Questions about a Word

“Questions about a Word” is a video essay exploring the experience of linguistic barriers. Drawing from my lived experience of learning English as a second language, and reflecting upon it in conjunction with the Chinese-English linguistic ephemera from the Victorian gold fields, this video essay examines an English-learning technique that uses phonetic-based idiosyncratic writing, a technique that has been employed by generations of Chinese immigrants. By juxtaposing historical accounts of trauma against the backdrop of Australia’s troubling past with contemporary narratives in today’s complex sociopolitical landscape, this video essay sheds light on the enduring linguistic challenges faced by generations of Chinese immigrants despite socio-political progressions and technological advancements, ultimately, inviting audiences to contemplate on their experience of language and culture exchange. 


Ming Liew is a lens-based artist and a PhD student at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. His practice draws upon his Chinese-Australian bicultural identity, combining ethnography and visual storytelling to examine the immigrant experience in contemporary Australia. Accentuating the paradoxes between lived and prescribed sociocultural realities, Ming uses his artworks to advocate for understanding that transcends social, cultural and political barriers. Ming holds a Master of Fine Art from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in Melbourne since 2022, including at Blindside ARI, Testing Grounds, Kings Artist-Run, Felt Space, Footscray Community Arts, Incinerator Gallery, Bunjil Place, Run Artist-Run and Collective Polyphony Festival. He has been recognised with various awards such as the First Prize of fortyfivedownstairs Emerging Artist Award, Footscray Art Prize (finalist), Incinerator Art Award (finalist), NAVA Ignition Prize, and the RMIT Dean’s Awards for Academic Excellence. Ming was a resident at the RMIT + ACMI X graduate residency program at the Australian Center for the Moving Image. Currently, Ming is a creative resident at the Center for Contemporary Photography.



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