The Great Trek to Gold


An experimental photobook: inkjet on paper, kraft envelop, gold foil, slide holder, newspaper, joss paper, index cards and swing tags

Dimensions variable

During the Australian gold rush, over 16000 Chinese labourers trekked from South Australia to Victoria goldfields to evade anti-Chinese policy. Their three-week-long journey spans over 600 km across the harsh Australian landscape, leaving artifacts, remnants and legends behind, contributing to the multicultural Australian identity we know today.
The Great Trek to Gold is a long-term photographic investigation that traces and reconstructs this historical journey. By employing the dialectical methodology of critical realism, it augments conventional documentary photography with self-reflexive rhetorics reflecting upon the Chinese migrants' experience. It invites joint contemplation by creating a visual narrative that oscillates between past and present, fact and fiction, personal and social, with the aim of evoking understanding and reconciliation that transcends linguistic, cultural and social barriers.
Mimicking the aesthetics of an investigation file, this project 'archives' my conflicted trains of thought as I  uncover my ethnic past from my perspective as a first-generation Chinese immigrant. By augmenting historical narratives with my self-reflexive expressions, it challenges the hegemonic use of archives and attempts to renew photography as a realist practice in contemporary art.
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