Katagami Screen 5, 2015
Cerith Wyn Evans

Cerith Wyn Evans, Katagami Screen 5, 2015, detail

Paper stencil, mulberry paper, persimmon lacquer, silk thread, artist frame
137.5 x 64 cm (framed)

In this series of works, Welsh artist Cerith Wyn Evans places historic Japanese Katagami paper stencils between two sheets of glass, producing a shadow effect, which irritatingly resembles a projection. Katagami is the traditional Japanese craft of cutting stencils for dyeing textiles, most commonly kimono fabrics. Multiple layers of thin washi paper made from mulberry trees are laminated with glue extracted from persimmons, resulting in robust and colored paper. Subsequently, intricate designs are cut into the paper with fine-edged cutting tools. Popular patterns included a large variety of stylized chrysanthemums, arabesque or geometric filigree, cranes, and turtles. The growingly extinct craft of Katagami has been recognized as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan and is protected by the government under this category, reserved for techniques and skills of high cultural and artistic value. With this humble act of reclaiming an otherwise obsolete artifact, Wyn Evans celebrates the affinity found in Japanese culture for repairing and repurposing the old, outmoded, torn, or otherwise broken objects of daily life. He not only restitutes the redundant screens, but elevates them to be a work of art, perpetuating their use and appreciation. Karl Marx has remarked that obsolescence drives the cyclical patterns of displacement between human and mechanical labor; and planned obsolescence is a requirement of product and industrial production. Restitution and re-mediation thus act on body politic, sustainability, and aesthetic appreciation alike. 
Eva Wilson, "None, Not, Never" in Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary: The Commissions Book,, eds. Eva Ebersberger and Daniela Zyman (2020: Sternberg Press)
Eva Wilson and Daniela Zyman eds., Cerith Wyn Evans. The What If?... Scenario (after LG), Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Sternberg Press, 2013
Born in Llanelli, Wales, in 1958. Lives and works in London, UK.