Jun Yang is an artist based between Vienna, Taipei, and Yokohama. Born in Qingtian, China to a family from both sides of the Taiwan straits, and having moved to Austria at the age of four, Yang's artistic practice reflects these various cultural influences and his experiences as an immigrant in a global age. Traversing film, installation, performance, gastronomy and public engagement, his practice is also tied to migration, particularly in relation to assimilation and acculturation, exploring the conflict between reality and idealism.
Yang has often used his work to explore the notion of becoming an acculturated European citizen. This theme is particularly clear in his 2012 lecture performance and video, Becoming European or How I Grew Up with Wiener Schnitzel at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, as part of the trans-regional art project Europe (to the power of) n. This work was produced as a video in 2015, at the height of the European migrant crisis, when thousands of refugees travelled across the Mediterranean Sea and arrived on the shores of Europe. Examining the identity politics of visual culture, the ongoing project consists of a Google Images search where the resultant image from key search terms such as 'migrant' and 'refugee' are displayed. Depending on where the video is exhibited, the search is repeated but with different images specific to that region.
As an artist whose practice is based on social politics, Yang has advocated to bring people together through his work, as in his 2012 Micro M—a Proposal for a Public Space—a Cinema, for which he created an installation out of blue tiles to welcome screenings, lectures and events during the exhibition period. Produced by Sharjah Art Foundation, the project was exhibited from October to December 2012. Also in 2012, Yang, his brother Tie, and Tie's business partner Dong, ventured on a chain restaurant project together. Titled ra'mien go hoher markt in Vienna, these restaurants were inspired by Police Stations in Japan (kōban). Although part of the same organisational unit, each kōban looks architecturally and visually unique. The same logic applies to Yang's ra'mien go; the dialogue is the same but the style is dependent on setting and function.
An extension of Yang's Becoming European was exhibited in 2018 at the Sydney Biennale as part of a larger installation, Xīní / Xuělí Blue Room. Here, a wallpapered area with motifs showcasing iconic and well-known sites of Sydney—including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House—was presented. A traditional Chinese ink landscape painter who had never visited the city painted these motifs, thereby making the work an extension of reality—perhaps an exotic or imagined one. The work literally framed a reference to the subjective understanding of self within environment and society. As with this iteration of Becoming European—for which the artist spent six weeks meeting migrant and community groups—extensive research forms a significant part of Yang's artistic practice and output.
Yang studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam, from 1994–95, and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna from 1996–2000. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and undertaken various artist residencies, including the Prize of the City of Vienna in fine arts (2017); the PS1 International Studio Program, New York (2002–03); and the MAK Schindler Scholarship Program Artists and Architects-in-Residence Program, Los Angeles (1999–2000). He is also one of the founders of Taipei Contemporary Art Center.
The world-renowned Biennale of Sydney is back next year to celebrate its 45th anniversary exhibition. Set to maintain its status as the largest and best-attended contemporary arts event in Australia, the 21st Biennale of Sydney is anticipated to once again bring an impressive and diverse range of contemporary artists and artworks to the...