Jordan Wang and Unicole Unicron Re-imagine Self Love Through the Lens of Patriotism

unicole sits on a white fence

Jordan Wang is a Chinese American photographer living in Los Angeles. He contacted Unicole Unicron after discovering the Vice documentary on YouTube. Intrigued by the UNICULT fundamental practices of self love and having empathy for people, he contacted Unicole for a collaboration. The following photos are the result of this collaboration. Jordan and Unicole sat down to talk about these photos and the process of shooting them in the conversation below. 

Unicole: Hi Jordan, so you contacted me about working together on a photo series but we didn't really talk about what it was going to be about. I really love how it came together organically with both of our ideas. You originally had the idea of self love, which is so beautiful. What made you want to take photos around that topic? 

unicole holds zirself   unicole sits on a rock with open arms

Jordan: That’s a great question! The reason I am passionate about the concept of self love is because every day I see the media report events of tragedy, and it felt insane to me that human life can vanish just in a few seconds. That’s why I believe that self -love may be a way to better ourselves and everyone around us. Only if we have empathy for ourselves, then we can have empathy for others.

unicole stands on a mountain

Unicole: That's so beautiful! What an important thing for everyone to remember and focus on. I really appreciate the idea that self love translates to understanding and love for others. For you, how does art help you to express and relate these ideas? In particular, what do you feel the power of photography is to affect the viewer?

unicole sits with zir back turned from a flag in the forest     unicole sits on the american flag in a forest

Jordan: Photography helps me discover beauty in life, and at the same time appreciate life. What I want to convey to my audience is the idea of having faith in life, to see beauty in everyday life and also looking forward for better things to come.

unicole spins with an american flag

Unicole: When we met up, I had brought my American Flag. We took a few photos with it before we started talking about the potential meaning behind it and our intentions. Since I'm releasing an album this year called America's Sweetheart, I've been thinking a lot about patriotism and what it means to be an American. I said to you that self love includes loving your land and where you're from. It's part of who we are, just as we are part of it. As a society we are working through a lot of oppression, our history of slavery and colonialism, our addiction to war to feed the military industrial complex, the prison system, the broken voting system - it just goes on and on. I am an American, and I accept all the weird junk that comes with that, but you, as an immigrant must have a completely different relationship to it.

unicole stands in front of the american flagunicole reaches for an american flag floating down river

Jordan: For me patriotism is an interesting concept. I am originally from China, and I was educated through the conservative Chinese education system; where you are not suppose to question your teachers and the content they are teaching, so I became the quiet and shy kid who never dared to question the authority. At the age of eleven, I went to Chicago to study in a private school, where my parents believed that the American education system would be a better fit for me, due to the openness and rich resources in the school system. Through studying and living in America, I learned about the concept of freedom of speech and how society generally supports people who want to voice their opinions. This was a big game changer for me, it opened me to learn things that I would never learn back in China and helped me speak about what is on my mind to the people around me. But sometimes when I see what the Chinese government do to their citizens it haunts me, for example the millions of Chinese Uyghurs sent to the so called “re-education centers” to get educated to become better citizens, where these camps are only concentration camps to strip away their Uyghurs identity into mindless and empty souls that follows every instruction of the Chinese Government. My relationship with China is that I am proud of my Chinese ancestry, but not a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party.

Unicole: Wow, that's really deep and a lot for you to carry. In many ways, a lot of American's feel the same way. They believe in what the country was originally founded on, and what it stands for. Certain things are good, but there are ways in which our people are denied simple care and resources. I find that our system is very cruel and harsh in a different way. There are very few resources available to homeless people, impoverished people, mentally ill people, and so on. Everything about this country is based in greed rather than care. We are told that it is up to each of us to pull ourselves up - which, for many people, is not just difficult, it's literally impossible. I believe that through acknowledging the darker reality and standing up for what we really believe in, we can change the world. No country is perfect, but I believe we can make the entire world better. The work that you do as a photographer and an artist communicate that deeper understanding you have of empathy and the world. Thank you for your work!

unicole stands on a mountain holding an american flag

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See the rest of the photos below. 

unicole holds an american flag    unicole shakes out a wet american flag


unicole prays with an american flag on zir head