Li-Ming Hu


NameLi-Ming Hu (she/her)
Country of BirthAotearoa
Place of ResidenceNew York City
EthnicitiesChinese, Singaporean Chinese, Taiwanese
ArtformVisual arts, Screen
Decades Active2000s, 2010s, 2020s


Li-Ming Hu is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in New York City. Born in Palmerston North to immigrant parents from Singapore and Taiwan, Hu and her family moved to Tāmaki Makaurau when she was a young child. At a time when there were next to no Asian faces on New Zealand television nor stage, Hu pursued acting after initially gaining a Master’s degree in history in 2002. She was soon cast as Li Mei Chen on Shortland Street (2003-2006) and went on to feature in Roseanne Liang’s award-winning short film Take 3 (2007). Hu also starred in Renee Liang’s first play Lantern (2009) and as Gemma/Silver Power Ranger in Power Rangers RPM (2009).

In 2015, Hu gained a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Sculpture) from Auckland University of Technology, and in the following year a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Elam School of Fine Arts. In 2017, Hu was awarded a scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she gained a Master of Fine Art in 2019.

Hu’s visual arts practice draws on her experiences and abilities as an actor, playfully interrogating the structures, power relationships and notions of authenticity within the art world. Her work often makes use of pop music, humour and her own art world anxieties, blurring and disrupting the performative aspects inherent in the production of culture. She often employs parody, making use of video footage (her own audition reels included) to skirt between homage and appropriation. “A lot of the art I make is about how I’m part of the art world that can sometimes take itself too seriously,” says Hu. “But since I’m still a part of it, I’m choosing to laugh at myself.”

In her work Loverboy (2016) for Auckland artist-run-space Mirage Gallery’s Seager’s Walter’s Prize (itself a homage to the most prestigious contemporary art prize in Aotearoa, the Walters Prize), Hu’s ‘quick and dirty’ signature masks (larger-than-life, cardboard cut-outs with roughly cut holes for eyes and mouths) hilariously depicts the four nominees of the prize vying for the judge’s attention.

Hu initiated Riff Raff, a ‘semi-imaginary’ artist-run space, with Daphne Simons for the 2016 exhibition Are we there yet? which included an installation, performance and public programming at artist-run space Glovebox, in Tāmaki Makaurau. Riff Raff was awarded the 2017 Summer Residency at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space where their project Trust Us was an elaborate part-exhibition, part-studio residency culminating in the Trust Us Contemporary Art Trust (TUCAT) Telethon. The 12 hour live-streamed durational performance, mimicking a telethon format to ‘raise art’ for their newly created contemporary art trust, included an elaborate series of events and resulted in a collection of over 60 donated artworks, the only specification for which was size. The donated works were exhibited salon-style alongside Hu and Simons’ studio props including the sequinned magenta curtain which served as a live-to-air backdrop, and a colourful hand-embroidered TUCAT Telethon banner. The collection was donated to, and accepted by, the Chartwell Trust, one of Aotearoa’s most well regarded independent contemporary art trusts. While it was always the artists’ intention that the Chartwell Trust acquire the collection, they were unsure about whether it would actually happen.

In a new commission for the exhibition Elsewhere and nowhere else at Te Tuhi in 2022, Hu loosely recreated a scale replica of her New York studio — a typical, messy artist’s space in which videos, sculpture, and objects were installed. A live performance at the exhibition’s opening Where is the art? (2022), featured Hu lampooning a Zoom masterclass for artists on how to get more shows, and was edited into a single channel video work that was shown for the duration of the exhibition. In Boney (Phoney?) M (2020), self-described as a combination of parody and tribute, Hu plays all four members of the Boney M. band plus their German producer, reenacting snippets of interviews and songs revealing fraught boundaries around appropriation, diaspora and cultural exchange. Artist visa curtain (2022), and the print Three diasporic Asian artists and one diasporic Asian curator, made for the occasion of an exhibition in which identity is not mentioned (2022), which satirises Vladimir Tretchikoff’s 1952 painting Chinese Girl, also adorn the ‘studio’ walls.

Hu has been awarded numerous residencies including the International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York City (2022), Flux Factory, New York City (2021) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2019). In 2021, she was selected as a Breakout Artist by the Chicago arts magazine NewCity.


Key works / presentations

2023 – Can It Be I’m Not Meant to Play This Part? The Rubin Foundation, New York, USA

2022 – Double Foreign New Zealand Chinese Kitchen, Flux Factory, New York, USA

2022 – Elsewhere and nowhere else, (group) Te Tuhi, Tāmaki Makaurau

2021 – Day Job (curator/organizer), Flux Factory, New York, USA

2021 – Art Drips From Each of Her Fingers, with Maryam Faridani, Roots & Culture, Chicago, USA

2021 – Chicago Breakout Artists, (group), Chicago Artist Coalition, USA

2020 – Fire-lit Kettle, (group), Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Pōneke

2020 – DISCOmbobulation, CoProsperity, Chicago NYC

2018 – Say It, Just Say It (group), Tauranga Art Gallery, Tauranga

2017 – Future Fffocused Art Prize (Riff Raff collaboration with Daphne Simons),The Physics Room, Ōtautahi

2017 – Trust Us (Riff Raff collaboration with Daphne Simons), Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Pōneke

2016 – Seagers Walters Prize, Mirage Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau

2016 – Riff Raff – Are we there yet? (Riff Raff collaboration with Daphne Simons), GLOVEBOX Ltd, Tāmaki Makaurau

2016 – You’ll Never Work in This Town Again, Canape Canopy, Tāmaki Makaurau

Key awards

2022 – International Studio & Curatorial Program residency, NYC, USA

2021 – Breakout Artist, NewCity Magazine, Chicago, USA

2021 – Flux Factory residency, NYC, USA

2019 – Skowhegan Matching Fellowship, Skowhegan School of Art & Sculpture and School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA

2018 – Wassaic Summer Residency, Wassaic, NY, USA

2017-19 – New Artist Society Scholarship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

2017 – Enjoy Summer Residency, Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Pōneke

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Last updated: 1 March 2024 Suggest an Edit