HYPHENATED: Between Cultures



An exhibition of contemporary art by Victorian-Asian artists living between cultural spaces. Co-curated by Phuong Ngo and Tammy Wong Hulbert. Presented by The Substation.

Artists: Rushdi Anwar, Sofi Basseghi and Ehsan Khoshnami, Andy Butler, Rhett D’Costa, Tammy Wong Hulbert, Nikki Lam, Eugenia Lim, Slippage, Vipoo Srivilasa and Hoang Tran Nguyen.

Listen to the artists discuss their work here, at a panel hosted by RMIT Contemporary Art and Social Transformation and Multicultural Arts Victoria.

Navigating the Hyphenated Space between Cultures

HYPHENATED began as a conversation between two artists of different Asian heritages, discussing how our experiences were similar, but also completely different. We had both experienced living between cultural spaces as Australians of Asian backgrounds, the hyphenated space between Asian-Australian. We felt our perspectives gave us unique insights into the cultural complexity of Australian society. The conversation grew beyond the two of us into one that included other artists. It became the platform for our curatorial framework, a series of discussions between artists showing various insights, perspectives and experiences of the hyphenated space we live within.

The artists in this exhibition work with multiple and, at times, overlapping ideas: their various personal and cultural histories; the individual and the collective in society; the loss and transformation experienced in the act of migration; the dynamics of power, race, place and displacement; and their sense of belonging and hope in a new society.

Each of the artists selected for this exhibition work in contemporary modes, and culturally identify as Australians of an Asian heritage. The continent of Asia is a broad landmass constituting of more than half of the world’s population, where thousands of cultures, subcultures, art forms, languages and religions originate, demonstrating astounding diversity. It is this background that informs and influences our perspectives in the Australian context.

Featured artwork by Nikki Lam

Mass migration to Australia has resulted in vibrant cities with transnational communities, who identify with many cultures. Yet, due to our colonial past, Australians have historically identified more closely with our colonisers, despite the fact that our geographical location is in the Asia Pacific region. Since the post-colonial era, the notion of how Australia can reimagine itself has been the subject of debate and discussion in both politics and the arts, particularly with the rise of Asian contemporary art in the 1990s.

Our aim for this exhibition was to reconsider these ideas, and expand on this conversation to understand what is happening with local artists who identify with Asia, and how this informs our perspectives. HYPHENATED presents a dynamic range of voices demonstrating the aspects of Australian society that are subject to transformation under the forces of globalization.

This project has allowed us to connect with a community of practitioners grappling with similar issues to ourselves. We are grateful for our collaboration with Peril, who have curated a series of literary works responding to the ideas of the individual artworks, adding another layer of meaning and engagement for our audiences, demonstrating that ideas can work across art forms and be expressed in various ways.

This is our first hyphenated conversation, with hopes of many more to come.

Tammy Wong Hulbert & Phuong Ngo
Co-curators of Hyphenated, March 2018


Tammy Wong Hulbert

Author: Tammy Wong Hulbert

Dr Tammy Wong Hulbert is an artist, curator and academic. Her current research engages both her curatorial and artistic interests and focuses on investigating how socially engaged art practices can encourage an inclusive city. Originally she studied Bachelor of Applied Art, ceramics and Art Administration at UNSWAD, Sydney. She has exhibited her work and had curatorial experience in Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai and Beijing. In Sydney, she was the manager of Newcontemporaries, a non-commercial corporate funded gallery and the manager of exhibitions at Customs House, City of Sydney. Her curatorial interests focus on cross-cultural dialogue between Australian and Chinese contemporary artists through projects such as Gone with the Panda – Zhao Bandi (2004) Meridians: Shanghai (2010) and Lumens Festival: Curating the Ancient City, Suzhou and Melbourne (2012). Her industry experience led to her PhD research on The City as a Curated Space (2012) at RMIT University, focused on proposing an alternative model of exhibition practices, considering the ways urban spaces are curated in global cities. She has also taught contemporary art history in Melbourne and Hong Kong. Tammy is currently a lecturer in the Arts Management program, specialising in curating contemporary art.

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