Beginning in the mid-1970s, Japanese-American brothers Bruce Yonemoto and the late Norman Yonemoto produced a body of work that played a central role in establishing video as a viable artistic medium. Working in and around Los Angeles, their single-channel videos deconstructed the narrative tropes and visual vernacular of Hollywood movies, television and advertising during the height of the postmodernist age. Their highly stylised and often campy works use deadpan humour and outsider perspectives to expose the clichés, psychoanalytic strategies, cultural mythologies and forms of audience manipulation underlying the mass media representations that surrounded them. The Hollywood myth of romantic love, its role in the construction of personal desire and cultural memory, and its distance from the reality of psycho-sexual relationships are recurring themes in their work. Figures from the LA art and performance scenes also find their way into a number of the Yonemotos’ videos, which include notable collaborations with the late Mike Kelley, Goldie Glitters and Spalding Gray.
Tate is pleased to present a five-screening retrospective covering the range of the Yonemotos’ joint practice, from surrealist melodrama to soap opera to tragicomic satire. The series also includes a special lecture by Bruce Yonemoto giving insight into his collaborative and independent installations.
Dedicated to the memory of Norman Yonemoto.
Bruce and Norman Yonemoto: The Future of My Desire forms part of Tate Film’s Pioneers series, a programming strand showcasing filmmakers and artists whose works have proposed new approaches to the moving image. This strand anchors Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema Programme, presenting seminal works that challenge the boundaries between different traditions of film and art practice.
About Bruce and Norman Yonemoto
Bruce (b. 1949, USA) and Norman Yonemoto (1946–2014, USA) are artists working in single-channel video and multi-media installation. Born to Japanese-American parents, the brothers were raised in Silicon Valley in the immediate post-war period following their father’s service in the US Army and their mother’s release from Tule Lake internment camp. Norman moved to Los Angeles in 1968, where he attended UCLA before undertaking an MFA at the American Film Institute Center for Advanced Studies. Bruce earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1972 and continued his studies at Sokei Art Institute in Tokyo. After returning from Japan in 1975, Bruce completed an MFA at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1976, Norman and Bruce collaborated on their first video and formalised their partnership in 1979 by founding their own company, Kyo-dai Productions.
In 1993 the Yonemotos were honoured with the Maya Deren Award from the American Film Institute, and in 1999 received a mid-career retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles. Bruce is currently Professor of Studio Art at the University of California, Irvine.