Fate has given me talent but not harbour views, observes William Yang during his latest show, Objects For Meditation.
The photographer and artist is assessing his relocation from Bondi to Arncliffe.
But this is no bitter reflection on chances lost.
Rather, in deepest suburbia, Yang has found a sort of tranquillity, embodied neatly by the sparrows that frolic in a birdbath on his balcony.
That birdbath is the jumping-off point for Objects For Meditation, in which Yang ponders life’s deeper meanings through the prism of seemingly everyday possessions.
A book of Taoist readings is the inspiration for musings on spirituality and fulfilment and a Shakespeare-emblazoned tea towel prompts recollections of a humorous trip through Britain.
A native American dream catcher, meanwhile, is a gift from a multi-racial part-time drag queen with whom Yang crossed paths in wintry Canada, and gives rise to questions of identity.
Each souvenir Yang has gathered for the show contains a story: sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet, always deeply felt.
In those stories, we catch a glimpse of the artist’s evolving views of the world and where he fits in it.
There is discussion of his Australian-Chinese heritage, his sexuality and his experiences of love.
Yang is probably best known for his still photography, but he also draws on video footage here, displayed on twin screens, to capture moments from the past.
But it is the haunting musical accompaniment of various wind instruments that lingers.
Performed onstage by the composer Paul Jarman, dressed unobtrusively in black, the score adds an ethereal layer to the images it accompanies.
It also concentrates the gaze on Yang’s various possessions, affirming the artist’s comment during the show: Objects acquire life through the attention of the viewer.
Objects For Meditation is on at The Studio at Sydney Opera House until 9 April. Tickets cost $30/$25. Book on 9250 7777.