“Japan Society Gallery presents Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics, an exhibition that examines this traditional handicraft, its history of ingenuity, and its continued legacy within creative practices today.
For the first time in the United States, Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics assembles over 50 archival pieces from the extensive personal collection of folklorist and cultural anthropologist Chuzaburo Tanaka, alongside contemporary works by influential creators. Included are the pioneers of Japanese avant-garde fashion design, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto, who each explore the dynamic between tradition and transgression. Also on view are textile-based works by Susan Cianciolo and Christina Kim, part of a generation of artists whose work appreciates the aesthetics and ethics of mending and patchwork.
Boro, which translates as rags or tatters, is the Japanese term for textiles that have been patched, pieced, and mended. This traditional style, which originated in Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries, grew out of necessity for survival in a harsh climate. The cold temperatures of Tohoku in northern Japan made cultivating cotton nearly impossible, thereby fostering the practice of combining and layering remnants of used hemp fabric that were then intricately stitched into utilitarian items, including work coats, blankets, and mittens. These hard-used garments were repeatedly reworked from generation to generation, building bridges through resourcefulness and finding beauty in survival.” — Japan Society
“Sustainability is one of the most critical subjects in our time and is central to the upcoming Tokyo Summer Games in 2020,” says Yukie Kamiya, Director of Japan Society Gallery. “Through this exhibition, we can rediscover the ethics and aesthetics of an anonymous handicraft from the Tohoku region, which was devastated in the 2011 earthquake. Boro is not only a historical craft but has had a great impact on contemporary cutting-edge creators worldwide, bridging different generations across geographies.”
Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics is curated by Yukie Kamiya, Gallery Director with Tiffany Lambert, Assistant Curator, and is organized by Japan Society in collaboration with Amuse Museum.
Images courtesy Japan Society.