Meditation on Translation and Seduction

Catherine Harper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Harper’s chapter was commissioned by the curator/editor of the 21:21 Textile Vision of Reiko Sudo and NUNO exhibition/publication, accompanying essays by Professor Lesley Millar, Director: Anglo-Japanese Textile Research Centre, UK; Laurel Reuter, Director: North Dakota Museum of Art; and Keiko Kawashima, Director: Gallery Gallery, Kyoto. The publication accompanied the exhibition’s tour, which included the National Centre for Craft and Design, UK; Textile Kultur Haslach, Austria; and Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (2005-07). The text draws on Barthes and Benjamin, examining concepts of performative translations and essentialisms in Western understandings of contemporary Japanese culture. Pursuing a textual fantasy of activated animated cloth, a provocative and original reading of Reiko Sudo’s designs is developed via conceptual intermeshing of the sadistic sexual practices and seductive rough trade of under-the-radar night-time Tokyo and the expressive textiles created by Sudo. This approach counters normative tendencies for reverence in relation to textiles of Japan, and Harper carefully manages a balance of appreciation and challenge within the chapter. The essay forms the basis of a chapter in the author’s forthcoming book, Fabrics of Desire (AHRC and Sasakawa-funded, commissioned by Berg Publishers, Oxford/New York, for publication in 2008), linking to papers presented at the Association of Art Historians Contestations conference, University of Ulster, Belfast; the Fashion in Fiction conference, University of Technology, Sydney; and the Design History Society Design-Body-Sense conference, Kingston University (all 2007). It relates to Harper’s part in Lutz Becker’s film 'What is Cloth to Me?' (2005), and resulted in an invitation to lead a session at the Ambiguous Spaces Symposium, UCCA (2005); an invitational essay on Reiko Sudo for Selvedge magazine (2005), London; and commissioned texts for publications with Fabrica, Brighton and Pallant House, Chichester (2006). It further informed Harper’s presentation at the Contemporary Artists’ Responses to Japanese Traditions symposium, University of Brighton, 2007.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2121 The Textile Vision of Reiko Sudo and NUNO
EditorsLesley Millar
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherBerg Publishers
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9781845201821
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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