The librarian surrounded by piles of books, possibly in the belly of the whale

Wu Tsang/ Moved by the MotionMOBY DICK; or, The Whale

Film still, MOBY DICK; or, The Whale (2022), Dir. Wu Tsang, Prod. Schauspielhaus Zürich. 
Wu Tsang/ Moved by the MotionMOBY DICK; or, The WhaleOngoing

MOBY DICK; or, The Whale by artist Wu Tsang, a silent film screened with live chamber orchestra, premiered in March 2022 at the Schauspielhaus Zurich. With this sujet the group Moved by the Motion takes on one of the ‘Great American Novels’: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Sophia al Maria and Wu Tsang’s adaptation, interwoven with extracts by a sub-sub-librarian (Fred Moten), tackles the novel’s subterranean currents, encountering a resistant hydrarchy and haptic collectivities of “mariners, renegades, and castaways” (CLR James). Directed by Wu Tsang and scored live by the ZKO to a composition by Caroline Shaw and Andrew Yee with Asma Maroof, the silent film 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.


Schauspielhaus, Zurich: 12, 14, 17, 20 Mar; 5, 6, 28, 29 Apr; 14, 15, 23, 24 May; 10 & 19 Oct. 2022

The Shed, New York: 15, 16, 17 Apr. 2022

Goldoni Theatre, Venice: 20 Apr 2022, co-presented with TBA21–Academy

DE SINGEL, Antwerpen: 22 & 23 Apr. 2022

Holland Festival, Amsterdam: 17 & 18 June 2022, presented by Hartwig Art Foundation

Luma Foundation, Arles: 6, 8 & 9 July 2022

El Círculo de Bellas Artes, Madrid: 20 Feb. 2023

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid: 25 Feb. – 6 May 2023 (film version)

Festspielhaus St. Pölten: 15 Apr. 2023

Schauspielhaus, Zurich: 2 & 6 May 2023

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Stanford University Bing Concert Hall: 8 Nov. 2023

The Performance Project, Los Angeles: 16 – 18 Nov. 2023

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago: 14 – 16 Feb. 2024

more dates soon to be announced

Projection on a screen of two large whales in blue water with live orchestra in a theatreWu Tsang, MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, Teatro Goldoni, Venezia, 2022. Photo: Enrico Fiorese.

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 theater 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.

Kevin Griffiths is a London-born conductor who regularly conducts concerts with the Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Basel Symphony Orchestra, the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della svizzera italiana, the Berlin and Zurich Chamber Orchestras among others. 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.

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.


Moved by the Motion Presents: MOBY DICK; or, The Whaledirection Wu Tsang/ conductor Kevin Griffiths/  text Sophia Al-Maria/ music Caroline Shaw, Andrew Yee, Asma Maroof/ production Laura D’Incau/ co-production Wu Tsang/ executive producers David Codikow, Nadja Rangel/ associate producers Tosh Basco, Sophia Al-Maria, Stefan Scheuermann, Barbara Higgs/ cinematography Antonio Cisneros/ movement direction Tosh Basco/ choreography Josh Johnson/ costumes TELFAR, Kyle Luu/ production design Nina Mader/ virtual production Bild Studios/ video design Fray Studios/ editing Jérôme Pesnel/ dramaturgy Katinka Deecke, Joshua Wicke/ music performed by ZKO (performed by New York Philharmonic in New York City; BRYGGEN Bruges Strings in Antwerp & Amsterdam)/ performers Tosh Basco, Josh Johnson, Steven Sowah, Fred Moten, Sebastian Rudolph, Thomas Wodianka, Thelma Buabeng, Vincent Basse, Ondrej Vidlar, Mel Guesson, Titilayo Adebayo, Gottfried Breitfuss, André Atangana, Maja Beckmann, Karim Boumjimar, Enantios Dromos, Timon Essoungou, Rene Melliger, Wiebke Mollenhauer, Daniel Kweku Schmid, Stéphanie Scholl, Corey Scott-Gilbert, Sscopeta Shephard, Malik Sievi, Rafal Skoczek.

MOBY DICK; or, The Whale is produced by Schauspielhaus Zurich in collaboration with Zürcher Kammerorchester (ZKO). Hartwig Art Foundation is co-commissioning this work with LUMA Foundation, Superblue, TBA21–Academy, The Shed, DE SINGEL and The Whitney Museum of American Art.