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Rei NAITO: Tout animal est dans le monde comme de l’ eau à l’ intérieur de l’ eau.
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: January 25 2010

fig. 2 “What kind of place was the earth?” (2009); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama,
courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

fig. 1 “What kind of place was the earth?” (2009); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama,
courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

    The first exhibition room that is on the second floor of the venue is in dim light. The room is illuminated only with fairy lights displayed on a textile laid in a display case. Ribbons and buttons are scattered around the lights, which makes me imagine toys left scattered about in a room after children having played house there. Balloons of the same size are hanging down from the ceiling and floating in the air. Viewers can step into the display case. This creates a sense of depth to the room and makes the room feel extremely large.*1
    Upon leaving the first exhibition room and getting our bearings, we enter the second exhibition room. Though textiles can be found also in this room, they are laid not in a display case, but on the floor. The size of the material is bigger than that found in the first exhibition room. The second room is illuminated adequately and there is no miniature bulb. Many layers of mint-colored textiles which look like a grassland cover approximately two thirds of the area of the room.*2
    Here, viewers are requested to hold one thing in hand. It is a piece of circular paper. At the center of the paper, the following phrase has been written with very minute letters colored red. The letters have been printed with their mirror image on the back of the paper as well. Therefore, we need to read them through the paper from its front side.

“Come here.” *3

fig. 4 “Spirit” (2009, 2006-); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

fig. 3 “What kind of place was the earth? -Matrix-” (2009); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

    Led by this phrase, we then proceed to leave the second exhibition room, go down the stairs towards the first floor and reach the courtyard which is the characteristic space in the venue. There is something flying overhead. It is an extremely long, thin ribbon made of organdie.*4 The ribbon fluttering in the wind gave me a light impression. This contrasts with the robust image of Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture, “Kokeshi” (1951), permanently installed at the place just under the ribbon.
    Above a pond with lilies in it, there is some semicircular thing floating in the air. A row of a vast number of clear beads forms a semicircular arch.*5 Another row of beads trails down in a straight line from the ceiling of the first floor.*6
    Clear bottles filled with water almost to the brim of the surface tension are randomly displayed on the floor and handrails on the first floor.*7

    The above is a summary of Rei Naito’s solo exhibition entitled Tout animal est dans le monde comme de l’eau à l’intérieur de l’eau. (Every animal exists in this world just like water included in water.)” held at The Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura.  Indeed, I have briefly described the exhibition, but this briefness does not have the same meaning as that of convenience or the poverty of thoughts.  Rather, it has the opposite meaning.
    The materials used in Naito’s creations are not anything special.  The textiles found in his works were probably ready-made articles produced by the fabric manufacturer, Liberty Japan Co., Ltd.  The fairy lights do not seem to have been especially prepared for his works either.  In addition, needless to say, water as well as beads and ribbons are commonly available.  In this sense, there may be no big difference between Naito’s creating method and that of bricolage used by other artists.

fig. 5 “Grace” (2009); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

fig. 6 “Untitled” (2009); photo by Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art

    Despite this, Naito made the exhibition space, namely, the museum, fundamentally regenerate.  Removing the stench of death from the museum which is sometimes called a tomb of artworks, he made the venue feel newly born as a vital space.  At museums, we are not usually permitted to put our heads in display cases or step inside them.  Cases in which artworks are displayed are considered boundaries which clearly separate viewers from “exhibits”.  In other words, we, viewers, can neither touch such spaces with our hands nor walk into them.  Naito removed these boundaries at the beginning of her exhibition.  The light of fairy lights in the dark was faint.  Therefore, however, I came to have a special attachment to the dim light.  What I found in the courtyard reached after having been guided by the phrase stating, “Come here”, was not ribbons fluttering in the wind, but the wind itself.  In addition, what I saw in the space where a row of beads is floating in the air was not the beads but the background against which the beads were displayed, namely, water.In this way, through Naito’s exhibits, we come to notice that the structure of this world had been casually revealed without any fuss.  The truth of this world appeared in front of us in an extremely simple way.
   This world is beautiful as it is.  Despite this, it is often not easy for us to express these kinds of feelings about what we have noticed.  Naito is a priestess conveying the beauty of the world to us without depending on any need for words, but through using only a slight effort of imagination.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama) Notes

“What kind of place was the earth?” (2009) lighting, cloth (printed cloth, Kaimurasaki dyeing, Cochineal dyeing, acrylic-paint dyeing), tape, ribbon, button, balloon, bead, thread, fishing line, glass bottle, water, glass ball, mirror, bell; display area: 347.6m2, ceiling height: 3.85m
“What kind of place was the earth? -Matrix-” (2009) printed cloth, display area: 75.4m2, ceiling height: 3.85m
“Grace” (2009) offset printing paper (diameter: 78mm)
“Spirit” (2009) (2006-) ribbon (width: 11mm, length: 7,790mm (two pieces))
“Grace” (2009) bead, fishing line (diameter: 2mm, width: 5,500mm, height: 2,600mm)
“Grace” (2009) (1999-) bead, fishing line (diameter: 1.5mm, height: 3,000mm)
“Untitled” (2009) water, glass bottle (diameter × height: 67mm × 100mm, 66mm × 53mm, 63mm × 65mm, 67mm × 66mm (four pieces))
Last Updated on November 02 2015

Editor's Note by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA

In the exhibition room where a midget lamp lights up darkly, you can enter the case, too. In the exhibition room where textile was paved, you obtain one sheet of paper there. Extremely small characters are printed in it. I want you to read carefully because it reverses. In the first floor you arrive as so, there is something that floats fluttering on the midair. There is brilliantly the one to cut out the space, too, but those materials are not special. There are works using daily things scattered everywhere which completely change what we are used to seeing. Is the space of the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura wide like this? The main building designed by Junzo Sakakurain in 1951 is not so wide if you see from the present vision. A part of the first floor is not used due to the problem of earthquake resistance. However, I feel the space so wide like this. It is due to the outstanding technique of space processing by Naito. Once you set foot in the exhibition room, you would be drawn into Naito's world.

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