William Yang

William Yang moved from Brisbane to Sydney in 1969 and worked as a freelance photographer documenting Sydney’s social life which included the glamorous, celebrity set and the hedonistic, sub-cultural, gay community.

In 1989 he integrated his skills as a writer and a visual artist, he began to perform monologues with slide projection in the theatre. They tell personal stories and explore issues of identity. He has done twelve full length performances, many of which toured the world.

William’s current work is photo based, he has gallery exhibitions, which embrace both documentary photography to works of photo media. Text written on the prints is often a feature of his work. He has converted three of his theatre performances into film at the University of NSW. These have been broadcast on ABC1.

In 2021 William had a major retrospective of his work, Seeing and Being Seen, at QAGOMA in Brisbane. It comprised 250 printed works, videos, and four of his films were shown in a cinema. A commissioned piece, In Search of Home, was performed during the season.

‘I was brought up as an assimilated Chinese Australian, partly because of the way my mother brought me up, she had wanted my siblings and I to be more Australian than the Australians, but it was cultural as well, migrants or new Australians as they were called were expected to assimilate and to speak English.

I knew I was gay from a very early age, and I came out as a gay man in the early seventies, during that exciting time of change, the Gay liberation movement. It politicised me, as I had to take on all the baggage of public opinion which had a very negative view of homosexuality. Strangely I never quite realised I was Chinese until my mid-thirties. I identified as being Australian and I was in a state of denial about my Chinese heritage. In the eighties I learned Taoism, a Chinese philosophy, and this led me to embrace my Chinese heritage which hitherto had been unacknowledged. Now I see this as a liberation from racial suppression and I prefer to say I came out as a Chinese.

The last step in claiming my heritage was a trip to China in 1989. I was able to embrace China and the Chinese I met welcomed me back, but the complexities of being bicultural became apparent. I’ve been back to China many times. Now I call myself mainly Australian, and claim my Chinese heritage as part of my identity. This exhibition is about my journey to make that claim.’

William Yang

Art Atrium Artist Birthday Celebration for William Yang

Art Atrium at Sydney Contemporary – William Yang and Dapeng Liu

Art Atrium Artist Exhibition Opening – William Yang – Claiming Heritage

Art Atrium Artist Exhibition Opening – William Yang – Seeing and Being Seen

Art Atrium Artists in Conversation – Jacqueline Balassa, Michelle Belgiorno, Paul Connor, Dapeng Liu, William Yang and Nancy Yu

Summer Sojourn, Art Atrium’s 10th Anniversary End of Year Group Exhibition launched by Jimmy Barnes AO

Summer Sojourn – End of Year Group Exhibition Opening launched by Dr. John Yu AC