Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue 肖鲁: 语嘿


Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue 肖鲁:语嘿 is the first retrospective of leading contemporary Chinese artist Xiao Lu. The exhibition is anchored by Xiao Lu’s performance work Dialogue from the landmark China/Avant-Garde exhibition at the National Art Gallery, Beijing, in February 1989. This work, in which the artist fires a gun at her own art installation, is a milestone in the development of contemporary art in China. It has also has been read as a critical turning point in China’s recent history. While Dialogue remains an iconic work of that era, it is also one of the most misunderstood pieces of contemporary Chinese art. Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue 肖鲁:语嘿  examines Xiao Lu’s creative interest in deep emotion, extreme action, and chance. Spanning a period of 30 years, the exhibition presents significant performance works by Xiao Lu including a new commission that explores the artist’s ongoing connection to Australia.

Xiao Lu (born 1962, Hangzhou) works with performance and installation. She is a graduate of the Subsidiary School of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (China Academy of Art), Hangzhou. Her graduation work Dialogue was included in the China/Avant-Garde exhibition in Beijing in 1989 and became famous after she fired a gun at it, which led to her temporary arrest and an extended period of residence in Sydney. Xiao Lu’s fictional memoir Dialogue《对话》, published in Chinese and English in 2010, exposed powerful forces affecting women artists in contemporary China. Xiao Lu’s work has been included in important international exhibitions, most recently Performer and Participant, Tate, London (2018) and Art and China After 1989: Theatre of the World, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2017), and been collected by public and private institutions including the Tate, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Taikang Insurance Group Art Collection, Beijing; and White Rabbit Collection, Sydney. Xiao Lu lives and works in Beijing and Australia.

Xiao Lu: Impossible Dialogue is produced and presented by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. This exhibition and associated programming are supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-China Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship project led by Dr Claire Roberts Reconfiguring the World: China. Art. Agency. 1900s to Now (FT140100743), and the Faculty of Arts, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne.

肖鲁:语嘿 是中国当代著名艺术家肖鲁的首次回顾展。展览从肖鲁1989年2月在北京中国美术馆内举办的,具有里程碑意义的中国现代艺术展上的装置行为作品《对话》——艺术家对着自己的装置开枪开始。这件作品在中国当代艺术发展中具有重要意义,被普遍认为是中国现代历史转折的文化信号,但它也成为当代中国艺术中最容易被误解的作品之一。 “肖鲁:语嘿”展示了艺术家对深层情感、极端行动和不同语境的创造发挥,同时也显示艺术家作品的鲜明特质。展览的作品跨越肖鲁30年艺术发展过程,包括一个全新的与悉尼相关的作品。通过这次回顾展,让观众探讨艺术家与澳大利亚的持续关系。


“肖鲁:语嘿”由4A当代亚洲艺术中心制作和展出。本次展览及相关教育项目得到了澳大利亚政府,澳中理事会的支持、以及罗清奇博士主持的澳大利亚研究理事会(ARC)前程研究项目《重设世界:中国、艺术与动力 1900年至今》(FT140100743)和墨尔本大学文化与传播学院艺术系的支持。


Eugenia Lim: The Ambassador


Venue: Samstag Museum of Art, Hawke Building, 55 North Terrace, Adelaide, SA,  Australia

The Ambassador presents three distinct series by Melbourne-based artist Eugenia Lim that centre upon a gold-suited figure who appears halfway between truth and fantasy. In each series, Lim transforms herself into her eponymous invented persona, the Ambassador, an insatiability curious character who traverses time and space, playfully exploring Australia’s cultural and built landscapes.

This exhibition marks the first institutional solo exhibition of Eugenia Lim’s work and presents all three bodies of work together for the first time. Together, they represent a compelling and witty examination of contemporary Australia from a female, performative and Asian-Australian perspective. As the Ambassador, Lim ‘shapeshifts’ to unearth multiple dimensions of the Asian-Australian narrative – drilling down into racial politics, the social costs of manufacturing, and the role of architecture in shaping society – exploring how national identities and stereotypes cut, divide and bond our globalised world.

Curated by Mikala Tai, Director, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, The Ambassador will travel to eight galleries and art centres across Australia between 2019 and 2021 through Museums & Galleries of NSW.

A 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Museums & Galleries of NSW touring exhibition. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Visions of Australia program.


By All Estimates

SYDNEY. 12 APRIL – 26 MAY 2019.

