On view from 26 March - 7 May 2022 at the swea pea Gallery, Low Yield Fruit is Nathan's new body of sculptural work that was inspired by the complex personal, cultural, and colonial histories of his Australian-Thai heritage. He draws from his research on the trade and export of tropical fruits between Thailand and Australia.
The works exhibited comprise detailed silicone casts of tropical fruits exported from Thailand to Australia, such as durians, mangos, mangosteens and jackfruits, and limes which were harvested from the artist’s late mother’s garden. These fleshy fruits are spiked precariously on top of rigid steel frames and bronze forms enlarged from scanned details of hands and heads from Buddhist shrine statues, accented with shimmering resin pools of juices. These totem-like forms are personal artefacts that are manifestations of his cultural memory which are imbued with layers of symbolic meaning.
These works consider broader ideas of 'acquired tastes' through a tumble of references such as 'mango diaspora’ poetry; the potency of the fruit export industry to Thailand's economy; sense memory of Thai fruits from Nathan's childhood and his mother’s careful search for them in Australia; and Hannah Beech’s 2020 NY Times Op-Ed on Thailand’s native fruit that drew considerable ire for its dismissive approach of them being ‘low-yield’ given their exotic taste and the effort required to consume them.
For Nathan, the "export of these fruits satiates a demand embedded in migration" and it is only through networks of trade and export "that they are made foreign" and exoticised, becoming burdened with an anxious weight of acquired taste". In 'Low Yield Fruit', he confronts this romanticisation of tropical fruits whilst exploring issues of cultural dispersion of the diaspora. In doing so, he blends the past and present, communicating the essence of cultural hybridity and the significance of positionality. Furthermore, in his use of the word 'fruit', a known reference to homosexuals, Nathan's sculptures reclaim the potency inherent in these tropical subjects with tenderness and humour.
About the Artist
Nathan Beard (born 1987) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Boorloo/Perth who draws from his Australian-Thai heritage to unpack the slippery influences of culture, memory, and authenticity in his work. Beard adapts intimate exchanges with family and archives alongside broader cultural signifiers of ‘Thainess’ to generate visually extravagant and idiosyncratic slippages of identity across mediums including sculpture and photography. By asking what it means to inherit a nuanced relationship to a culture which you are also inherently distanced from through a range of biographical and geographic circumstances, Beard’s work offers a unique and personal articulation of the complexities surrounding diasporic identity.
About the Gallery
sweet pea is a gallery located at 58 Pier Street in Boorloo on Noongar Boodjar (Perth, Western Australia). sweet pea exhibits significant solo exhibitions from and represents Western Australian artists. Our aim is to build meaningful and sustainable, long-term artistic careers and to play our part in building a collegial, fair and accessible local arts community.
Exhibition Dates: 26 March - 7 May 2022
Address: 58 Pier Street, Boorloo, 6000, Perth, Australia
All images courtesy of Nathan Beard, the sweat pea Gallery, and the Minderoo Foundation. Photos by Emma Dolzadelli.
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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