Keywords: by yanagi
Description: Yukinori Yanagi's work explores themes relating to his position as a Japanese artist living and working in an international context, as well as broader issues about identity within social or
Yukinori Yanagi's work explores themes relating to his position as a Japanese artist living and working in an international context, as well as broader issues about identity within social or national constructs.
In The World Flag Ant Farm, he created a series of interconnecting boxes,each filled with coloured sand in the pattern of a national flag - representing the nations of the world - and linked by plastic tubes. He then released ants into this system who were able to travel between all the networked flags, transporting food and sand. These 'border crossings' eventually resulted in an intermingling of colour throughout the system, each flag's integrity being slowly degraded, creating in a sort of 'cross-cultural' multinational network.
In a Japanese context the idea that the nation state might have this sort of cultural permeability goes against the traditionally held view that Japan has its own very distinct and isolated culture. But in fact Japan has historically been influenced by several other Asian countries - particularly China - and America currently has a strong impact on Japanese popular culture.
This piece was originally made in 1990 and shown at the 1993 Venice Biennale. Yanagi has subsequently re-created or made new versions in a number of sites around the world.(See Union Jack Ant Farm 1994, below)
Yanagi has said that he frequently played with ants and other insects as a child growing up in rural Japan. Now he uses them in his art as a symbol of work, order and collective activity.