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I asked Kawakubo whether she felt that her creativity was rooted in her Japanese identity and if she could ever envisage working outside Japan – perhaps in Paris, where she has shown her collections since 1981? Her emphatic response surprised me.

“I have no consciousness on a day-to-day basis of being Japanese,” she said, “and yes, I could work somewhere else – it doesn’t have to be Japan.”


Rei refuses to define her work. She wants to set the meaning is “there is no meaning.” As a curator, part of your role is interpretation. It really is a riddle. She is open to interpretation but not to one interpretation. It allows you to move beyond to the experience of clothing. It took me long time to get that realization. In a way, she’s like a zen master, encouraging students who do suffer to get that level of enlightenment.


② 禅宗で,修行者が悟りを開くため,研究課題として与えられる問題。優れた修行者の言葉や事績から取られており,日常的思考を超えた世界に修行者を導くもの。

“I like to work with space and emptiness.” Rei Kawakubo, 2000

Since founding Comme des Garçons (“like some boys”) in 1969, the Tokyo-based designer Rei Kawakubo (born 1942) has consistently defined and redefined the aesthetics of our time. Season after season, collection after collection, she upends conventional notions of beauty and disrupts accepted characteristics of the fashionable body. Her fashions not only stand apart from the genealogy of clothing but also resist definition and confound interpretation. They can be read as Zen koans or riddles devised to baffle, bemuse, and bewilder. At the heart of her work are the koan mu (emptiness) and the related notion of ma (space), which coexist in the concept of the “in-between.” This reveals itself as an aesthetic sensibility that establishes an unsettling zone of visual ambiguity and elusiveness.

“Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” examines nine expressions of “in-betweenness” in Kawakubo’s collections: Absence/Presence; Design/Not Design; Fashion/ Antifashion; Model/Multiple; High/Low; Then/Now; Self/ Other; Object/Subject; and Clothes/Not Clothes. It reveals how her designs occupy the spaces between these dualities—which have come to be seen as natural rather than social or cultural— and how they resolve and dissolve binary logic. Defying easy classification themselves, her clothes expose the artificiality, arbitrariness, and “emptiness” of conventional dichotomies. Kawakubo’s art of the “in-between” generates meaningful mediations and connections as well as revolutionary innovations and transformations, offering endless possibilities for creation and re-creation.

少し調べてみたくなったのは、この展覧会のタイトルArt of the In-Betweenを「間の技」と訳していたり、「間の芸術」と訳していたりしていたから。美術館だし素直に「芸術」でいいんじゃないのと素朴に思ったからでした。動画の最後で語っているartは明らかに「芸術」の方です。

USA Todayのレビューには彼女の服は芸術なのか、服飾なのか。服飾は芸術たりうるか。と問いかけがあります。まあ、でも取っ掛かりは川久保って発音しにくいよね。難しいコンセプトを語っているけどわからなくていいよ、ファション好きじゃないけと見る価値あるよとハードルを下げて紹介してくれています。

Is clothing art? Who cares, you’ll love the new Met exhibit either way
Cara Kelly , USA TODAY Published 12:22 p.m. ET May 4, 2017 | Updated 5:07 p.m. ET May 4, 2017

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute is a mecca for wannabe designers and those who follow the Carrie Bradshaw logic of prioritizing style over all else, sometimes even food. But a fashion obsession isn't required to enjoy the museum’s new exhibit opening May 4, Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between.

Nor is an understanding of design history or what the term "deconstructed" means.

An open mind, maybe.

Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo’s name is a mouthful (pronounced ray cow-uh-kooh-bo), as is her line, Comme des Garçons ("like some boys" in French). But New York City visitors shouldn’t let the unfamiliar names and terminology deter them from a trip to the 5th Avenue museum.

ここでのIs this art or clothing? Is clothing art?という問いかけは川久保玲の作品全体を指しているものの「芸術」を意識してのことでしょう。

The white-walled exhibit is broken into nine sections, each examining “in-betweenness.” It’s possible to get caught up in the heady philosophical questions Kawakubo poses in her works, like the dichotomy of absence and presence. Yet, it’s also possible to enjoy it as a more surface-level brain teaser: Is this art or clothing? Is clothing art?

Those questions are at the core of why the 74-year-old designer has been hailed as a revolutionary, and are on full display in the 140 piece collection. The exhibit guidebook suggests a pathway through the circular layout inhabited by puzzle-piece-like structures framing the garments, but guests also are encouraged to choose their own adventures and let their imaginations fly.


“Fashion is not art. You sell art to one person. Fashion comes in a series and it is a more social phenomenon.”

“Things that have never been seen before have a tendency to be somewhat abstract, but making art is not my intention at all. All my e ort is oriented towards giving form to clothes that have never been seen before.”

They share formal qualities with sculpture as well as conceptual and performance artworks, but Kawakubo has always preferred the epithet “worker” to “artist.” Even so, she recently has begun to consider fashion as art, opening up yet another in-between space — Fashion/Art.