Jun Yang : HERO—this is WE
January 19—April 1, 2007 Koppelman Gallery
HERO—this is WE is a two-channel video installation that explores the notion of nationalism in historical, cultural, and political contexts. How are nations built, defined, and symbolized? How do we know if we belong to them and how do we express this feeling of belonging? What characterizes a great nation—its history, people, culture, cities, events, wealth, influence, achievements, heroes?
In Jun Yang’s HERO—this is WE, the flag is explored as a symbol of national existence, pride, and self-identification. The U.S. flag is an example of how a group of individuals uses a symbol to define itself as a ‘we’ and how the prosperity, power, and self-confidence of that group broaden the reach of that symbol.
Jun Yang was born in Tientsin, China in 1975, and immigrated to Vienna in 1979. From an exile’s perspective, and amid his struggle to determine his own place of belonging, Yang examines how the emerging superpower of China is constructing its nationalist notions, defining its greatness, and positing itself in an international context.
In one of the two videos, narrated by the artist, Yang appropriates mass media sources to illustrate China’s political, economic, and cultural development since he left the country as a child. In the second video, in which footage from the 2004 Athens Olympics runs in slow-motion silently alongside the first, Yang renders various flags white to suggest one international people.
Image: HERO—This is We , 2005, 2 channel projection, video still, courtesy of Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna