The Lives of Celestials: John Young Zerunge

By Jasmin Hyde

A journey through the lives of significant figures of the Chinese diaspora in Australia

Town Hall Gallery will unveil its latest exhibition, titled The Lives of Celestials: John Young Zerunge–a survey exhibition that invites audiences to journey through the lives of significant figures of the Chinese diaspora in Australia from 1840 onwards, showing Saturday 31 August–Saturday 20 October.

This will be the largest presentation to date of John Young Zerunge’s History Projects, presenting installations of chalk drawings, photographs, video works and paintings that invoke memories of the local Chinese elite, abject madmen and fearless women. The exhibition is a culmination of three recent history projects by Young, disrupting typical misconceptions of the Chinese historical presence in Australia, and bringing to the surface important stories and events in Chinese-Australian history from the last 180 years.

The Lives of Celestials reflects the forces of survival, memory and otherness that continue to shape Australia’s contemporary social context. The exhibition also traces the events of the Lambing Flat Riots of 1860-61: the largest racially motivated riots in Australia’s history, and the acts of violence and benevolence that characterized them.

Originally from Hong Kong, Young moved to Australia in the late ‘60s and has presented numerous solo and group exhibitions, including representing Australia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Of late, he has completed the building of Open Monument: a permanently installed architectural monument to acknowledge the contribution of the Chinese people in Ballarat, and collaborated with prize-winning novelist Brian Castro on the book Macau Days, funded by Nobel Laureate J.M Coetzee and published by Art + Australia.

Town Hall Gallery features a diverse range of contemporary public programs, curated exhibitions and exhibitions drawn from the Town Hall Gallery Collection, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the City of Boroondara. 

Image credit: YOUNG ZERUNGE, John, Lambing Flat (2018), digital print on paper, 100 x 70 cm, © image courtesy of the artist.

The Lives of Celestials: John Young Zerunge – FREE

Opening: 31 August 2019, 2pm – 4pm

Walk and talk: Saturday 31 August, 1pm – 2pm and Wednesday 18 September, 11am – 12pm Panel Discussion: Saturday 12 October, 1.30pm – 3pm

Exhibition dates: 31 August – 20 October 2019

Town Hall Gallery, 360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn 

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