Australia Gets a Unique Insight
to Life in China
China Moments in Time Sydney, Australia, February 2019
Australians were afforded a very personal look at life in China through the lens of celebrated Australian photojournalist Marcus Reubenstein at the landmark China Moments in Time exhibition at Sydney’s 541 ART SPACE gallery.
Staged at the start of celebrations for the Year of the Pig, it was embraced warmly by both the Chinese community and thousands of Australians of non-Chinese backgrounds who both visited the exhibition and connected with it online. A partner event of the City of Sydney’s Lunar New Year Festival, it was also the first major event of the Chinese New Year period staged in Sydney.
The launch night was one of the city’s biggest ever functions for a Chinese-themed photo exhibition and was attended by an eclectic crowd of people from the worlds of politics, business, arts and sport.
Featuring more than 70 works, in terms of image size and total space taken up by the images, it was the biggest ever exhibition of photographs portraying contemporary Chinese life shown in Australia. The largest installation was three metres wide, and the total wall space taken up by the images would cover almost two full basketball courts.
The exhibition was officially launched by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who had high praise for the works telling the capacity crowd, “Marcus Reubenstein has given us access to his travels in China, access to his insights into the Chinese character and the Chinese way of life.”
Mr Abbott went on to say, “Every one of these photos gives us insights to life in China… and I think Marcus has done both our countries enormous service with his work.”
Over the past decade Reubenstein has traveled to more than twenty Chinese cities where he’s captured over 19,000 images. “Having seen so much of China,” he says, “I have a very good appreciation of Chinese culture and what’s important to ordinary Chinese people.
“China has become a global economic behemoth and I think many people in the west can fall into the trap of thinking of China as a homogeneous society. It is very much a multi-layered society and there is a great deal of diversity within its borders.
“There are 34 provinces and provincial level cities in China, each has its own unique customs, culture landscapes and cuisines. This is something that I’ve explored and highlighted through my exhibition.”
China Moments in Time was staged with the support of global financial services company, CMC Markets. Matthew Lewis, Head of CMC Markets Asia Pacific & Canada, said, “CMC Markets is proud to sponsor this exhibition.
“Over the years we’ve continued to build our relationship with the Australian Chinese community and have recently opened our education office in Shanghai. This exhibition truly depicts Chinese culture across nations and is a wonderful celebration of Chinese New Year. One of the key themes of this exhibition is the shared values of Australia and China.”
Aside from being the biggest Chinese-themed photographic exhibition ever held in Australia, it was also the most widely promoted with media reports reaching a total cumulative Chinese audience of around 300 million people.
Says Reubenstein, “It’s easy to see where our two cultures are different; in reality, China is a nation filled with people whose hopes and dreams are not that different from our own.
“One of the great things about this exhibition was that I could share my experiences with both Chinese and non-Chinese visitors. In total around 80% of the people who came through the gallery were non-Chinese and it was great to share this very personal perspective on the life of ordinary Chinese people.”
The feedback from both Australia and China has been very positive, with a number of offers to host future events, there will be opportunities for many others to enjoy these works.