Visual storyteller joins UNSW

William Yang, the celebrated photographer who has documented much of Sydney's social and cultural history, has joined UNSW as a visiting fellow.

William yang inside

The Sydney artist and photographer who made social documentary an art form has taken up a visiting fellowship at UNSW.

William Yang, internationally renowned for his performances that combine photography with personal monologues, will be based in the School of English Media and Performing Arts (EMPA).

The third-generation Chinese Australian has used photography to explore numerous subjects, including his cultural heritage, Sydney's gay community and creative milieu in the 1970s and 80s, and his friendships with author Patrick White and Sydney artists Martin Sharp and Brett Whiteley.

Yang will use the fellowship to digitise and transform seven of his existing performances into a small screen format, to open them up to new audiences.

The pieces include: Sadness (1992), Friends of Dorothy (1998), Blood Links (1999), Shadows (2002), Objects For Meditation (2005), China (2007), and My Generation (2008).

"This is a new area of exploration for me because more people watch things on a small screen or the internet now," said Yang. "I've realised the importance of having a product that people can access more easily."

Yang frequently used EMPA's Creative Practice and Research Unit over the past ten years, using the Io Myers studio as a rehearsal space and inviting students to observe his performances.

Yang sees the digitised works as a way to both preserve his performances, and make them more accessible as a teaching tool.

"The completed performances will be archival but most importantly, educational," said Yang. "If they exist then people can teach from them."

"Student involvement is an essential part of seeing this project to completion - they will be my crew," says Yang.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor James Donald, has welcomed Yang's involvement in the School.

"William's fellowship will provide a unique opportunity for some of our students to work with an extremely talented artist and assist in archiving performances that are of great significance to Sydney's cultural and social history," he said.

Media contact: Fran Strachan | fran.strachan@unsw.edu.au | 9385 8732 | 0429 416 070