Vanghoua Anthony reinterprets and reinvents Hmong traditions and aesthetics within an Australian context. Weaving together everyday objects and recycled materials, Vanghoua Anthony’s work speaks to his do-it-yourself attitude, instilled in him by his family and the broader Hmong community, whose experiences of migration have required them to ‘ua li ua tau’ or ‘make do’ with what is at hand.
In this site-specific installation, Vanghoua Anthony unpacks his lived experiences as a Hmong Australian. Decorative patterns stretch across the hallway, with bright stickers and lively sculptures injecting the space with energy. These layered elements draw on Hmong textiles, customarily stitched and embroidered by women to record stories, indicate clan identity and provide spiritual protection. Although inspired by Hmong textiles, Vanghoua Anthony’s work does not carry the same cultural purpose, reflecting the evolving context of Hmong traditions.
Alongside these works, Vanghoua Anthony has included videos of the local Hmong community and three rivers of personal significance: the Mekong River, which his parents crossed to escape to Thailand; the Logan River, which winds past his home; and the Brisbane River, which snakes through his place of work. As a series, the videos highlight the strength of Hmong culture to adapt over time and place.
During his residency, Vanghoua Anthony ‘made do’ with found and locally sourced tools and materials to add to his installation. He has now finished the onsite component of his residency and you are invited to view his completed site-specific installation, on display until July.
This exhibition is delivered as part of Brisbane City Council’s BrisAsia Festival 2023, produced by Sounds Across Oceans. Official Media Partner SBS.
MoB’s Artist in Residence program is supported by Tim Fairfax AC.
Vanghoua Anthony Vue is a Hmong Australian artist based in Brisbane and Cairns. Vanghoua Anthony harnesses the frictions and tensions of cultural difference from his transcultural Hmong Australian experience to develop work that offers more inclusive, diverse and hybrid tropes of belonging. His work often involves everyday materials, objects and processes based on his upbringing in Cairns, and reflects the resourcefulness of family members and the influence of Hmong artistic traditions. Such work is playful, recognisable and excessively ornamental, and often includes humour and satire to blur the lines and definitions that reinforce Othering.
Vanghoua Anthony embraces the potential of repurposing private and historical archives, together with Hmong oral stories and collective memories, to reinterpret and retell past narratives of Hmong experiences of war and migration, which have been largely overlooked and erased. His practice creates transcultural spaces for viewing, art-making and social interaction within and outside of traditional art exhibiting spaces – often working with the wider public and Hmong community members in Australia and elsewhere.
Read our Q&A with Vanghoua Anthony to learn more about his practice.