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William Yang

b. 1943

William Yang , photographer, has produced an intensely sustained body of documentary and portrait photography, particularly engaging with the Sydney gay scene, the impact of HIV/AIDS and his sense of identity as a Chinese Australian. Yang studied architecture at the University of Queensland before moving to Sydney in the late 1960s. In Sydney he began recording the theatre and show business worlds of which he was a part, particularly the glamorous events and parties. By 1974 he was working as a freelance photographer producing social photos for various magazines and beginning his project to document the gay community. His first exhibition, Sydneyphiles, at the Australian Centre for Photography in 1977, established Yang (then Willy Young) as a the preeminent social historian of the period. He changed his name from Young to Yang in 1983, and has since developed a theatrical combination of spoken word monologue and slide projection to explore major themes in his work. A major retrospective of his photographs, Diaries, was held at the State Library of New South Wales in 1998. In 2001 the National Portrait Gallery mounted the exhibition Australian Chinese which then toured widely in Australia. Yang has produced books including Patrick White: The late years (1995), Sadness (1996) and Friends of Dorothy (1997). His works are held in major state galleries, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery.

Updated 2018