as Single-Channel Videos: videos can be screened individually as discrete works, or in the context of shorts programs or gallery exhibitions.

DVD (2008-9)

A two-DVD set of the series will be produced, the first DVD will contain the four videos, and the second will present additional material from the series:

i. The four videos: Myth(s) of Creation, Mother/Land, Movements East—West, [os]. The interface of the DVD will allow multiple viewing options—tapes viewed individually and as a complete series in different combinations.

ii. Additional material include: scripts of the videos, diagrams and storyboards for each project, interviews with the artist and collaborators, critical essays (both published and new commissions), documentation from the video bus tours, and other relevant content,



Installations etc.

Myth Fragments
(Slide projection and web site)

Myth Fragments presented still images from Myth(s) of Creation in two different contexts: one, at Projections: intermission images, a slide show of images projection in between films at Laemmle Grand FourPlex Theater in downtown Los Angeles. This exhibition was curated by Karen Atkinson for Sidestreets Projects. And two, as a part of the on-line exhibition Home, curated by Allan de Souza for LA Culture Net. This version also incorporated text from the script of Myth(s) of Creation.

PAN (Video installation)
PAN is a large scale, multi-channel video installation. Read more


Writings About The Xin Lu Project

Feng, Peter, Tongue Twisters: The Travelogue Videos of Ming-Yuen S. Ma, in Queer and In Color: Race and Sexuality in Media Criticism, eds. Ernest Hardy and Eve Oishi, forthcoming.

Garcia, Roger, ed., Out of The Shadows: Asians in American Cinema, ed. Roger Garcia, Locarno: Festival Internazionale del film Locarno/Olivares, 2001.

Hu, Brian, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2008: Xin Lu Video Bus Tour, Asia Pacific Arts Web Site, UCLA Asia Institute, May 16, 2008.

Ma, Ming-Yuen S. Untitled (Dear Ma Liuming), X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 2, Winter 2006. pp. 36-39. (PDF)

---, A Conversation About Women, Gay Men, and AIDS, with Richard Fung and Ming-Yuen S. Ma, in Corpus, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2006. pp. 64-71.

---, Arrivals/Departures, artist pages for X-TRA: Contemporary Art Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3, The Travel Issue (2001).

Profile, in RES Magazine, vol. 6, no. 5, October/November, (2003). p. 17.

Ting Lipton, Shana, ‘Xin Lu’ at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Will Get You Moving, Los Angeles Times On Line, May 3, 2008.

Willis, Holly, Taking Place: Yau Ching and Ming-Yuen S. Ma and the Epoch of Space, Filmmaker On-line, August, (1997).

Zhou, Xiaojing, Migration, Displacement, and Movements in the Global Space: Ming-Yuen S Ma’s Multi-Media Project Xin Lu: A Travelogue in Four Parts, in China Abroad: Travels, Spaces, Subjects, Spaces, eds. Julia Kuehn and Elaine Ho. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong Press, forthcoming.

---, Decolonizing Desire, Denaturalizing Identities: Videos by Richard Fung and
Ming-Yuen S. Ma
, Jouvert, vol. 4, no. 3, Spring/Summer (2000).