A Bag With / Without Function
(Artist statement for the work Bags that was made for the exhibition Tangent, with Artist in residence, Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori, Japan, 2008.)
A bag can be seen as a metaphor for an extension of our body because it holds things in it as if a body carries various organs. The function of a bag is to keep a number of things together and label them. In this way, they can be carried around easily, making them less difficult to manage.
While they are supposed to be useful items to organise things, if the bag bottom breaks and their contents spill out, it causes a disruption and thereby betrays our expectation. Such incidents mercilessly disturb the order of things no matter how neatly they are organised.
During the residency program at Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Aomori (ACAC), I had an opportunity to see old fabric bags, “Futon” and “Koginzashi” (a local embroidery) that were used in this region before industrialisation. They were used not for commercial purposes but to use for themselves.
At that time, clothes and fabrics were precious items as daily essentials were scarce, starkly contrasting today’s world where we can frequently buy brand new products. Seeing the bags with a number of patches, it made me wonder what was carried in those bags.
The traces of repairs also reminded me of the afore-mentioned image of torn bags with their contents spilling out one after another.
If there is an imaginary bag in an ideal world, it has to be the one that can carry many possibilities that cannot be realised at a time. Even formless and nameless things, as they are placed inside a bag, can become visible as the bag gives them a form and a discernible identity.
And yet, at the same time, such a bag is perhaps only imaginary and thus unattainable. In actuality, it remains merely a broken bag with its contents overflowing. In other words, the bag that entails the absolute imposition of the categorising and labelling is of mere impossibility. It is a transient entity and it disappears immediately after it appears. The ideal bag is indeed merely an ideal and thus not functional or practical, just like a utopian ideology.
Aomori, Japan, June 2008