Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics at Japan Society, March 6 – June 14, 2020

“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

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_01

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_02

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

BORO+Shigoto-gi (1)

Shigoto-gi (Work Clothes). Copyright 2019 AMUSE INC. Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

BORO Donja1 (1)

Donja (Nightgown). Copyright 2019 AMUSE INC. Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_03

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

082

Tabi (Split-toed Socks). Photo by Kyoichi Tsuzuki. Courtesy of Amuse Museum, Chuzaburo Tanaka Collection.

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_04

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

Gray_Suit

Yohji Yamamoto, Suit from Fall/Winter 2006-2007. The Mary Baskett Collection. Photograph by Scott Hisey.

Orange_Sculptural_Shoulder

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons, Dress from Adult Delinquent Collection, Spring/Summer 2010. The Mary Baskett Collection. Photograph by Rob Deslongchamps.

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_05

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

BoroTextiles_installation_photography_06

Installation view of Boro Textiles: Sustainable Aesthetics.

YoshihiroMakino_O3A2316

Christina Kim, Kaya (mosquito net) (detail). Courtesy of Christina Kim. © Yoshihiro Makino.

03_IMG_4877

Courtesy of Christina Kim.

11_IMG_5485

Courtesy of Christina Kim.

Tapestry3

Susan Cianciolo, Tapestry 3, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC.

Untitled (tapestry)

Susan Cianciolo, Untitled (tapestry), 2015-2016. Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue, NYC.

“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.