23 June – 28 July

At Bikini Bottom

The Island Club presents At Bikini Bottom, an exhibition stemming from a parallel chronology of the imaginary undersea world of Bikini Bottom and the series of nuclear tests that the U.S. began in Bikini Atoll in 1946. The exhibition includes a collection of animation drawings, production cels and backgrounds made for the first season of the series SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2000), before the creative team of Steven Hillenburg began working with digital animation. Along with this material, photographic documentation of the nuclear tests conducted at the Marshall Islands will also be on view.

1942: Mr. Eugene Harold Krabs and Sheldon J. Plankton are born on 30 November.
1946: Operation Crossroads, a series of nuclear weapon tests conducted by the U.S. commences at Bikini Atoll. The native population is relocated.  These tests, observed by the press and a selected audience, mark the first time the public is informed of nuclear testing before it occurs.
1946-1951: Mr. Krabs and Plankton decide to go into business together. Alternate universe Mr Plankton Universe, where the lives of Plankton and Mr. Krabs are switched, is created.
1946: The second Crossroads test, Baker, takes place on 25 July with the detonation of a bomb known as Helen of Bikini. Helen is detonated twenty seven metres underwater and causes extensive contamination.
1950: One day in June, Mr. Krabs and Plankton are on the beach, building a sandcastle. When a bully comes to destroy it, he is flung into the air by a secret mechanism hidden in the sand by Mr. Krabs and Plankton.
1950s: Following an endless military service, Mr. Krabs falls into a deep depression and acquires the Rusty Krab, a bankrupt retirement home he later turns into the restaurant Krusty Krab.  
1958: Twenty-three detonations have been executed by the U.S. since 1946.
1961: SpongeBob creator, Stephen Hillenburg, is born on  21 August. 
1972: A small number of islanders return to Bikini Atoll.
1975: The islanders who have returned to Bikini Atoll find that it is unfit for habitation and for the first time begin legal proceedings against the U.S., demanding a radiological study of the northern Marshalls. 
1986: The Marshall Islands attain independence under the Compact of Free Association following almost four decades under U.S. administration. In the same year, SpongeBob is born on 14 July.
1987: SpongeBob creates a perfect burger for the first time.
1989: Hillenburg creates The Intertidal Zone, a comic book featuring an early version of SpongeBob.
1990: SpongeBob receives Gary as a pet, and Patrick as a friend.
1999: SpongeBob pilot episode titled Help Wanted is aired on 1 Μay.
2004: SpongeBob is arrested for not having invited the police to his party.
2005: Music video We Are Family by the We Are Family Foundation (WAAF) aiming to teach children about multiculturalism, and featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick among other cartoon characters, is attacked by a Christian conservative group in the US for advocating homosexuality.
2011: A new species of fungus discovered in Malaysia is named Spongiforma Squarepantsii.
2012: With episode 173(a), aka Squiditis, SpongeBob SquarePants becomes the longest-running Nickelodeon series.
2014: Krusty Krab inspired restaurant Salta Burger opens in Ramallah on 24 July.
2016: Columbia University research finds that all of the Marshall Islands that have been involved in nuclear tests executed by the U.S. are now habitable, except for Bikini Atoll.
2017: Researchers at Stanford University discover blooming populations of marine life in the Bikini Atoll crater.
2018: A tweet from a fake SpongeBob Twitter account announces that SpongeBob SquarePants will come to an end on 1 March.

Text by Andry Panayiotou and Denise Araouzou
Exhibition organised by Denise Araouzou

Works courtesy of a private collection
Archival material courtesy of the U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps