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Exterior Fabric


This photo essay emerged from a project that began in the autumn of 2010. It was initially part of a study that would inform a furniture design project but soon developed its own impetus. Broadly, this original study was about what could be learned from the outside that could be taken indoors, as it were. It involved examining parts of Tokyo and the mountain city Nagano in September of that year. The work shown here is not an in-depth examination of the country, covering as it does a fraction of the place and its society. It is rather a brief, pondering work that tries to capture part of the exterior life of Japan. More importantly, it is an attempt to engage with texture – to understand its contours, depths, shades and feel. It looks at how fabrics are interwoven to arresting effect. It examines the laying together of patterns; at how this marks the world out there. In an urban environment, some of these textures are so widespread that they become hidden. Living in a city invariably involves developing an ability to filter out everyday data that would otherwise overwhelm the senses. This work seeks to rest on those textures that might ordinarily dissolve. It is about what people make; more so than it is necessarily about people themselves. It is about what people draw, what they place – where and how. It touches on how they derive an order of things. It looks at what people build and the materiality they create. It is now commonplace to think of Japan as a place obsessed with detail. Indeed, with its meticulous customs and careful approach to design, it lends itself well to the study of the intricate. Of course, it is much more than this yet it does provide a striking place to look for the fine grain. Carried out when it was, the work precedes the earthquakes that struck the country in 2011. It makes no explicit reference to the earthquakes and their aftermath, or the awful consequences of the meltdown of the nuclear reactor in Fukushima. Clearly, it is not a study of ‘post-earthquake’ Japan, nor can it take account of the new realities found in the country. Reviewing these images, they however point to a certain spirit that was evident, and many remarked upon, during, and after, the natural disaster; that is, of a nimbleness and enduring humour. Looking back, they appear to me as something of a quiet celebration. Evan Larbi London, April 2011


This photo essay emerged from a project that began in the autumn of 2010. It was initially part of a study that would inform a furniture design project but soon developed its own impetus. Broadly, this original study was about what could be learned from the outside that could be taken indoors, as it were. It involved examining parts of Tokyo and the mountain city Nagano in September of that year. The work shown here is not an in-depth examination of the country, covering as it does a fraction of the place and its society. It is rather a brief, pondering work that tries to capture part of the exterior life of Japan. More importantly, it is an attempt to engage with texture – to understand its contours, depths, shades and feel. It looks at how fabrics are interwoven to arresting effect. It examines the laying together of patterns; at how this marks the world out there. In an urban environment, some of these textures are so widespread that they become hidden. Living in a city invariably involves developing an ability to filter out everyday data that would otherwise overwhelm the senses. This work seeks to rest on those textures that might ordinarily dissolve. It is about what people make; more so than it is necessarily about people themselves. It is about what people draw, what they place – where and how. It touches on how they derive an order of things. It looks at what people build and the materiality they create. It is now commonplace to think of Japan as a place obsessed with detail. Indeed, with its meticulous customs and careful approach to design, it lends itself well to the study of the intricate. Of course, it is much more than this yet it does provide a striking place to look for the fine grain. Carried out when it was, the work precedes the earthquakes that struck the country in 2011. It makes no explicit reference to the earthquakes and their aftermath, or the awful consequences of the meltdown of the nuclear reactor in Fukushima. Clearly, it is not a study of ‘post-earthquake’ Japan, nor can it take account of the new realities found in the country. Reviewing these images, they however point to a certain spirit that was evident, and many remarked upon, during, and after, the natural disaster; that is, of a nimbleness and enduring humour. Looking back, they appear to me as something of a quiet celebration.


Published by Evan Larbi The Hub, 5 Torrens Street, London EC1V 1NQ evanlarbi@gmail.com Copyright Š Evan Larbi First published 2011

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Exterior Fabric