SPECIAL EXHIBITION

Special Exhibition

With this exhibition, BOROs are hung among the 34 photo images newly published by Kyoichi Tsuzuki (the photographer and author of "BORO Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan" released in 2009 when this museum had a grand opening), effectively bringing one big installation to the museum.
The stunning world of art unexpectedly created on the cheap shabby clothes:I hope you enjoy what is the opposite of todayfs consumer culture. gMuseum of Textile Arts and Ukiyo-eh AMUSE MUSEUM
@ Director & Chief Curator Kiyoshi Tatsumi

Only a few decades ago, Tohoku gsnow countryh | and especially Aomori Prefecture | was synonymous to most Japanese with dire poverty. Situated dead-end on the northernmost tip of the main island of Honshu, Aomori was home to dirt poor farmers who, out of desperate necessity, created an astonishing textile aesthetic out of boro | mere grags.h
To those familiar with mingei and the Japan Folk Craft Movement, Aomori typically suggests intricate kogin-sashi and hishi-zashi geometric needlework gdiscoveredh in the region during the pre-war years. Much closer to the lives of the people, however, boro stitchery remains largely unknown, even intentionally buried as an embarrassing reminder of gthe poverty that was Tohoku.h
The frozen north was too cold to grow cotton- the northernmost limit for cultivating cotton is Fukushima Prefecture, over 300 kms to the south - so the local folk grew and wove hemp for clothing. Throughout the Edo Period(1600-1868), when silk was restricted to a privileged handful of samurai class families, commoners were also forbidden to wear cotton despite the bitter climate (Aomori City has the highest snowfall of any prefectural capital in the whole of Japan.) Thus everything from work clothes to babies diapers to futon bedding for the long winter nights was sewn from stiff, scratchy hemp cloth. And if a single layer wasnft warm enough, they stitched and reinforced layer on layer, patching holes and stuffing hemp fuzz in between for whatever little insulation they could get. Boro was the shape of survival in this inhospitable land.
Presented herein is the collection of one Chuzaburo Tanaka who, virtually alone in all of Tohoku, walked the farming and fishing villages of Aomori from the mid-1960s, searching out these traces of the localsf love of fabric known as boro.
If exactingly reproduced and labeled with French or Italian designer tags, these gnot-so-glad ragsh would undoubtedly fetch high-end prices, so perfectly artless is their detailing. Not that theyfre in any way gprecioush like mingei gfolk crafth or contemporary auteur patchwork quilts; no, these are products, pure and simple, of a shivering desire to thickly overlay whatever was on hand for heavy-duty warmth.
Just as consummate goutsider arth shocked contemporary art professionals, the beauty and sheer compositional skill of these boro creations made by impoverished country folk pose fundamental questions to fashion and design circles everywhere.

Kyoichi Tsuzuki@photographer / editor
Born 1956 in Tokyo. From 1976 to 1986, worked as editor for contemporary art, architecture, design and urban life at Tokyo trend magazines Popeye and Brutus. Thereafter, pursued a career of writing and independent publishing in the fields of contemporary art, architecture, photography and design. He won the 23rd Ihei Kimura Photography Award in Roadside Japan (Aspect , revised Chikuma pocket book edition, 2000). In 2009, published BORO Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan (Aspect).Starting January 2012, he is self-publishing a weekly e-mail magazine "ROADSIDERS' weekly" every Wednesday morning.

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