Artists: Rathin Barman, Jessica Bradford, Erika Tan and Moses Tan


Taking Singapore as a locus of multiple regional identities, By All Estimates brings together works by artists that give form to narratives obscured by the city-state’s rapid urban and social development and the coexistence of competing projections of cultural inheritance and recognition. Over the past decade especially, Singapore’s investment in cultural institutions has been seen as an attempt to position the nation as a beacon of cultural capital in Southeast Asia. Underpinning this expansion lies an ever-evolving matrix of received and contested narratives that within certain contemporary public realms—from the streets of the city to the corridors of the museum—jostle, overlap or otherwise mingle in approximations of the influence of multiple societal and economic imperatives. By All Estimates presents works from Kolkata-based Rathin Barman, London-based Erika Tan and Singapore-based Moses Tan in Australia for the first time, alongside works from Singapore-born and Sydney-based artist Jessica Bradford.

Rathin Barman’s Home, and a home (2016) takes as its foundation the façade of a colonial shopfront building in Singapore’s Little India district. Commissioned by and created for the Singapore Biennale 2016, Barman considers his 1:1 scale structure of welded brass and steel as a three-dimensional drawing in which he invites viewers to physically enter, thereby transforming the body’s relationship to the work from an architectural exterior to a cage-like interior space. During his research for this work, Barman spent significant time engaging with migrant workers – mostly men and mostly from the Bengal region of Bangladesh and India – whose day of hard labour in the construction and maintenance sectors begins before sunrise. Many of these men live in cramped conditions above such shophouses that, on the outside at least, offer tourists a picture of Singapore’s colonial past while at the same time masking the visibility of the migrant workers that are essential for the ongoing development of the city’s infrastructure and the services that keep its economy humming.

Jessica Bradford’s ongoing historical and present-day research around Singapore’s Haw Par Villa underpins her most recent body of work spanning painting, ceramics, video and installation. Formerly known as Tiger Balm Garden, Haw Par Villa’s website describes the site as ‘an 8.5-hectare Asian cultural park, the last of its kind in the world … The eclectic park is a treasure trove of Asian culture, history, philosophy and religion—quirky yet enlightening, at the same time.’ Established in 1937 by Burmese-Chinese brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, the developers of the famous Tiger Balm medicinal ointment, the park was intended as a both an educational and entertaining experience that offered hundreds of statues and giant dioramas based on Chinese folk history, mythology and morality. In the 1980s, a period coinciding with Bradford’s early memories of visiting with her family as a child, the park was acquired by the Singaporean Government during a period of concentrated governmental debate around national identity marked by a renewed focus on ‘Asian values’. Over the years, sculptures have been added or removed, modified or relocated by various involved parties, often altering the intended symbolism or meaning of the statues, dioramas and the park itself. In her work, Bradford excavates and further obfuscates Haw Par Villa’s layered representations of the intertwined projections of cultural and national identities that jostle among competing ideas about tradition and its processes of inheritance.

Erika Tan’s Repatriating The Object With No Shadow: Along, Against, Within and Through (2013–14) takes the structure of an A to Z (a ‘gesture’ towards the encyclopaedic or comprehensive), to approach a glossary of terms, events, artefacts and personal accounts which connect us to the historical through the specifics and the context of the colonial museum in Malaya. Beginning with ‘A is for adventure, advantage and advocate’, Tan’s video work employs archival anthropological films of indigenous tribes of the Malay peninsula, tracking shots of museum displays, animations of collection objects backed by green screens, and a voiceover narration that hovers between pedagogical lecture and fictional fable, among other audio-visual material, to create a mesmeric filmic montage that challenges past paradigms of ethnographic commission and omission, inclusion and exclusion, with broader contemporary resonances and implications.

Moses Tan presents works from his recent series, Memorial for Boogie Street (2018). Incorporating drawing, sculpture, audio and virtual reality, Tan’s suite of works in By All Estimates seek to re-articulate often forgotten, repressed and censored queer histories of Singapore, especially of the communities and activities that centred around Bugis Street from the 1950s to the mid-1980s when the downtown area begun its transformation from a well-known (and well-frequented) site for cruising and transgender sex workers and their clients to what is today a haven for tourists with malls, markets and cultural institutions. Playing with ‘Boogie Street’, the title of a Leonard Cohen song that is said to have been inspired by the songwriter’s short stopover in Singapore in the early 1970s on the way back from Sydney as part of a world tour, Tan’s works are an elegy to an era that seemed more open – and paradoxically, compared to today – permissive of flaunting queerness ,while at the same time stand as metaphors for the relationship between the street and the inner lives and latent desires of its varying denizens.



