Ken + Julia Yonetani are not unfamiliar names to the international audience. Having represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and shown in Singapore Biennale 2013, this two-person artists' unit translates the nearby environs and current political issues into works filled with aesthetic and humour. The duo work largely overseas and have shown internationally, from group exhibitions in Australia, Germany, UK, France, Israel, and Canada, to solo exhibitions in UK, France, Japan, and Australia, including the recent presentation at the NGA Contemporary, National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. They have also undertaken artists-in-residence programmes in Finland, Portugal, Germany, France, Japan, and Australia. This solo exhibition will be their first in Singapore.
For this exhibition, the artists will be presenting a survey of their recent works. The central piece will be The Last Supper (2014) which shows a nine-meter table made of over one tonne of groundwater salt sourced from the Murray-Darling basin. It features a variety of foodstuffs in the form of an exquisite banquet. To quote the artists: “The work points to concerns arising from increasing salinity levels in Australia and unsustainable agricultural practices. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the massive banquet of luxurious foodstuffs also becomes a larger visualisation of the problems of food security and safety in an increasingly toxic world.”
Ken + Julia Yonetani will also showcase a chandelier from Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations. The chandeliers are produced using the now rarely- employed material of uranium glass, which when exposed to a UV black light emits a uniquely marvelous green light. Another similar piece is the Grape Chandelier (2011) made of groundwater salt, which was actually their first chandelier-inspired work made before the Crystal Palace series.
Last but not least, we have Three Wishes (2014), a small and illuminated figure of the Disney character Tinkerbell which turns to the melody of “It's a Small World”. In constrast to its charming exterior, this piece is fraught with the threat of nuclear power. It was created taking inspiration from the 1957 Disney animated TV program “Our Friend the Atom”. As we approach closer to the work, we realize that Tinkerbell's wings are those of the Pale Grass Blue species of butterfly (zizeeria maha, also known as Yamato-shijimi in Japan), the bodies of which are now frequently malformed due to the effect of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster.