Network Crafting

AKIMOTO Yuji (Director, First International Triennale of KOGEI in Kanazawa)

Crafts today are a type of artistry combining form and technique while also being a product that has a certain technical complexion underneath which lies a self-referencing artistic concept. This in itself begs the eternal question, "what is craft?" - a question that sits between the poles of either reinforcing or taking apart the concept of craft. In this sense, craft belongs squarely in the class of modern art.

If we call actions that lean toward reinforcing the concept of craft "fundamentalist" and those directed toward dissolution "polymorphic," in fact the two types of movement are inverse sides of the same concept - the contemporary concept of craft. By and large, this is where the crux lies when crafts are considered to be sitting in a difficult position. But what we wish to do here is not define crafts but uncover the hidden potential in crafts.

How, then, do we proceed?

Let us start with a close-up look at the forms, techniques, and ideas that can be used to describe "crafting." As we learned at the previous exhibition, the key to distinguishing craft from that which it is not is its form of production, including the techniques used - the artistry that is concentrated in the craft. This will also determine what kind of potential is inherent in the craft, and it is from this point of view that we may consider how crafts may be developed in the future. If we are able to remove from craft its self-referencing exclusivity to produce simply "crafted artistry," what degree of creative freedom can these works imbue? That is the starting point for this exhibition.

As I stated above, this exhibition provides a forum for exploring the reach and potential of craftworking and "crafted artistry" (though with its own limits). It would make us happy if the visitors who come to see the crafts were to discover such new meaning in the works for themselves.

The conditions under which techniques and materials that are well-matched and held to high standards are brought together in harmony resulting in a physical product can be called the world of craft. If you happen to cross paths with this special world, it is entirely possible for your perception to be freed, allowing you to see the world in a more realistic, more beautiful way that feels far more wonderful than usual. One experiences things directly; the details beckon to one's senses. This is sensual release. We want to create the space for this kind of encounter with craft to occur.

In addition, we are exploring craft "nodes" (intersection points) and the networking they engender. Adjacent categories of architecture, design, modern art, and folk art are seen as forming a broad matrix inclusive of craft. We introduce artists' works that create a new node: "crafted artistry." As such, the node encompasses approaches from a wide range of areas beyond craft. If a node is formed through crafted artistry, it does not matter what category one applies - the content can all be called "crafted works." Craftwork is thus defined in broader sense, considered in terms of the potential inherent in the ideas and techniques of crafted works.