YONETANI Ken + Julia "The Emperor's New Clothes"(TOKYO)

22 February - 25 March 2017

Mizuma Art Gallery is delighted to announce Ken + Julia Yonetani’s solo exhibition “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, opening on Wednesday 22nd February.


In their 2015 solo show “Wishes” at Mizuma Art Gallery, Ken + Julia addressed the issue of nuclear power in a series of uranium glass chandelier works entitled “Crystal Palace”. Their brilliant glow in the darkened gallery space left a lasting impression.


Since then, Ken + Julia’s work has continued to draw ever higher acclaim both within Japan and abroad. In 2016 they held a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, as well as participating in the Kenpoku art festival in Ibaraki, Japan, and the group show “Perpetual Uncertainty: Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene” at the Bildmuseet in Umeå? Sweden. From March 2017 they will participate in the Honolulu Biennial. For their upcoming exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery, Ken + Julia have shifted their focus to a series of new works on the theme of “money”.


“Money is at once nothing and everything.”

While Japan is considered to be a prosperous country, in fact its government debt to gross domestic product is the highest in the world. The value of a nation’s currency is dependent on trust, and when, as now, that trust is skating on thin ice, there can in fact come a time when its worth becomes less than the very paper it is printed on. Money influences every aspect of our lives, making the world go around, so to speak. Maybe it is precisely because it is so familiar that we have failed to notice its form changing shape before us. In this exhibition, Ken + Julia Yonetani invite you to contemplate the transformation of “money” that is taking place here, now.


In fact, Ken + Julia Yonetani themselves are a former foreign exchange broker and history professor respectively. The current context of the seemingly infinite ongoing expansion of debt on a global scale makes, in one sense, for perfect timing for the exhibition. Due to their very nature, the artworks can only be revealed in full on opening night. Echoing the fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, which forms the title of this exhibition, they offer the viewer an opportunity to question their own social values, and see “money” for what it really is.