Thursday, 18 January 2018

Translation: Regarding COMME des GARÇONS (Sebastian Masuda)

This is a translation of Sebastian Masuda's response to the COMME des GARÇONS display which looked very similar to his own work. 
There will probably be some mistakes, if you notice anything please let me know.

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In early January, 2018, fans and media commented that a work very similar to my own was being displayed by COMME des GARÇONS at their Aoyama store.  In addition, people were messaging me saying "Is this your work?" or "Congratulations on the collaboration!".  (The displayed work was not a collaboration.)

I was surprised that the high-end brand COMME des GARÇONS (henceforth CdG) created a colourful piece in the image of Japan's "TOKYO" and "Kawaii" pop culture. Honestly, I think that in itself is a wonderful thing. 
However, as someone who has worked with this culture and is an artist within this culture for over 20 years, I think it's important that I comment on this matter, now and in future. 

The display shown to be similar to my own was the installation based on the CdG2018SS collection. It used colourful materials such as toys and characters shown on multiple human-shaped mannequins. As far as I am aware, it was displayed in the Aoyama, New York, and London stores. 

The technique of attaching various materials has been used for a long time. However, what other artist collages with the same artistic and cultural context? I pour my heart and soul into creating original works. The display exhibited by CdG featured 3D human forms and was based on "TOKYO", showing awareness of the evolution of "Kawaii" after the war. The materials being used were toys, accessories, and other various items. It has been constructed using an abundance of colourful materials.  It's easy to see why people would misunderstand and view it as my own work.

In my work  I express "Kawaii" through many colours. Plus, instead of using paint, I travel around the world experiencing different cultures, gathering different materials. This mixture of worldwide cultures is my sense of "TOKYO". This is an important context within my own work.

When asked what my thoughts are on Kawaii culture, I'd say it's "Loving your favourite things!" 
Don't you think it's your own definition, not that of a third party or the rest of the world? 
In order to convey this fundamental message, I opened the 6%DOKIDOKI in Harajuku in 1995.In 2009, I leapt out of Harajuku to begin the worldwide "Harajuku Kawaii Experience" tour. Nowadays Kawaii culture has spread around the world and I was recognised for my efforts establishing that culture. In 2017, I travelled the world in a cultural exchange for the Agency of Cultural Affairs. Through this, I am sharing the essence of Kawaii, which is "to build your own Microcosm."

When it comes to artwork, I produced my representative series "Colorful Rebellion" (2010 - Photographic work  2013 - Half-dimensional work) using the previous method.。I've published my artwork in many countries around the world, in places such as New York, Florida, Anchorage, Amsterdam, and Milan. If you've researched Kawaii culture, then you'll have probably come across my work at least once.

I have recieved comments and messages from people from all over the world who have seen my art work regarding the latest CdG display. Upon seeing the photos of the display, my first impression was "Since you're here, we could have just collaborated!" 
If you ask why, it's because I feel pride as the original creator who combined this method with the theme of "TOKYO" "Harajuku" and "Kawaii". I'm proud that I cultivated this culture together with a community that agrees with "Kawaii".

Towards the end of the 1980s and into the 90s, "Mode" was prevalent around the world. In this Monochrome world, "Colourful" reality. My own reality was "Colourful" and I used this as a weapon, insisting on staying true to that. I struggled with no experience and continued for 20 years. The fact that there are people around the world that care for this colourful culture leaves me very emotional. (After all, the future that I had been called "Stupid" for dreaming of in my twenties has finally come!)

As an artist, "Communication" is very important to me.
(Translators note: 対話 literally means Dialogue or conversation.)

Relating to this situation, I think I would be happy to discuss my feelings with the media.

And most of all, I would be happy if I could talk to the people at COMME des GARÇONS.

I believe that this event could mark the starting point for "Conversation" between the fashion industry and the art industry. In addition, as an individual I think it is necessary for me to strengthen my work and concept, including the various opinions I received from fans and the actions they took.

I am extremely grateful to all the fans around the world who have always said they liked Sebastian Masuda's work, and I'm thankful to everyone who supports me. 


Sebastian Masuda

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