Coming home - daily structures of life
There is something else i wanted to ask before:
still in china… what did father do…
Your father - he was a worker.
What kind of work did he do
“Zhe Gai You”
what was that?
he worked for a factory
how do you say “Zhe Gai You” in mandarin
“Zhai Gou Yuan”
All right - i just wanted to know
Why are you asking?
I’m just writing something
You know - it’s like today when someone – how do you say in German, somebody – let’s say who goes somewhere else to order items for a company …
hmmm - Don’t know
He shows products to companies?
It’s more like he visits other companies to buy things
Do you want to talk to your brother
No it’s OK
Let’s talk when you get home
Yes let’s do that…
I grew up in a Chinese restaurant.
When my parents moved to Austria they ended up, as many other Chinese, working in a Chinese restaurant. What else could they do? Not that they knew how to cook professionally.
But, without knowing the language – being completely illiterate in this new place – everything/they were: alien. What else could one do?
My parents weren’t cooks – anything but familiar with the restaurant business. But, in general, in Chinese restaurants cooks aren’t cooks, waitresses not waitresses and restaurant managers are not managers …
But then they – my parents, the employees – were my image of Chinese, only later to find out that they were more Chinese then the Chinese in China.
Their generation left China at the end of the 70’s. Their image of China, of home, stopped the moment they left. It froze and became something nostalgic: a frozen image - memories.
But, China moved on. China – changed –
… When my parents / our family moved to Europe they ended up in Vienna.
Ended up since they did not intend to stay –
since they were eventually planning to go to Belgium
Belgium because of our relatives there… all they had planned they planned for Belgium.
But, things turned out differently.
Vienna was just a stop over place while waiting for when the papers would be ready to move on… But, once there they started to recreate, although temporarily, a new daily structure; they started working. Temporary became a routine; it became their habitus – their new life.
When the papers were finally ready, they did not see a reason to move on. What difference did Austria or Belgium make to them: both were not China, both were empty, both without values, two countries without meaning, exchangeable.
To them there were no differences both languages were foreign. What difference would it make to speak German, French, or Flemish.
What they wanted they gained leaving China.
It was too far fetched to think of the difference / to think of the values of what it means to be Austrian or Belgian.
To think one day their children could become citizens of one of these countries
…we stayed, and I started to learn German instead of French and Flemish…
Instead of going to the north sea, I went skiing in the alps;
instead of mussels with french-fries, “Moules Frites” I grew up with “Wiener Schnitzel”
Jun Yang, video installation (loop approx. 16 min.) with ceiling construction and interior, 2000. Venue: Sportlerheim Werkleitz.