Chinese portraits of a racist tax

Media release, 12 May 2010

A visiting Chinese artist is busily putting the finishing touches to an exhibition that explores Chinese settlement and Chinese identity in New Zealand.

Mu Yuming, from China’s south-west Yunnan Province, is coming to the end of a three month-long arts residency that is supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and the Wellington City Council.

Mr Mu has been in Wellington painting the portraits and videoing interviews of the descendants of the early Chinese settlers as part of his Family Portraits project which is also supported by the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage fund.

He is the latest Asian artist-in-residence at Bolton Street Cottage, an initiative that has seen a number of artists from the region work in Wellington while undertaking creative collaborations. 

His Family Portraits exhibition will be launched at 6pm Friday, May 28, and will be held for four days at the Michael Fowler Centre foyer. The Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Pansy Wong will open the exhibition and invited guests will include the descendants of Chinese migrants who were subjected to a poll tax because of their race.

Mr Mu is used to living in different worlds, having Han Chinese and Naxi minority parents. He grew up in Yunnan but has spent over ten years living in Europe, studying in Oslo and working at the Rijks Academy in Amsterdam.

Mu Yuming will also hold a school workshop at Te Aro School on Thursday, May 20, where he will work with Year 3+ students.

The aim of the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) is to facilitate an exchange of art practices and ideas between Wellington and Asia while developing Wellington’s international creative identity in Asia.

Jennifer King
027 208 9422