Rathin Barman (b. 1981, Tripura, India) is an artist based in Kolkata, India, who is interested in interventions in urban spaces. His sculptures, drawings and installations seek to redefine space and investigate the city as a spatial and political phenomenon, reflecting many ideologies and different socio-political points of view. Recent solo exhibitions include I Wish to Let You Fall Out of My Hands (Chapter II) (2017) and No…I Remember It Well (2015), Experimenter, Kolkata, and A Goldfish Bowl (2014), GALLERYSKE, Bangalore. Group exhibitions include Art Basel 2018, Basel; Rendez-vous/13 Biennale de Lyon (2015), Institut de’Art Contemporain, Lyon; Land of No Horizon (2014)Nature Morte, New Delhi;  Dhaka Art Summit (2014); Edge Effect, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, Kochi; Midnight’s Grandchildren, Studio X (2014), Mumbai; Art Dubai (2013); India Art Fair, New Delhi (2012–2014); nd Frieze New York Sculpture Park (2012); Barman’s work is in the collections of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Coimbatore Center for Contemporary Art (CoCCA), Coimbatore, among other important collections. He is represented by Experimenter, Kolkata.

Jessica Bradford (b. 1987, Singapore) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Sydney. Her work explores her mixed race heritage by questioning stereotypical representations of cultural or national identity. She has held solo exhibitions at Firstdraft, MOP Projects and Galerie Pompom, and is a 2018 Parramatta Artists Studios resident. Bradford’s work has been included in curated group shows at Delmar Gallery (2017), Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (2015), Fairfield Museum & Gallery (2014) and Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest (2013). Bradford holds an MFA by Research from Sydney College of the Arts, and was a recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award.  She has been a finalist in the John Fries Memorial Prize, the Tim Olsen Drawing Prize, and the Jenny Birt Award.

Erika Tan (b. 1967, Singapore) is an artist and curator based in London. Her work evolves from an extensive process of research focused on interests in received narratives, contested heritage, subjugated voices and the transnational movements of ideas, people and things. Solo exhibitions include APA JIKA, The Mis-Placed Comma, National Gallery Singapore ‘Uncommissioned’ tablet platform (2017-2020); Come Cannibalise Us, Why Don’t You? (Sila Mengkanibalkan Kami, Mahu Tak?), a major exhibition, symposium and artist book project presented at NUS Museum, Singapore, and Central Saint Martins School of Art, London (2014-2016), and Persistent Visions, Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester (2005), NUS Museum, Singapore (2010) and Vargas Museum, Manila (2010). Group exhibitions include Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); On Attachments and Unknowns, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2017); Double Visions, He Xiangning Museum of Art, Shenzen (2014); Camping and Tramping Through The Colonial Archive: The Museum in Malaya, NUS Museum, Singapore (2011–2013); Thermocline of Art, ZKM, Germany (2007); Around The World in Eighty Days, South London Gallery/ICA (2007); the inaugural Singapore Biennale (2006); Cities on the Move, Hayward Gallery, London (1999). Tan studied Social Anthropology and Archaeology at Kings College, Cambridge; Film Directing at The Beijing Film Academy, followed by an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins School of Art, London. She currently teaches Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, was awarded the Stanley Picker Fine Art Fellowship 2018-2020, and is a founding member of Asia-Art-Activism, Raven Row, London.

Moses Tan (b. 1986, Singapore) is a Singapore-based artist whose work explores histories that intersect with queer theory and politics while looking at melancholia and shame as points of departure. Working with drawing, video and installation, his interest lies in the use of subtlety and codes in the articulation of narratives. He graduated from LASALLE College of the Arts with a BA(Hons) in Fine Arts and a BA(Hons) in Chemistry and Biological Chemistry from Nanyang Technological University. He was awarded the Noise Singapore Award for Art and Design in 2014, Winston Oh Travel Research Grant in 2016, and the LASALLE Award for Academic Excellence in 2016. He has shown in Grey Projects (SG), Hidden Space (HK), Indiana University (US), Sabanci University (TR), Kunst Im Dialog (DE) and also recently completed a residency in Santa Fe Art Institute (US).

Performance x 4A 2019

HONG KONG. 26 – 31 MARCH 2019.

Venue: Art Central Hong Kong, Central Harbourfront Event Space, 9 Lung Wo Road, Central, Hong Kong.

Artists: Bettina Fung, Brian Fuata, Minja Gu and Ko Siu Lan.

After delivering celebrated programs in the last three editions of Art Central, 4A returns to Hong Kong with our bespoke performance series Performance x 4A. The hum of the art fair will be interrupted by performances from internationally acclaimed artists.

Bettina Fung is best known for her performative drawing practice that invites collaboration. Drawn to the liminal space between nothing and existence that is potent with possibilities, Fung is interested in sharing process and allowing works to unfold over time before an audience. Fung’s key exhibition history includes ‘Imprints of Passing Time’ (2018), Surface Gallery, Nottingham, UK, ‘Makers of the Multiverse by Juneau Projects’ (2017) Spacex, Exeter, UK, ‘Draw the Line’ (2017), Surface Gallery, Nottingham, UK, Un Festival Vrrr (2016), Musée d’Art, Toulon, France, COLOUR (part of Plymouth Art Weekender) (2016), Studio 102, Plymouth, UK, ‘Draw to Perform 2: International Symposium for Drawing Performance’ (2015), NUMBER3, London, UK, ‘ad Behaviour presents…chART’ (2013) Brixton East, London, UK and ‘I am. Interrupted (part of One Billion Rising UK Art Festival) [2012]’, The Doodle Bar, Battersea, London, UK.

Brian Fuata works in performance through live and mediated forms. He employs various modes of presentation within the framework of structured-improvisation. In Fuata’s works, the act of viewing is a reciprocating action between artist and audience and audience with each other. Fuata employs the ‘blank sheet’ as a recurring motif in his work, which transforms with different contexts into emails, paper, Word.Doc, google.doc, SMS text, concrete, film, and in the case of his 20-minute ghost performances, a white bedsheet. Major solo works include Placeholder, Enjoy Gallery, Christchurch (2016); All titles, Performa Biennial, New York (2015); Untitled (ghost machinery refit/letting go of the sheet), Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); and nationally at the Close to the knives (one to five) email performances, Tarrawarra Biennale, Tarrawarra (2016); FIFO Ghost, Liquid Architecture at the National Gallery Victoria, Melbourne (2015); Apparitional Charlatan…Carriageworks (2016); Privilege (performance), Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney (2015); Points of Departure: one to three, email performance, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2014) He is one half of Wrong Solo a performance collaboration with artist Agatha Gothe-Snape since 2009.

Minja Gu’s performance works explore the cyclical forces of consumerism in society with durational pieces that turn everyday occurrences into ceremonies and rituals. Her recent exhibition history includes: ‘Identical Times’ (SPACE CROFT, Seoul, 2009), ‘Atlantic-Pacific co.’ (Moore Street Market, New York, 2011), and ‘Inside the Belly of Monstro’ (Citadellaan 7, Ghent, 2018). Gu has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the Taipei Biennale (Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2008), ‘VIDEO: VIDEO’ (Arko Art Center, Seoul, 2009), ‘A Cabinet in the Washing Machine’ (Seodaemun-gu Recycling Center, Seoul, 2012), and ‘New Visions New Voices’ 2013 (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Gwacheon, 2013). She received the award of excellence in the Songeun Art Award in 2010 and in 2018 was one of the participants for the Korea Artist Prize.

Siu Lan Ko lives between Hong Kong and Canada and creates text based installations and durational performances that examine ideas of space, geography and nationhood. Siu Lan Ko’s recent exhibition history includes ‘Freedom Audit’ (2015), 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Art 15 London, ‘Tomorrow Sixty-Four’ (2014), Hong Kong, ‘Harmonious Signs China A China B’ (2012), University of Pennsylvanian, Philadelphia, ‘Friction’ (2012), Uppsala Museum, Sweden, ‘Huang Rui + Ko Siu Lan Duo Exhibition’ (2012), Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, ‘Don’t Think Too Much’ (2010), Paris Beijing Gallery, Beijing, ‘Interartion’ (2008), La Bellone, Brussels and ‘Open Festival’ (2008), Open Art Centre, Beijing, China.

Image: Brian Fuata, 2018, image courtesy the artist

The Invisible Hand

SYDNEY. 14 JUNE – 28 JULY 2019.

Artists: Baden Pailthorpe + more to be announced.

The Invisible Hand considers how digital platform technologies are exploiting technological convenience to co-opt personal data in an uncertain zero-sum game. With work from Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan, this exhibition explores current and projected complications and contradictions in the digital realm that increasingly oscillate between technological evangelism and scepticism.

