Co-curated by Phuong Ngo and Tammy Wong Hulbert
The Substation, Newport, Victoria
Exhibition currently in development
An exhibition of contemporary art by Victorian-Asian artists living between cultural spaces
Artists: Rushdi Anwar, Sofi Basseghi, Andy Butler, Rhett D’Costa, Tammy Wong Hulbert, Nikki Lam, Eugenia Lim, Phuong Ngo, Vipoo Srivilasa and Hoang Tran Nguyen
Hyphenated brings together Victorian contemporary artists of Asian descent, referring to Eastern Asian countries (more traditionally referred to as Asia in Australia) and Western Asia (countries of the Middle East). The exhibition focuses on artists who relate to more than one culture and how they navigate between these spaces, often expressed as complex and fragmented layers in their work. The hyphenated lens is a metaphor for living between these cultural spaces. The 2016 census revealed that Australia’s overseas born population, which is 26.3%, is more Asian than European in descent. Responding to the recent rise of the political outlook perpetuating the myth of mono-cultural nationalism in Australia and beyond, the artists in this exhibition will present alternative representations and perspectives of the Australian experience.
Australia’s closest neighbour Asia, is the world’s largest and most populous continent, home to more than half the world’s population. Historically, colonial constructs of Australian identity have politically and culturally distanced Australia from the Asian continent, yet there is no denying that Australia and Asia are geographically much more linked than perceived by the local cultural outlook. The Asian community has had a long and significant history of contributing to Victoria, beginning with the birth of the state during the gold rush era of the 1850s with the arrival of early Chinese miners and labourers. Subsequent waves of migration from various parts of Asia have continued to make significant contributions. Since the 1990s Australia has re-considered it’s relationship to Asia, particularly with economic growth and urbanization of many Asian countries, yet Australia still remains uncertain about it’s relationship with it’s northern neighbours, prioritizing economic linkages over cultural.
It is becoming increasingly evident that Australia is much more linked to Asia not only in terms of physical proximity but also socially, culturally and even racially. The aim of this exhibition is to bring together varying voices of the region to express the complex layers of contemporary identity in the Australian context and reveal their unique locally based cultural outlook in a globalizing society.
The artists selected for this exhibition all make contributions to the dialogue around having a hyphenated identity or cultural outlook. They give insight into varied transcultural perspectives ranging from intergenerational migrants, new migrants, asylum seeker, refugee and second and third generation perspectives, at times rejecting these labels but also embracing them. Through their work they demonstrate the complexity and fragmentation of their perspectives, which can be conflicting, layered with multiple meanings, confusing, contradictory and yet in a constant state of transition, which they attempt to negotiate through their practice. These varied perspectives represent the realities of navigating the pluralistic nature of the Australian social and cultural landscape.