¡Patria o Libertad! Johanna Reich: ‘Monument’

Johanna Reich, ‘Monument,’ 2009, video projection, 5:45. Courtesy of the artist

September 9–October 30, 2011
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY CANADIAN ART

Nationality has many faces in the show at Mocca. It can be tormenting, paralyzing, aggressive; it can overtake your life, turn you into a killer, make you a victim, or it can make you proud and happy.
In Johanna Reich’s video installation, a young woman paints a wall with a huge brush, applying generous amounts of paint from large containers. She puts many layers of paint on it really quickly. She starts the painting at the bottom with yellow then moves up and applies a big area of red. Now the painting is getting larger and she has to reach up, even standing on a stool to continue. The next wide stripe she paints is black.
That is the moment we recognize that the colors she is painting are of the German flag. We also start to grasp that her dress might not be as weird as it seems. There might be a reason she is wearing yellow plastic boots, red pants and a black sweater.
She finishes her work as suddenly, as fast, as she started. She steps back, looks at it for a moment and then steps up on the stool and disappears into the painting.

Watching the ending of this video, I couldn’t help envying anyone who was born into a democratic country, like Reich, who grew up enjoying freedom and the choice to blend in.

Emese Krunák-Hajagos

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