As a second generation Australian of Chinese-Singaporean descent, I work across video, performance and installation to explore the formation of nationalism and stereotypes. With a critical but humorous eye, I invent personas to examine the alienation and belonging that comes with life in a globalised world. I am interested in the concept of territory on a local, national and international level – how we mark it, how we define who stays in and who stays out.
My work is context-responsive: I combine an ethnographer’s interest in social structures and relationships – how people identify, disconnect or come together – with a keen interest in how we intersect with our shared historical, social, political and environmental landscape. My experience as an Asian in Australia drives my work, which seeks to understand how the status quo relates to immigrants, refugees, other cultures, women and artists in an increasingly connected yet hostile world. I aim to translate these personal/peripheral experiences for a wider audience; to tap into collective desires or anxieties. The personal is political’ has always been an important frame for my practice within a local and global context. This crystallised for me in 2015 with Yellow Peril, a body of work that explored the entwined social, political and economic future of Australia and China through my family’s emigration (during the White Australia Policy) and the broader impact of mining and immigration on the national identity.
With my body and my lens, I frame landscapes and culture. I draw inspiration from film, art, literature, pop culture, the historical and the contemporary to create layered and striking video installations or performances. Drawing from everyday life as well as these ‘familiar’ texts, my work takes the viewer into surreal realms, in which a central figure observes and moves through the environments and spaces around her. Combining narrative and non-linear tropes of cinema and performance, my work fuses authenticity with mimicry, the natural and man-made, the historical and the anachronistic in order to highlight the absurdity and inequity of 21st century life. Humour and satire lure the viewer into familiar worlds made strange. I find inspiration in sites, structures, objects and stories that are both contemporary and ‘out of time’, embodied and virtual: cookie-cutter homes, suburban sprawl, CCTV, online chat rooms, a Peruvian open-cut mine, the goldfields, and the Australian landscape have all featured in my work. I have performed as a Japanese hikikomori (social recluses); a Bowie-eyed rock star; the cannibal Issei Sagawa; a suburban beautician; Miranda from Picnic at Hanging Rock and a gold Mao-suited ‘ambassador’. Over the past decade, I have worked to build an agile practice that creates a dialogue between person, place and performance. For me, this dialogue reflects the push-pull we must all negotiate between the mono and the multi-cultural, the specific and the generic, the online and offline, the local and the global.
Artist Statement, 2o16