Skip to content

Hou Leong

What does it mean to be Australian? It seems as if Leong is posing this question to us in this series An Australian. In these photographs he assembles images that symbolise an essentialised idea of Australian-ness personified by Anglo-Celtic tradition. The exclusion of other cultures within the myth of Australian identity is inverted by the inclusion of Leong himself in each image.

An Asian face in place of an Anglo-Celtic one. In An Australian – Crocodile Dundee, for instance, Leong is Mick Dundee, the wise-cracking bushman. Similarly in An Australian – Ampol, Leong place himself in an advertisement with the caption 'I’m as Australian as Ampol'. He is featured as an Aussie character dressed in a ‘drizabone’ on a motorbike accompanied by a cattle dog.

David Moore’s striking yet historically significant image of migrants crammed on the deck of a boat arriving in Australia serves as the basis for another intervention. Titled An Australian – After David Moore Leong is amongst newcomers with one arm outstetched in anticipation of arrival. In what was originally an incisive documentation of European post-war migration, Leong (with the inclusion of his face) has disrupted this to reflect other successive ways of migraton.

(Melissa Chiu, Director of 4A Gallery, Sydney, Australia)