Ken + Julia Yonetani

b. Duo. Ken Yonetani (b. 1971); Julia Yonetani (b. 1972) in Tokyo, Japan
Working in Sydney, Australia and Kyoto, Japan
Showing at Asia Society Museum
On view October 27, 2020, through February 7, 2021
Three Wishes

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014. Three sculptures, each: Glass figurine, butterfly specimen, glass dome, music box (playing It's a Small World). Glass figurines, each: H. 5 7/8 x Diam. 3 1/2 in. (15 x 9 cm). Courtesy of the artists and Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore. Photograph by Catherine Brossais

Location: Asia Society Museum
Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes (detail), 2014

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes (detail), 2014. Three sculptures, each: Glass figurine, butterfly specimen, glass dome, music box (playing It's a Small World). Glass figurines, each: H. 5 7/8 x Diam. 3 1/2 in. (15 x 9 cm). Courtesy of the artists and Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore. Photograph by Catherine Brossais

Location: Asia Society Museum
Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014. Three sculptures, each: Glass figurine, butterfly specimen, glass dome, music box (playing It's a Small World). Glass figurines, each: H. 5 7/8 x Diam. 3 1/2 in. (15 x 9 cm). Courtesy of the artists and Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore. Photograph by Catherine Brossais

Location: Asia Society Museum
Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014

Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014. Three sculptures, each: Glass figurine, butterfly specimen, glass dome, music box (playing It's a Small World). Glass figurines, each: H. 5 7/8 x Diam. 3 1/2 in. (15 x 9 cm). Courtesy of the artists and Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore. Photograph by Catherine Brossais

Location: Asia Society Museum

This work was produced in collaboration with Otaki Laboratory, University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan supported by an Asialink Arts Residency

Ken + Julia Yonetani’s collaborative, research-based practice explores the interaction between humans, nature, science, and the spiritual realm to counteract the isolation experienced by individuals in contemporary society. Their interdisciplinary and often immersive installations are meant to engage the senses as a means to reconnect the viewer with the natural world. Ken Yonetani received an MA from the Australian National University, Canberra, and a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts. Julia Yonetani received a PhD from the Australian National University.

Three Wishes is a multimedia installation that highlights the dangers associated with the development of nuclear energy, especially as a source of sustainable energy. The project, produced in collaboration with Otaki Laboratory at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, was inspired by Walt Disney’s belief in the benefits of atomic energy following the Second World War. Disney’s faith in the promise of nuclear energy is best exemplified in the 1956 publication The Walt Disney Story of Our Friend the Atom, a collaboration with the German physicist Heinz Haber. The contents were later adapted into a 1957 Disneyland television program titled “Our Friend the Atom.” Three Wishes features three rotating figures of the Disney character Tinker Bell, fabricated with wings from Zizeeria maha butterflies, which were hatched from eggs collected as a part of a scientific study into the biological impact of the Fukushima nuclear power disaster. These figures, whose construction evokes Frankenstein’s monster, are accompanied by the well-known song “It’s a Small World,” which was developed as part of Disney’s contribution to the Children of the World Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The Yonetani’s mutated rendition of Tinker Bell serves as a cautionary tale regarding the great risks involved with our reliance on nuclear power and the potential problems it engenders for future generations. 

Click here to learn more about and see research from the Otaki Laboratory.

Supported in-kind by Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore

Below: Ken + Julia Yonetani, Three Wishes, 2014. Three sculptures, each: Glass figurine, butterfly specimen, glass dome, music box (playing It's a Small World). Glass figurines, each: H. 5 7/8 x Diam. 3 1/2 in. (15 x 9 cm). Courtesy of the artists and Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo, New York, and Singapore. Video courtesy of the artist. This work was produced in collaboration with Otaki Laboratory, University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan supported by an Asialink Arts Residency

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