William Yang: Shame and Shamelessness

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Best, Susan
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Queensland Art Gallery
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2021
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Abstract

Shame and a certain kind of shamelessness are two affects consistently woven through the work of William Yang. The word ‘shamelessness’, which should simply mean the absence of shame — ‘showing a lack of shame’, according to the dictionary — strangely also has a negative meaning. ‘Shameless’ implies that shame should be felt, and that the person displaying this quality is too bold or outrageous. In English there is not, then, a neutral way of describing the absence or, more importantly, the reworking of shame. Yet, in Yang’s oeuvre, a transformation of shame is clearly at work, both
in relation to his Chinese identity and his portraits of the LGBTIQ+ community.

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William Yang Seeing and Being Seen
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Art history
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Best, S, William Yang: Shame and Shamelessness, William Yang Seeing and Being Seen, 2021, pp. 44-55
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