Domaine de Boisbuchet, a country estate in the Southwest of France, has partnered with Parsons The New School for Design to present Boro: The Fabric of Life, an exhibition of Japanese recycled and patch-worked textiles.
Now open, the exhibition features approximately 50 ingeniously-repaired futon covers, kimonos, work garments and other handmade household textiles or “boro” (Japanese for rags) which were created by Japanese peasants between 1850 and 1950 using leftover, indigo dyed cotton.
Damaged and worn garments were often recuperated, repurposed and refashioned by poorer Japanese populations and repeatedly mended from generation to generation without being thrown away. The results, although once a sign of shame for many, are now recognized as beautiful, ingenious repairs that can inform our current global culture with the Japanese notion of “mottainai” or “waste nothing.”
Most of the pieces come from the private collection of New York-based gallerist Stephen Szczepanek, who curated the exhibition with Mathias Schwartz-Clauss, Boisbuchet’s artistic director.
Exhibited together with the boro is a group of inventively conceived textiles from Bangladesh handmade from recycled saris by a cooperative of women supported by the German architect Anna Heringer. In addition to Szczepanek, the exhibition is based on the collections of Amy Katch, Kei Kawasaki, Naohito Shikama and Heringer.
Through a fellowship program, Parsons students Christopher Koelsch, Kamala Murali, Andrés González-Bode and Alana Jiwa assisted Schwartz-Clauss, Szczepanek and their assistant Christian J. Altherr in the design and installation of the exhibition. Set within 300-square-meters of space in the Boisbuchet chateau, Parsons students worked with the exhibition team to install objects, images, text, and video, and construct, paint and arrange backdrops for display.
The fellowship program, now in its third year, was developed by Parsons in collaboration with the Centre International de Recherche et d'Éducation Culturelle et Agricole (CIRECA), the organization that oversees cultural activities at Boisbuchet, which is headed by Alexander von Vegesack, co-founding director of the Vitra Design Museum. In 2012, students helped design an exhibition of works by Dutch designer Maria Blaisse entitled Moving Meshes.
The exhibition will be on view through September 15 at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, 16500 Lessac, France.
The partnership marks the first exhibition Parsons will take part in before opening a new academic center in Paris this fall.