Disco-TECA, Credit: Terry Tsang King Fai

Queer East Festival introduces abundant new arts programme

Queer East Festival returns for its fifth year with a new cross-disciplinary arts programme across London from 17th-28th April. Showcasing boundary-pushing LGBTQ+ visual arts and performance from East and Southeast Asia and its diaspora communities, the festival explores notions of what it means to be queer and Asian today.

As it expands beyond the screen, Queer East Festival presents a flourishing city-wide arts programme. shedding:::selves, an exhibition at Ugly Duck, Bermondsey, will feature work by eight emerging ESEA LGBTQ+ artists. At The Place, Chinese dancer-choreographer ErGao will premiere new work Disco-TECA. Screenings, workshops, performances at Hackney Baths and Museum of the Home will be presented by guest curators such as art historian Wei Hao Goh, artists & curators Xinyu XuXX and April Lin 林森, art director Jeng Au, art film-makers Yuqing Lin, Lisa Chearles, and Bart Seng Wen Long, award-winning poet Eric Yip, and novellist Yin Lo. The extensive film programme this year will have screenings held at the Barbican, BFI and ICA London

Queer East Festival was established as a film festival in 2020 in response to the systemic lack of queer Asian representation in the arts, cinema, onstage, and behind the scenes, outside of harmful stereotyping. The festival aims to educate about those who shaped the current queer landscape in Asia, encourage more inclusive narratives while challenging the conventions and stereotypes of queer Asian portrayals. This year, Queer East expands beyond the silver screen to amplify Asian voices in visual arts and performance, taking over more venues and even spilling into the streets with the new events programme. 

“At the core of Queer East is our aim to enable an artistic space for diverse and thought-provoking queer narratives. For me, “queer” is a word that is constantly evolving and expanding. It should not be limited to one set definition; I want that to be in the DNA of Queer East. By including multi-disciplinary art forms in the festival, such as live performances and visual arts, we unlock endless possibilities for exploring East and Southeast Asian queerness through a dynamic and three-dimensional lens. It also reaffirms our commitment to being a dedicated platform that showcases vibrant Asian LGBTQ+ arts and cultures across different creative practices.” – Yi Wang, Queer East Festival Director


shedding:::selves, Ugly Duck, 19th – 28th April, FREE, Book here

shedding:::selves opens at Ugly Duck, from 19th – 28th April. This landmark exhibition brings together eight queer East and Southeast Asian artists whose works span sculpture, painting, diagram, interactive installation, and moving image, aiming to transcend the limitations of identity labels and categorisation. Instead, the work forges new connections between technology, science, mythology, the post-human, performativity, and memory, encouraging the audience to reflect upon their own experiences. Curated by Aki Hassan and April Lin 林森, the emerging artists involved include: Megumi Ohata, Nata Yada, Noam Youngrak Son, Wei Xin Chong,  Xinyu XuXX, Yifan He, Sayang, and Kianuë Tran Kieu

Disco-TECA, The Place, 26th-27th April, £20, Book here

The widely celebrated choreographer ErGao takes audiences back to early 1980s China in Disco-TECA, at The Place for only two performances on 26th and 27th April. Disco-TECA brings to life a unique moment in history, when China opened its doors in the early 80s after three decades of collectivisation and isolation from the world, Disco swooped in and took the south of the country. The performance delves into the ecstatic power of disco for a nation that was ‘opening up’, exploring gender, identity, rebellion, and sexual liberation. Evoking a poignant historical moment with the iconic stylings of disco, Disco-TECA transports audiences to the dance halls of China’s social reform era.

Expanded Programme, various venues, 20th-28th April

The Expanded programme features further events across multiple venues during the festival, including nature walking at Museum of the Home and visiting the sauna at Hackney Baths, artists short film screenings and performances, poetry readings, as well an immersive bondage workshop, and more. Full Expanded programme below:

20th April:

  • 11:30am, Museum of the Home, Pay What You Can, Book here

Re-encountering Sunsets, Waves, Birds and Bees

A screening of Long Time between Sunsets and Underground Waves (2020-2021) by Hu Wei, followed by a guided walk through the Museum of the Home’s garden, led by ecologist Connor Butler, exploring diverse and unusual life cycles and relationships found in and between humans, plants and animals, challenging what we think of as being natural and unnatural, human and non-human.

Curated by Wei Hao Goh

  • 18:30pm, Ugly Duck, Pay What You Can, Book here

Image Under the Ground

A showcase of artists’ short films that capture vulnerability, intimacy, and illusionary multi-sensory experience, as well as a live performance by Nanzhen Yang to create a “cave space”, a transitional space that refracts unspeakable diaspora queer experiences. 

Films: A New Day Has Come (2022), Dir. Nguyen Hai Yen (Red); Yi-Ren (2015), Dir. Tzu-An Wu; Silver Cave (2022), Dir. Caibei Cai; Lovers (2023), Dir. Laobai Wu, Honbin Zheng; KEREL (Sea of Love) (2021), Dir. Jon Cuyson; Cocoon (2024), Dir. Holli Xue.

Curated by If Splash as Your Whistle (Xinyu XuXX and Yuqing Lin)

22nd April 

  • 18:00pm, Hackney Wick Community Sauna Baths, £25-£35, Book here

Steamy Intimacies: A Queer East Sauna Experience

A double bill screening of short films Who Can Predict What Will Move You (2020), Dir. Livia Huang, followed by Spa Night (2016), Dir. Andrew Ahn. After the screening, let off some steam in the saunas, or cool down in the plunge pools. The event will be catered by juk san, who will be serving congee, sweet soup, and fried dough sticks. 

Curated by April Lin 林森 and Jeng Au

27th April

  • 13:00pm, Museum of the Home, Pay What You Can, Book here


Screenings of short films that tell stories of home, of its joys and beauty, its ills and struggle.

Films: Kin (2021), Dir. Charmaine Poh; Jericho (2021), Dir. Lisa Chearles; Where Sleeping Dogs Lie (2021), Dir. Lisa Chearles

Curated by Lisa Chearles

  • 18:30, Ugly Duck, Pay What You Can, Book here

High Hands Small Hands

Part short-film screening event, part immersive bondage endurance test, this licentious line-up of films is most appropriately experienced in the discomfort of rope restraints. This event will run parallel with a rope performance, with the opportunity for some audience members to participate. 18+ only.

Films: Dream Catcher (2018), Dir. Fuyuhiko Takata; MOP (2023), Dir. Joon Goh; There’s No Sex, Only Fans (2023), Dir. Chi-Wen Ting; Disconnect (2024), Dir. F E8 and Janice Kei; glide by LILY CHOU-CHOU (2024), Dir. Bart Seng Wen Long; Pteridophilia 3 (2018) Dir. Zheng Bo; Obsolescence (2021) Dir. Cavair To The General.

Curated by Bart Seng Wen Long

28th April

  • 13:00pm, Ugly Duck, FREE, Book here

Queering Objects: A Community Poetry Workshop 

A poetry workshop hosted by poet Eric Yip (National Poetry Competition 2021 first prize) where participants will read works by queer Asian poets and translators, and engage in writing activities that recontextualize how we see the world around us. There will be readings and discussions of poems from a queer perspective, and an interactive writing game where participants will all get a chance to write a poem by the end of the workshop.

Curated by Yin Lo