Arrivals: Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

Yhonnie Scarce

10 Jun - 29 Aug 2022

10 June – 29 August 2022

Ikon Gallery, Birmingham UK

This exhibition at Ikon Gallery brings together work by five artists: Haffendi Anuar, Abdulrazaq Awofeso, Yhonnie Scarce, Salote Tawale and Osman Yousefzada (10 June – 29 August 2022). Each is a participant in Ikon’s Arrivals programme, concerned with the international movement of people and ideas and organised to coincide with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Yhonnie Scarce
The Near Breeder (2022)
Glass installation

Australian Aboriginal artist Yhonnie Scarce presents a major new suspended glass installation, ‘The Near Breeder’ (2022) – the sixth in a series of ‘clouds’ created since 2015. Each cloud takes the form of a British atmospheric nuclear test conducted in South Australia during the 1950s and 1960s. It is almost seventy years since a pair of nuclear bombs, Totem I and II were detonated at Emu Field, a sandstone plateau in the Great Victoria Desert. Using a photograph of the Totem I test, Scarce cut off the top half of the fallout cloud and inverted it.

Hanging from the ceiling, the yams evoke both an explosion and a cloud of inverted water drops, marking the many deaths resulting from nuclear testing. For Scarce, each yam commemorates a missing “old person” from her Aboriginal community. Their presence can be sensed through the phenomenological effects of the installation, including the shadows that appear and disappear throughout the day. It was essential for Scarce to communicate this to staff, students, and alumni who blew the glass in the specialist workshops at Wolverhampton School of Art. For Scarce, community practice is critical to the memorial work, which is contingent on the sharing of knowledge and lived experience.

‘The Near Breeder’ has been commissioned in partnership with TarraWarra Museum of Art and consultant curator Hetti Perkins. Scarce’s concern for the environment is reflected in a simultaneous presentation at Palais de Tokyo, in collaboration with Ikon, as part of a group exhibition Reclaim the Earth (15 April – 4 September 2022).