I usually explain how the project came into being, from this point to the questions and ideas. I leave it to the reader/viewer to take this and interpolate into their own experience.
This project came from the telling of my former partner’s family’s experience in moving from Guangdong to New Zealand. The exact story behind this is not known, though the dating puts it at the fall of the Emperor and with the rise of the republic which meant great power shifts and wealth transfers. We visited the gold mining town of Arrowtown where he settled. Later Ballarat, Bendigo and other Australian places which the Chinese settled. They came to seek New Gold Mountain, (gold mountain was California). The stories of these men seeking a better life for themselves reflects the experience of most migrants. History of their deeds and presence has only just begun to be retold over the last fifty years, perviously buried in the need of a white Australia. As I looked around art, TV and other culture explaining Australianess to us, the men of Asian decent are missing. In this project I place an Asian male into the Australian landscape which is held in such sacredness in Australian art.
Some in my circle of friends were moving to Asia. They were seeking new experiences and opportunities. I followed in 2011. I started the second part of this project. Putting a white man into Chinese city and landscape. This played very differently to the Australian photographs. In them the outsider is being let in. In the Chinese photographs the spectre of colonialism is not far away. At least to a person brought up in ‘western’ intellectual traditions. Yet both are doing the same thing. China is no longer a weak state, the foreigners do not get to set the rules they obey them. A Chinese can become an Australian but an Australian can not become a Chinese.
This project will be exhibited at The Incinerator, Moonee Ponds in December 2020.