GA TALK 025 “Superorganism” by Ken + Julia Yonetani (Contemporary Artists)

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Dysbiotica-Pregnant woman (2020), Photography by JINNO Shingo, Sesame Collection, ©Ken + Julia Yonetani
 Courtesy of the Artists and Mizuma Art Gallery.

GLOBAL ART TALK 025 “Superorganism” by Ken + Julia Yonetani (Contemporary Artists)

Ken + Julia Yonetani have utilized many diverse materials including clay, sugar, salt, uranium glass, and money, giving form to economic issues and environmental devastation in their works. A lot of their work, they confess, has arisen out of their own anxieties: catastrophe is their “shtick.” Over a year before COVID-19 began spreading across the globe they embarked on research for a series of new works about microorganisms, sensing from organic farming and from research into coral bleaching that the ecology of microorganisms was fundamentally vital to the ecologic balance of both humans and the planet. For this talk they muse about art and the world as superorganism, of which we and our microbes are both a part.

About the Talk

Time/Date:18:00-19:30 2020.12.15.
Admission:Free (Booking required)

*We will hold the Global Art Talk online this time to take preventive measures against the proliferation of COVID-19. Please kindly understand that we still have possibility to cancel this event depending on the circumstances.
*Information to access the online talk will be informed via email in advance.
*English>Japanese consecutive translation available.

Organized by:Kyoto University of the Arts, Graduate School of Art and Design Studies/HAPS

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About the Speakers

Japanese-Australian artist duo Ken + Julia Yonetani are known for their complex, large-scale installations utilizing various materials including salt, rice, uranium, and ceramics to illustrate the ramifications of environmental catastrophes and other issues. They often work on-site and with scientists studying these events as a part of their research. Ken + Julia have exhibited extensively in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, including as part of the Australian representation for the Venice Biennale of Art (2009), and at the Singapore Biennale (2013), Kenpoku Art Festival (Japan, 2016), Honolulu Biennale (2017) and Asia Society Triennial (2020). They have had solo exhibitions at the Abbaye de Maubuisson Centre for Contemporary Art, Paris (2014), the National Gallery of Australia (2015) and Mori Art Museum Collection Tokyo (2019). Their survey exhibition at the newly constructed Kadokawa Culture Museum, Saitama is currently on until March 7th, 2021.


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Global Art Talk 025Booking Form
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Connecting Kyoto and the World through Contemporary Art

The environment surrounding contemporary art has become vastly more complex over the past few decades. Faced with this situation, it is no easy task for artists to find a way to be active at a global level. Naturally, it is virtually impossible to get a firm grasp on the art scenes that are being produced concurrently all over the world. In particular, in neighboring Asian countries that are seeing rapid economic growth and modernization, there are more opportunities than ever before to show one’s work, taking into account the new art museums and art fairs that are being established, and the flourishing numbers of international exhibitions. Although global attention focused on this region has increased, the situation is quite different in Japan, where there is a general sense that the work of developing art-related institutions has been finished. However, it is precisely this state of affairs that has led to a renewed questioning of how global networks are constructed, a reconsideration of how institutionalization works, and the role of artists in society.
In Kyoto, art schools produce a large number of new artists each year. But what kinds of connections might one discover today between this center of traditional Japanese culture and the world of contemporary art that has grown ever more complex in this way? “Global Art Talk,” presented by HAPS and Kyoto University of the Arts, is a program where internationally active artists, curators, collectors, researchers, and gallerists, among others, are invited, and, through a series of dialogues, strives to provide a global perspective as well as deepen understanding.

The “GLOBAL ART TALK” is part of the Curatorial Research Program of the HAPS, which seeks to provide support to young emerging artists.

The Kyoto University of the Arts is dedicated to establishing an institution that will foster artists from Kyoto who aim to work in the contemporary art world at a global level.


Ken + Julia Yonetani, Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations(2012-ongoing) and Dysbiotica (2020), Installation View, Kadokawa Culture Museum, Photography: MIYAJIMA Kei
, ©Ken + Julia Yonetani 
Courtesy of the Artists and Mizuma Art Gallery.

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Sweet Barrier Reef (2009), Photography by Ian Hobbs, ©Ken + Julia Yonetani
 Courtesy of the Artists and Mizuma Art Gallery.