Introducing URBAN LIGHTS RUHR in Hamm I JUN YANG – an interview

In the end of September, the new light art exhibition format URBAN LIGHTS RUHR is illuminating the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Hamm. Five international artists teams were invited to approach urban issues of the Ruhr region via the medium of light: Jun Yang, plastique fantastique, RaumZeitPiraten, Sans façon and LAb [au].



25.09. – 11.10.2014


Urbane Künste Ruhr is delighted to accompany the URBAN LIGHTS RUHR as a media partner: We will accompany the festival with exclusive interviews with the participating artists’ collectives! 


Having studied studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Akademy in Amsterdam and the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, Jun Yang (* 1975 in Qingtian/China) now lives and works in Vienna, Taipeh and Yokohama. His works range from photography and video to installations and performance and centre on themes of cultural affiliation and of being different in a specific social context. Jun Yang lives in Yokohama, Taipei and Vienna. His works are no autobiographical narratives in the strict sense, but well-calculated he adds personal elements on the borders of documentary and fiction in his artistic drive. When Jun Yang refers to his own story, he always uses this to make the transformation of cultural codes in different cultures everyday tangible. Thus, the individual experiences of the artist with the public and everyday rituals and motifs are linked, and reflect on changing object-subject relationships, on individuality and identity. asked him about his project for Urban Lights Ruhr!

all illus. (c) Jun Yang


Tell us more about your project for Urban Ruhr Lights!        

(c) Jun Yang

(c) Jun Yang

The piece we are hoping to show is called REVOLUTIONS. It is an animation filmed and produced in 2011. The work itself is about historical uprisings and demonstrations: like the student uprising on Tiananmen Square 1989, the Gwangju Uprising 1980, the fall of Saddam Hussein regime 2003, but also recent events such as social uprising in Greece, London or the Arab Spring.

The work is made of three episodes: Episode one: Revolution succeeds. Episode two: Revolution is crushed. Episode three: Revolution becomes a commodity.

The animation is installed as an interactive life-size work; so the visitors will see themself as part of the animation.

You are working with different materials and media – why? Or rather: how do you decide which ones go with a project?

It depends on the content. Or perhaps I should say the content and the material should relate somehow – and the question: “Why a certain piece is a painting, a video, or an installation” should be asked. For instance the reason – to state it in a few words – this piece in the show REVOLUTIONS is made as an animation – is for one the subject matter – it was important to create a distance to the content (demonstrations, social uprise) and not to make it too realistic by e.g. seeing the faces of actors. Also we re-enacted many famous scenes and images of revolutions – such as the fall of the Saddam Hussein statue in 2003 or the scene of “the Tankman” on Tiananmen Square in China 1989. The way the animation is produced refers to shadow play and puppets; also by having only black and white animation the story becomes universal, not stressing one particular ‘revolution’. Also the animation gave us a possibility to have the figures in the film in life-size. Another important thing is that visitors of the installation are projected back into the film so they see themself as part of the animation.

How do you develop your projects? Are you working conceptually or do you find inspiration on site, spontaneously?

(c) Jun Yang

(c) Jun Yang

Even if one works conceptually this does not exclude ‘inspiration on site, spontaneously’.

For the project in Urban Lights Ruhr it was clearly inspired by the events in the past years (of social uprising), but then I was interested in the images that stick in our memory of these moments. So from there things slowly came together.

Are there role models, influences, inspirations, … which inspire your work?

Well, you could say: for REVOLUTIONS my models (not role models), influences, inspirations were: Mao Tse Tung, Saddam Hussein, the Tankman of Tiananmen Square, Eugene Delacroix (and his painting Liberty Leading the People), to name only a few.

The Urban Lights Ruhr are in full bloom now, starting this week.What are you currently working on?

Right now I am working on my monograph; which is called The Monograph Project.

Perhaps this doubling of the title reflects best the method I work with. For the project I was not interested to create ‘only’ an artist catalogue or an artist monograph; but it was interesting to think what forms a monograph can take. For example instead of only one thick coffee-table-book we will create six books all in different sizes and methods to reflect the diversity and differences of catalogues and the content. The project also tries to talk about an artist‘s oeuvre in context of monographs and in the context of reexamining it.

Jun Yang, thank you so much for letting us have a peek into your work!

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