Born 1943, Mareeba, Queensland. Lives and works Sydney.
William Yang is principally known as a photographer exploring issues of cultural and sexual identity, integrating this practice with writing, performance and film. Starting out as a playwright, Yang turned to photographing parties and social events as a way of making money. His 1977 exhibition, Sydneyphiles, and 1984 book Sydney Diary, recorded the emergent gay community and Sydney party scene of the 1970s and 80s. In the 1980s, Yang began to explore his Chinese heritage, and his photographic themes expanded to include landscapes and the Chinese in Australia.
Yang began performing monologues with slide projections in theatres in 1989, integrating his skills as a writer and a visual artist. These slide shows were recognised as a unique form of performance theatre and have since become his preferred way of showing his work. Yang has toured Australia and the world with shows such as Sadness, Friends of Dorothy, The North, Blood Links and Shadows.
Significant exhibitions featuring Yang’s work include Life Lines (part of The China Project), Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2009); Claiming China, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2008); Diaries, State Library of New South Wales, Sydney (1998); Sydney Photographed, MCA, Sydney (1994); From Bondi to Uluru, Higashikawa Arts Centre, Hokkaido (1993); Sydneyphiles, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (1977); A Chinese Legacy, University of Queensland, Brisbane (2007); World Without End, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2000); On the Edge: Australian Photographers of the Seventies, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego (1998); and Art in the Age of AIDS, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1994).
Yang’s work is held in the collections of many institutions including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Library of Australia, Canberra; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; State Library of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Higashikawa-cho Municipal Gallery, Hokkaido, Japan; and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan.