Hard Read

My audio piece for Powerhouse Museum’s Oscillations project is finally out! It’s a chewy little story about sino/trans inscrutability, visibility and representation. Massive thanks to sound and story wizard Jon Tjhia, and everyone whose voices and ideas are part of this work: Atong Atem, Oliver Reeson, Kate Bagnall and Tim Sherratt, and my glorious chorus. So proud of this. Listen here.

What does it cost to be visible? Chinese and trans people shift in and out of focus in Australia’s historical records – appearing and disappearing, code-switching, oscillating. Through the lens of turn-of-the-century portrait photography, Jinghua Qian looks at the privilege and burden of representation and the luminous power of inscrutability.

If you liked Underfoot…

Here are some other local history and place-inspired art projects to check out.

Swans at the Maribyrnong. Photo: Jinghua Qian.

Maribyrnong walking tour with Elders

Sun 27 Mar, 2 – 3:30pm

Artist Roberta Joy Rich’s exhibition The Purple Shall Govern explores the resilience of people during Apartheid-era South Africa, alongside those living on the unceded sovereign lands of Australia. As part of the exhibition program, you can join the artist and Elders Uncle Larry Walsh and N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM as they guide you through the rich landscape of Kulin Country along the Maribyrnong river banks. More info and bookings here.

Work, worker

Thu 20 Jan, Wed 16 Feb and Fri 4 Mar 2022

Artist Hoang Tran Nguyen presents these participatory karaoke performances as part of his ongoing series, Labour. With a list of songs that are themed and or titled in relation to work, working and workers, the repertoire spans trade union songs to pop music, and includes tracks in both English and Vietnamese. The sites are also all connected to histories of labour – the ANA Building, University Square, and the Westgate Bridge. Register here.

Check out Hoang’s past work too, or you can read about it in Liminal or in this incredible essay by Scott Brook for Meanjin, ‘Footscray, for example‘ – I think Underfoot listeners will really appreciate it!

Wander the Wood

Wander the Wood is a self-guided walking tour through the flats of one of Melbourne’s most well worn neighbourhoods, starting from the iconic Smith and Stanley Street corner in Collingwood. As you walk the grounds of the public housing estate, listen to stories of the area’s creative history and hear about its residents’ talents and journeys. Created by Izzy Brown, Joshua Tavares, Mini Miller and Viv Malo with producer Annaliese Redlich, as part of Rising festival.

Local Time

Created by Bec Fary on Boonwurrung and Woiwurrung lands in Footscray, this durational listening experience is algorithmic and shifts through the night, and day to day. You’re invited to come and go as you please, whether you choose to forefront these listenings or use them as background soundtracks.

Melbourne Circle

A blog and now book by Nick Gadd based on a series of walks he and his late wife Lynne took around Melbourne’s suburbs, forming a circle around the city. Gadd says, ‘The walks are an experiment in psychogeography – which I define as an attempt to understand a place by experiencing it at close range, and seeking to make a connection with the lives and the stories embedded in the place.’

Please add your suggestions in the comments! I know I had a couple of other things bookmarked that I can’t find anymore.

Interview #198: Lian Low | Liminal

I don’t see a divide between literary and genre. Writing spec fic and horror connects me to a sense of who I am, my roots and psyche where the world of the real and the world of the unreal isn’t so binary.

Lian Low

Lian Low is a writer and a former editor-in-chief of Peril. I interviewed her for Liminal, mining her insights on the queer, the monstrous, and the last thirty years of Asian Australian arts and culture.

Illustration by Viet-My Bui.

Liminal Vol. II

I have a piece in Liminal’s second anthology and it’s my very first collage, a sort of annotated time capsule from Chinatown, Melbourne in the 1880s, 1930s and 1980s. Pre-order here to get 200+ pages of Asian Australian excellence including art, poems, essays, fiction, comics, conversations & more.

China Tonight Season 2 | ABC TV

We’re back!

Episode 1 aired last night with Annie Louey’s story on 躺平 and mine on queer activists, Angharad Yeo on gaming restrictions, and of course Stan Grant and Yvonne Yong with all the news. Catch up on iview and set your alarms for 9:30pm, Monday nights on ABC TV.

Image shows LGBTIQ activists on a boat waving rainbow flags and a cat lying down on the water.
Promo image for China Tonight S02E01.

Underfoot: history from below | Overland

Jinghua: Part of what we wanted to do was to find the stories missing from the narrative, but I’m really resistant to the idea of heroes… I don’t want to topple one statue and put up another.

Liz: But it’s much harder to find out much about the lives of people who don’t get a statue… We had to go into our research without a predetermined idea of what the final story would be. And it’s this, I think, that’s more useful for those of us on the Left than mining the past for forebears, or new heroes: seeing its radical unfamiliarity.

Liz and I wrote a feature for Overland on Underfoot (our Footscray history multimedia project) and how everyone can make and write history. Read it here.

Remembering Ahbu on IWWD

Me and Ahbu.

It’s International Working Women’s Day today, which means my grandmother would’ve turned 92 next week. She died in December. Her life (1929-2020) spanned nearly 100 years of immense upheaval in China and she survived it all with resilience, dignity and optimism. I wrote a thread remembering her – first on Twitter, and then republished in Chinarrative. Read below.

Continue reading “Remembering Ahbu on IWWD”

History is how we got here | Maribyrnong Community Centre

Two friends, wearing face masks, in an industrial landscape with a river and bridge behind them.

Liz and I are running a short course at Maribyrnong Community Centre! Best of all, it’s free for participants.

Over four fortnightly workshops, develop research and storytelling skills with community historians Liz Crash and Jinghua Qian (co-creators of Underfoot, a multimedia project uncovering Footscray’s history). Participants will learn how to write, produce and share their own stories, and contribute to a visual presentation displayed at the centre. This hands-on workshop series is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Please note: participants will need to attend all four sessions.

Thu 18 Mar, 1 Apr, 15 Apr, 29 Apr 2021
2 pm to 4 pm
Maribyrnong Community Centre
9 Randall St, Maribyrnong, Victoria 3032
free | booking required