The Wandering Lake, 2009-2017” — an explosion of video projection, photography, sculpture, drawing, publication, and performance — is currently on display at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The exhibition explores water — its flow, presence, and absence — as an all-encompassing metaphor for life, while looking at mourning, care-giving, geopolitics, and landscape.

Pretty heavy stuff, but the plot will thicken on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m., when the showing artist, Patty Chang, discusses this multi-year project with Jill H. Casid, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After the chat, Chang will unveil her accompanying book, which is also titled “The Wandering Lake.” The publication conceptually mirrors the installation. It’s a first-person travelouge with more than 80 images detailing her trip through the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of Western China and other locations with dwindling bodies of water. She accompanies the images with excerpts from a wide range of authors, including Herman Melville and Alice Walker.

Another book with a familiar title, “The Wandering Lake: Into the Heart of Asia” (1938), was a main inspiration for Chang. Written by early 20th century Swedish explorer Sven Hedin, it describes a mysterious, moving body of water in the Chinese desert.

Though born in California, Chang emerged from NYC’s alternative art scene in the mid-1990s with eccentric acts that attacked cultural taboos, stereotypes, and myths. Her earlier works — mostly short films and photographs — delved into Asian-American identity, often mocking the diminutive depictions of Asian women in Western culture. Sometimes she impersonated contortionists and kung fu movie star Bruce Lee.

Casid, who will interview Chang on Sunday, founded her university’s Center for Visual Cultures, which promotes this emerging academic field that studies communication across disciplines and media forms. She has written extensively on landscape and performance.

Images: Patty Chang


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