Vanghoua Anthony’s site-specific installation for BrisAsia 2023, Ua li ua tau – Making do, explores themes of identity and belonging, tradition and innovation, dislocation and adaption.
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 will ‘make do’ with found and locally sourced tools and materials to add to his installation. Visitors are invited behind the scenes of his artistic process and welcome to speak with him about his practice.
Event Opening: 20th January – 10:00am – 5:00pm