Kei Takemura

Kei Takemura (b. 1975, Tokyo), lives and works in Berlin. Kei Takemura‘s works are characterised by overlapping a layer of embroidered cloth on to a photograph or drawing. For the artist, the act of embroidery creates a state of being “tentative”; it transforms objects and places which no longer exist, and brings fragments of memory towards a tangible existence. In her “renovated xxx”, Takemura repairs broken objects using silk thread, transforming these “wounds” into objects of beauty.

The series of works from “renovated xxx” deal with vessels, such as cups, plates, glasses, light-bulbs and teapots, that got broken by accident.

“Instead of throwing them away I tried to put them in a preserved condition. There are always certain occasions and causes for breaking a dish. They can be objectively looked at when it is obvious how the dish got broken. The dish is taken from the place where it has fallen apart and is wrapped and “sheltered” in a thin transparent cloth. In this state the broken piece appears as something valuable that has survived its own breakage. The seams on the covering cloth refer to the points of fracture on the vessels. They represent “wounds” which I recognise after wrapping the once broken and then repaired vessel. The places where the pieces are taped together – the repaired points of fracture – are in themselves not beautiful. I pass a white shiny silk thread through the wrapping where the points of fracture are and this way the “wounds” are given a gleam so that the broken object achieves a condition of beauty. Therefore the embroidery represents in this series of works the line of fracture and also a restoring of the image that was once broken.

In Japan we had the tradition of repairing dishes with Japanese lacquer and golden foil -Japanese lacquer as glue, golden foil as colour – this way dishes could be passed through several generations. The generation of my grandmother still used these kind of old dishes. After the Second World War and the impact of mass production, porcelain and glass vessels became cheaper. As more cheap vessels were on the market, less respect was awarded to towards the old tradition of repairing, so that this technique was almost forgotten. Nowadays it is only used in restoring old furniture. I have always felt strange in the current situation of throwing things quickly away. This feeling was one of my motives in creating this series of works.

All the vessels which I have repaired in Berlin are all second hand articles bought here. They belonged to other people who had used them carefully but who had had to sell them for different reasons. They are important objects with their own history. Such things I can not throw away even when one of my guests breaks a dish by accident or when it falls down from the strongly shaking washing machine. I could use them again if I would use the old Japanese technique to repair them with Japanese lack and golden foil. But I hesitate to use modern chemical adhesive for dishes, which are used for eating. Also I doubt the usefulness of dishes, which have been repaired with such adhesive. Therefore the taped vessel is only in a temporary condition. Fragments of the tea-cup and a saucer, which have both fallen down from the washing machine were temporarily taped together and wrapped with a semi-transparent cloth. This wrapped cup reminds me of the strong movements of my washing machine. One plate that broke when a friend of mine let a heavy fork fall on it was also repaired.

The remembrance of the tragic moment which cannot be reversed is not the main issue for me, much more important for me is that the plate is still treated with respect after this occasion by carefully veiling and embroidering the object. The cover out of the semi-transparent cloth gives the vessel a “frame” like a frame around a painting- it demarcates it from the outside world. The covering points out that the dish is no longer used for serving food and that the cover contains something that should be looked at. The seams with white shiny silk threads let the viewer recognise that it is not meant to be a present, which is supposed to be opened, but that this is a cover, which contains a tragic moment that must not be touched violently. The half transparent veil, which covers the vessel requires from the viewer to look attentively at what is inside the wrapping”. – Kei Takemura 

Major solo exhibitions include “For dearest You” (Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo), “Kei Takemura” (Galerie Alexandra Saheb, Berlin, 2004), “even if we’re not together” (Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, 2007), “A part Apart” (Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo, 2008) and “dearest unknown You” (Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, 2012). In 200,5 Takemura released her first publication of works, “Takemura Kei in Berlin 2000-2005.” Takemura participated in the 15th Biennale of Sydney, and has consistently continued to strengthen her international presence while expanding her areas of activity.

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