The museum is showing the feature-length silent film MOBY DICK; or, The Whale, based on American writer Herman Melville’s great novel of 1851. In this film adaptation, written by Qatari-US artist and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria and directed by artist Wu Tsang, the narrative is interspersed with extracts read by one of the characters in the novel, the Sub-Sub-Librarian, here played by the poet Fred Moten. These extracts function to introduce some of the novel’s sub-plots, such as the resistance to the established hierarchy among the whaler’s crew and on the part of “sailors, renegades and castaways”, as the Afro-American historian C. L. R. James (1901-1989) described them.

The film, which Wu Tsang originally conceived to be accompanied by a live orchestra, is produced by the Schauspielhaus Zürich with the collaboration of Moved by the Motion and was commissioned by TBA21-Academy together with LUMA Foundation, Superblue, Harwig Art Foundation, The Shed, DE SINGEL and The Whitney Museum of American Art. To coincide with the opening at the museum of the exhibition Wu Tsang. Of Whales, the original version will be presented on 20 and 21 February 2023 at the Teatro Fernando de Rojas of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, with live music performed by the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia, an event that benefits from the support of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The film version, made with the collaboration of the Zürcher Kammerorchester, can be seen during the duration of the exhibition in several daily showings on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the museum’s Auditorium, with texts in English and subtitles in Spanish.