Exhibition review: Yeahnahnesia, Art Gallery of Western Australia

Imaginative artefacts from a non-existent world.

Yeahnahnesia is a fictional island created by Yok and Sheryo, an internationally renowned duo whose art is infused with invented mythologies borne from a mix of cultural influences, creatively blended to create a unique style. Yok and Sheryo’s fascinating installation, Yeahnahnesia, presents itself as part humour, part imaginative escapism and part social commentary but, at its core, Yeahnahnesia is pure artistic fusion. 

The Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) elevator has become a portal to Yeahnahnesia, guarded by a two-dimensional door deity. The floor of the lift is painted blood red, with white text playfully proclaiming ‘Didn’t buy the ticket, took the ride anyway’. The walls are covered in fur, interrupted only by a large demonic mirror-face. When taken to the correct level, this portal – ahem, elevator –  leads to Yeahnahnesia, a fantasy world of red and white, populated by a visual feast of captivating sculptural forms. The entire installation is carpeted in the same red fur as is attached to the elevator walls, providing a luxurious base for this mythical island paradise. 

Yok and Sheryo Cobra, Bat, Dingo Totem. Photo: Supplied.

Yeahnahnesia is a fictional world of complementary contrasts: yeah/nah, red/white, male/female, yin/yang, slug/tiger. Most of the sculptural work is chalky white, contrasting dramatically with crimson highlights. The national coat of arms on the Yeahnahnesia flag displays many of the aforementioned motifs, in addition to a sad banana, a maybe-flower and a directive to pay coconut tax.

Drug references are present in the not-so-subtle form of mushrooms, and the even-less-subtle letters of the word ‘psychotropic’. Specific words like ‘chill’ appear throughout the installation, accompanied by statements such as ‘Death from above 6024’, which may or may not be a reference to the superior swooping abilities of the magpies of the northern suburbs. 

Animals, deities, trees, signage, banners, stencil art and teeny-tiny doors surround a temple, where waves are presumably prayed for, and frivolous wishes are granted. Between sculpted columns a backlit automaton (or devil?) twists cheerfully. Nearby, a menu boasts delicacies including but not limited to Satan Sweat, Dragon’s Claw and Vegemite Toast. 

Namaste Frog sits and spins on a circular plinth, welcoming visitors to the temple. Baby Dragon Vase is said to hold small dragons, beer can tabs and toenail clippings, although none of these are apparent in the vicinity. Nineties kids will appreciate The Cool S (yes, that one), which has somehow escaped its fate of toilet walls and bus stop benches to materialise in Yeahnahnesia

Read: Exhibition review: Adrián Villar Rojas: The End of Imagination

Yeahnahnesia’s invented culture plays with concepts of animism – the innate essences of subjects and objects – and features an origin story involving jet skis and volcanic peaks. Relaxation, surf, food and beer appear prominently across this synthesis of influence. The novelty of this imaginative experience is rivalled only by the charisma of its creatures, and the simple vibrancy of its two-tone palette. 

Yok and Sheryo’s pseudo-mythical-archeological installation is creatively curated by Isobel Wise. 

Yeahnahnesia: The imaginary world of artists Yok and Sheryo

Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), WA
Curated by Isobel Wise
Artists: Yok and Sheryo
Free admission

Yeahnahnesia will be on display until 26 March 2023

Nanci Nott is a nerdy creative with particular passions for philosophy and the arts. She has completed a BA in Philosophy, and postgraduate studies in digital and social media. Nanci is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, and is working on a variety of projects ranging from novels to video games. Nanci loves reviewing books, exhibitions, and performances for ArtsHub, and is creative director at Defy Reality Entertainment.