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CAMOUFLAGE – LOOK LIKE THEM – TALK LIKE THEM

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2002
Video 4:3 (Pal DV) | Sound | English | 16'33

In CAMOUFLAGE – LOOK like them – TALK like them, 2002-2004, the story of X is told by a narrator, which is the filmmaker himself: Jun Yang. After moving from China to Vienna, after troubles with the police and being arrested, living in constant fear and threat, X is advised to dive into the mass by looking and dressing like the majority does – by camouflaging himself. With this, X turns into a representative of a person who has “no country, no name, no identity”, and who is recommended, in order to survive, to fully adapt to his surrounding: “look like them, talk like them, be like them”. Images taken from newspapers, magazines and New York street scenes, which are only indirectly connected with X, accompany the voice-over and link X´s story with news coverage addressing suspicion and paranoiac feelings about people who look different. The audio narration starts with Yang´s experiences and moves on to the life of X, whereas the visual narration opens to the social discomfort provoked by nine-eleven widely pictured in mass media since then. The shift from Yang to X and to highly political debates about otherness, from individual experience to a general debate (and back) marks an important difference to the earlier works of Jun Yang, which prioritised his own biography as pivot. (Barbara Steiner)

Text excerpt from the Video
“What is the purpose of your stay? How long are you intending to stay? What is your profession?” In fact this time they asked: “Wo wohnen Sie? Was ist der Grund für ihren Aufenthalt? Wie lange haben Sie vor zu bleiben?” This is routine, they check – to see whether I speak the language – according to my passport. I got used to it already… – quite normal – quite routine. I just arrived here a few days ago, a place, an atmosphere of paranoia or at least hyper sensitivity. Everybody becomes suspicious, everybody beyond the given standard, or because everybody fitting into a certain standard, a certain image. Like in the airplane coming here, reading an article, an interview with a spokesman of the Muslim community, a lot of their members now cut their beard, women refraining from wearing head-scarf; all to make their lives easier, to avoid being stared at or being suspicious. Daily the news reports similar cases: people arrested, innocents accused and insulted, a plane diverted or an Indian actress taken into detention, she and a group of friends looked suspicious, the airplane gets escorted by two jets, the group of Indians are taken into questioning.
Spiegel Magazine September 2002: “All citizens under suspicion.” German interior minister is thinking of new system registering all foreigners.
This is short story on X. In fact his real name started with an X. But in this case – X becomes the synonym for many in his situation. X came the other day saying:…. (JY)

Camouflage – Look like them – Talk like them is part of a work group with
> Camouflage: X-Guide
> Camouflage: Grey-Guide

 

Exhibition list
2008 Laughing in a foreign language, Hayward Gallery Southbank, London (UK)
2007 Museum am Ostwall (Studio), Dortmund (DE)
2006 Naked Life, MoCA – Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei, Taipei (TW)
2004 Ficciones documentales, Fundacio „la Caixa“, Barcelona (ES); Palma de Mallorca (ES)
2004 Büro Friedrich, Berlin (DE)
2004 Daheim in der Fremde – Fremd in der Heimat, Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Nordhorn (DE)
2003 PS 1, New York (US)
2003 Galerie Martin Janda, Vienna (AT)
2002 Index, Stockholm (SE)

Büro Friedrich, Berlin, 2004
Büro Friedrich, Berlin, 2004
Camouflage: X-Guide, Büro Friedrich, Berlin, 2004
Städtische Galerie Nordhorn, Nordhorn, 2004
Hayward Gallery Southbank, London, 2008
Camouflage: Grey-Guide, MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, 2006

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