Lethal Love

Aluminum Venetian blinds, hanging structure, free-standing mirror wall, moving spotlights, scent emitters (Wildflower, Gunpowder)

Courtesy Artist Pension Trust, Berlin

Installation view of Lethal Love, Cubitt, London, UK, 2008
Photo: Andy Keate


Excerpt from exhibition guide of Double Soul, SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022

Lethal Love is a seminal piece of how Yang incorporates historical events and biographical details directly or indirectly in an abstract interpretation. This work explores the fatal story of Petra Kelly, a German activist, pacifist and founder of the German Green Party (Die Grünen) and the former general Gert Bastian.

Kelly and Bastian seemed an unlikely pair, him being twenty-five years her senior and with a military career and a background in the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Despite extensive public and media attention on their partnership and political engagement, they became increasingly iso- lated with Kelly growing disconcertingly dependent on Bastian. In 1992, the story of this German power couple came to an abrupt end with two gunshots. The police found Kelly and Bastian killed in their home, and the investigation indicated that in all likelihood, Bastian had first shot the sleeping Kelly and then himself. The ‘double death’ of Kelly and Bastian was commemorated by the Green Party, ignoring the possibility of Bastian being a murderer. Accom- panied by the unusual pairing of their glamorous public careers and extreme isolation, their deaths caused not only public bewilderment, but also their subsequent fall into oblivion.

Inside the darkened installation Lethal Love, where scent dispensers fill the air with flower and gunpowder, one is repeatedly hit by bright and moving spotlights, which are only partially screened out by the venetian blinds. The installation thus establishes a physical situation that refers to the couple’s juggling of their prominent public image and their private and dark secret leading to their deaths.


Exhibition history

Double Soul, SMK – Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022

Lethal Love, Cubitt, London, UK, 2008

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