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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Yukinori Yanagi

b. 1959, Japan

Yukinori Yanagi explores fundamental questions of human existence through site-specific installations that negotiate a diverse range of media. Interested in questions of identity, both on a social and national scale, many of Yanagi's earlier works have examined individuality and the ways we are defined by constructs such as class, gender and ethnicity. More recently, his increasingly ambitious large-scale installations pose questions that relate to the consequences of technological advancement and globalisation.

For the 21st Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island, Yanagi exhibits a series of three interconnected artworks that investigate industrialisation and the myth of human progress in a time of global capitalism. In the Turbine Hall, Icarus Container, 2018, takes the form of a labyrinth of shipping containers repurposed by the artist to represent global networks of distribution. Inside the containers a series of mirrors reflect the sky while a video projection features a burning sun. Drawing inspiration from Ancient Greek mythology, Yanagi references the tale of Icarus, the son of master craftsman Daedalus. After creating a labyrinth to confine the Minotaur at the request of King Minos of Crete, Daedalus and Icarus were themselves imprisoned within it. Fashioning wings from wax and feathers so that they could escape, Daedalus cautioned his son not to fly too close to the sun for fear that the heat would melt his wings. Revelling in the joy of flight, Icarus did not heed the warning and soared high into the sky before falling into the sea, his wings destroyed. Yanagi interprets the myth as an analogous warning of the ramifications of human obsession with technology and advancement. The image of the burning sun also represents Yanagi's investigation into the development of nuclear technology, likening nuclear fusion to the creation of an artificial sun.

Continuing his investigation of human obsession with power and advancement, Yukinori Yanagi's video installation Landscape with an Eye, 2018, features an enormous eye floating suspended in space. Gazing into the iris, the viewer is presented with archival film footage depicting the violence of nuclear tests conducted at different sites in the Pacific Ocean including Bikini Atoll, Enewetak Atoll and Mururoa Atoll, from 1946 to 1996. Landscape with an Eye bears witness to the way humans have exploited energy and the environment throughout history in the pursuit of power and progress. The images flickering across the surface of the eye resonate with the industrial surroundings of the former Powerhouse, a space once used to produce energy in support of advancement and modernity. Absolute Dud, 2016, is a one-tonne steel replica of Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 during World War II. Suspended from the ceiling of the former Rectifier Room, the ominous shape provides a haunting, physical reminder of the ultimate consequences of war and the misuse of power in the name of progress. Accompanying the sculpture is a list detailing 300 nuclear explosions that occured in the Pacific Ocean region, commencing with Fat Man, the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan at 11.02 am on 9 August 1945 and concluding with Xouthos, a bomb exploded at Fangataufa Atoll at 11.29 am on 27 January 1996.

Tai Spruyt and Stephanie Berlangieri | Biennale of Sydney Exhibition Team | 2018
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Featured Artworks

Cubism and Abstract Art by Yukinori Yanagi contemporary artwork Yukinori YanagiCubism and Abstract Art, 2012 Ants, coloured sand and plastic box
55.2 x 43.2 x 2.5 cm
Blum & Poe
Hi-no-maru Portfolio by Yukinori Yanagi contemporary artwork Yukinori YanagiHi-no-maru Portfolio, 1991 Lithograph, embossing and collage on paper
92.4 x 68.9 x 4.8 cm
Blum & Poe
Ground Transposition by Yukinori Yanagi contemporary artwork Yukinori YanagiGround Transposition, 1987/2019 Soil, excavations, mortar, balloon, helium, gas
Blum & Poe

Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s (Part II) at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Open Now
6 April–19 May 2019 Group Exhibition Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s (Part II) Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s (Part I) at Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Closed
14 February–23 March 2019 Group Exhibition Parergon: Japanese Art of the 1980s and 1990s (Part I) Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

In Related Press

Sydney Biennale review – Ai Weiwei anchors rewarding show that comes of age in its 21st year Related Press Sydney Biennale review – Ai Weiwei anchors rewarding show that comes of age in its 21st year The Guardian : 16 March 2018

There is a simple and quiet work by the Belgian artist Michaël Borremans called The Bread (2012) in this year's Biennale of Sydney. It recalls the work of Flemish 15th century portraits, close and intimate, but it's a modern picture too. It's of a girl's upper body, dressed in a blue top, her hands in front, her gaze downwards. I was fairly certain...

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The 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) announces first 21 artists for its 45th anniversary exhibition Related Press The 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018) announces first 21 artists for its 45th anniversary exhibition 6 April 2017

The world-renowned Biennale of Sydney is back next year to celebrate its 45th anniversary exhibition. Set to maintain its status as the largest and best-attended contemporary arts event in Australia, the 21st Biennale of Sydney is anticipated to once again bring an impressive and diverse range of contemporary artists and artworks to the...

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