Rei Kawakubo, the Japanese designer behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s latest exhibition, “Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between,” has previously compared her work to Zen koan practice, Vogue reports.
The exhibit was was unveiled at Monday night’s celebrity-attended Met Gala, and showcases 130 examples of Kawakubo’s womenswear designs for fashion label Comme des Garçons, dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection.
Of Kawakubo comparing her work to Zen koan practice, Vogue writes:
Rei Kawakubo loves a puzzle. In an interview, she once compared her work to Zen koans — the unsolvable riddles Buddhist teachers present to their students. That struck a chord with Andrew Bolton, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute, who has been working with Kawakubo for more than a year on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between” exhibition… “You’re not meant to decipher koans,” Bolton explains. “The idea is that you finally realize they’re nonsensical and you realize the limitations of your intellect. Then you free your mind, and by freeing your mind, you get to another point.” He pauses. “It’s amazing. And that’s basically what Rei’s work is about, Zen koans.”
According to the exhibition webpage, the designs are organized into “nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo’s work,” including Absence/Presence, Then/Now, Self/Other, and Object/Subject. “Kawakubo breaks down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness,” The Met writes.
View pieces of the exhibition below: