deconstructed kimonos, 2012

Altered vintage kimono, ceramic and wooden altar

I have been called a “Japanese Ai Weiwei”, perhaps because like him, I appropriate cultural objects, and then transform them so they have 
new significance. 

 

In Japan, when a woman puts on a kimono it becomes part of her body. Though the kimono appears to be a flowing and simple gown, the layers that bind the woman’s breasts and the rest of her body makes for a very constricting uniform. Breathing is difficult and only small steps may be taken. The restrictive nature of wearing it is thought to instill tranquility and peacefulness.

 

As I cut away the red flowers and leaves from the ivory kimono, I felt somewhat uncomfortable. I am destroying a symbol of my Japanese culture. I wonder, who was the woman who wore it? What was her life like?

 

The cutting becomes a meditation. I feel a connection to the larger community of women who create and mend clothing. However, I was 
doing it in reverse…I was taking it apart. 

 

My alterations reflect the loosening connection to my ancestry and culture, and the dissection of stereotypes. I honor the cut out pieces in altars below the kimonos, holding them lovingly as lessons and parts that have died to make room for more. The kimono is reduced to a skeleton, a web, yet the garment still maintains its elegant and simple structure even after deconstruction. I contemplate making more breathing space in my life to support a simple, healthy, and creative life path.

 

The deconstructed garments represent not only the personal space but also the liminal space where the transformation of tradition, culture, and structure takes place.

Deconstructed Kimono VII
Deconstructed Kimono V
Butoh Dance Collaboration
Deconstructed Kimono I
Deconstructed Kimono II
Deconstructed Kimono VI
Deconstructed Kimono II
Deconstructed Kimono III
Deconstructed Kimono IV
Deconstructed Kimono IV