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William Yang

Australian Chinese

Daily from Friday 12 October 2001 until Sunday 2 December 2001

William Yang's art is about the telling of stories, his work is an intriguing mixture of philosophy, autobiography, social history and documentary imbued with a sense of the artist's own curiosity, humanity and humour. Australian Chinese also traces the threads of Chinese influence in Australia's buildings, places and faces.

Self Portrait #1, 1992 by William Yang
Self Portrait #1, 1992 by William Yang

"I was born in North Queensland and grew up denying I was Chinese, with a sense of shame quite close to the surface. Partly because my mother thought being Chinese was a complete liability, a useless thing and she wanted me to assimilate into Australian culture. It was not until I was forty that I found myself. I met a teacher who taught me Taoism and as consequence, I embraced my Chinese heritage. I have since travelled to many places in Australia where the Chinese have been and recorded their presence."

William Yang


William Yang, a third generation Australian Chinese, has developed an international reputation as a photographer and performer. His photographs take us on a journey from his birthplace in North Queensland, back to the struggles of earlier generations of his Chinese family in Australia, through to the present with family members scattered across the globe. William has captured the life and times of today's Australian Chinese. Some of them were born here, others have recently migrated, but each group grapples with their identity and asks, "How do I fit in?"

Australian Chinese tells another story of Australian history through the powerful images and words of William Yang. William's art attempts to come to terms with being an Australian Chinese and what it means to be bicultural in Australia. The exhibition will tour to the Brisbane City Gallery and other venues in the country.

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William Yang

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