I'm just back from the Performance Space where I saw the William Yang show My Generation. And what a marvellous performance.
Yang is one of my main inspirations, and it is no secret that I base the format of my presentations on his celebrated slide shows. But what Yang possesses that sets him apart from all imitators is an incredibly measured stillness in his performance, a calm that is quite unique, and utterly engrossing.
William Yang's slide shows are always a wonderful mix of snobbery, name-dropping, social history and a distilled kind of envy that could only ever have been dreamed up by the artist himself. Yang is the consummate outsider, which makes him the perfect photographer, and the constant observer. He even alludes to it in this new show, talking about how the act of photographing recreational drug use excused him from actuallytaking part in it. The cloak of the voyeur seems to have protected him in many ways.
There's something weirdly involving about watching this small, introverted man talk about his life on stage. This show has the added interest of live music, and am I giving too much away when I mention that at one stage Yang himself demonstrates his hitherto undeclared skill at the maraccas?
I writhed with a displaced nostalgia at seeing people I never knew at events I wasn't invited to, and surely this is a part of the successful formula of Yang's one-man shows. This kind of painful pornography of celebrity is particularly acute during this show, with its emphasis on great writers, artists and actors Yang has known.
But I came away inspired, even hopeful. And that is the essence of William Yang's charm. His melancholy, his reserve, is merely a pose, hiding behind it a genuine delight in the brilliance of creativity, diversity and the power of community.
Bravo William Yang! You remain one of my heroes.