In 1991, the World Wide Web creator, Tim Berners-Lee, developed the first website at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then, over one billion websites have proliferated across the globe, with 2.5 trillion Internet searches made every year. Everyday our connected devices generate some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, creating a rapidly expanding field of human communication and providing unparalleled insights into our lives. The rise of global platform companies—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Rakuten, Tencent and Naver among others—are largely underpinning this mass connectivity, with Facebook alone weaving together over 700 billion friendships across the globe.

However, from search results to self-publishing platforms, these global corporate powers are logging every digital click, like, share and scroll made on these supposedly free services—selling on this consumer information to third parties and advertisers. While this business model has produced mass convenience, connectivity and information sharing, a closer examination reveals a vast information inequity between users and these providers. Nowhere are these invisible computing forces more present than in the hyper connected East Asia region, where household internet penetration and use is at its global highest. In this region, platform technology companies have the power to alter the course of history, in the same way recent technologically-led scandals like Cambridge Analytica have manipulated contemporary politics in America, Thailand and India, and the coordinated cyber-attacks of public health records loom over Singapore.

Against this dystopic information landscape, The Invisible Hand examines our ever evolving digital realm with careful focus on the East Asia region, a place at the bleeding edge of this technological frontier. Exploring the existential threat of Big Tech through a series of commissioned and recent works the artists each untangle the networked rhythms of our age, with careful allusion to science, public policy, economics and share price. Through these meditations The Invisible Hand presents artistic agitation to the arena of public debate—providing new perspectives, understandings and predications that enable us to better understand our place in this newly formed digital battleground.

Artist Biographies:

Baden Pailthorpe (b. 1984 Canberra, Australia. Lives and works in Sydney, Australia). Pailthorpe’s significant exhibitions include Clanger, UTS Art Gallery, Sydney (2018); Pitch Deck, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney & Singapore (2017); GAME ART/VIDEO, 21st Triennale di Milano, Milan (2016); Spatial Operations, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle (2015); Guarding the Home Front, Casula Powerhouse, Sydney (2015); On Return and What Remains, Artspace, Sydney (2014) & CACSA, Adelaide (2015); Students of War, Hors Pistes, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Cadence, Westspace (2014); Moving_Image 10, La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris (2013); and Rencontres Internationales, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012).

Nusra Latif Qureshi: Strategies of Intent


Nusra Latif Qureshi’s first solo Australian institutional exhibition presents her ongoing investigation into the symbolism and assumptions embedded in art history. Reflecting on almost two decades of practice Qureshi’s attempts to undermine, shift and negate historical imagery reads as a caution for the contemporary age, where assumed realities can be little more than constructed visions.

Qureshi’s practice is characterised by meticulous layering, fragmentation, erasure and juxtaposition of visual material. Through these acts of intervention, she investigates little known histories of colonial eras, questions established narratives and engages with the politics of representation. Taking the visual histories of both the South Asian region and Australian culture Qureshi has developed a new visual vernacular in which to examine and interrogate historicisation.

Strategies of Intent brings together key works from Qureshi’s oeuvre as well as work commissioned by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. With a practice that spans over two decades this exhibition brings her ongoing excavations of art history into dialogue. Presented together for the first time this exhibition enables the breadth and depth of Qureshi’s practice – from small and highly detailed paintings to large scale digital prints – to be appreciated.


Nusra Latif Qureshi (b. Lahore, Pakistan 1973 lives and works in Melbourne, Australia) attended the National College of Arts, Lahore and completed her Masters of Fine Art at the University of Melbourne. Qureshi’s practices engages with the visual histories of the South Asian region and Australian culture, questioning conventional interpretations, pulling apart and reconfiguring the found patterns to construct new narratives. Her work has been exhibited widely in Austria, Germany, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Afghanistan, Italy, India, Japan, France, Switzerland, Finland and her home countries of Pakistan and Australia. Most recently she was exhibited at the Kunst Historisches Museum, Vienna, Austria as well as Brisbane’s QAG/GOMA. Her work has been collected widely including the British Museum, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. She has been working with various arts institutions to offer public programs including artist’s talks and workshops in Australia and the USA. Qureshi is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne.


4AA4 2019

SYDNEY. 4 – 6 OCTOBER 2019.

Artists: Anonymous until sold.

After a five-year hiatus our celebrated fundraising exhibition 4A A4 returns in 2019 as a weekend-long event. 

Challenging local and international, emerging and established artists to create works of A4 size, 4A’s new and existing networks will come together to support the institution. This is your opportunity to expand your collection with unique pieces from leading international artists and the next big thing, all for the price of $200.

