Unmaking liminal space
Koji Takaki trained as a dyer at Kyoto City University of Art but in his work he reverses the process, taking the finished cloth back to its original threads in order to reveal the structure of the textile. He uses cotton cloth, linen thread, water-soluble film and polypropylene to create installations that communicate the passing of time and explore light, shadows and air.
Born in 1954, Koji Takaki trained as a dyer at Kyoto City University of Art. After graduating in 1981, however, he began making a reverse journey in his work, taking the finished cloth back to its original threads in order to reveal the structure of the textile.
Using cotton cloth, linen thread, water-soluble film and polypropylene, he creates installations that communicate the passing of time by concentrating on processes of erosion and disintegration. Equally important to his practice, however, are his explorations of the nature and qualities of light, shadows and air.
Takaki’s original structural starting point derives from the natural methods of drying domestic and practical cloths used in rural China. Such techniques have barely changed over centuries and for the artist the drying cloths have become synonymous with the Chinese landscape.
Takaki uses raw cotton cloth, and from the beginning to the end of his artistic process, the cloth is washed at least 60 times in order to expose its threads and thus to reflect its erosion through handling.
The artist chooses to work with cotton, not only because it is hard wearing and bares the traces of use, but also, and more importantly, because of its status as a functional, non-precious material, which is available to all classes, societies and conditions of people.
Takaki’s work takes the form of multiples, and in doing so he rejects the significance of ‘uniqueness’ residing in individual units. This also reinforces the universality of his material.
In 2001, Koji Takaki was one of the key participants in the innovative ‘Textural Space’ project in the UK, which was originated by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK and partly funded by Visiting Arts, UK. The project featured thirteen leading contemporary Japanese textile artists and focused on large-scale work that explored and experimented with the three-dimensional potential of textiles within an installation format.
For this venture, Takaki was invited to take up an 18-day residency at The Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. He worked every day in the gallery’s public space in the grounds at the front of gallery. Responding to the building and also to the public, he created, with the help of students, a work that hung outside on two scaffolding constructions, provided a framework for the building. Again using his favoured material, cotton, the installation provided a link with Manchester’s textile history.
In his work the reverse journey of taking the finished cloth back to its original threads and revealing the structure of the textile is still under way.
As the curator of the project Lesley Millar writes in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, ‘The effects of the passage of time are in all Takaki’s work; the disintegrating materials carry the inevitability of transformation from one state to another.’
Describing his working process, Millar explains, ‘The polypropylene is machine stitched in sections with linen thread onto narrow strips of water-soluble film. The strips are then washed, dissolving the water-soluble film, revealing the underpinning structure of the accumulated threads and the small polypropylene elements.’
Takaki’s concerns for the qualities of light, shadows and air are present. Millar writes, ‘These works have a quality of membrane or skin stretched between the skeleton of stitch. Hung to move in the air sometimes in windows, against the light their transparency gives an illusion of fragility.’
She points out interestingly that although Takaki initially trained as a dyer, his palette is extremely minimal. She explains ‘the very deliberate absence of colour in his work again reflects the passage of time, time being the natural discharger of colour.’
Takaki’s work was warmly received by visitors. Matthias Thibaut, reviewing the work for ‘Handlesblatt’ describes the subtlety yet complexity of the installation. He writes that Takaki’s ‘textile spaces ... create strange in-between worlds of subdued light and mysterious shadow, where one layer reveals a sight of another layer, neither interior nor exterior.’
Takaki has had solo shows in Japan and has participated in group shows in Japan, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and France.
Source: Based on text by Lesley Millar in the ‘Textural Space’ catalogue and website
Author: Diana Yeh, Visiting Arts
Koji Takaki was born in 1954. He studied at Kyoto City University of Art, graduating in 1981. He currently teaches as an Associate Professor at the Kyoto University of Art & Design in Japan. He has had solo shows in Japan and has participated in group shows in Japan, the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium and France.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Exhibition / Installation,
2001 ‘Textural Space’, Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK, toured UK
2001 ‘Kimono as Canpas’, Gallery East, Perth & touring Australia
1999 ‘International Textile Competition’, Kyoto
1998 ‘Imaginations ‘98’, Gastuiskapel, Poperinge, Belgium
1998 ‘Folding’, Japanese Miniatures, Canberra Museum Australia
1998 ‘Art Festival Kyoto’, Kikoku-tei, Kyoto
1996 ‘Triennale Miniature Textile’, Angers Museum, France
1995 ‘Textile Miniature Works’ touring Belgium, Canada, Australia
Exhibition / Installation,
1999 5th Space, Kyoto
1998 Show Women´s University Gallery, Tokyo
1998 Gallery Gallery, Kyoto
1997 Gallery 16, Kyoto
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Contemporary Japanese Textile Art
(01 April 01 - 31 December 01)
Website of ‘Textural Space’ project originated by the Surrey Institute of Art and Design University College, UK.