Bruce Yonemoto & Karin Finley: Far East of Eden

Far East of Eden draws on the story of Senator James Duval Phelan, three-time mayor of San Francisco and the first popularly elected California Senator. In 1912, Phelan built Villa Montalvo as his country estate in Saratoga, California. Villa Montalvo was Senator Phelan's favorite home and a center of artistic, political and social life in Northern California. Upon his death in 1930, he bequeathed the Villa and surrounding property as a public park, asking that they be used “as far as possible for the development of art, literature, music, and architecture by promising students.” Decades later, this would become Montalvo Arts Center.

During his political career, Phelan was an outspoken supporter of various anti-immigrant policies, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924. While researching Montalvo as the site for a new project, Finley and Yonemoto were struck by Phelan’s anti-Asian sentiments, especially as expressed in his essay The Japanese Evil in California. Noting a disturbing parallel between Senator Phelan’s nativist views and the ethnic and religious intolerance that has gained currency in our contemporary political discourse—including calls for walled borders, forced removals of minorities, and military assisted deportation—the artists were inspired to utilize the events of yesterday to examine the policies of today and affect change for tomorrow.

Bio: Bruce Yonemoto

Bruce Yonemoto’s work as a video and digital media installation artist, educator, writer and curator (many of the works done in collaboration with his brother, Norman) began in the mid 1970's. The body of single channel video work was created from 1976 to the late 1980's examined the effects of the mass media on our perceptions of personal identity (sexual, ethnic, and political), romantic love, melodramas and soap operas to TV commercials and the electronic metatext (the ultimate products of Hollywood's search for audience identification and manipulation), desired to manipulate audiences while making them aware of that manipulation. Since 1989, his solo work has been exploring experimental cinema and video art within the context of installation, photography and sculpture. He has continually been a strong proponent of the integration of fine arts and media. For the past twenty-28 years he has developed a body work which positions itself within the overlapping intersections of art and commerce, of the gallery world and the television screen. Yonemoto believes that the composition of mass media has become a new historical site of the domination of human behavior.

His recent work developed with funding from Creative Capital deals with the discovery of the real and poetic convergence between two phenomena specific to Argentina. It is the site of one of the few growing glaciers in the world as well as the last growing Lacanian psychoanalytic practice. His recent photo and video work was developed and produced in Vietnam. He is currently developing a performative project in Taiwan and a project exploring Cinema Novo in Rio de Janeiro. Bruce is currently developing a major work in collaboration with artist, Karen Finley.

Yonemoto has been honored with numerous awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Film Institute, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Maya Deren Award for Experimental Film and Video. In 1999 Yonemoto was honored with a major mid-career survey show curated by Karen Higa at the Japanese American Museum in Los Angeles Bruce's solo installations, photographs and sculptures have been featured in major one-person shows at the ICC in Tokyo, the ICA in Philadelphia, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Kemper Museum in Kansas City. He has had solo exhibitions at Alexander Gray Gallery, New York, Blum & Poe, Los Angeles, Tomio Koyama, Tokyo, Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City and his work was featured in Los Angeles 1955-85 at the Pompidou Center, Paris, and the Generali Foundation, Vienna, , the 2008 Gwangju Biennial. Pacific Standard Time, Getty Research Center and most recently an expansive survey show in Kanazawa, Japan.

Bio: Karen Finley

Karen Finley is a New York-based artist whose raw and transgressive performances have long provoked controversy and debate. She has presented and performed her visual art, performances, and plays internationally including at Lincoln Center, Guthrie Theater, American Repertory Theatre, Institute of Contemporary Arts, Steppenwolf Theatre, and Theatre Bobino. Her artworks are in several collections and museums including the Pompidou in Paris and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including a Guggenheim Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Art’s Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Obies, and two Bessies.New York Times art critic Ben Brantley has praised her work saying “here’s no denying the genuine rage and pain behind her performance, nor her ability to find voices that reflect those feelings in disturbingly visceral ways.”



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