(Last day: 9 Feb 2014) CROSSING BOUNDARIES: A Celebration of Asian Australian Art in the Year of the Horse Lower Sydney Town Hall 22 January – 9 February 2014 curated by Catherine Croll, Cultural Partnerships Australia. 38 artists.
Mongrel Horse 2013 Mai Nguyen-Long (1 x object)
Mission Mongrel 2009 Workshop Documentation: ArtPlay, City of Melbourne, Multicultural Arts Victoria; Photos by Melbourne artist Kelly Manning (2 x photos)
Metamorphic Mongrel 2012 Workshop Documentation: Festivals Australia, Wollongong City Council, The Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation, Essential Personnel & Wollongong Youth Centre, Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra, Coniston Men’s Shed & Healthy Cities Illawarra (4 x photos)
With over 300 participants, my mongrel workshops draw from breaking/remaking and a mongrel dog. They reference my understanding of migration, assimilation, and many other forms of adaptation and change: loss, violence, healing. The process toys with ideas of multiple realities and humour: unexpected stories lie beneath the surface of reflexive assumptions (is there a bear in there?). These workshop images represent a few of the many agents and supporters that have celebrated a shared idea of transformation through mongrelisation. To hail the year of the horse, I have used the core workshop process of rapidly beheading a bear followed by restructuring using chopsticks, a plastic bottle, newspaper, and tape within a restricted time frame – binding up a mongrel horse. These fast paced workshops encourage spontaneity and the essence of a thought beyond the notion of perfect, and beyond ideas of what should be.
Born in Hobart, Mai Nguyen-Long spent her childhood and teens living in Papua New Guinea and The Philippines. A commission for the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in 2006 for the touring exhibition I Love Pho, enabled her to use the dog as a metaphor for her Vietnamese-Australian identity. Pho Dog was a 3D papier mache mongrel dog displayed on a reflective acrylic mirror grid. Drawn to the medium for its deceptive innocence, and to salute Southeast Asian folk crafts, it also tapped into contemporary concerns of recycling and reuse. While the dog has become a cultural trigger for Mai – and for those reading her work – equally it explores narratives that are extremely personal and self-reflective. Mai’s compulsion for story-telling – despite its abstraction – has become core to her practice. Beyogmos, her upcoming solo exhibition at Wollongong Art Gallery (2014) continues to question constructs of identity, drawing on a range of mediums.