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NURVISTA, Elia; Sucker Zucker

In her artworks, Elia Nurvista explores issues of economics, labour, politics, culture and gender through the production and consumption of food. In Sucker Zucker 2018, the theme is sugar – large, crystalline sculptures in bright, jewel-like colours appear like faceted and translucent clusters of diamonds. The similarities between the two are more than physical; both material extractions are associated with slavery and exploitation. Historically, the sugar industry precipitated some of the largest enforced migrations in the world, affecting Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. Slavery is now illegal; however, Nurvista argues that this exploitation continues today between global corporations and those countries that supply cheap labour and raw materials.

Despite its lack of nutritional value, sugar is the world’s third most valuable crop (following cereals and rice). Recently, in Nurvista’s home country of Indonesia, sugar has been at the centre of intense debate around the assertion of nationhood – the government has decreed that the country should be self-sufficient in sugar by 2019. Sucker Zucker raises questions of how food and its consumption defines us and influences our values. As the artist has stated about this universal commodity: ‘Behind its sweetness and beauty, there is a bitterness’.

In keeping with the experiential aspect of her practice, Nurvista offers ‘Sucker Zucker’ candies for sale through the Gallery Store for visitors to take home.