Fiber Futures | Art from Japan
This autumn the TextielMuseum presents ‘Fiber futures | Art from Japan’, a showcase of 30 Japanese artists at the cutting edge of the fibre-art scene. Covering wall hangings, sculptures, monumental installations, video and architecture, the works on display provide an understated, but at times exuberant picture of contemporary Japanese fibre art. All the featured artists, who include both newcomers and established names such as Jun’ichi Arai, Naomi Kobayashi and Reiko Sudō, use flexible materials that range from silk, washi paper, jute and hemp to steel wire, synthetic fibre and even recycled cocoons. Their methods show a deep respect for tradition as well as an openness to the latest weaving and dying technology.
Tradition & innovation
As the Japanese saying oshime kara uchū kaihatsu made – ‘from nappies to the Space Age’ – so wonderfully illustrates, textiles provide for the most basic human needs while also being integral to technical developments in industries such as aerospace. ‘Fiber Futures’ features several spectacular pieces, including the stunning gold curtains by Jun’ichi Arai, a textile pioneer whose belief in experimentation is embodied in all of his work. He developed the flame-resistant fabric using monofilament yarns coated with an ultra-thin film of aluminium and epoxy resin. To create the shimmering effect, he employed a process called ‘melt off’ to dissolve the aluminium coating from unprotected areas of the surface.
Not all the works in the exhibition are as technically complex. Akio Hamatani’s airy ‘W-Orbit’ takes a simple principle as its starting point. Countless threads of the same length have been hung from a metal ring four metres in diameter. Due to the varying distance, the threads form an impressive W-shape. The indigo blue in this work is a nod to tradition, as is the delicate ‘halo’ of Japanese paper with red stamps and a room divider made from old Japanese newspapers. The thousands of zigzag stitches, folded objects and pleats in the exhibition express a fascination for craft, needlework and repetition. Ideas about nature and sustainability are reflected in many of the works, from a stony landscape to shapes that are reminiscent of underwater worlds and lush jungles. Other pieces in this varied presentation explore more poetic themes such as transience and the passage of time.
‘Fiber Futures | Art from Japan’ first attracted international attention when it went on display in Tokyo (Tama Art University). It has since been shown, among other places, in New York (Japan Society Gallery), San Francisco (Museum of Craft and Folk Art), Helsinki (Design Museum) and Paris (Maison de la Culture du Japon). The exhibition is organised by the International Textile Network Japan in collaboration with Tama Art University (Tokyo), led by Hiroko Watanabe, artist, chairman of the ITNJ and professor emeritus of Tama Art University.
Japan & the TextielMuseum
This autumn the TextielMuseum will be devoted to the art and culture of Japan, the land of the rising sun. A number of related activities will be offered alongside the exhibition, including walk-in workshops and masterclasses. The Sample Room in the Library will reflect the theme, with a display of Japanese fabrics from the late 19th century. Also on display will be selected books on Japanese textiles, such as the traditional wrapping cloth (furoshiki) and Japanese tie-dye (shibori). The Textielshop will stock a range of books and products that complement the exhibition.
‘Fiber futures | Art from Japan’ presents work by the following artists: Machiko Agano, Mitsuko Akutsu, Jun’ichi Arai, Tomoko Arakawa, Tetsuo Fujimoto, Dai Fujiwara, Akio Hamatani, Kyōko Ibe, Kiyomi Iwata, Yasuko Iyanaga, Naomi Kobayashi, Kinya Koyama, Shigeo Kubota, Kyōko Kumai, Akiko Kumazawa, Tetsuo Kusama, Hitomi Nagai, Emiko Nakano, Yuh Okano, Fuminori Ono, Kazuyo Onoyama, Rei Saitō, Hisako Sekijima, Naoko Serino, Reiko Sudō, Hideho Tanaka, Takaaki Tanaka, Misao Tsubaki, Hiroko Watanabe and Atsuko Yoshioka.