Art of the In-Between

By Dora Dmitriev

On view at The Met until September 4th is the “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” exhibit. Although best to avoid on rainy weekends, this exhibit is worth a visit for its architectural design and most notably its fashion

Past/Present/Future (above)    Birth/Marriage/Death (Below)

The Tokyo based fashion designer Rei Kawakubo challenges the conventional human body as well as the generic notion of clothing. Focusing on dualities such as High/Low, Absence/Presence, Object/Subject, and Design/Not Design to name a few. Her designs occupy the gray areas between these dualities. 

Holes Autumn/Winter 1982-83

With this concept of the “in-between”, Kawakubo exposes the common arbitrariness and hollowness behind clothing and generates “meaningful connections and mediations that present endless possibilities for creation and re-creation.”

18th Century Punk Autumn/Winter 2016-17

The design of the exhibition is a collaboration between Kawakubo and The Met. The white concrete structures suggest Mu (emptiness) throughout the architectural design of a circle. Derived from Zen Buddhism in which a circle represents void. Void and space are embodied in these structural forms and Ma (space) expresses void and volume, which exist with and without a shape, so the space is not defined by concrete boundaries. Together, the fashions and their environment are called Gesamtkunstwerk or “total work of art”. 

Plan from numbered guide

The exhibit is an immersive experience with a pathway that is only suggested by a numbered guide. Overall, the layout encourages visitors to explore and discover all of the alcoves and elevations on their own. 

Blood and Roses Spring/Summer 2015

Protruding tube-like spaces create visual tunnels leading to concave forms that are beautifully amplified by the white gallery surfaces. The play on the forms creates the visual effect of absence and presence, one of the dualities explored in the fashion garments.