Closing and Opening (A Study of Bravery)

A German lawyer once told me that you are brave – 勇敢 to be doing something art in a foreign country by yourself. It may indeed seem that way to people who live with their families in their mother tongue country, but those words made a strange impression on me.

A trip to Dejima in Nagasaki inspired this new work. In an age when only boats were available, why would they risk crossing the sea and going to unknown places when they might die? Why do they want to see the unknown? I was thinking about what my lawyer had told me and Dejima, somehow overlapping. About opening and closing, and the courage and curiosity that comes with it.

The circumstances that led to the isolation of the country in the 17th century and the way the country opened up at the border between the Edo and Meiji periods determined the Japan we know today. When I look at Japan from the outside, I often think about the peculiarities of Japan and the way it has moved towards closing in many ways in recent years. This overlaps with the question of what it means for people today, who are at the mercy of the virtual space of the internet, to be closed and open to the world.

The new textiles are interspersed with textiles from Europe before the isolation of the country, maps from the time of Dejima, the logo of the Dutch East India Company, chintz patterns of hidden Christians, sketches of unknown authors from the Edo and Meiji periods, an English dictionary from the opening of Japan in the Meiji period, a clock to learn the European time system, Emoji for communication, AI image-generated images by words, etc. As a ‘reading textile’, like a riddle to be solved.


Aiko Tezuka
December, 2023