Here’s how it works

All A4 artworks are available for purchase at a fixed price of $200. Artworks are exhibited anonymously with artists’ names and artwork details revealed upon sale. From opening night through to sell out, you can pick up a small masterpiece with all proceeds from sales going to 4A in support of our 2020 artistic program.

Call outs for submissions to be announced later in 2019.

What will catch your eye?

John Vea: If I pick your fruit, will you put mine back?


John Vea’s Australian debut examines the complex labour flow throughout our region. Continuing his exploration of pacific migrant workers his practice is anchored by his signature wit and humour that challenges viewers to consider the equality and validity of a global workforce.

Vea’s practice has been defined by a journalist-like investigation into how workers from Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) have been co-opted as labour for both Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. Anchored by a series of talanoa (conversations) Vea’s work prefaces the voice and lived experience of the migrant worker employed within dominant and authoritative social structures. These discussions inform how Vea scaffolds his practice and locates his work as a means to examine the overlooked and the underrepresented.

In the contemporary globalised era migrant labour has emerged as a key indicator of regional socio-economic relationships.  Labourers from Moana Nui a Kiwa have been subordinated by both Australia and New Zealand to support both agricultural production and urban development. Specific schemes such as Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) in New Zealand grants season migrant workers temporary entry to plant, harvest and pack crops in exchanged for minimum wage. On completion of the designated work they are immediately returned home; their contributions to the success and prosperity of New Zealand’s economy barely noticed or acknowledged. Vea uses polices such as the RSE as a basis from which to work, his crafted responses are sometimes humorous but always compelling counterpoints to dominant perspectives and the status quo.

If I pick your fruit, will you put mine back? is John Vea’s first comprehensive international solo exhibition presenting recent significant works alongside a new commission from 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. This commission will be developed as a reflection of a year-long research project into the history of 4A’s locale in Haymarket, Sydney. As a site for trade and exchange on the banks of the harbor, the area now known as Haymarket has played an important role for the communities that have resided here for centuries.

John Vea (b. 1985 ) is an Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) based artist who works with sculpture, video and performance art. Vea works with tropes of migration and gentrification that exist within Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). By enacting stories that have been collected through everyday interactions with people, both in his home community and abroad, with a journalistic sensibility he offers a sometimes humorous and always powerfully symbolic emic viewpoint to the Western meta narrative. Most recently Vea has exhibited in the Honolulu Biennale (2017), the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (2018) and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2018). His work is also in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Vea received his Master of Art and Design at Auckland University of Technology in 2015, where he is currently undertaking his practice led Ph.D.

On the Move: The Dion Family


Artists: To be announced

Venue: Wollongong Art Gallery, 46 Burelli Street, Wollongong, NSW, Australia

Delving through more than a century of the Dion family, an indelible part of the Illawarra’s social fabric as members of the Chinese diaspora and operators of the region’s bus services, On the Move tells a story of migration, survival, acceptance and community spirit of a remarkable family through archival material and responses from contemporary artists.

The Dion family, whose name evolved from Chong Da On to Chong Di On then Di On before eventually settling with Dion, arrived in Australia in the late 1800s as part of a larger migration driven by the prospects of alluvial goldmining. The family eventually arrived in the Illawarra in 1907, where they quickly established themselves as prominent members of the community, playing an important role in creating the multicultural social fabric of the Illawarra that we know today. They did this by building on a successful market garden family business before forming a bus service in 1923, which imparted a great community sentiment over the decades through their committed service and hospitality. The company was established by Tom Dion who commandeered a 1923 Model T Ford fitted with timber seating to accommodate twenty passengers. The family, over several generations, are widely admired by the residents of the Illawarra, with a particular fondness for the memory that during the Great Depression the Dions routinely allowed locals to ride their buses free of charge if they could not pay fares due to mass unemployment and economic hardship. The Dion’s Bus Service continues to operate a fleet of buses in Wollongong and surrounds today.

The Dion family story represents a fascinating example of the important contributions Chinese-Australians have made to Australia and, indeed, the nation’s perception of itself as an inclusive and culturally diverse society. This exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery presents a selection of curated objects drawn from the family’s vast archive of material, along with the presentation of contemporary art that distils this historical archive and history through supported residencies and research practices.



Produced and presented by Wollongong Art Gallery in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art with support from The Dion Family.

Wollongong Art Gallery

Wollongong City Council

Create NSW

BlueScopeWIN Community Partners

The Dion Family

Dion’s Bus Service